Volt Test Drive

Discussion in 'Chevrolet Volt' started by Tideland Prius, Jul 25, 2011.

  1. Tideland Prius

    Tideland Prius Moderator of the North
    Staff Member

    Oct 2, 2004
    2010 Prius
    Just like user just_older99, I took the opportunity to test drive the Volt at a GM Ride & Drive event. Of course if you visit GM Canada Home Page, there's no way of knowing one of these exist (I had the date bookmarked from back in February when a automotive site mentioned the tour).

    Anyway, the vehicles present were: Camaro (SS I think), Regal CXL 2.0T, LaCrosse, Cruze LT (1.4T), Volt, Escalade Hybrid, Terrain & CTS-V coupe.

    I won't bore you with the other test drives (but if you're interested, just ask) and go straight to the topic of this thread.

    I've sat in the Volt before but never driven it. It's the same Volt that just_older99 drove since it was a red one with Ontario "green vehicle" plates, black leather interior with white stitching and white dashboard.

    The interior is spacious and the iPod-like centre console isn't too bad. There is a beep to tell you that you've activated the button but there isn't much to distinguish between buttons. The two hard buttons are a "Leaf" button that brings up the Energy Monitor and Consumption Screen on the centre MFD. The other is a DRIVE MODE button. To the left of the driver, there's a knob and a back arrow and a CONFIG button. The knob toggles one of the rotating menus on the instrument panel and rotates between Trip A/B odometers, Vehicle Messages, a Tutorial and navigation (presumably that's navigation instructions).

    First thing to get off my back. The white trim on the door panel screams "Little Tykes". It's a cheap piece of shiny white plastic that adorns the door panel (in lieu of fabric or synthetic leather) and I thought that brought down the ambience of the interior. Of course the plastics aren't midsize-level and are more compact car (might even be the same quality of plastics as in the Cruze but that's not a bad thing). Despite that, the cheap part shows when the instrument panel hood actually moves when you push against it. <sigh>

    Anyway, that's the bad stuff. Now the good stuff. Assuming it's fairly close to a Canadian spec car (I assume leather is optional), the car is fairly well equipped. It has optional navigation with HDD music storage (CD player standard), Homelink, satellite radio and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. 3-stage heated front seats are also there.

    On to the drive..

    I felt that the steering assist was too great. The steering felt a little light and was hoping "Sport mode" would've changed the steering feel too. Yes, there are 3 drive modes - normal, sport and mountain. Normal feels, well, normal. It drives like a regular car with no surprises. It doesn't feel sluggish like a Prius in ECO mode. Those that want a little more response would like Sport mode. The tip in is definitely sharper (the accelerator pedal is more sensitive) and it actually feels fun to drive. Don't push it too hard around the corner though as the LRR tires reach their limits pretty quickly as they were howling, protesting my abrupt right turn.

    Straight line acceleration is also fantastic. The electric motors feel powerful and it definitely feels more powerful than a Prius. The one thing that I must mention is that under full acceleration, the engine did not come on. This is different from the Prius PHV demo where the Prius will fire up the engine to assist in acceleration if you floor it. The Volt will not and will continue to act like an electric car. The little eco ball is kinda fun. It's like Honda's green/blue indicator and basically tells you if you're driving efficiently or not. If you accelerate or brake too hard, the ball will leave the centre and head towards the edge and turn yellow in the process. If you don't like that ball, pressing CONFIG will swap it for the distance you've travelled on gas (which is still there with the eco ball but it's much smaller and is located on the top left).

    When the engine comes on, the large battery charge gauge becomes a gas gauge and swaps a battery icon for a fuel pump icon. You can force the engine to come on by selecting "mountain mode". However, it must be noted that acceleration in mountain mode is pretty uneventful. In fact, I will say it's Prius-like as the engine will rev up as you propel forward. IOW, it touches all the senses like a Prius in that regard.

    View out the back is ok but note that the lower rear window is ridiculously narrow so don't expect to use it as much as you would in the Prius. The odd thing is that it's quite visible thanks to the gap between the two rear seats. There is a tonneau cover that's simply a piece of fabric that's hooked at four corners. Visibility out the front is ok. The A-pillars are curved a little (instead of a straight design like the Prius). The front seats felt fine although the oversize shifter isn't necessary (if I wanted an oversized shifter, I'd get a Hummer with an airplane throttle-like shifter). There is a small open storage bin ahead of the shifter, that's accessible from both sides.

    The charger fits in a nice enclave below the cargo floor on the left. Unfortunately, GM didn't think it through and brought a generator or a large recharge station. The guys were idling the Volt in mountain mode to charge the battery for the next tester. :rolleyes:

    Prices range from $41.5k to $49k and that's Canadian dollars.

    Edit: I forgot to mention. It has a pedestrian horn in addition to the regular horn. The pedestrian horn is activated by pressing the button at the end of the left stalk. It's a weird sound and somewhat friendly (and alien at the same time).
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