The first mass-market plug-in hybrid offers incredible fuel efficiency in an attractive and surprisingly fun-to-drive package. The only downside? That high sticker price.
General Motors Corp.
The first mass-market plug-in hybrid offers incredible fuel efficiency in an attractive and surprisingly fun-to-drive package. The only downside? That high sticker price.
General Motors Corp.

2011 Chevrolet Volt

I Want a Volt!
I Want a Volt!
The first mass-market plug-in hybrid offers incredible fuel efficiency in an attractive and surprisingly fun-to-drive package. The only downside? That high sticker price.
General Motors Corp.
Overview
Overview
The much-anticipated Chevy Volt, the first mass-market plug-in hybrid, has finally hit the showrooms and it's a great little car. It gets around 35 miles per electric charge, averaging an estimated equivalent of 93 miles per gallon when running on electricity alone; it can go an additional 344 miles running on gasoline and still average 37 mpg. It's also peppy, handles well, feels solidly made, comes packed with standard features, and has plenty of leg and shoulder space for four average-size adults. The Volt's big downside is its high price: $41,000, which is reduced to $33,500 by a $7,500 federal tax credit. The all-electric Nissan Leaf starts at $26,130 after the tax credit, but lacks the Volt's range.
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Interior
Interior
The cabin is fancy, coming standard with a hard-drive audio/navigation system, steering-wheel controls, five years of OnStar service, a USB port, and Bluetooth. Heated leather seats cost an extra $1,395. The rear seats fold down to create hauling space.
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Engine/Transmission
Engine/Transmission
The wheels are driven by a 149-horsepower electric motor; once the charge is partially depleted from the 435-lb. lithium ion battery pack, a 1.4-liter, 84-hp gas engine continues to charge up the electric motor. The transmission is a continuously variable automatic.
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Charging Up
Charging Up
Charging up via a 110-volt household outlet takes around 10 hours. A 220-240 volt charger costs $490 plus installation, and charges the batteries in about four hours. Each charge is good for roughly 25 to 50 miles; the gas engine adds another 344 miles to the total range.
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Fuel Economy
Fuel Economy
The Volt is rated to get the equivalent of 93 mpg when running on electricity alone, 37 mpg when running on gasoline. GM says some owners report getting more than 1,000 miles per 9.3-gallon tank of premium gas (which is required in the Volt).
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Performance
Performance
The electric motor delivers an impressive 273 lb.-ft. of low-end torque, helping propel the Volt from zero to 60 mph in a little under nine seconds. There's plenty of oomph for passing at highway speed. Top speed is 100 mph. A "sport" mode makes the car more responsive.
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Safety
Safety
The Volt doesn't yet have government crash-test ratings but has been designated a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Stability control and front, front-side, and cabin-length head-protecting side curtain air bags are standard.
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Price
Price
Starting price is a hefty $41,000, which is reduced to $33,500 by a $7,500 federal tax credit. The all-electric Nissan Leaf starts at $33,630, or $26,130 after the tax credit. The Toyota Prius no longer qualifies for a federal tax credit but starts at just $22,410.
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