For some, the thought of driving an electric vehicle on a 90-mile road trip may trigger instant range anxiety, but that wasn’t an issue in the Chevy Volt. Chevrolet calls the plug-in hybrid an “electric car with a backup plan” because it combines a lithium-ion battery, which allows you to drive up to 53 pure electric miles when fully charged, with a 1.5-liter high-efficiency gas engine that kicks in after your battery is exhausted for a total of 420 miles. That means no worrying about whether you’re going to be able to get to grandma’s house without having to look for a charging station along the way.
It also means that you’d be able to drive your Volt around on short trips under 53 miles (e.g., to work and back, to the store, or dropping the kids off at school) without ever having to fill your tank up as long as you kept the battery charged up. In fact, Chevrolet estimates that Volt owners will drive 1,000 miles between fill-ups with regular charging, so you might just forget where your nearest gas station even is.
Our Volt ran on its electric battery a little more than halfway through the 82 miles up to our destination at Buttermilk Falls Inn, and then kicked into gas mode for the rest of the drive, so we used one of the Inn’s handy EV charging stations to power back up. The Volt takes about 4.5 hours to recharge using a 240V charging unit, or about 13 hours using a standard 120V outlet. The vehicle’s dashboard display lets you know exactly how much charge you have left and how long it will take to power back up so that you can plan accordingly.
While range issues were non-existent thanks to the Volt’s backup engine, I was dealing with a completely different kind of anxiety. Living in the city with lots of public transportation nearby had reduced my driving time to nil and my long-distance driving confidence was suffering as a result. As an out-of-practice driver, two of my main issues were feeling comfortable switching lanes and merging on the highway and backing up while parking, so I was grateful to see that our Volt was equipped with both a side blind zone alert* (that lights up on your side view mirrors when a vehicle is in your blind spot), and a rear cross traffic alert* (which warns you if a vehicle is about to enter your backing path).
The Volt (depending on which safety package you select) also features additional safety technology such as lane keep assist* (which alerts you when you drift out of your lane and gently nudges you back in) and forward collision alert* + low-speed forward-automatic braking* (which alert you to slowing vehicles in your path and automatically apply brakes to reduce the severity of a collision).
Luckily, there was no need during our trip for the automatic braking to activate, but I did find myself using the side blind alerts and lane keep assist quite a bit on the highway. Coupled with the easy-to-use 8-inch color MyLink touchscreen navigation, on-board 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot*, spacious hatchback trunk, and Android Auto (or Apple CarPlay) compatibility that allows you to mirror apps from your phone like Spotify on the MyLink touchscreen, the Volt was proving to be the perfect road trip ride!
* Not all features are standard.
One of the many waterfalls that cascades through the Hudson Valley region.
The Hudson Valley is one of the most picturesque and popular regions around New York City, but it’s also a sustainability powerhouse with a strong focus on alternative energy sources such as solar and hydroelectric power. We were excited to learn that some of the electricity used to charge up our Volts was generated just 14 miles or so north of Buttermilk Falls at the Central Hudson Hydroelectric Plant (Dashville Generating Station) in Rifton. Built nearly 100 years ago in 1920, the plant directs the flow of the Wallkill River twin 2.5-megawatt turbines to generate enough power for up to 4,000 homes. How cool is it to be able to actually see the river that’s responsible for providing the power that charges up your car?
AN INN-CREDIBLE STAY
If you’re not an environmentalist already, you will be by the time you’re done staying at Buttermilk Falls Inn. Located on 75 acres of lush land along the Hudson, the riverside retreat is as eco-conscious as it is charming, with sustainable considerations such as EV charging stations, a spa run on a geothermal HVAC and solar power system, energy-efficient lighting, in-room recycling bins and a composting program. Guests are also offered reusable water bottles in their rooms that can be refilled at stations across the property instead of using bottled water.
Buttermilk Farms also has its own on-site farm that produces fruits, vegetables, eggs and honey for its restaurant, Henry’s at the Farm. What they don’t grow on the property, they source from area farms like Coach Farm, Taliaferro Farms, John Fazio Farms and the Hepworth Farm.
Farm-fresh culinary creations by #henrysatthefarm’s Chef Jenn! My favorite was the bursting-with-umami tomato (from the @buttermilkfallsny farm) with creamy mozzarella and basil. #cookingdemonstration #chevyvolt #eco #trip #travels #buttermilkfallsinn #sustainable #eats #green #food #farm #fresh #hudsonvalley #latergram
Dinner with a breathtaking view prepared for us by the chefs at @buttermilkfallsny’s #henrysatthefarm using ingredients right from the hotel’s own farm #sustainable #food #ecofood #dining #chevy #ecotrip #chevyvolt #farmfreshingredients #local #latergram #hudsonvalley
A photo posted by Yuka (@yukatory) on
Guests are even allowed to stroll around the farm and say hello to the chickens, peacocks and llamas who reside there.
2017 CHEVY VOLT KEY STATS:
– Up to 53 miles of battery range
– Up to 420 miles total range on a full charge and a full tank of gas
– 18.4-kWh lithium-ion battery (EPA-estimated 106 MPGe)
– 1.5L range-extending engine (EPA-estimated 42 MPG combined)
– Regen on Demand technology returns kinetic energy back to the battery when paddle on steering wheel is activated
– Can be charged in about 13 hours using a standard 120V outlet or in 4.5 hours using a 240V system
– Comes with 10 standard airbags and standard rear-vision camera
– Starts at $34,095 (or $26,595 with $7,500 federal tax credit for plug-in hybrid vehicles).
Editor’s note: Travel and accommodation expenses for this test drive were provided by Chevrolet in exchange for an unbiased evaluation of the 2017 Chevrolet Volt’s features and drivability.
Photos: Yuka Yoneda for Inhabitat