2014 Chevrolet Volt Expert Review

3.2 Overall Score
Performance 2.9 Comfort 2.8 Styling 3.2 Value 3.0

Editor's Overview

The 2014 Chevrolet Volt is a plug-in hybrid, meaning it can run for a limited time at full speed solely on electric or use its gasoline engine for power. With a pure-electric range up to 38 miles and total range of 380 miles, the Volt gives you the best of both worlds and looks pretty darn cool in the process.

You'll Like The 2014 Chevrolet Volt If...

The 2014 Chevy Volt delivers on its promise to be green by providing a pure electric mode up to nearly 40 miles. Unlike electric cars, the Volt won’t leave you stranded once the battery runs down, so long as there is fuel in the tank.

You May Not Like The 2014 Chevrolet Volt If...

Even with a price reduction and tax credits, the 2014 Volt doesn’t come cheap. The Volt’s back seat is small, and only holds two people, limiting its usefulness to many urban buyers.

What's New

The Chevrolet Volt sees no major changes for 2014.

Interior Features

Taking a page from the Apple computer school of design, the 2014 Chevy Volt’s interior can be covered in bright white and dark accented plastics and touch-sensitive controls for the audio and climate-control functions. Two 7-inch LCD screens replace the traditional analog gauges, with one serving as the instrument cluster (speedometer, fuel and range gauges) and the other in the center stack displaying the electric motor/battery operation as well as the available navigation screen. The cool-looking touch-sensitive buttons are a little tricky to identify and operate. The rear seat takes only two occupants and their head- and legroom are snug.

Exterior Features

With the goal of total operating efficiency, the 2014 Chevrolet Volt’s design team crafted a body shape that could cheat the wind while delighting the eyes. Up front are a rounded nose, closed grille opening and steeply raked windshield. Sharp edges along the Volt’s rear fenders help slice through the wind, as does the functional rear hatch spoiler. This is one of the most aerodynamic cars in GM’s long and storied history. Even the Volt’s wheels and tires are designed for maximum efficiency; the ultra-lightweight wheels (17.8 pounds) mount Goodyear Fuel Max low-rolling-resistance tires.

Driving Impressions

As an electric, the 2014 Chevy Volt’s motor offers up a big serving of torque right out of the gate. From a stop, our Volt sprinted to life with enough thrust to push us into our seats as it silently reached 50 mph. The absence of engine noise and gearshifts does take some getting used to. Even when the gasoline engine kicks on, it doesn’t rev relative to road speed. As for the Volt’s driving characteristics, we’d hesitate to call them sporty, but the Cruz-based platform does provide decent handling and a rather smooth ride. The Volt’s electric power steering is responsive and direct, nicely weighted without being too vague at highway speeds or too heavy when parallel parking. Although GM claims the Volt’s electric range at 38 miles, the actual range will vary hugely depending on circumstances.

Pricing Notes

The 2014 Chevrolet Volt’s Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starts right around $35,000 and loading one with leather, navigation, Bose audio, and the rearview camera and park-assist package will bump that figure to $40,000. Even when you factor in the potential $7,500 federal tax credit, that pricing limits the Volt’s appeal. Leasing may be one way to make the payments manageable. Although Chevrolet projects a full recharge will run only about $1.50 per day, the cost of a dedicated 240V home charger to replace the standard 110V cable will run $490 plus installation. As with the Nissan Leaf EV, it’s difficult to assess how well the Volt will retain its value over time, although we expect the 2014 Chevrolet Volt to remain on par with the Leaf, but far below the values for the Toyota Prius and VW Golf TDI.

Notable Equipment

The base 2014 Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid comes with a more comprehensive feature set than just about any other Chevy on the market. It’s also the recipient of all of Chevy’s latest and greatest technology and features, including touch-sensitive climate, audio and drive controls, and an 8-year/100,000-mile warranty on its battery pack and associated electrics. Other standard features include air conditioning, keyless access, power mirror/locks/windows, 110-volt charge cord, color-touch AM/FM/CD radio and 17-inch wheels. Standard safety features include electronic traction and stability control, anti-lock brakes and eight airbags. You also get USB connectivity and five years of OnStar.

Notable Options

For 2014, most Chevy Volt options are grouped into a few packages, including the Premium Trim (adds leather seating trim, heated front seats and a rear center armrest), and two Enhanced Safety packages, one including rear park assist and a rearview camera and the other adding front park assist and the lane-departure and collision-warning systems. Stand-alone options include an energy-saving Bose sound system (it’s 40 percent lighter and uses 50 percent less energy than a conventional sound system), MyLink, a 240-volt charging station and a navigation system with 30GB hard-drive music storage and Sirius NavTraffic.

Favorite Features

Using information supplied by your local electricity provider, you can program the Volt to start recharging its battery pack when rates are at their lowest. And if you tell it when you plan to leave in the morning, the car will automatically schedule the charging process to ensure it’s ready.

The OnStar MyLink app lets you check your Volt’s battery level, tire pressure, available electric range, lock/unlock the doors and start the A/C system to pre-cool the interior, all from your smartphone. You can control charging rate and get a text or e-mail alert when the battery is “full.”

Under the Hood

The 2014 Chevrolet Volt’s propulsion system consists of an electric drive unit that makes 149 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque, a 16kWh lithium-ion battery pack and a 1.4-liter/84-horsepower 4-cylinder “range-extender.” That engine takes over when battery charge is depleted – normally after 25-40 miles of driving – and generates on-the-fly electricity for another 300-380 miles. Recharging takes 10-16 hours using a standard 110V outlet or about four hours on a 240V dedicated unit. The Volt has four operating modes. Normal is the most efficient, Sport provides more direct accelerator response, Mountain helps the battery cope with extended steep grades and Hold runs only on the gas engine/generator, conserving battery charge for when it may be wanted (in town, for instance).

AC synchronous electric motor/generator
16kWh lithium-ion battery pack
1.4-liter inline-4 (drives generator only)
111kW/149 horsepower @ 4,800 rpm
273 lb-ft of torque @ 0-4,800 rpm
EPA projected full-charge range: 38 miles (all-electric), 380 miles (gasoline range-extender only)
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 93 MPGe (all-electric, mpg equivalent), 35 city/40 highway mpg (on gasoline engine/generator)

Editors' Notes

Chevrolet’s Volt for 2014 is more than a hybrid and more than a pure electric. Actually, it’s a bit of both. Unlike most hybrids, the Volt can run at freeway speeds on pure electric, but only for limited range of about 30-40 miles. When the battery pack is depleted, a small gasoline engine kicks on to run a generator that powers the electric motor while simultaneously recharging the battery pack. With the gasoline engine running, the Volt’s estimated range is increased to 380 miles and its fuel economy estimated around 40 mpg. Unlike many electric and hybrid offerings the Volt’s styling isn’t awkward or geeky, and its interior is one of the coolest we’ve seen in or out of a hybrid.

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