Auto/Economy
4:37 pm
Tue March 1, 2011

Consumer Reports calls Chevy Volt a "tough sell"

In its April auto issue, the magazine Consumer Reports calls the Chevy Volt is a "tough sell."

It's not the kind of review GM has been accustomed to after the car was released with much fanfare.

The Volt was named "Car of the Year" at the Detroit Auto Show.

The Detroit News says that harsh review from Consumer Reports questions whether the car makes "economic sense."

David Champion, the senior director of Consumer Report auto testing center said:

"When you are looking at purely dollars and cents, it doesn't really make a lot of sense. The Volt isn't particularly efficient as an electric vehicle and it's not particularly good as a gas vehicle either in terms of fuel economy. This is going to be a tough sell to the average consumer."

The car costs around $40,000, but with a government tax credit (a credit some lawmakers want to turn into a rebate) the cost comes down to around $33,500.

The criticism came from the car's range in cold weather. The Volt's electric motor range is 40 miles under normal driving conditions, but that range dropped significantly when Consumer Reports tested the car in Connecticut this winter - the range dropped to 25 to 27 miles on electric power alone.

A GM spokesman said his range was better in cold weather. Again, from the Detroit News article:

GM spokesman Greg Martin noted that it's been an extremely harsh winter — and as a Volt driver he said he's getting 29-33 miles on electric range. But he noted that in more moderate recent weather, the range jumped to 40 miles on electric range or higher.

Other criticisms of the Volt were its 5-hour charging time, and a heating system that leaves your hands and feet cold.

The magazine gave the Volt praise for its acceleration and for its "taut yet supple ride."

USA Today reports that in the April auto issue, Consumer Reports gives foreign automakers Honda and Subaru top honors with Ford positing the "largest gain" in rankings overall.

The magazine says automakers like Chrysler still have reliability problems:

Chrysler, with a legacy of years of problems, finished last. Its new, post-bankruptcy reorganization models are much improved, CR notes, but the company is hurt by a history of reliability problems that makes it tough to give high predicted-reliability forecasts to the new vehicles. It will take a run of new, bullet-proof models to raise its reliability ranking in future report cards.

USA Today has more details on the Consumer Reports rankings. The rankings were listed as follows:

  1. Honda (includes Acura)
  2. Subaru
  3. Toyota (includes Lexus, Scion)
  4. Volvo
  5. Ford (includes Lincoln)
  6. Hyundai (includes Kia)
  7. Mazda
  8. Nissan (includes Infiniti)
  9. Volkswagen (includes Audi)
  10. Mercedes-Benz
  11. BMW
  12. General Motors (includes Chevrolet, GMC, Buick, Cadillac)
  13. Chrysler (includes Dodge, Jeep)