2014 BMW i3 REx Vs Chevy Volt: Range-Extended Electric Cars Compared Page 5


2014 BMW i3 REx vs Chevrolet Volt comparison [photos: David Noland, Tom Moloughney]

2014 BMW i3 REx vs Chevrolet Volt comparison [photos: David Noland, Tom Moloughney]

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You either love 'em or hate 'em, and I happen to hate 'em. Rear passengers can't get out until the driver first opens the front door, thereby releasing the rear doors to be opened.

(It might be a good way to keep unruly kids inside, I suppose.)

On the other hand, with all doors open, the i3 is incredibly accessible. And it looks very cool.

2014 BMW i3 REx owned by Tom Moloughney

2014 BMW i3 REx owned by Tom Moloughney

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Cargo room

The Volt is the clear winner in this regard. The rear cargo area is about 15 percent bigger, and with rear seats folded down, the Volt will swallow a large mountain bike without removing the front wheel. I've carried all sorts of stuff back there; it's an amazingly useful space.

Because of the electric motor,  REx engine, and gas tank underneath, the i3's rear cargo floor is several inches higher than the Volt's--one reason there's less total space.

But the i3 cargo opening is lower than the Volt's, at the same level as the floor.  The Volt, on the other hand, has a deep lip over which cargo must be lifted.

2014 BMW i3 REx vs Chevrolet Volt comparison [photos: David Noland, Tom Moloughney]

2014 BMW i3 REx vs Chevrolet Volt comparison [photos: David Noland, Tom Moloughney]

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Looks

The Volt has a pleasant, rather innocuous look to it, but the i3 shouts out, "Look at me! I'm different!"

Again, you either love it or hate it. And again, I'm not a fan of the car's appearance.

No accounting for taste.

Price

In my book, the Volt and i3 REx run neck and neck until you get to the sticker price.

Current Volt base price is $34,995, more than $11,000 cheaper than the i3 REx base sticker of $46,125.

Eleven grand will buy a whole lot of kilowatt-hours and  gasoline to make up for the Volt's lower efficiency.

Using our previous cost-of-operation numbers, the payback period in electricity and gas savings for the i3's price premium works out to something like 200 years.

Which one to buy?

The Chevrolet Volt has a lot going for it. For many drivers, it virtually never burns gas. Yet it can go 300-plus miles, no sweat.

It has the second-highest owner approval rating ever measured by Consumer Reports (after the Tesla Model S). And it's $11,000 cheaper than the i3.


 
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