2 of 5
BACKNEXT
Charging ahead
For these test laps, I was running with a fully charged battery. That meant I wasn't able to test the "charge sustaining mode." GM engineers are still tweaking the car's performance under gasoline power, said Tony Posawatz, vehicle line director for the Volt, so they weren't ready to have outsiders test that yet.

With a fully charged battery, the Chevrolet Volt will drive up to 40 miles exclusively on plug-in electric power. After that, if a driver wants to go farther, the 1.4-liter gasoline engine will turn on. Even then, the car will still be electrically-driven, but the electricity will be generated by the engine. GM calls that longer-range driving "charge sustaining mode" because the battery is kept partly charged, so that it can kick in when an extra jolt is needed for acceleration.

The 40-mile pure-electric range was specifically selected as a goal by GM engineers because most Americans drive less than that on most days. That means, assuming they charge the car every night, they could go for months without needing to fill the tank while, at the same time, having the ability to drive long distances without worry.

Under full electric power, which is how most owners will experience it most of the time, the Volt proved surprisingly potent.

NEXT: Silent power

Last updated April 15 2009: 1:14 PM ET
Find Your Next Car
More Galleries
American Dream homes: Prices in 10 cities How much does the American Dream home cost? From $2 million in Los Altos, Calif., to $65,000 in Cleveland, here's what you'll pay for a 4-bedroom, 2-bath house, according to Coldwell Banker's annual survey. More
FBI's 10 most wanted cyber criminals The FBI is raising the stakes in its hunt for hackers and cyber fraudsters. Meet the suspected cybercriminals the agency wants most. More
5 best cities to grow older in Out of 100 large metro areas, these five cities top the Milken's Institute's "Best Cities for Successful Aging" list based on access to health care, job opportunities, lifestyle factors and more. More

Special Offer

Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer.

Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved.

Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved.

Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2014 and/or its affiliates.