I just wrapped up a three-day test drive of the 2013 Chevrolet Volt. Although the vehicle has been available since December 2010, I never had the chance to get behind the wheel. During a recent trip to the Los Angeles Auto Show I met with a member of the fleet management team from General Motors and he arranged to have a Volt delivered to my house for a real-world test drive.
Prior to driving the Volt I have to admit that I was a bit skeptical about the vehicle; sure it has a great overall driving range and a nice electric-only range but would it really meet my needs as a busy mom? The quick answer to this question is yes, it would meet my needs.
After the Volt was delivered on Friday afternoon, I drove it to pick up my son from school. The school is about four miles away and I when I made it there, the display said that I had used 0.0 gallons of gasoline. After the four-mile trip home, there was still plenty of battery life left.
Since this was my first time using a plug-in enabled vehicle, I wasn’t in the “plug in the car” routine yet and I forgot to charge it overnight on Friday. On Saturday, I used the Volt to run several errands including a trip to the grocery store. The trip to the store was emissions-free as the Volt continued to operate solely on battery mode, despite my oversight on Friday night.
While it was great to continue to operate on battery mode, the grocery store trip did present me with a small challenge. The cargo space in the back was a bit smaller than I expected. Sure, all of my groceries fit but if I were to go to Costco for a big stock-up trip then I’m not sure where I’d put all of the items, especially if I had both kids in the car with me.
I think my misjudgment of the cargo space comes from the fact that I feel like the Volt is a larger car. It’s not as large as my full-size sedan but it feels quite spacious inside. I’m sure that if I were to actually own the Volt, that I’d quickly figure out how to pack it full of Costco groceries without stacking items on top of the kids.
On Saturday night I repeated my Friday night mistake and forgot to plug the Volt in again. Obviously I’m not maximizing my mileage; rookie mistake! Sunday was Nutcracker day for my daughter and so we used the Volt for the 29-mile one-way drive to Phoenix Symphony Hall.
The 2013 Chevrolet Volt comes with a new driving mode, “Hold.” In hold mode, the vehicle is forced to use gasoline to power the vehicle at higher speeds, reserving the battery life for future use. If I were an actual Volt owner, the trip to Symphony Hall would have been the perfect time to use the new mode.
However, I chose not to use this mode as I wanted to get an idea of how much I could get out of the battery while traveling at freeway speeds. The battery power ran out and clicked over to gasoline power just after I’d driven 37 miles on battery-only power.
Considering the fact that the EPA-estimated electric vehicle driving range is 38 miles, I’d say I did well with over 37 miles. This was my first time driving the vehicle and I had about 20 miles of freeway driving on the charge. With more time behind the wheel, I could fine tune my acceleration and braking and use the hold mode for freeway driving to maximize battery life.
After spending three days behind the wheel of the 2013 Chevrolet Volt, I’ve gone from skeptic to believer. I do see the benefits of a plug-in electrified vehicle. The majority of my trips would be completed in electric only mode but the 344 miles of additional driving range would alleviate any range anxiety I may have.