Very recently my 2017 Chevy Volt has crossed the 50k miles mark. Just shy of three years of ownership, I have been able to take my plug-in hybrid to many journeys as well as the regular errands and work commutes.
After crossing this threshold, I figured it could be a good story for those who are considering a Chevy Volt or any electric car for the matter.
In this Chevy Volt review, I will discuss maintenance/repair issues, electric vs. gas usage, various charging situations, efficiency and cost of ownership numbers, and more. Let’s get started!
Electric Around Town, Gas On Long Trips
For those who are unfamiliar with the basics of the Volt, the Chevy Volt is a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) with 53 miles of electric range and 300+ miles of gas range. The Volt will use energy from the battery until it is completely discharged before using the gas generator.
During this event, the transition is basically seamless and happens while you are driving and without much notice.
This was one of the main reasons why my wife and I decided to get the Volt. With class-leading electric range for a PHEV, the Volt was capable of completing my wife’s work commute of 40 miles round trip with a few extra miles leftover to run errands around town.
This enabled us to use the battery alone for the vast majority of our trips. We only used gas when traveling out of town on long trips.
This sort of use is exactly how GM designed the Volt. One of the marketing campaigns claimed Volt drivers would only fill the gas tank every 1,200 miles. Of course this depends on many factors, however, overall we filled up the tank roughly close to that figure.
Trouble Free Ownership (Mostly)
Over the three years of ownership, we had a mostly trouble free experience. The Volt had to visit the shop four times: three were warranty/recall repairs and one was a self-induced tire repair.
The three warranty and recall repairs were covered 100% by Chevy. Only one repair required a couple of days, which prompted Chevy to give us a loaner while our Volt was being repaired.
Besides those repairs, maintenance has been incredibly minimal. I replaced the cabin air filter once, Chevy replaced the oil filter and did an oil change (covered by a free 24 month maintenance plan at purchase), and tire rotations every 7,500 miles (free at local tire shop).
All of this maintenance cost us a total of $14. Nice.
When looking at the maintenance schedule provided in the owner’s manual, the next 50,000 miles should bring similar low maintenance activity. Low maintenance is one of the many advantages of electric vehicles (EVs).
Gas Stations Become Irregular and Inconvenient
While the Volt is not an all-electric car like the Chevy Bolt (with a B) or Tesla Model 3, it does significantly reduce the need to visit a gas station. Because charging is done mainly at home and because the Volt has 53 miles of electric range, the need to fuel up is very infrequent. Really the only times we had to refuel was during out of town trips.
Other than that, the vast majority of the time we simply plugged in when my wife or I got home and woke up to a 100% charged battery. The battery has enough range to cover just about every regular trip.
During the events when we did need to refuel, finding and fueling at a gas station suddenly became a minor inconvenience. Gas stations are designed to be a dedicated stop where you refuel for 5-10 minutes and then hit the road again.
Charging an EV, however, is not a dedicated stop. While the charge time is longer than the refuel time, you are free to do other tasks such as visit the restroom or grab some food.
Because of this shift, my and wife I became used to not noticing how long our Volt took to charge since it was overnight. Only when we needed to refuel did we realize it was a bit of a detour on our trip.
Oh the Places You’ll Charge
Speaking of charging, and as previously mentioned, charging our Volt mainly took place at our house overnight. At first, we used a regular 120 volt outlet. This charged the Volt in about 12 hours and provided around 4 miles of range per hour.
When we first got the Volt, we were renters. We discussed this with our landlord and agreed to a small flat fee for the additional electricity usage since the landlord paid for electricity. This agreement prevented our landlord from increasing our rent more than a reasonable amount.
There are many other ways to charging an EV as a renter. Check out exactly how to go about this in this article.
A few years later, we purchased a home and got a 240 Volt outlet installed in our garage. To use a 240 Volt outlet with an EV, you’ll need a Level 2 charger. The charger that comes with the car is typically a Level 1 only charger (e.g. only 120 Volts).
The Level 2 charger charged our Volt in about 4 hours and provided around 10 miles of range per hour. Check out this article for Recommended Level 2 Chargers.
Every once in a while we would plug into a public charging station. To find these charging stations, we used the app Plugshare. Check out this article on How to Use Plugshare.
Many of these charging stations are actually free! The ones that did require payment cost the same or less than gas.
And again, while charging, we completed other tasks like shopping at the grocery store or hardware store.
Overall, charging at home (whether Level 1 or Level 2), cost around the third the cost than gas. Lower cost of operation is another advantage of electric cars.
Voltstats is a website that provides, well, stats for Chevy Volts! By connecting your Volt to the website, you will be able to view daily and cumulative stats such as electric miles versus total miles, MPG versus MPGe, leaderboards, and more.
Per Voltstats, my Volt, has traveled 50,175 miles and 30,329 of which were electric. That equates to 60% electric. In other words, 60% of my miles were done by the battery, and the remaining 40% were by gas.
When looking at the leaderboards, there are a few Volts that have traversed more than 300,000 miles! Of those, around 100,000 miles of the miles were by the battery.
This was something that I was previously concerned about. I was unsure if the battery was capable of lasting over the years.
However, when I did my research, I found many Volts like these that have travelled many miles on their battery alone and even more overall.
Volt or Bolt?
The Chevy Bolt (with a “B”) is the all-electric Chevy alternative to the Volt. The Bolt is currently capable of traveling 259 miles via a much larger battery.
When my wife and I were discussing what our next car would be, we narrowed it down to the Volt and the Bolt. Ultimately, we decided on the Volt for two main reasons.
One, the Volt was cheaper. The net cost we paid for the Volt was about $25,000. This includes all EV tax credits and rebates. The Bolt would have cost around $30,000.
While the Volt does occasionally use gas and while that gas is more expensive than electricity, it still would have taken many, many years to justify the cost increase.
And two, at the time, DC Fast Charging (DCFC) was not adequate for where we wanted to go. DCFC, sometimes known as Level 3 charging, is the quickest way to charge an all-electric car.
Typically, it takes around 30 minutes but depends on the max charging rate of the car and of the charger itself. For the Bolt, it takes around an hour.
In 2017, the number of DCFC stations was limited. Electrify America, DCFC network created by Volkswagen from their Dieselgate scandal, had yet to be created.
Today, there are a ton more charging stations thanks to networks like Electrify America. If we had gotten the Bolt in 2017, we would have had a tough time getting to our in-laws or favorite long trip destinations. Instead, we got the Volt since it has gas for those longer trips.
Chevy Volt Review Conclusion
After three years and 50k miles with my Volt, I can definitely say I am hooked on EVs. While it is a plug-in hybrid and not an all-electric car, I find myself wanting to stay on electric mode rather than gas mode.
Sadly, the Volt was discontinued in 2019. GM seems to be focusing on all-electric cars with the upcoming Bolt EUV, Bolt re-fresh, Cadillac Lyriq, GMC Hummer EV, and many more. To see the whole list of upcoming GM EVs, check out the Comprehensive Electric Car List.
For those who are looking for something similar to a Volt, check out the PHEVs with the Most Electric Range. Since the Volt was the leader in electric range for PHEVs, this article will provide several PHEV options with similar electric range.
If I had a do-over, I probably would have still picked the Volt. As I stated previously, there just wasn’t enough DCFC stations in 2017. Plus, with a budget of around $25,000, my options were fairly limited.
Today, there are significantly more electric cars (both BEVs and PHEVs). Additionally, the number of charging stations has dramatically increased.
It is safe to say that there has never been a better time to go electric than today. Join the fun!
Hi there! I’m the founder and project manager at Charged Future: the EV charging consultancy. Charged Future helps businesses achieve their EV charging goals. Specifically, I serve as the project manager for your EV charging project, which can save you both time and money! Additionally, I can search and apply to all eligible rebate applications, which can typically cover a large portion of the project cost.