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Wheels of the Week: Chevrolet Volt a sensible 'green' option

  • Cars in a parking lot

For the first Insider’s Wheels of the Week, I had the interesting opportunity to drive the 2013 Chevrolet Volt in a setting that most electric vehicles don’t do very well: Winter.

In fact, I even drove it from Whitby to Leslie and Sheppard in the early stages of this week’s big storm. 40 kilometres and 35 minutes in the snow on the way there. 54 kilometres and 2 1/2 hours to get home.

When I left Whitby, the Volt’s battery had a full charge, which at -5 Celsius equaled 48 km of EV driving. If this had been a full EV, I would not have made it home.

Many proponents of electric vehicles say that “an EV is only meant for driving around town.” Well folks, I’m sorry, but when you live in the GTA, around town is a big place.

In just one week, the Volt has carried parts of the Grant family to Newmarket twice, Toronto once and North York once. Forget about range anxiety, these are not trips that one would even think of attempting in most EVs, especially in the middle of winter when a dead battery could turn into a life-threatening situation.

The Volt however just keeps on truckin’.

The idea behind my Wheels of the Week review is to hit the highlights and low-lights of each vehicle, so without further ado, here I go.

-Most conventional plugin hybrid on the road

-Comfortable, stylish interior.

-Info-tainment system in centre console is easy to operate, even with gloves on. Includes Bluetooth for hands-free cell phone operation.

-Surprisingly practical cargo space. I took three teens on a snowboard buying trip and the Volt happily swallowed three boards along with the teens on the way home.

-With snow tires mounted, very stable and confident tackling a winter storm.

-During my drive into North York in the snow, at -5 C, the Volt achieved an amazing 2.17 l/100 km. For you old-school types, that works out to 108.4 US MPG!

-With 160 km worth of fuel range left, I stopped to fill up just in case. Filling the tank took just 21 litres!

-Mrs. G felt brakes were more sensitive than most cars due to the regenerative braking feature which comes on quite suddenly.

-Seats four, which depending on your family, might be fine. Not much use for my family of five. Rear seat legroom is very limited.

-Accepting the fact that it is a “green” vehicle and one tends to drive a bit more sedately, acceleration is fine for driving on city streets. Acceleration onto the 401 however can be anxiety-inducing if there are lots of trucks.

-Given my driving distances, I had to plug it in overnight every night.

-Will owners ever recoup $42,000 price with the fuel they save?

Overall, I have been really impressed with the Volt’s ability to fulfill the green sensibilities that I imagine potential buyers have. I have even enjoyed driving it. If I had to choose an EV type vehicle, I would more likely choose the Volt.

  • Wheels of the Week: Chevrolet Volt a sensible 'green' option
  • Wheels of the Week: Chevrolet Volt a sensible 'green' option
  • Wheels of the Week: Chevrolet Volt a sensible 'green' option
  • Wheels of the Week: Chevrolet Volt a sensible 'green' option