The Chevy Volt: A love-hate relationship

Chevy Volt-AlaskaI recently had the opportunity to drive the 2011 Chevy Volt through Alaska. Our group began the trip in Anchorage, making our way to Girdwood, Hope, and Seward before heading back again. And while Digital Trends has already fully reviewed the vehicle and offered several thorough insights about the car, the mini road-trip through Alaska meant some extended and intimate one-on-one time behind the wheel.

Now I’m not a car expert, but the Volt’s almost video-game like interface and tech-fiend friendly controls were enough to pique my interest. These were the things I loved and hated about my time with the Volt.


Touch interface

The touchscreen interface was easily one of my favorite things about the Volt. It was responsive (as it must be for this purpose), and after the getting-used-to-it phase, the capacitive controls felt completely natural.

I initially worried that I would spend more time with my eyes on the center panel, trying to find my respective touch controls, but I’m happy to say it was just the opposite: I was able to keep my eyes on the road and navigate the car’s icons just fine.

Efficiency icon

I like driving, but a lot of people don’t. Take into account the fact that I walk to work and don’t have to suffer through workweek traffic and my reasoning becomes clearer. But everyone is at some point a slave to driver fatigue or frustration about the time you’re spending inside your car. Now I’m not saying the Volt is a cure-all, but its eco-efficiency reader certainly helps. A rotating green globe bounces up and down a scale, and you want to drive so you balance it in the middle, getting the most efficient use out of the car.

chevy volt efficiency icon

Navigation system

This feature would find itself only under things I hated if it hadn’t been so useful once I’d figured it out. Chevy preloaded most of the destinations for us, and when using those it was more than simple to get on the road. But entering an exact address, not so easy (I’ll get to the later). However, after I gave in and decided to use crossroads, it was quite helpful. And for longer drives, I would get a reminder every 15-20 minutes that I was still on the right road, a feature I found comforting but that can also be easily disabled.


Simply put, the Volt is really fun to drive. It’s a comfortable car (I drove a model with the optional leather seats), and having the battery down the middle means it takes curves really nicely without slinging you around the car – maybe that’s not a problem for everyone, but fellow 5-foot-2 girls know what I’m talking about. But for short and long rides, it performed nicely.


Accelerator sensitivity

While I overall enjoyed my days driving the Volt, there are bound to be a few things to take exception with. For me, that including the car’s sensitivity. There’s always that adjustment period of getting used to a vehicle’s acceleration – and I don’t think I ever got there. After driving for awhile, I would get used to how much pressure I wanted to use on the accelerator, but those first few moments were always a little iffy.

The hiss

This might be silly and so unimportant to most drivers, but it definitely started to get to me. The Volt has a constant background hiss that is likely made all the more obvious by its comparative silence. Road noise didn’t really bother me, and surprisingly neither did the lack of radio or XM (didn’t work so well in most of the small towns we drove through) – but the hiss did. Apparently Chevy didn’t invest as much in noise dampening since the motor is so quiet, but the constant whir bordered on obnoxious.

Navigation system

Making an appearance in both categories is the Volt’s navigation system. Entering exact addresses was, to put it mildly, extremely annoying. It would try to  auto-select my destination, which was wrong in each circumstance. It was also difficult to use backspace, and I found I was better off just entering the town name or maybe a cross street to find where I was going.

It’s probably important to note that Chevy did shelter us from one very important aspect of the Volt:  the company always took care of charging the cars and filling the gas tanks, and I never had to stop to fill up.

Here’s a video with Chevy’s Michelle Bunker offering a little information on how the Volt charges.


I tried an LTE laptop for a month, and I wasn’t really convinced

LTE laptops offer up plenty of benefits and are becoming more common. After spending one month with one in my daily life in New York City, I really wondered if it is something that consumers really need in their lives.
Product Review

The 2019 Porsche Macan S is a luxurious and quick SUV, but it's no road tripper

The roster of models challenging the Porsche Macan grows annually. The German firm updated its smallest, most affordable SUV with a new engine, more tech features, and subtle design tweaks to keep it looking fresh.
Smart Home

Amazon Alexa enhancements add geolocation, kids’ Routines, and more

Amazon's digital assistant Alexa continues to evolve and its newest features should appeal to busy people and parents on the go, including location-based routines and reminders as well as Routines aimed toward kids.
Product Review

Audi built an electric SUV for buyers who want gasoline-free to mean stress-free

We finally got to spend time behind the wheel of the electric 2019 Audi E-Tron bustling cities and arid desert of the United Arab Emirates to see how it compares with Jaguar and Tesla's competitors.

The Aston Martin Vanquish Zagato Shooting Brake is the sexiest wagon ever

Aston Martin has revealed new photos of the limited-production Vanquish Zagato Shooting Brake. The Vanquish Zagato line now includes the Shooting Brake, Coupe, Volante, and Speedster, each with bespoke styling.

Nissan and Italdesign’s GT-R50 concept will become a $1.1 million reality

The Nissan GT-R50 is a customized sports car built to celebrate the 50th anniversaries of both the GT-R and design firm Italdesign. Underneath the sleek bodywork sits a 710-horsepower engine fortified with race car components.

Car-branded phones need to make a U-turn if they ever want to impress

Your car and your smartphone are becoming one, yet smartphones branded or co-created by car companies are a problem. We look at the history, some examples of the best and worst, then share hopes for the future.

Ford’s new Shelby GT500 Mustang will have 3D-printed brake parts

Ford's new $45 million Advanced Manufacturing Center will focus on emerging technologies, including 3D printing. One of the staff's first jobs is to print parts for the 700-horsepower Shelby GT500 Mustang.

World’s fastest electric race car to display at Petersen Museum

The Volkswagen I.D. R Pikes Peak race car smashed the all-time record at the hill climb for which it was named. The all-electric VW record-holder will be on display at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles until February 1, 2019.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Folding canoes and ultra-fast water filters

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!

This freewheeling Army truck-turned-tiny home is a labor of love

Most tiny homes are models of efficiency but one British metal worker has redefined the idea, converting an old Army truck into a mobile tiny home that comes with a bed, a sofa, a shower, and a beer garden.

Take a friend stargazing at 202 mph in the 2019 McLaren 720S Spider

McLaren has introduced the 2019 720S Spider. As its name implies, it's a convertible variant of the 720S coupe. The company promises the Spider retains the coupe's dynamism and agility thanks in part to the widespread use of carbon fiber.

Gateway’s born-again Ford Bronco boasts classic style, 2018 muscle car power

Illinois-based Gateway Bronco has received a license from Ford to make brand-new examples of the first-generation Bronco. Every build starts with a Ford VIN and a donor vehicle, but Gateway upgrades every part of the car.

Bloodhound’s plan to build a 1,000-mph car has run out of gas

The Bloodhound supersonic car (SSC) project has officially shut down. The upside is you can now buy a 135,000-horsepower car powered by a jet engine and a cluster of rockets for $319,000.