Chevrolet has only mild cosmetic tweaks in store for the 2014 Volt. A leather-wrapped steering wheel is now standard, while heated front seats are optional on cars equipped with cloth seating surfaces. The charge-port cover, located ahead of the driver’s door, now opens with a simple push instead of an internal release. Two new paint colors join the lineup, while the available jet black interior scheme now incorporates monochromatic seats...more
General Motors’ plug-in-hybrid/extended-range electric car was designed as personal transportation but has turned into a lightning rod for political pundits. Now in its third year on the North American market, the 2014 Chevrolet Volt isn’t subject to any drastic overhaul, despite sales figures that aren’t quite on par with GM’s original lofty expectations.
It’s a hybrid. It’s an electric. The reality is that the 2014 Chevrolet Volt lies somewhere between those two categories. Plug in the Volt to recharge its lithium-ion battery pack, and the car behaves like an EV, offering up to forty miles of electric-powered driving. That’s the work of a 149-hp traction motor, although a second motor, which primarily functions as a generator, can provide additional power during heavy acceleration.
Some misinformed critics allege that you’re up a creek without a paddle once that battery runs out of electrons, but that isn’t the case with the 2014 Chevrolet Volt. Once the battery charge dips too low, a small four-cylinder engine kicks in, providing electricity to power the drive motor, as well as directly driving the front wheels during high-speed cruising. That last point riles electric-vehicle purists, although GM says it improves the efficiency of the car by 10 to 15 percent.
If that sounds like a sophisticated driveline, it’s because it is. In fact, when compared with competitors like the Ford C-Max Energi and the Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid, the Volt’s driveline sophistication shines through. Yes, the 1.4-liter “range extender” sounds a bit buzzy, but when fully charged, the Volt behaves more like a true electric car than either of those competitors. There’s no need to baby the accelerator in order to keep the car in EV mode.
If there’s anything the 2014 Chevrolet Volt’s rivals do better, it’s space. Thanks to its large, T-shaped battery pack, the Volt is strictly a four-seater, whereas the Nissan Leaf, the C-Max Energi, and the Prius PHEV seat five.
- Ford C-Max Energi
- Honda Fit EV
- Nissan Leaf
- Toyota Prius Plug-In