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2013 Chevrolet Volt Overview
Overall User Score
Based on 3 reviews
Now in its third year of production, the Chevrolet Volt electric vehicle receives a few minor updates for 2013, which help improve its performance, battery capacity and driving range. Modifications made to the composition and chemistry of the Volt's lithium-ion battery enable the vehicle to now travel up to 38 miles on a single electric charge, without the use of gasoline. That's an increase of 3 miles over the previous year's driving distance. In addition, the Volt's miles per gallon equivalent (MPGe) jumps from 94 to 98 miles for 2013, and total battery storage capacity increases from 16 kilowatts to 16.5 kilowatts. As a result, the Volt can now travel to an extended range of 380 miles without a charge or fillup at the gas pump.
However, due to the increased driving range, the Volt's battery will take slightly longer to fully charge. Using a 120-volt outlet, a full recharge now takes about 10.5 hours (up from 10 hours), and about 4.25 hours when using a 240-volt charging unit (up from 4 hours). Charge times are reduced if the battery has not been fully depleted, Chevy notes, and the company estimates it will cost owners about $1.60 a day to run the Volt on electricity alone.
As in previous years, a 1.4-liter Voltec electric motor provides sole power for the front-wheel-drive Volt. The electric motor delivers 149 hp and a beefy 273 lb-ft of torque. That's good enough to drive the Volt from 0-60 in about 9 seconds. For the first 38 miles of travel, the Volt runs on electric power alone as the motor draws energy from the battery. When the battery runs low, a gas-powered engine and generator kick in to recharge it, extending the vehicle's driving range. Regenerative braking also helps charge the battery. Unlike typical hybrid vehicles, the Volt never travels under direct gas power.
If drivers aren't near an electrical outlet, they can simply swing into a gas station and fill up to keep the gas engine/generator and battery going. Although the Volt achieves an MPGe of 98 when running in electric mode, that number drops to 37 mpg when using gas to charge the battery. Alternatively, some owners who charge frequently say they've traveled as much as 900 miles before refueling, according to the automaker. The system alerts drivers to run the gas engine at least once every 6 weeks to keep it functioning properly. The system also alerts drivers if "old gas" sits in the tank for more than 365 days.
A blue button on the dash starts the engine. Drivers can then select from four driving modes. The engine starts in Normal mode by default, while the Sport mode provides a more spirited driving experience, with quicker acceleration and better response. In Mountain mode, designed for use when traversing hilly terrain with steep grades, the gas generator kicks in at an earlier point to charge the battery, providing a deeper reserve of electrical power. Finally, a Hold mode, new for 2013, enables drivers to hold the current battery charge in place, so they'll have enough electrical power in reserve for specific driving situations, such as stop-and-go traffic.
When powered by the electric motor, the Volt operates very quietly. Even when the gas-powered engine/generator kicks in, drivers will find the 4-passenger cabin quiet and comfortable. With its 2-tiered dash and glossy, high-tech center stack, the Volt exudes a futuristic vibe. The symmetrical twin-cockpit dashboard design looks surprisingly clean and easy to navigate.
A 7-inch LCD touchscreen, which provides digital readouts in place of traditional analog or digital gauges, occupies a central position in the dash. Drivers can configure the LCD display to project a wide range of readouts related to the powerplant, such as the current charge in the battery and the distance the car can travel on remaining battery power, as well as traditional speed and fuel readouts. In addition, drivers can use the touchscreen to adjust audio and climate controls. The display also includes an efficiency gauge, which guides drivers in conserving battery power.
Interior features include cloth upholstery, sport bucket seats for 4 passengers and a 40/40-split rear seatback. Automatic climate control, remote keyless entry, a tilt/telescopic steering wheel with audio and cruise controls, and power windows and door locks are also standard. In addition, Chevy includes its MyLink infotainment system, accessed through the touchscreen. It incorporates a 6-speaker AM/FM audio system, SiriusXM satellite radio, a CD/MP3 player, Pandora Internet radio and Bluetooth. Options include leather upholstery, navigation, heated front seats and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.
Many onboard systems and exterior features are designed to help conserve power. An optional 7-speaker Bose Energy Efficient Series audio system, for instance, includes a subwoofer that uses 50% less energy than comparable systems. Similarly, Goodyear Assurance Fuel Max tires on 17-inch aluminum wheels are designed to reduce resistance and improve efficiency. Outside, a closed grille, aerodynamic mirrors, side rocker panels and a rear spoiler also help make the vehicle more efficient in operation.
The 2012 Volt was named a Top Safety Pick by the IIHS, and the NHTSA gave the 2013 Volt a safety top rating of 5 out of 5 stars. Eight airbags, including knee airbags for both the driver and passenger, as well as front and side-impact airbags, come standard. Other safety features include antilock brakes and daytime running lights. In addition, the Volt's standard OnStar system includes a number of safety programs, including automatic crash response, emergency services and remote door unlock. Owners can add such optional safety features as a rear-view camera, rear park assist, front park assist and lane departure warning.
Taller owners say they comfortably fit into the Volt, and all owners are impressed with the vehicle's technology and fuel savings, as well as its quick acceleration and solid list of standard features. Most owners note that they use the Volt for city driving and occasional road trips, and often manage to commute around town on electric power alone. They also say they're impressed with the amount of information provided through the touchscreen on the center stack, which helps them drive more efficiently. Overall, owners say the Volt is fun to drive and lives up to its reputation as a fuel-saver.
Rob has been a contributor to CarGurus since 2007, and an automotive test-driver and writer since the early ’90s. He’s test-driven everything from BMWs and Jags to Bentleys and Saabs, with an occasional Range Rover, Ferrari, Porsche or Lamborghini thrown in. He also created the annual Car of the Year and Exotic Car of the Year awards for Robb Report magazine. He currently resides in Florida.
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Chevrolet Volt Questions
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I have followed the directions in the owners manual, but I cannot get a "display"option.