2013 Chevrolet Volt: The Ideal Retirement Car?

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2012 Chevrolet Volt

2012 Chevrolet Volt

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Imagine the following scenario: you and your partner are rapidly approaching retirement, looking to downsize your car, and trying to plan for your financial future. 

You’re ready to buy a new car, but you want something that’s relatively green and cheap to run.  

Could the 2013 Chevrolet Volt offer you everything you need in a retirement car? 

Running costs

Many retirees find they only make regular short trips in an average day, with the occasional longer road trip a few times a year.

Thanks to its on-board 16.5 kilowatt-hour battery pack, the Volt can travel an EPA-approved 38 miles per charge without using any gasoline, meaning daily trips out and about town can be made without worrying about gas prices. 

For longer trips across state, the range-extending gasoline engine can provide enough range to get you between cities without worrying about recharging. 

Better still, because it comes with a 110-volt Level 1 charging station as standard, you won’t have to shell out for an expensive, 240-volt, Level 2 charging station to be installed in your home unless you really want one. It’s worth noting however, that charging at 110-volts takes a lot longer than it does at 240-volts. 

2012 Chevrolet Volt

2012 Chevrolet Volt

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Refined, comfortable interior

While the 2013 Chevrolet Volt is no luxury car, its interior is comfortable enough on long trips to keep most passengers happy.

Adjustable, heated front seats also help provide instant heat on cold days, whilst a pre-heating setting allows you to program the car to heat or cool itself up before you get in. 

Cabin noise is also kept to a minimum, with transition between electric and gasoline power sources smooth and made without fuss. 

When it comes to load space, the Volt’s load bay floor, while easy to reach, only provides 10.6 cubic feet of space.  

However, the rear seats fold down to give a more useful, flat load bay area of 18 cubic feet.


Because your kids have grown up, left home and have cars of their own, you won’t need a minivan or SUV any more. 

And while it’s always nice to have the extra room an SUV offers, you’ll find yourself paying extra for the privilege in gas-bills.

While the Chevrolet Volt is classed as a compact car, its two front and two rear individual seats ensure there’s more than enough room for all but the tallest of drivers and passengers, while adequate lumbar support makes driving it long-distance a pleasure. 


2012 Chevrolet Volt

2012 Chevrolet Volt

Enlarge Photo

Even if you’re retired, it doesn’t mean you don’t like the thrill of accelerating fast. 

Although the Volt’s 1.4-liter engine isn’t exactly what you’d call exciting, its 111 kilowatt motor provides more than enough torque to let you out-run all but the sportiest of cars at the stop light. 

And because it’s got a continuously-variable transmission, there are no unpleasant automatic gear-shifts to worry about either.


While the Chevrolet Volt does provide comfortable, efficient motoring for those retirees who want to travel beyond the range of an all-electric car, it isn’t the easiest of cars to get in and out of if you have restricted mobility.

Then there’s cost. 

Starting at $39,145 before state and federal tax incentives, it also isn’t exactly cheap to buy. 

If you’re downsizing from a two-car household to a one-car household however, you may be able to offset some of that high cost with a double trade-in. 

Add in the $7,500 federal tax credit and any local incentives however, and you could find that $39,145 drops significantly.

Is it for you?

As always, we recommend you take a test drive before making any purchase decision, but with one of the highest levels of satisfaction of any car on the market today, the Chevrolet Volt could give you many happy years of retirement motoring. 

Do you have alternative suggestions? Do you disagree?

Let us know your thoughts in the Comments below.


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Comments (34)
  1. I almost bought a Volt until I heard about the upcoming Ford Fusion plug-in hybrid. The looks alone on the Fusion are amazing. I test drove the Volt and thought it was a tremendous car though.

  2. Fusion Energi will be a good car, but I am NOT sure its all Electric range will be nearly as close as the Volt... Or its price.

    It does look nice though. It is on my radar for replacing the Accord in my family. Accord also has a Plugin version coming.

  3. That was my plan also until I heard that the EV range for the Fusion PIH is below 30 miles. Since then, the Volt became my favorite again.

  4. Having read your post I looked and found this article on the Fusion's range: http://www.greencarreports.com/news/1078496_is-ford-fusion-energi-20-mile-electric-car-a-volt-competitor That is disappointing and if true, leads me to reconsider the Volt. I drove one and was impressed with its power, handling, and fit and finish.

  5. The Fusion range is like 20 miles max which might work for you if you regularly drive 20 miles or less each day....


  6. Nikki wrote:

    "While the 2013 Chevrolet Volt is no luxury car"

    What is your "definition" of "luxury" car? Ammenity, comfort, performance, quietness, Price?

    Which one of those category did the Volt fall short? Was Lexus HS250 and 200CT considered as "luxury" car? If so, why is Volt NOT?

  7. I don't think any retirees have bought a Volt, as I've yet to see one in beige. Lol!

  8. I retired in 2007, and our lot arrived in January of 2011. I agree that it is a great "retiree's car.". It protects against the inexorable inflation in gas pricing, as electric rates are MUCH more stable and with home solar panels, it is like having your own oil well and refinery on your roof.

    Pay off your mortgage, install home photovoltaic panels and get a plug-in vehicle and your retirement will have way less monthly financial stress.

  9. Oops "our Volt" arrived

  10. @George, yes I'm sure it's a great car for any situation. My joke was just aimed at retired people in general, I live in a state know for it's retirement potential so we tend to make a lot of jokes about the retirement menace out on the roads.

  11. The Volt will give you many years of motoring period. I for one see it as a good portion of the future of motoring. The future of pure EV cars is short commuting. The Volt is the best combination of what affordable hybrid technologies have to offer today, and it will become more important when solar electricity becomes more widespread and affordable or when its heat engine may run on other fuels: Diesel or natural gas. I can't help but thinking what it would be of a Volt with an incorporated KERS system. I think it's just a matter of short time that the Volt will get more affordable to buy. I hear that other companies are beginning to work on their extended range vehicle versions like Mazda. They are planning on using their beloved rotary

  12. engine to power the electric motors during battery depletion, and like they say: when producers compete, consumers win.

  13. The title should actually read ...
    The Ideal Retirement Car For Independant Thinkers

    Most of the Volt pih drivers I talk to say forget the EPA numbers, at 65-70mph on flat highway they get 30 miles electric range before the engine turns on. They say they would like their pih so much better if it had a real 60 mile electric range.

    All plug-in vehicle (EV or pih) can charge at level-1, so those words are moot. But it be good to explain your statement of 'a lot longer'. The Volt's level-1 charger (EVSE you carry on-board) is ~1.4kW. Its on-board charger recharges at a 3.3kW (half-powered). That means charging at level-1 is ~2.5 times slower that at a level-2 3kW rate.

    Personnally, a 100 mile EV is enough for me.

  14. Agreed. 60 mile range and a solar charger would "do the trick" to me.

  15. @Bruce,

    I am NOT sure where you get the 30 miles number from. Most Volt owners that I talk to or on different Forum get easily 45 miles range with 65-70mph driving on flat. I drive fast and aggressive and I have NEVER get less than 39 miles in range. That was with few 95mph spurs... The ONLY way I can see the range drops to 30 miles is if the owners didn't pre-heat the article and it is really cold outside so the car has to heat the battery and the cabin at 65-70mph... A/C doesn't make too much difference in range, maybe 2-3 miles in reduction with Comfort setting and 1-2 miles in range with Eco.

    I agree that 60 miles range would be better (I don't have to charge at home anymore). But that would mean a 25KWh battery and more weight.

  16. "if the owners didn't pre-heat the article and it is really cold outside"

    should be: if the owners didn't pre-heat the car and it is really cold outside

    I don't know where the word "article" comes from... Silly me.

  17. Volt charges in 10 hours on 120V and 4 hours on 240V. I think 240V is more efficient since the battery pack is 360V DC...

    The Level 1 charging is limiting for ALL EVS. That is regulated by the NEC code. The maximum allowable draw is 12A (120V) on a 15Amp outlet sustained...

    Charging will slow down (some energy gets diverted) if the A/C compressor or heater has to come on to regulate the Volt battery in extreme temperature condition during charging...

  18. There are more comments in this thread
  19. Yes, I think it is the ideal retirie's car. Most people retiring see this purchase as the last car they will buy, and want it to be something they will be happy with for a long time. It is the most future-proof car you can buy and excelent value.

  20. Our experience with our 2011 Chevy Volt has been so good that we just bought a second 2013 Chevy Volt. Now we drive two very fun and comfortable cars that hardly ever use any gasoline. I've only used 55 gallons of gas in my 2011 Volt in 19,000 miles over the last 18 months.
    The 2013 Volt has even more features that we love. $238 a month and not gas bill!
    Go drive a Volt and see. Living with one reveals it's true value as you realize you just stopped burning and buying gas.
    The most gas we have used was to drive San Francisco-L.A. and back on 12 gallons of gas. Once there, we charged our battery at the hotel, just plugged into a regular 120 volt outlet overnight and drove around on electrons each day. What a marvel this one of a kind car is!

  21. I heard that Clipper Creek is supplying the new EVSE cordset for the 2013 Volt, is that true? Is your EVSE different from the 2011 model?

  22. I would buy a volt when I could drive 60 plus mile on electric and I think more people would buy them too. I live in NJ and 38 miles just would not do it.
    Come on GM lets get this car over 60 mile on electric.
    I'm driving a BMW ACTIVE electric car now with 100 miles love the range but would love to have the back up that the VOLT has.

  23. BMW i3 with their range extender?

  24. I'd rather have a BMW Active E Electric Car than the Volt because you don't have to worry about servicing a gasoline engine, which means reduced running costs and less things to go wrong during retirement. For those longer trips, can always hire a gas car - at least you don't have to worry about maintenance hassles gas motors can create.

  25. Apples and orange, this article is about retiring and downsizing to one car. How long is it going to take you to drive from LA to San Francisco, a roughly 800 mile round trip in a BMW electric, or any pure electric car if you have to stop and charge it for 8 or 10 hours on 110 volts because you probably won't be able to find a 240 volt charger every 100 miles?

  26. Why drive to LA from SF when you could take the train or fly? And if you're retired, you're not in a hurry - so you'd probably stop in Solvang for lunch while the car recharges, and could overnight in Monterey...

  27. HWY 101 or HWY-1 can be a pretty drive. Plus, you would have to rent a car in LA...

    Also, "old" people don't like to fly (at least the ones that I know).

    Solvang to SF is about 4 hours (fast and without traffic). And there is NOTHING to do there.

    I used to make SF to SB trip monthly... Most EVs won't cut it...

    Also, that is assuming you can charge in between and NOBODY else will take your spot...

  28. When you are retired, you have plenty of time :-)

  29. Personally, I think the new CMax Energi is going to be a great car for retirees - it's tall and easy to get into/ out of, has plenty of space and can accomplish much of what the Volt does with a lower cost of entry.

  30. Depending on whether CMAX Energi can be a "true" EV for the first 20 miles or NOT. If it is "Volt" like, then yes. If it is a "PIP" like scam, then why bother?

  31. Plug-in Prius is not a Scam, it is a vehicle that has made the cost/benefit trade-off differently.

  32. A regular Prius is a much better buy...

    Plus, I have seen plenty of Prius Plugin "hogging" PUBLIC LEVEL 2 charging stations for more than 3-4 hours... (It only needs 1.5 hr to fully charge it)

  33. I have retired and bought the Volt for all of the above reasons. After rebates, tax credits, and my GM card rebate, I paid about $27k, plus sales tax and dealer fees. Not too bad for a near luxury car that could save me $10k in gas over the next 10 years. AFter 6k miles and no issues with the vehicle, I'm averaging 160 MPG as I whoosh quietly down the road. Typical gas powered cars are SO 20th Century.

  34. BTW, I'm averaging about 42 EV miles per charge with 70/30 hwy/city driving ratio and the AC on. The car charges overnight in about 9 hours. I'll pay about $18. in electricity to go 1000 EV miles.

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