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2012 Chevrolet Volt Overview

Chevy said they’d do it and they did. Despite a barely averted economic meltdown, vague, almost disingenuous advertising and nearly insurmountable technical obstacles, the 2012 Chevrolet Volt indicates that the plug-in hybrid hatchback sedan is here to stay. A somewhat subdued 2011 debut, not to mention a hefty introductory price, resulted in merely average sales of this 4-passenger ultra-hybrid. Rising fuel costs, however, plus a high-tech cabin, heady styling, and a well-wrought electric drivetrain, as well as an average of 92 mpg (in ordinary driving conditions) and an almost nonexistent environmental footprint, ought to see a boost in sales for 2012. The fact that Chevy has dropped the MSRP of the Volt’s only trim, known simply as the Base, by over $1,000 (to $39,145) doesn’t hurt, either. Beware, however, that the still-sizeable initial outlay on the 2012 Volt purchases only a 2-passenger rear seat, no power-adjustable front seating and fewer standard features. The Bose premium audio system and voice-activated navigation suite are no longer standard; instead, each is offered as a standalone option. Also, cargo space in this high-tech hatchback is a mere 10.6 cubic feet, though the folding rear seatback mitigates this lack of space to an extent.

Though king of the U.S. plug-in-hybrid hill in 2011, the 2012 Volt now faces some serious competition in Toyota’s new plug-in Prius PHV. Nissan’s all-electric Leaf, also a Volt rival, boasts zero emissions and no pesky gasoline-burning engine, but has a range of only 100 miles. The Volt, for which a home-based charger is recommended, can be recharged in an average of three hours with a 220-volt system and has a range of some 380 miles with judicious use of both gas and electric power.

A 111-kilowatt electric motor and single-speed direct drive power delivery system put out 149 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque in the 2012 Volt. A 1.4-liter inline 4-cylinder (I4) gasoline engine recharges the 16-kWh lithium-ion battery pack when needed on longer trips or when the daily plug-in is neglected, and the four-banger can also assist in providing power to the front wheels when cruising at higher speeds. Depending on driving habits and destination, the Volt can accelerate up to 100 mph for distances ranging from 25 to 50 miles on electric power alone. Should the battery become depleted, the I4 kicks in to recharge, while regenerative braking also adds some marginal charging power. Fuel efficiency, with conservative use of the I4, is estimated at a mighty impressive 95 mpg city/90 highway, though, again, these numbers reflect optimal driving conditions and habits.

Standard appearance features and creature comforts in the 2012 Chevy Volt, while abbreviated, remain impressive nonetheless. Outside, this hybrid hatchback sports a rear spoiler and 17-inch painted alloy wheels, while the cabin pampers with premium cloth upholstery and simulated alloy accents. Remote power door locks, heated, power-adjustable outside mirrors, telescoping tilt-wheel steering, cruise control and air conditioning are also standard. Techno-gizmos include OnStar Directions and Connections service utilizing Bluetooth hands-free technology, while standard entertainment features include a single-CD player with six speakers, satellite radio and a USB connection.

Standalone options in the 2012 Volt include voice-activated navigation, Bose premium audio and Chevy’s touted MyLink voice-activated audio and communications system. One of two available packages is the Rear Camera and Parking Assist Package, including a rear-view camera and front and rear parking sensors. The Premium Trim Package, meantime, offers perforated leather upholstery, heated front seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel and upgraded door inserts.

For 2012, Chevy’s cutting-edge Volt carries such standard safety equipment as 4-wheel antilock brakes (ABS), traction and stability control, front side-mounted airbags and front and rear head airbags. Also standard in the Volt Base trim are daytime running lights, dusk-sensing headlights, turn-signal-integrated mirrors, a remote antitheft alarm and a post-collision safety system. As is traditional in GM automobiles, OnStar Emergency services, including Stolen Vehicle Tracking and Crisis Assist also comes standard.

Besides its burdensome price tag, owners of the 2011 Volt complain about its tiny cargo capacity, the necessity for a home recharging system and poor rearward visibility. The lack of standard leather upholstery and power-adjustable front seating also irks a number of owners, many of whom feel that, in this lofty price range, such items ought to be included as standard equipment. Owners do, however, give the Volt kudos for its laudable mileage, ultra low emissions, snappy looks, high-tech cabin and plethora of standard interior amenities. Acceleration, ride and handling all come in for their share of praise, as does the notable lack of engine racket engendered by electric power.


Have Laptop. Will Travel. I'm retired and travelling the country in a 34' motor home. I'm really digging meeting people . . and sometimes their cars . . . getting a sense of what makes this nation tick. The plan is to visit all the national parks in the continental US, then cruise to Alaska to visit Denali, and to Hawaii to check out Haleakala and the Hawaii Volcano's national parks. Anyhow, when I'm not horsing the motor home around the roadways, I'm tooting around in the 2012 Ford Focus that we tow behind, or making runs to Home Depot and various malls with the 2004 F-150 that just won't die.

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2012 Chevrolet Volt Top Comparisons

Users ranked 2012 Chevrolet Volt against other cars which they drove/owned. Each ranking was based on 9 categories. Here is the summary of top rankings.

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