Over the holidays we took the Volt on a quick road trip to Omaha. The weather was brutal (close to zero at times and when it warmed up we hit an ice storm) but overall the Volt performed well. Driving on icey roads is never fun but the Volt stayed under control and provided first-hand experience with the traction control and anti-lock brake systems – both of which functioned flawlessly (unlike the nerve racked driver). Also, I was surprised at how much we could fit in the Volt’s storage compartment (luggage for 3 adults plus Christmas gifts).
One of my goals this trip was to see what kind of mileage we would get using just the Volt’s gas engine. When my wife was driving she averaged 70 miles per hour and got 35 miles per gallon. Note, there is definitely a difference between the sexes – at least in our household – when it comes to driving. I tend to drive a little faster and have a heavier foot on the gas. When I took over driving I set the cruise control to 73, but didn’t hesitate to accelerate if I needed to pass. This quickly dropped the miles per gallon to 34. Our overall average for the trip was 34.4 miles per gallon.
While the gas mileage was a little disappointing (especially when you figure in the price of premium gas) my guess is the Volt’s gas engine would meet its EPA estimate of 40 miles per gallon highway when driven at an average speed of 48.3 miles (the EPA’s average speed for highway driving – http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/fe_test_schedules.shtml).
So is the Volt the ideal car for a road trip? Probably not, it’s gas mileage is not much better than the average small car and the gas tank only hold 9 gallons. But the truth is the Volt isn’t meant to be a highway driver. It is a car for in-town driving (preferably less than 38 miles a day) so you can take advantage of the low cost of electricity. The fact that we could take the Volt on the road at all was a big plus for us and helps justify the Volt’s extra cost when compared to pure electrics like the Nissan Leaf.