2011 Chevrolet Volt 5dr HB Angular Front Exterior View
Years from now, the world might just view the 2011 Chevrolet Volt as the car that showed General Motors was worth saving. The Volt is GM’s first electric car since the infamous EV1 two-seater, and this time, the company is building and selling it in volume—in every U.S. state by the end of 2011.
The aerodynamic five-door, four-seat hatchback is compact in size, and the rear seats are tight, with the T-shaped 16-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack fitted down the tunnel and under the rear seats. While it’s about the size of its compact sibling the 2011 Chevy Cruze, the range-extended electric Volt aims at an entirely different market: early adopters, environmentalists, and those who like the idea of driving on grid electricity instead of gasoline made from imported oil.
Most importantly, the Volt is a real car. It’s not a golf cart, or a science project, or some weird two-seat aero-blob. It has all the conveniences you’d expect in a compact car, plus some you wouldn’t. It’s fast, it rides well, it’s enormously smooth and quiet, and so far it has had almost no teething troubles—a credit to GM’s extensive development process.
The 2011 Volt is an instantly recognizable shape, though to our eyes it's a little disappointing. It’s certainly not as iconic as the 2011 Toyota Prius hybrid or the battery-electric 2011 Nissan Leaf, both also five-door hatchbacks. Its window openings are narrow and the cowl is very high, giving it a chunky appearance that isn’t helped by the obviously fake twin-opening Chevrolet grille.
Inside, the Volt sports superb graphics in the instrument panel and central information screen. The twin-cockpit dash uses many controls recognizable from the Cruze, but in a more upscale presentation. Flashy abstract graphics for the door panels are an option. Seats are comfortable, and the controls are easy to understand.