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Discussion Starter #1
Several years ago when I was first contemplating buying a Volt I wanted to take a look at one in person. At the time, late 2015, they had already announced the gen 2 and I decided that was the one I wanted. I knew they wouldn't have any gen 2's but that was my excuse to keep them from trying to talk me into buying the one gen 1 in their showroom. Also, my wife had around 2 more years before her minivan was paid off so I couldn't really justify buying one at the time anyway.
I went down to the dealer and sat in the Volt to see if I could fit comfortably, I'm 6' 2", and it seemed ok. They asked if I wanted to take it for the weekend to try it out and I told them I wouldn't be buying one until 2018 so I better not. I just wanted to look at one to see if it was a waste of my time, if I might not even like it at all. I asked a few questions and they asked how many miles a day I drive. I told them round trip to work is around 12 or 13 miles. They suggested I might want to lease one instead of buying as I drive so little (I put 66,000 on my Dakota in 11 years between the fall of 2006 and the fall of 2017 which is actually around 16-17 miles a day average). I've never leased a car so I have no idea if I would like that or not.
As I'm finally ready to buy one this May or June I'm trying to decide when I should take a test drive. Any thoughts on the best time of year to test drive a Volt in Iowa? Is there any thing else I should think of as far as the test drive goes. Is it a waste to get a plug in hybrid if I'm only averaging 16-17 miles a day? My wife's minivan payment was $640 a month (loaded Town & Country) so as long as it's not any higher than that I can afford it.
 

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You have to seriously consider a Bolt also. For work, you would only have to charge it every 3d week. You will fit in both Chevys. Both are fun to drive. Make sure you drive a Bolt also so you don't kick yourself a year or so down the line. If you have teenagers or parents that have to sit in the back, then forget the Volt and go for the Bolt. The only option on the Volt that is not available on the Bolt is the Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC). Honestly, now that I've experienced and learned how to use ACC, I'll never live without it. If you already have 220v in your garage, it's a plus but not absolutely necessary. The 110v charger provided free with the car will do the job for you. If you have charging at work, you will never need to charge at home. The other thing you need to experience while test driving are the safety devices that inform you if it is safe to back up, safe to change lanes, or if someone is standing near the car. You have to pay for these options, but if they save you one time, they pay for themselves. Now, the truth be told, there are a lot of vehicles out there for 30k that have electric seats, heating and cooling seats, ACC and all the other Chevy options and plus more. If you want to be green and avoid gas stations, then Bolts and Volts are excellent. If you want more bang for your buck, then the number of vehicles you need to look at are enormous. Do not take your wife down to the Chrysler dealer to look at the hybrid minivan or you might see her trading up. It gets 32 mpg. If the Bolt had been out when I bought my 2017 Volt in July of 2016, I would have purchased the Bolt (I had no ACC experience). Why? It only has one drive system and the electrical parts require little or no maintenance. The Bolt is more bullet proof due to its simplicity. I suspect that ACC is not available in the Bolt as it would be a different from the Volt ACC. A Bolt ACC will be a more complex system designed to support full self driving that GM wants to put in 2019 Lyft vehicles. Check out the surround mirrors in the Bolt Premier that you can view on the interior screen. Both cars are hard to heat in the winter. The Volt will win the heating contest as it has an ICE. You can preheat the either car in your garage before leaving for work. Both cars will come with heated seats and steering wheels but at -10, egads. The folks in Canada live with Volts at -20. The Volt is better looking. The Bolt is less cramped. In three years, these vehicles may be technically obsolete. Battery technology will kill the resale value overnight. It would be smart to consider a lease.
 

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Well, since you are going to have to drive a Volt all year long, I don't understand why waiting should have any effect on your decision. I can almost guarantee that you will not be test driving a fully charged car from the dealer. I like driving our now old 2012 Volt any time, rain, snow, sun - whatever. I only have about 50K miles so far, but it drives as new.
 

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As I'm finally ready to buy one this May or June I'm trying to decide when I should take a test drive. Any thoughts on the best time of year to test drive a Volt in Iowa? Is there any thing else I should think of as far as the test drive goes. Is it a waste to get a plug in hybrid if I'm only averaging 16-17 miles a day? My wife's minivan payment was $640 a month (loaded Town & Country) so as long as it's not any higher than that I can afford it.
It might be a good idea to test drive one during the winter just to see if it meets your expectations in the cold. You should try to get them to have it fully charged for the test drive (this sometimes doesn't happen). You can switch to Hold Mode to try out the drive under ICE power. If it does not get charged for your test, just switch to Mountain Mode for a few minutes. That will charge the battery up to about 20%. Then you can switch back to Normal Mode for the rest of your test.
As for your average mileage, It is diffently worth it to get a Volt. You will be able to drive almost all of your daily routine on electric only, but when you need to go farther, you can, without even thinking about it. My daily driving is similar to yours, the only time I buy gas is when I go out of town on vacation, the rest of the year it is all electric. And the Volt is an excellent road trip car.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I will try out the Bolt although I think it will be a non starter with the wife. She already started giving me grief last summer when I was talking about the Volt. She said I better really think about getting a vehicle that we couldn't take on trips. I reassured her that the Volt had a gas engine also so it wouldn't be a problem.
As my kids are going to be 13 this year I hope they will fit in the Volt back seats for several more years. If it starts getting cramped for them on trips then we can just go back to taking the minivan. I may get some grief when that happens but I'll deal with that when the time comes. As long as the wife and kids ride in it now and are comfortable I can probably justify it.
As far as my wife trading up to a Chrysler hybrid minivan I don't think that will happen. She has already said when she trades in the Town and Country in 4-5 years or so, it will be for a small car. She has already mentioned looking into a Prius. I think she is tired of the big minivans and only got one because of the kids. Her first minivan was a Dodge Grand Caravan from 2002 to 2012. She traded it at 100,000 miles for the 2012 Town and Country. By 2022 the boys will be 17 years old and a minivan will no longer be considered a necessity.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Well, since you are going to have to drive a Volt all year long, I don't understand why waiting should have any effect on your decision. I can almost guarantee that you will not be test driving a fully charged car from the dealer. I like driving our now old 2012 Volt any time, rain, snow, sun - whatever. I only have about 50K miles so far, but it drives as new.
My wife paid off the minivan in October/November so the $640 a month payment is building up toward a down payment. I figure by May or June I should have around $4500 saved up. I also don't want to test drive too far out from purchase and have to deal with a salesman calling trying to get me to buy immediately. Or maybe that would be a good thing if they keep lowering the price. Of course if I wait long enough until the 2019's are out I may get a better deal. I'm under no pressure to get a new vehicle, I just want to get one sometime this year, preferably after saving enough for a good down payment. I'm not trading in the 2006 Dakota 4x4 as that will be a good vehicle for hauling stuff and driving if we get 2 to 3 feet of snow so a trade in will not be in the picture.
 

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The Volt has a luxury drivetrain. Regardless of how many miles you drive, you will see this:

1) It refuels while you sleep. In your case, you'll always wake up with enough 'gas' to get to work and back. Refuel gasoline every few months.
2) While it normally drives in pure EV mode, it is not bound to remote location EV chargers.
3) Instant accelerator response, smooth but surprisingly perky. In actual city traffic, it's quicker than many sports/performance cars due to the lack of throttle lag and downshifting.

I don't use a Volt as my personal car because I want to Save The Whales. I could drive a Z06 Vette, a 3/4t luxury pickup, or a CT6 Platinum. I like driving the Volt better even though it was by far cheaper than the other cars.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
It might be a good idea to test drive one during the winter just to see if it meets your expectations in the cold. You should try to get them to have it fully charged for the test drive (this sometimes doesn't happen). You can switch to Hold Mode to try out the drive under ICE power. If it does not get charged for your test, just switch to Mountain Mode for a few minutes. That will charge the battery up to about 20%. Then you can switch back to Normal Mode for the rest of your test.
As for your average mileage, It is diffently worth it to get a Volt. You will be able to drive almost all of your daily routine on electric only, but when you need to go farther, you can, without even thinking about it. My daily driving is similar to yours, the only time I buy gas is when I go out of town on vacation, the rest of the year it is all electric. And the Volt is an excellent road trip car.
I thought about that also, test driving in the winter to see if I liked it or not. When I first went down to look at a Volt in 2015, they offered to let me take a gen 1 for the weekend to try out. I told them I wasn't buying one until the gen 2 came out so I wasn't interested in driving one at the time. Does anyone know if they still let people take them for the weekend to get a really good feel for the car? That may help me sell the idea of a Volt to the wife if we can take it on a short trip to test out the electric vs gas modes, maybe 50 or 60 miles.
 

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I will try out the Bolt although I think it will be a non starter with the wife. She already started giving me grief last summer when I was talking about the Volt. She said I better really think about getting a vehicle that we couldn't take on trips. I reassured her that the Volt had a gas engine also so it wouldn't be a problem.
I had to prove to my wife that I had enough money to buy my 18 Volt. "You don't have any money." Later it was, "But is it YOUR money".

Wives... you can't live with 'em, can't shoot 'em.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
The Volt has a luxury drivetrain. Regardless of how many miles you drive, you will see this:

1) It refuels while you sleep. In your case, you'll always wake up with enough 'gas' to get to work and back. Refuel gasoline every few months.
2) While it normally drives in pure EV mode, it is not bound to remote location EV chargers.
3) Instant accelerator response, smooth but surprisingly perky. In actual city traffic, it's quicker than many sports/performance cars due to the lack of throttle lag and downshifting.

I don't use a Volt as my personal car because I want to Save The Whales. I could drive a Z06 Vette, a 3/4t luxury pickup, or a CT6 Platinum. I like driving the Volt better even though it was by far cheaper than the other cars.
I originally started looking at hybrids as I was sick of driving a small truck that barely got 12 miles per gallon. I also was getting tired of sending money over to the middle east by buying gasoline...
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I had to prove to my wife that I had enough money to buy my 18 Volt. "You don't have any money." Later it was, "But is it YOUR money".

Wives... you can't live with 'em, can't shoot 'em.
The money doesn't seem to be a problem with my wife. She got her ~$36,000 Town and Country in 2012 and now is my turn to get a nice vehicle! Plus I should save some money on fuel, although only averaging 16.5 miles a day year round won't add up to that much...
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I just did a quick calculation on my gas usage in the 2006 Dakota V8. At 6000 miles average a year and 12.5 miles per gallon I use about 480 gallons of gas a year. At the current price of gas in Des Moines of $2.78 I spend $1334.40 a year in gasoline. My electric cost is about 12 cents per kwh with all taxes, etc. I just read something about 31 kwh per 100 miles so, 6000 miles a year is 1860 kwh per year. At 12 cents that comes out to $223.20 a year. So 1334.40 per year on gas or $223.20 a year on electric. I should save $1111.20 a year on my fuel costs, as I generally keep my vehicles 10 years I'll save over $11,000. Is it worth it over a cheap gas only car?
 

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There are other costs you haven't considered, like oil changes and other maintenance. I went for almost 2 years before I needed an oil change in my 12 Volt.
 

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Cost of fuel (gas or electricity) is only one consideration.

Do you use your Dakota for towing? What about 4WD for off road and snow covered roads? Do you carry a full load of passengers or haul big stuff? The Volt is a great vehicle but it cannot do any of those things as well as a full size SUV or pickup can.

I like having my refueling station (Level 2 EVSE) inside my garage.

I like being able to drive 90% on electricity and don't miss having to go to the gas station 1-2 times per week.

On another level driving a vehicle with a plug is one way to help improve the quality of the air we must all breathe.

I'm not against drilling, refining and burning oil but the Volt is one way to help minimize US dependence on foreign energy sources.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
There are other costs you haven't considered, like oil changes and other maintenance. I went for almost 2 years before I needed an oil change in my 12 Volt.
That's true. I'm really not trying to talk myself out of buying a Volt, just making sure I can justify it in my head!
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Cost of fuel (gas or electricity) is only one consideration.

Do you use your Dakota for towing? What about 4WD for off road and snow covered roads? Do you carry a full load of passengers or haul big stuff? The Volt is a great vehicle but it cannot do any of those things as well as a full size SUV or pickup can.

I like having my refueling station (Level 2 EVSE) inside my garage.

I like being able to drive 90% on electricity and don't miss having to go to the gas station 1-2 times per week.

On another level driving a vehicle with a plug is one way to help improve the quality of the air we must all breathe.

I'm not against drilling, refining and burning oil but the Volt is one way to help minimize US dependence on foreign energy sources.
No towing, although it came with the tow package. No off road but it has saved my butt a few times when a regular car would have left me stranded at home when we had heavy snow. That was one of the original reasons I looked at a 4WD pickup in the first place, in the late 90's and early 2000's I was unable to make it to work a few times as my street had 3 foot of snow that didn't get cleared for a few days. My Grand AM GT could barely get up my street any time it snowed. My street rises about 10-15 foot from the corner to my driveway 200 foot away.
 

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No towing, although it came with the tow package. No off road but it has saved my butt a few times when a regular car would have left me stranded at home when we had heavy snow. That was one of the original reasons I looked at a 4WD pickup in the first place, in the late 90's and early 2000's I was unable to make it to work a few times as my street had 3 foot of snow that didn't get cleared for a few days. My Grand AM GT could barely get up my street any time it snowed. My street rises about 10-15 foot from the corner to my driveway 200 foot away.
The Volt does not have much ground clearance so if there is more than a few inches of snow you can end up plowing the snow with the air dam under the front bumper. Of course you can remove the air dam, lose maybe 1 -2 mile of highway range due to increased air turbulence. If you plan to put winter tires on the Volt it can be driven in snow provided it is not too deep. The weight of the vehicle and the low center of gravity help quite a bit when driving in snow.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
The Volt does not have much ground clearance so if there is more than a few inches of snow you can end up plowing the snow with the air dam under the front bumper. Of course you can remove the air dam, lose maybe 1 -2 mile of highway range due to increased air turbulence. If you plan to put winter tires on the Volt it can be driven in snow provided it is not too deep. The weight of the vehicle and the low center of gravity help quite a bit when driving in snow.
Not that I want to drive the Dakota any more but I figured if there was a lot of snow I could just let the Volt have the day off and take the Dakota to work!
 

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Not that I want to drive the Dakota any more but I figured if there was a lot of snow I could just let the Volt have the day off and take the Dakota to work!
If you plan to keep the Dakata then it doesn't matter. You won't need to drive the Volt when the roads are covered in snow and ice. For some the Volt is their only vehicle, then they must make decision of whether to drive the Volt when road conditions are bad or stay off the roads.
 

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What about E85? What is the availability and price of E85? Are there any current vehicles sold that are designed to run on E85 fuel? Here on the east coast E85 is not that common and the price is higher than it should be because E85 fuel cannot be sent through fuel pipelines and must be trucked overland.

I had a Ford Fusion with a V6 engine that was able to run on E85 but there were only a few local gas stations that offered E85 for sale. Since you live where the stuff is made would it not be less expensive to find a vehicle that can run on E85 fuel. The Volt can run on regular gas but the Volt Owner's Manual states that the maximum allowable percentage of ethanol by volume is limited to 15%.
 
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