2011 Chevy Volt: Discovering Quirks

After our road trip from Los Angeles to Chicago, we discovered many quirks and a few downright annoyances of our just-purchased Chevy Volt.

  • Touchy touch-screen: The Volt has a capacitive-touch center console, like the new MyFord Touch. When selecting a button — say, the navigation system — we’d often rest our other fingers on the console and inadvertently hit the Info button or some other button. That led to some amusing and unintended consequences.
  • Visibility issues: The Volt is a four-door hatchback, but it’s on the smaller side. There’s plenty of room in the front row for driver and passenger, but the B-pillar is awfully far forward. A couple of times, I had to lean back and look out behind the B-pillar to see if I could complete a lane change. In addition, the split rear window makes rear visibility worse than it should be, a la the Toyota Prius.
  • Meep-meep: The Volt comes with sensors, front and back, that warn you when the low-to-the-ground car is getting close to objects. However, it’s extremely sensitive, and loud. The dealer who walked us through the car pointed out the button that controls the beeping; it didn’t take us five minutes to turn it off.

  • Triple Lutz: When you shut down the engine, get out of the car and close the door, the Volt responds with a triple-honk sound. Get in and out of the car enough times in a single day, as we often did, and it gets old fast.
  • Gassing up: Chevy has added a safety feature to make sure you’re safe when filling the gas tank. The gas cap has a traditional push-to-open cap, but it’s vacuum-locked until the driver pushes a button under the armrest of the driver’s door. The dash reads, “Waiting to refuel” before reading “Ready to refuel.” The whole process takes no more than 10 seconds, but it’s more work than the typical car.
  • Where’s the (parking) brake?: The Volt uses an electronic parking brake similar to the Prius, Subaru Outback and a number of luxury cars. But the button to set it (and release it), along with the display on the dash, are hard to find, even after our few days of testing.
  • Do ya, do ya, do ya?: While it’s cool that the built-in navigation system can warn you of traffic delays — and even suggest alternative routes — it really doesn’t want to hear “No” from drivers. We turned down a suggested change a half-dozen times over the course of 100 miles before we decided to take the advice. It was more than a little Big Brother-like.
  • Lowdown: The Volt rides very close to the ground. We heard a slight scraping noise many times going in and out of driveways. We assume this was done for aerodynamic reasons, but it’s definitely something you’ll need to be aware of, especially if you live in a Western state where driveways are very steep to assist in draining rainwater.
  • Comments 

    Amuro Ray

    "few downright annoyances of our just-purchased Chevy Volt.

    Buyer remorse? Didn't you folks do you own research b4 buying a vehicle? I mean, you folks ARE cars.com!

    Hahahahahaha...I'm j/k. But it does look funny (to me) when it is said by you guys, not a "typical" automobile buyer like "regular" people...

    "if you live in a Western state where driveways are very steep"

    Boy, you don't know the western states! lol
    The only way people know they've parked "correctly" is by scratching the bottom of their front bumper. It is THE indicator! hahaha
    (Seriously though, people in the western states are probably among the worst "parkers" - can't backup into a parking spot, and won't stop until the bumper or tire HIT sthg...)

    For those of you who haven't poked around a Volt, here's a photo of the low-to-the-ground bumper trim they experienced: http://cdn2-b.examiner.com/sites/default/files/styles/image_full_width/hash/79/fb/79fb0a4ad61ef431faf6bb97c00c68da.jpg


    With few exceptions, it sounds like most of these issues are not intrinsically tied to the Volt, they are just annoying design features that could have been incorporated into any car. With that being true, one has to wonder why GM put them on the Volt? Do their other vehicles behave similarly? They should know better.


    I'm willing to bet the noises and route guidance can all be turned off via the driver information center. The low to the ground issue isnt going away, thats about aerodynamics.

    I would check the manual out before the next post. It may answer some of your questions.

    Stephen P

    "Triple Lutz"

    Great play on words. It's obvious Chevy rushed this car into production but I'm not really surprised as GM was never known for doing their homework.

    james sease

    I believe will out on production in 3 or 4 years , because it is based on the Chevy Cruze which is a good $20,000 cheaper and you can but alot of gas for 20 grand , also if the government cuts out the $7500 rebate it will be doomed.

    owners manual can move the B pillar and turn down the volume level of sensors? i like parking sensors. leave em on all the time. These are so loud I wouldn't leave them on. It's an issue. every car has them.
    Parking brake we'll probably get used to but it's placement and size amid all those other buttons definitely leads to it getting lost.

    Ken L.

    Maybe those parking sensors are loud so that they can be heard from the outside as well? You know, as a backup warning. The B-Pillars were probably fine for the GM engineer/designer, just not you. Ultimately, what I think most people would like to know is: Does it meet your overall needs and is it worth the price? Also, would you buy this with again with your own money.


    "owners manual can move the B pillar and turn down the volume level of sensors? i like parking sensors. leave em on all the time. These are so loud I wouldn't leave them on. It's an issue. every car has them"

    On my car you can adjust the volume of the "beep" sound on the rear sensors via the DIC and I suspect you can do the same with the Volt. Did you check the manual? I said the sounds and route guidance features should be adjustable. Obviously you cant move B pillars by checking in the manual.

    As you said, location of the parking brake should be something you get used to after a week or so. Hardly a major issue.



    Considering Toyota and others are working on similar cars it would be stupid to presume the Volt will be gone in 4 years. This is an emerging segment of the market, the Volt is just the first of its kind. More vehicles like this are coming from GM and the competition.


    The concept was shown in early 2007, about 4 years ago. I dont think the Volt was rushed to market.



    Dave said that the parking brake was something you could get used to. Also, just because you can adjust the beep volume in your car, doesn't mean you cam adjust it on the Volt. Also, what's the next EREV coming from GM? I never heard that they were coming out with another plug in.

    Troy S.

    The Volt to me is: Typical GM over-promising, over-hyping and under-delivering.... At least GM is consistant in something.

    Kram F.

    I personally like and appreciate Dave's honesty in his reports as virtually 100% of it resonates with me. I suspect it does with many others. I don't know where he finds the patience to deal with insecure knuckle heads who feel the need to challenge every word he writes.
    I love Edmunds and Jalopnik but for overall quality and variety no one matches Cars.com. Keep up the great work.


    As far as comments, to say this car has failed or been badly designed due to a few annoyances is absurd. Cars.com isn't saying "Don't buy one", they're addressing the things about a car you really notice during a long term test. And every car has quirks (granted, not every car honks three times when you close the door, but still). Things car reviewers rarely talk about that I notice every time I rent a car on a long trip are the positions of knobs, arm rests, where the lower air vents are positioned, the dead pedal, etc etc

    And that doesn't mean these cars are a failure. Just that the reality is often different from the table of numbers on paper or what the 'first test' says in Motor Trend.



    First of all the gen 2 volt is under development already. Second, there will be an opel version exported to europe. Gm just said a minivan type vehicle will be based on this platform.

    Also, a quick check of the manual will confirm if I am correct about the parking sensors. Its amazing that people are attacking me without even knowing if I am correct. I doubt we will get an update from dave on this issue.

    Btw, I have a 2011 gm model so I suspect the volt has the option to change volume of alert or turn it off.

    I'm in the volt right now so can't check the manual. We're looking into it. Monday will start our full time testing in Chicago and we'll have an update on Mileage later today.

    There is at least one other vehicle built on Volt confirmed for US yes.

    After the Detroit auto show I think it's safe to say these vehicles aren't going anywhere.


    I have a Volt and I found none of these to be a problem except maybe the low-down.

    Learning small stuff like where to turn on the parking break etc etc is just part of learning to use a new car.


    Agreed Andy. You have to learn stuff on any new car. That's nothing specific to the volt.


    That's a lot of annoyance's for such a new car. I get the impression Chevrolet was so focused on the drive train that they ignored the basics. The gas filling issue alone would drive me nuts and I'm reading on many blogs that the navigation system is bad. If Chevrolet lowered the price $15,000 I would probably have a real interest but as of now it's just much to overpriced.


    I'm not sure that the gas filling bit is safety related. The gas tank is not traditional (may be a bladder-type tank that is kept under vacuum) and that may be the reason for the different M.O. during a fill-up.


    Hey guys. I own a Volt and was concerned at first about the low front bumper and the scraping over small rise in the driveway. After a quick investigation that lower lip on the bumper is actually a flexible rubber and that is what is scraping. Don't seem to be getting damaged but will have to keep an eye on it over time. Even if it has to be replaced in the future it looks like a simple process


    Late comment.

    "Triple Lutz": You left one of the key fobs in the car.


    Maybe GM should have brought the Cavalier back,and "Electra"-fy it instead,that would have been a flawed car as well,but at least it wouldnt cost what Volt does.

    Mike Murphy

    "Triple Lutz": take your key fob with you, doofus.
    "Visibility Issues": learn how to adjust your mirrors properly. No blind spots when this is done correctly.
    "Gassing up": this is because the tank is sealed and pressurized to prevent evaporation of volatile compounds from gasoline that may be in the tank for up to a year at a time.
    "Meep-meep": They're called "parking assist sensors". See "visibility issues."
    "Where's the parking brake": Seriously??? 1) if you couldn't find the switch you're too blind to be driving, 2) if you couldn't see that bright orange indicator light, see #1, 3) if it is set, all you need to do is drive and it releases automatically.

    James Sease: we're in the 4th model year, have the Cadillac ELR coming out in January 2014, and the Chevy Spark EV is now on the road. I hope you didn't bet a lot of money on its failure. FYI: If you haven't driven both a Cruze and a Volt yet, I suggest you do so because they are not the same car AT ALL.

    Kent Barnes

    Had a Leaf and now have a volt.. Too expensive? Folks with gas powered cars never seem to remember the $200 to $300 gas they buy every month in addition to their car payments. You can get a new Volt on a lease now for $269 a month (No gas)

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