Getting out of Dodge and Into a Chevy Volt
- By "Marshall" Matt Dillon
50 Miles on a Single Charge!
Matt Dillon, Director of Internet Sales for the Coughlin Automotive Group, just drove his 2012 Chevrolet Volt, purchased from Coughlin Chevrolet of Pataskala, 50 miles from his home on the East side of Columbus, Ohio to the Coughlin Chevrolet Buick GMC dealership in Chillicothe, Ohio on just one charge! That is 50.5 miles on a single charge.
On 11/19/12 I drove from my house in Columbus, to our Chevrolet Buick GMC dealership in Chillicothe and then back to our Chevrolet dealership in Pataskala and back home to Columbus. While I certainly had to use fuel, the best part was that half of the 90 miles were on electric, and the other half I got 43.5MPG on premium fuel. Heck, I just filled the tank for the first time in two months!
Impressed so far? Absolutely I am, 1,900 miles on 8.0 Gallons of gas, that's 237.5 MPG! These have been almost all commuter miles, and weekend errand runs, so I haven't been on vacation yet or anything like that, but considering the cold weather range seems to be about ten miles less (mid 40's vs mid 30's) I am very impressed. At this rate, I should be able to break the 50 miles on electric once the temps hit 60-70 in the spring.
And I cannot stress this enough, but I am absolutely loving the smooth, quite ride and excellent BOSE sound system. It really is hard to fault the car as a whole, and to date my only nit to pick is that the rear seat is rather tight. Rear seat aside, we'll only use it a handful of times each year, I continue to be impressed, and plan to increase the pressure in the tires from the recommended 40psi (cold) to 43psi (cold), and see if that makes a difference in the distance I can travel on electric, as well as fuel MPG. Of course I am also interested to find out if it degrades the creamy ride at all as a penalty for efficiency.
I will leave everyone with this tidbit; over the first 1,900 miles I have saved $225 in fuel, and spent only $20 in electricity at home. All for a net savings of $205, and that doesn't include a tax credit, mileage deductions from travelling store-to-store or the fact that the car is maintenance free save for tire rotations and an oil change every two years.
I finally caved in, I bought a Volt! Rather than driving one every once in a while from our Chevrolet dealership in Pataskala, I realized how amazing this car would be for me on a daily basis. In just my first thirty days I have spent $30 on fuel versus last month's total of $286! I am getting 212 MPG, and have been charging at home overnight, driving to work, plugging into a 110v outlet at one of the Coughlin Dealerships around Columbus (I visit them all). I then put in my nine to ten hours, unplug my fully charged Volt, and drive home.
Beyond the obvious fuel economy, I have to admit that I am head-over-heels in love with the ride and silent ride. I have never been more relaxed when I arrive home than in these past thirty days. Refreshed, not beaten up, and that is over a mix of freeway, highway, country roads and city streets, I hit them all. When I hit them, the Volt soaks them up while I remain bathed in BOSE sound from the My Link entertainment system. Trust me, it's better than I am making it sound, since I'm no wordsmith.
Then there's the biggest surprise of all?this thing is FUN! Really, my other car is a Corvette, and the Volt is fun to drive. I am still surprised at how much more lithe it is than the Prius I owned. For such a heavy car, it is nearly agile, and trying to keep the green ball in its happy middle zone with leaves spinning is engaging, yet not distracting. While no sports car, I can tell you that so far this is a car than any enthusiast can drive, not just an Accountant (no dig implied here).
Check in next month when I can report on how the Volt does in cold weather. We know the range shrinks, but by how much with the same driver, on similar roads? I am looking forward to finding out and comparing to my average range of 42 miles, and my high so far of 48 (it got cold right as I began to figure the car out). So I hope to see you back here next month, or in the dealership picking one up for yourself---www.coughlincars.com
So there I was, on Gender Rd. in Canal Winchester, stopped at a red light, when I realized that I needed to get over a lane to make my left turn. Next to me was a kid in an older V6 Mustang, and unfortunately he caught my glances, and thought I was racing. Well, as it turned out, we basically did, unintentionally of course, I just needed over.
I was driving my 2012 Chevrolet Volt from Coughlin when the light turned green. One of the best parts about the Volt is that it has all of it's torque at 0 RPM. Yes, instantly. Just mat the pedal on the right and get ready for a really quick scamper off the line to about 30 mph. And scamper I did. It was one of the funniest scenes I have been a part of. There's this kid in his "hot pony car" and me in my "green machine" running on electrons.
Needless to say, I made my turn, kid was shocked, and had to ride is sorry horse all the way home. While I'm not condoning drag racing on a public street?far from it?do know that most people think the Volt is a slow car, and it's not. In fact from a rest to about 30-35mph it is downright quick, only then does the accelerative force taper off a bit.
Volt-1, pimply-faced Mustang Driver-0
I then got into my 2011 Nissan Maxima and drove home. The Maxima is a smooth car, with a CVT transmission and velvety V6 engine. But for some reason, the sports/luxury sedan that I had just plunked my hard-earned dollars down for wasn't cutting it. Sure the Maxima is sportier and quicker and has a bit more room inside, but at just 24mpg of premium fuel and a ride that has a bit more starch in it, the Maxima sure wasn't a Volt.
So, then here's the question, if I had to do it all over again, Volt or Maxima? The MSRP's are similar for the Maxima and a new Volt. The Volt wouldn't have navigation, an air conditioned driver's seat or a huge dual panel moonroof, but other than the seat, I don't care about the navigation or roof. Both are smooth cars, both are comfortable cars, the Maxima is quicker, the Volt more refined and quiet. The Maxima is better looking, but the Volt attracts more stares and thumbs-up. Equal, hardly, here's what the Maxima costs me now, and what the Volt would likely cost me per month on fuel:
Maxima: $350 Volt: $60 MONTHLY VOLT SAVINGS: $290
So, then does the VOLT actually cost more to OWN? Well, for someone driving 25,000 miles per year, with only 8,000 of those miles being "off the grid", the answer is NO! If we went apples-to-apples on equipment the Volt would cost me an actual $600 per month for fuel and a car payment and the Maxima $845.
At the end of the day, is the Maxima worth an extra $3,000 per year? Hell no, and I LOVE the Maxima. Really, it may sound like I am dogging the Max., not the case, it's just that when judged as a luxury car that happens to be amazingly economical, the VOLT is darn tough to beat. Plain and simple.
"It is the first of it's kind, a new breed of luxury. Sure it's smooth?heck the engine didn't turn on the three days I had the car, and the transmission has no gears to shift! The car is really comfy, both the seats and the ride. And it's quick, all that torque at 0 RPM means it literally scoots across intersections awash in power. Then there's the new twist?gas. You have to consider it to be a luxury to visit a gas station just once a month or less, don't you? I know I would. When was the lst time anyone pulled into a gas station and thought "Wow, I have finally reached my destination, the place I've always wanted to visit"? Heck no, they are dirty, smell badly and you just want to get in and get back in your car.
It has to be a luxury to know that you aren't helping OPEC. To know that you are now different than your friends, you're not tied to just one way of life, but now have motoring options. Luxury is being able to stand out, a little, or a lot, but to not conform for the sake of conforming, and to spoil yourself in some way. The VOLT is luxury.
I will save the drama, I didn't win all the hearts and minds that day, but what I did get was another ten minutes of conversation, ten minutes of open minded pondering. Ten minutes that would have lasted longer if they didn't have to hit the road.
Smooth - Check Powerful - Check Refined - Check Comfortable - Check
New Technology - Check Stand out from the crowd/norm - Check
Welcome to the new luxury, then new Standard of the World. Welcome to VOLT.
Well, as luck would have it, I confirmed my outlook on the Volt as a luxury car when a gathering of retired gentlemen who do some driving for us on the side, walked in front of a Volt on the showroom floor of our Pataskala dealership. These guys are the stereotypical retired "dudes" they are happy to chat-up anyone and complain freely about, well, everything. They are also stubborn, and happy to point out that they have their ways and they like them. We all like these guys, because they are who they are, and they are proud to have earned the right to be "that way". So there they were, a pack, circling their next victim, a shiny Chevy Volt. What happened next was almost comical. There was a five minute back and forth about the price (MSRP) of the VOLT.
"What, are they kidding! $45,000 for this?!"
"I know, it's a joke, not enough there to spend that money!"
"Yep, it's Cadillac money for a damn Chevy." Me, stirring the pot a bit: "You know you get a $7,500 tax credit, so the price really isn't that high".
Them: "Government always giving everyone's hard earned money away to people that can afford things like these." Turns out that every one of these gents could buy a VOLT if they wanted to, so the price really wasn't the issue. They just didn't understand the car, or it's value. Not one of them had been able to put the VOLT in a context that made sense to them. All they knew was that there was strange technology that they didn't understand. So they decided to keep it at arm's length. Understood.
"Cadillac, you guys like Cadillac, right?" I asked politely.
"Hell yes we like Cadillac."?all nodding and smiling with fondness and approval.
"Okay, so let me see if I have this about right, you all like Cadillac, and my guess is that you like Cadillac because it's a luxury car, right?" I asked.
It was agreed, Cadillac equals luxury and luxury is what these men all liked, and they all liked Cadillac. So here went nothing; "And a luxury car is smooth, powerful, comfortable, stylish, but not too stylish, reliable and has some of the newest technology to keep it one step ahead of the rest, right?" I asked the group, who hands were now on their hips. There was agreement. So there it was, the stage was set. They all looked at me waiting for the next volley, and that's when I asked who among them had driven the Volt. A couple hands went up. I asked these guys if the car was smooth, powerful and comfortable. They all agreed, and then it began to hit them when one piped up, leaning in to touch the car, "So you're trying to tell me that this car is a luxury car?"
There I was silently cruising down the road from Columbus to Newark when the Volt finally dawned on me as a complete vehicle. Yes, the car is an electric car, and yes, it is a gasoline powered car-er generator. But it's really our modern interpretation a luxury car.
When you ask someone what they think of when you say "luxury car" you often get, "Cadillac". Okay, and what is a Cadillac, what "was" as Cadillac. Well, to use an old advertising slogan, a Cadillac is "The Standard of the World". Pretty strong language, but think about it, the luxury cars that come to mind really do fit that bill.
They are all smooth, they all ride well, they are all packed with the latest technology, they all look good, but almost none break any real styling molds-they are conservative and understated. These cars, these luxury cars are also expensive. Not so expensive that you couldn't afford one if you save a little, or not so expensive that you couldn't lease one to keep the payments down, but nicely double the price os the average car. Maybe the retirement dream cruiser.