Hi all -
I have been a proud LEAF owner since 8/2011. I absolutely love that car. We have commutes well within the car's range, have PV solar panels, and we just love making our own "fuel." We had two older ICE cars in the household, a 2003 Acura RSX which just hit 200K miles and a 2003 Honda Civic. We sold the Civic and are looking for a range car with fewer miles than that RSX.
To our pleasant surprise, we have actually found the LEAF meets over 90% of our driving needs. My girlfriend uses it for a 25-mile RT commute to work and I mostly bike to work. The LEAF also takes us just about wherever we need to go for our weeknight and weekend driving. It fits our lifestyle very well. However, the LEAF certainly couldn't make it when we went from Phoenix to Tucson and back last weekend, so we still need a vehicle for range.
I am really excited about the Volt because with our typical driving it seems with the estimated 35 mile range (the advertised 100 mile range on the LEAF actually gets about 70 miles on a 100% charge) we can still be on electricity most of our driving. I got an e-mail from PlugShare about the 0% financing offer so I'm going to check out the Volt this weekend.
I do have a few questions (in no particular order):
1. How long does it take to charge at L1 and at L2? We are in the EV Project and have a Blink charger in the garage, so if we get a Volt, one of the cars will charge at L2 and the other at L1. Does the Volt have an L3 quick charge option?
2. What kind of actual range are you getting out of the battery? Being an EV driver, I know that's hard to answer considering all the factors involved (speed, incline/decline, temperature, etc.), but in your "typical daily driving" how far are you getting on the battery?
3. What is maintenance like for the Volt? Since there is no engine in the LEAF, it's pretty simple - tire rotations every 7500K, check the brake fluid, and change the air filter + an annual battery inspection. No oil changes! What maintenance is needed on the Volt's gas generator?
4. Does the Volt have regenerative braking like the Prius and LEAF?
5. Nissan actually recommends the LEAF be charged only to 80% most of the time to extend battery life. Does the Volt have a similar recommendation?
6. The back seats look a little small to me. Have you all found the back seat spacious enough to sit adults up to 6' comfortably?
7. The trunk space also seems a little small, although I will be better able to judge when I look at one more closely this weekend. Have you been satisfied with the trunk capacity?
8. How does the climate control work? The LEAF uses heat coils, powered by the electric motor, for heat since there is no engine. I have found the heat seems to sap the battery much faster, even in Phoenix, than A/C. Does the Volt use a similar mechanism?
9. Can you pre-cool or pre-heat the car? In the hot Phoenix summers, we pre cool the LEAF while sitting in the garage using electricity from the grid while plugged in before we start driving. The car can run in the garage since there are no emissions. Can you do the same with the Volt? I imagine the gas generator has emissions, but is that even running if you pre-cool or preheat the car while plugged in?
10. How does the car drive? The LEAF is zippy off the line with the electric motor instant torque and all, but by no means is it fast. Handling also feels like you're on rails. I admit I miss the speed and handling of my old Honda S2000, but I'm older now (and presumably more mature) and much more into practicality than raw performance. That said, is the Volt fun to drive? I imagine a 0-60 in the 9-10 second range? Is the handling soft and comfortable or a little more crisp and on the sporty side? The styling is much more sportier and aggressive than the odd-shaped, egg-looking LEAF. Does is it drive that way, too?
11. Are the gas requirements 87 or premium?
12. Anyone have any major or minor complaints about the car they'd be willing share?
13. Any suggested options to skip or include? One thing with the LEAF is that I have found I absolutely love the back-up camera when I didn't think I'd have any need for it, but I find the solar panel, which I really wanted, on the rear spoiler useless and gimmicky. Are you satisfied with the quality of the leather seats if you have that option?
Sorry for the long first post. I'm sure I'll have a better sense of things once I check one out in person this weekend. I was just interested in getting feedback from actual owners.
We are also considering a Lexus CT hybrid and Plug-in Prius.
Thanks for reading and I appreciate the feedback.