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For the last three years, I've been the happy driver of a 2012 Nissan Leaf. I loved everything about the car, even if it did require some adjustments in the way I thought about driving, range, and planning ahead. But my lease was coming to an end, and through some amazing incentives that GM was offering ($228/month, including a lease conquest deal that allowed me to put $0 down!), I now find myself in a 2015 ashen gray metallic Chevy Volt. I was sad to see my Leaf go, but was excited to experience the freedom of range-extended electric driving. I've only had my Volt for a couple days, but here are my initial impressions and comparisons:

1) A premium interior: The inside of the Volt feels more high-end than my LEAF, even though I purchased a base model with cloth seats. The Leaf's interior was made of recycled materials which, although eco-friendly, quickly showed dirt and wear. I have a feeling that the Volt's interior will hold up better over the life of the lease. The Leaf's seats were much more comfortable, however. Also, I am a tall 6' 5", and while I can still fit in the Volt, I miss the ample headroom of the Leaf. And no human being could possibly fit in the seat behind me when the driver's seat is pushed all the way back.

2) Center console = a nightmare UI: Seriously, what committee of Microsoft dropouts designed the user interface of the MyLink and center console? The cheesy circa-2008 graphics, the capacitive touch buttons, the layers of navigation- what a mess! In comparison, the Leaf's UI was clean, modern, and informative. On the other hand, though, the Volt's options are much more customizable and detailed than the Leaf. I like that I can adjust seemingly every little detail of the car, but I wish that it was in a more user-friendly, intuitive package. For example, I still haven't been able to figure out how to turn the air conditioner on. The answer is probably somewhere in the owner's manual, but seriously: if an educated, tech-savvy guy like me can't figure out something stupid-simple like air conditioning, the UI is a failure. I can see why they redesigned it for the 2016 Volt. I wish I could get the 2016's Apple CarPlay feature to use with my iPhone.

3) Extended-range electric driving makes everything more fun! I was never particularly bothered by "range anxiety" in the 3 years of owning a Leaf, once I learned how to drive it efficiently. But because I often drove the Leaf 50-80 miles a day, planning my trips around range and charging became ingrained in the way I thought. My driving style was dictated by a "negative" sort of efficiency: I want to have enough charge to get home, so I need to drive gently. My initial experience in the Volt, however, has been far more positive in a way I hadn't anticipated; now my efficiency isn't motivated by necessity but pleasure: how many miles can I eke out of the battery before the generator turns on? It's almost a game (which probably makes me a hypermiling nerd), which is something I never experienced in the Leaf.

4) The Guess-o-Meter is way more accurate: Leaf drivers call the "remaining range gauge" the "guess-o-meter" because of its habit of wildly overestimating, then underestimating, your remaining range depending on little things like going up or down a hill. Going down a long hill? Watch your range optimistically rise higher and higher. But try going up a hill, and your range will fall like a rock. It was annoying for me, and stressed my wife out like crazy. And invariably, the miles would always shrink away faster than your odometer ticked up. The Volt's range gauge, on the other hand, is much more accurate, and even a little on the conservative side. Yesterday I started the day with a predicted 40 miles of range, and managed to go 43 before the generator came on. Nice. That never would have happened in the Leaf.

5) Little annoyances: Two little things have popped up that, if there's no way to remedy them, promise to drive me crazy. One is the ability to set your trickle charge level to either 8 amps or 12 amps. Nice feature, except that every single time I turn on the car, the setting has defaulted back to 8 amps. Umm, why does the car think I want to charge more slowly? Charging all night at 8 amps doesn't fill up the battery, so if I don't remember to change the setting every single evening, I'll never start the next day with a full charge. Why is there no way to change the default (at least that I can find)? The second annoying thing: bluetooth audio streaming. I swear that it distorts the music I'm listening to, making it sound slightly flat. I thought I was going crazy until I discovered another thread on this forum full of other people complaining about the same problem. Seriously, GM? That's an unconscionable defect and demands an immediate fix. Right now I've remedied the problem by using an aux cable, but I feel like that's a compromise I shouldn't have to live with in a $35,000 car.

6) Little pleasures: Much to my surprise, the Volt actually has more power than a Leaf; it appears that the electric motor can output up to 110 kw, as opposed to the 80 kw of the Leaf. That makes for some fun drag racing that puts my ICE friends to shame. Also, I've never been a GM owner before, so OnStar is a new and delightful experience. Press a button, get directions. Press a button, get advice from a friendly person. Press a button, call the police. I feel like I could press the button, ask for a coffee, and somebody would show up at my window with cappuccino. It's magic. Also, compared to the dorky Hello-Kitty-spaceship look of my off-white Leaf (which I actually liked but was universally derided by my friends and family), my dark silver Volt is a sexy beast.

Bottom line: I've been an EV enthusiast since the first modern electric cars were shown off at trade shows, and I've been an EV driver since 2012. I'm also an EV evangelist-- which can be an uphill battle in the conservative circles I run in. Until the next generation of truly no-compromise affordable pure EVs come out in two years (Chevy Bolt, Nissan Leaf 2.0, Tesla Model III, etc), the Leaf and the Volt are the two best affordable EVs on the market. What I now tell people is this: with leases like mine ($228/month), you simply can't own a cheaper car than an electric car (at least in terms of monthly cost). If you're willing to change the way you think about driving, get a Leaf. If you want an electric car that you don't want to think about, get a Volt. Either way, you're driving completely or mostly emissions-free, running on American-made electricity, and saving money. There's virtually no downside... especially with the incredible machine that is the range-extended Chevy Volt.
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Congrats on the move. So many are "binary thinkers" believing that an EV is the only way to go electric. It's nice to see someone move from a BEV to an EREV and enjoy the change.

Also, I just did nearly 2000 miles over the last two weeks. This past Friday, drove north from SC to PA and got 42+ mpg on the highway at 67-70 mph. Sure, it was a dry day and perfect driving conditions but still, way better than the EPA numbers for my 2011. Still getting nearly 40-42 on a charge now (also better). My refuel in SC was at a station with $1.73 regular gas, and I think I paid $2.13 for premium.

I don't think the Volt is really transitionary. In fact, why not drive 80% electrically and then range-anxiety free for any longer mileage you choose to on gas? I think it beats any BEV mindset every time. I just wish they'd make a CUV or larger model. I keep seeing parking lots full of CUVs at the store or mall and "that's what people want". However, I had three Volt tires, large 4000 W generator in a box, big suitcase, laptop case and other junk in my Volt on Friday and it was fine for all that cargo and some room to spare. CUVs just appear larger but their cargo capacity really isn't much different. But people "want" that larger car feeling and visibility.

GM - please make a Voltec CUV soon. I think it will sell better than the Volt itself.
 

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The default to 8 amps resets every time you put the car in Park. It's to make sure you dont overseers an outlet in case you haven't checked to make sure it can handle it. I just got in the habit of selecting 12 every time I pull into the garage. You dont need to do that if you are using a Level 2.

officially, you are supposed to use a dedicated circuit for the Volt. Nothing else using the line like a fridge or something else in the garage.

I was adamant against buying a Level 2 to charge my Volt in Nov 2012 when we bought it. Now that I'm so in love with the car and planning on NEVEr buying a pure ICE car again, I'm going to be adding the right stuff to simultaneously charge either two Volts or the Current Volt and the Tesla Model 3 when it comes out. I may just go with one Level 2 and charge Level 1 for one of the Volts or the 2013 Volt when we get the Tesla.

The center stack does suck You get used to it. At least it's easy to clean.
 

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You pretty much summarized the volt in short order. To get rid of the 8amp issue, you have to switch to 240v charging. It's the only way. Bluetooth streaming is certainly not hi-fi. Many put their tunes on a USB stick and skip playing via their phones.

Enjoy the freedom !
 

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Welcome!
Funny you should mention 2008 in #2, because that's my estimate of how old it actually is. It was clearly developed for a few years before release and hasn't been updated since. The sad thing is that a simple colour change skin option could make it far more bearable, but there's exactly 0 chance of GM providing updates. be glad you got 2015 as you get all features. 2013s are missing a few that 14 and 15 get (e.g. text messages).
If you need air conditioning, just hit auto and set the temp. You don't need to look further into settings unless you really want to.

You can thank GM lawyers and stupid owners for the 8A default. The few ruin it for the many. Early model years could default to 12.
Though I'm surprised you had a leaf and didn't go for 240V. Would have reduced your range anxiety a bit.
Volt on 240V charging doesn't default to a lower state, it will charge at ~14A. Only limited on 120.

Your love of OnStar might wear out quickly, but enjoy it while you can.
An unofficial census of these forums shows that OnStar not working properly is near the top of the list of reported issues.
Of course this doesn't apply to 'the blue button' calls, but all the other functions OnStar provides, like remote connection and data, text alerts, etc.
 

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There are others I know who had an early LEAF model, and now also have a Volt. I am one of them. I still have my 2011 LEAF and a recently purchased 2016 Volt. The LEAF is used for local driving and the Volt for more extended drives where I don't need to rely on a charge to return home. So far its worked out well. Also I have hardly used any petrol with the Volt since I trickle charge (8 A) it every opportunity available. At home, I charge using L2 so very little issues with scheduling charge time. For us, this is the best of both worlds.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
canehdian, I actually do have a 240V L2 charger that I used for my Leaf, but we moved a couple months ago, significantly closer to my job, and my new house would need a separate subpanel to accommodate the 240V line. I didn't feel like it was worth the expense, but the 8 amp default might just be enough for me to spring for an electrician to get me back to 240 volts.
 

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A great post that every greencar website should turn into a highlighted story. It's very rare (if not never) to hear an extensive commentary from someone who has moved from BEV to EREV or vice versa; especially someone without an agenda such as our friend here.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks, bonaire. It's funny, because I was close to being one of those "binary thinkers" while I was driving my Leaf. While I thought that any electrified driving was better than ICE, I advocated pure BEV. But now that I drive a Volt, I am impressed with its advantages, especially in bringing more ICE drivers into the electric vehicle world. I agree with you- I no longer think that EREVs are transitory. Especially with the 2016 Volt going 50-60 miles on a charge, a Volt basically provides all the benefits of a BEV with none of the downsides.
 

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The default to 8 amps resets every time you put the car in Park.
Teensy-weensy nit-pick ... it actually resets when you take it out of park. Otherwise, you couldn't set it to 12A at a convenient stoplight on the way home -- putting it into park when you arrived at home would undo your selection. Thankfully, that doesn't happen.

But it would definitely would be nice if it were a permanent user selection. I know what my EVSE is capable of safely delivering. No need to push it back down to 8A every single time. I'm happy they fixed this to some extent, with the location-driven charge level preference in the Gen2 Volt.

In passing, upgrading to an L2 EVSE would avoid the problem altogether (you'd always get faster charging than either L1 amp rate), and good EVSEs like the basic Clipper Creeks start at about $379, which ain't bad.
 

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As an experienced Leaf driver, how much range were you comfortable using, without concern about not being able to charge as planned? Put another way, how much range margin did you plan on in driving?
 

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Discussion Starter #12
As an experienced Leaf driver, how much range were you comfortable using, without concern about not being able to charge as planned? Put another way, how much range margin did you plan on in driving?
Generally, I would try to make it home before the low-battery warning sounded (at ~8 miles remaining). That's 1 out of 12 bars remaking on the guess-o-meter. It looks scary to see your gauge that low, but if you think about it honestly, 8 miles is still a decent distance. However, since my driving was fairly predictable (same routes, same destinations), and because there were enough public L2 chargers scattered around to give me some peace of mind, I usually knew when I could stretch the mileage. There were times I arrived home with 4-5 miles of range, or even "very low battery warning," which below 3 miles of range just flashes angrily at you. Those times were definitely pushing it, and I felt the range anxiety then.
 

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There is no way to directly control the AC. So you haven't found it because it doesn't exist. You can only indirectly sorta control it. It is used to cool the battery when necessary so it can come on whether you want it to or not. This is true regardless of outside or inside temperatures. The closest to direct is to set the control to comfort and the temperature at a temperature that works for you. You can't pay attention to the temperature display number, it is irrelevant. In my case I set it for either low or high and modulate it with the fan speed. If I set it to any temperature number it kinda does it's own thing, cooling when I want heat and heating when I want cool. To me it is the suckiest part of the G1 Volt.
 

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Had to laugh at the "Microsoft dropouts" comment. That's a good way to describe the center stack.
I agree that you do get used to it, but it is somewhat of a cluster f**k.
That's one thing that's supposed to be much improved in the Gen2.
 

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The Volt's tone controls are different (or can be) for each input. If your bluetooth audio sounds flat, it probably is! Since I've adjusted each audio input to my liking, they all sound good. (2013 premium with Bose). The only thing I miss about my Leaf is the heated steering wheel! It was an S model. The stereo was terrible, and interior was cheezy. Glad I leased it!
 

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For the A/C just set it on auto and the desired temp. The fan speed will automatically increase or decrease as needed. The only change I ever make is between "Eco" and "Comfort". This is the nicest system I've had in a car to date. No constant manual adjustments to the temp or fan speed are needed.

Bluetooth can be challenging depending on the device. I loaded up a micro USB drive and leave it plugged in under the armrest. One of the nice things is it can handle uncompressed WAV files.

I may be an outlier, but I prefer the clean center stack with the capacitive buttons. Once you get used to it I think its the perfect combination of capacitive and manual controls. However, there is a learning curve so it takes some time. Lastly make sure you read the manual while at the car so you can play. There is a lot of good information inside. Enjoy your new car!
 

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Generally, I would try to make it home before the low-battery warning sounded (at ~8 miles remaining). That's 1 out of 12 bars remaking on the guess-o-meter. It looks scary to see your gauge that low, but if you think about it honestly, 8 miles is still a decent distance. However, since my driving was fairly predictable (same routes, same destinations), and because there were enough public L2 chargers scattered around to give me some peace of mind, I usually knew when I could stretch the mileage. There were times I arrived home with 4-5 miles of range, or even "very low battery warning," which below 3 miles of range just flashes angrily at you. Those times were definitely pushing it, and I felt the range anxiety then.
I guess under predictable use that's about what I'd expect. 8 miles works out to something like 8% give or take?
 

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Generally, I would try to make it home before the low-battery warning sounded (at ~8 miles remaining). That's 1 out of 12 bars remaking on the guess-o-meter. It looks scary to see your gauge that low, but if you think about it honestly, 8 miles is still a decent distance. However, since my driving was fairly predictable (same routes, same destinations), and because there were enough public L2 chargers scattered around to give me some peace of mind, I usually knew when I could stretch the mileage. There were times I arrived home with 4-5 miles of range, or even "very low battery warning," which below 3 miles of range just flashes angrily at you. Those times were definitely pushing it, and I felt the range anxiety then.
I try to not go any lower than "low battery warning" or about 5 miles on the GOM. I have WattLeft meter connected to the OBD2 port so I have an accurate measure of how much energy is left in the battery. My biggest pet-peeve is the accessibility of L2 and QC chargers. Sometimes they are broken, occupied with no charging occurring, ICE'd, charging EV, etc. Now I have the Volt I can charge or not charge depending on the situation.
 

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I try to not go any lower than "low battery warning" or about 5 miles on the GOM. I have WattLeft meter connected to the OBD2 port so I have an accurate measure of how much energy is left in the battery. My biggest pet-peeve is the accessibility of L2 and QC chargers. Sometimes they are broken, occupied with no charging occurring, ICE'd, charging EV, etc. Now I have the Volt I can charge or not charge depending on the situation.


There's a free charge station in my downtown area. I've opportunity charged there, nearly always less than an hour (sometimes I'll park and walk to someplace for lunch), sometimes maybe about 10 minutes. I've NEVER seen another vehicle using it. Today it's not working. Hasn't even existed for a year yet. Glad I have a Volt and don't have to count on public charging infrastructure.
 

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LEAF:Volt combo.jpg

This is me, except our Volt is Heather Gray in color. 2011 LEAF is blue.
Borrowed original photo posted on Seattle Nissan LEAF Owners group on FB by Tasha Jewel.
 
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