The Test: With a full charge on a balmy fall day, we blitzed deep into the Rockies from Denver to see how far the Chevy Volt could travel using only its battery. We made it uphill to 8,615 feet and 47.3 miles before it switched smoothly from electric to hybrid mode. Not bad.
The improvement over the old 38-mile range is achieved partly through an upgraded battery and drivetrain. The Volt’s four-cylinder, 1.5-liter backup engine is now more powerful and fuel-efficient. On our trip back down from the high country, we could barely believe the numbers: the onboard computer claimed it used only 0.6 gallons of fuel by the time we got home. That’s 78.8 miles per gallon. Bummer: it took us 20 hours to recharge a fully depleted battery using a standard 110-volt household outlet.
The Verdict: This electric car with benefits—a gas engine—keeps getting better.
$33,995; 106 MPGe city/hwy, 42 mpg combined city/hwy (gasoline only)