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GM Promises an All-New Chevy Volt for 2013

Still Goes 38 Miles on Electric Power Alone

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Perhaps the Chevy Volt got off to a bit of a rocky start, but the fact that I can now find one in my own neighborhood may signal there is some light at the end of the wind tunnel for this unique hybrid.

I've long maintained that part of the problem with the Volt--besides its not-so-insignificant price tag--was that it was marketed incorrectly. Clearly, consumers were saying it looks like a hybrid, it smells like a hybrid, it tastes like a hybrid--well, you get the point. Metaphors aside, it was no doubt confusing to consumers to hear again and again from GM that the Volt was not a hybrid. Well, then, the collective curious seemed to ask, "Exactly what is it?" Somehow, it seemed the fuel economy issue got lost in the shuffle.

With more hybrids hitting the market and automakers using a greater variety of names to describe their own unique hybrid drive trains--eAssist anyone?--it's a bit easier for Chevy Volt to enter 2013 without such an identity crisis. And without trying so hard to convince consumers it wasn't just another hybrid. Today's hybrids come in a lot variations and consumers seem to navigate the market fairly well.

So what's in store for Volt owners in 2013? With a price tag of $39,145 MSRP, the Volt is only a few hundred dollars less than it's $40,000-plus price tag of a few years ago when it was introduced. This is a bit surprising because it would appear that GM doesn't feel sticker shock is a problem with the Volt. Anecdotal evidence, however, would suggest otherwise. But we'll see how it does. One answer for consumers not quite at ease with the near-$40,000 mark for a small car: lease. With GM allowing the Volt to be leased, payments can be brought back down to a more reasonable $330 to $350 level.

For all the hype about an "all-new" Volt for 2013, it isn't easy learning more about just what those changes involve. A closer look will show 2013 brings new safety packages with forward collision alert, lane departure warning, front and rear park assist and a rear camera. Unlike earlier models, he roof and liftgate are now completely body-color.

Also new...a new EV Hold drive mode allows the driver to switch between extended range (for the highway) and electric-only (running purely on battery, for in the city). Previously, the Volt ran on its electric power only until it was depleted, then made the switch. The 2013 model puts more of this control in the driver's hands.

As in past models, Volt technology includes a lithium-ion battery with rechargeable energy storage system and Voltec electric drive system with 1.4L gasoline powered range extender. Safety features include eight air bags, four-wheel ABS, StabiliTrak Electronic Stability Control System, LED daytime running lamps and a pedestrian-friendly horn chirp alert to wake up sleepy pedestrians.

Standard interior features include automatic climate control, 7-inch diagonal reconfigurable LCD instrumentation with Driver Information Center, Keyless Access and keyless push-button start, and remote vehicle starter system. Connectivity features include Chevrolet MyLink with 7-inch diagonal color touch-screen that lets you easily navigate through an amazing array of information and entertainment options, Bluetooth wireless technology for certain phones, OnStar with RemoteLink mobile app and SiriusXM Satellite Radio with three trial months at purchase.

Also garnering much praise for the Volt is its sound system. Not only does it come with a not-too-shabby audio system, but the Volt's quiet ride make for a great music experience unmatched in conventional vehicles. You won't even realize how great Volt's sound is till you move back and forth between it and a gas-powered car.

One word of caution that GM has not addressed: the Volt's front lip. While I realize it is completely designed for great aerodynamics, it can unfortunately cause some real hassles for some drivers. Got a steep driveway? You could end up scraping up your new car. So think this one through before you purchase. And while you're at it, don't count on many car washes being able to handle it for the same reason. Just a word of caution.

MSRP: $39,145

62 MPG-E (comb.)

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