2013 Chevy Volt Review – New Feature Focus
The 2013 Chevy Volt features several interesting software and display updates, a modestly higher capacity battery, and an all same color paint scheme. This review will focus on the changes that make the 2013 Chevy Volt different than the 2011 and the 2012 model years.
1.) Obvious Changes to the Outside/Inside
The 2013 Chevy Volt features an all body color paint scheme, as compared to the black roof / black trunk look from the 2011 and 2012 models. Folks in hot climates will rejoice at no longer having the black roof, but personally I like the touch of having the contrasting paint colors.
Also the PRNDL indicators are actually available on the center console, compared to the 2011 which did not have this next to the gear selector.
2.) Performance Improvements to the Battery
The 2013 Chevy Volt features a 16.5 Kw-h battery, up from a 16 Kw-h battery that was present on the 2011/2012 models. In addition, the battery will use a slightly higher depth of discharge, making the electricity available to you about 10% higher than it was before. Also you can see exactly how much energy you are using while driving with the updated dash software that displays exactly how much you are using. The extra 10% battery was noticeable, and in the real world did in fact extend my EV range by roughly that amount. You can see a full discharge cycle here in the “Drive Summary Image”.
3.) Software Updates that make the Volt More Interesting
Perhaps the most important update to the 2013 Volt is actually in the software. First off, is updating the infotainment system to the Chevy Standard MyLink, which offers access to additional content like Pandora and a true Home Screen to navigate from.
To me though, the most interesting update comes from the new available display on the Driver Instrument Cluster called “Power” The power display tells you in real time how much electricity you are drawing from, or putting back into the battery. This is really cool because you can really see how much you are using while scooting around town, or when you are driving on the freeway at differing speeds. A quick video below shows it in action.
As you climb a hill or hold freeway speeds from 65 to 70 to 75 MPH, you’ll notice that you need a lot more power from the battery to keep you going. You’ll also notice how much energy is getting put into the battery when you are using regenerative braking. To me this gives me a better sense of how efficiently I am driving and a little satisfaction knowing when I am putting juice back in the battery vs. just wasting it.
4.) Now Available, a new Mountain Mode and Hold Mode Setting/Display
Hold mode is a new feature that allows you to start the Chevy Volt’s gas engine at any time to “hold” the battery at a certain state of charge. This is useful if you are going on long trips and want to save the battery to be used in town for local driving (where it is most efficient). Make sure however that you are going on a long enough trip to actually deplete the battery though, otherwise you are just wasting gas! Another neat feature here is if you are going for a long enough trip in the cold, you can use hold mode to heat up the engine, and use the engine heat to heat up the cabin vs. the electric heaters. If you don’t know already, the electric heaters are a huge battery power draw and relatively inefficient, whereas using the waste heat from the engine is like getting “free heat” You will notice how much warmer the cabin gets while using engine heat as well – it is much toastier than using the electric heaters. Again, if you use this feature, make sure you’ll use up all your battery by the end of the trip or you’re just going to end up wasting gas.
Mountain Mode is unchanged from the previous model, but has a new little gray graphical indicator that makes it clear what it is doing. Mountain Mode is like hold mode, but will actually charge up your battery to about 40% to allow you to climb a mountain without having to slow down.
Fun updates for the Chevy Volt, but I’ll be very excited to see what the next generation Volt has in store for us!