What's it like to own a Chevy Volt?

  • Article by: CHRISTY DESMITH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 8, 2013 - 3:33 PM

What’s it like to own a Chevy Volt? We asked Wade Barisoff of Maple Grove, who bought one last year.

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Wade Barisoff’s son Cailer, 6, shows off his dad’s Chevrolet Volt.

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What made you decide to buy this car? Was it environmental concerns or something else?

If you ask my wife, she’d say I’m the worst recycler on the planet. I’m a little bit of a technology nerd. In 2006 I saw it released at the Detroit Auto Show and I said: “I want that.”

How does it drive?

Well, my last fun car was a Corvette. What gives a car like that the experience of fun is torque. Most cars, they generate their maximum torque around 3000 RPMs. Well, the Volt has all 273 pounds of torque at the gas pedal immediately when you touch it. So it has the same 0-30 [mph] performance as some Audis. It provides that sporty car feel.

I hear you’re into drag racing. Have you ever raced your Volt?

There have been a couple of moments at red lights where ... let’s say all 273 foot-pounds of torque were called into action at a moment’s notice, to the other over-confident individual’s surprise.

But is it stylish?

It’s actually really luxurious. For a technology guy like me, the Volt lets me reconfigure the dash however I like it. I can change what the gas gauge looks like. I can change the speedometer. It also has a touch screen in the center console. GM has built into it a lot of really smart technology, so the car’s quite brilliant. My wife’s favorite feature, for example, is something called Creature Comfort. It has a remote start — from my cellphone or my keys I can turn on the car. Well, it automatically turns on the seat heaters and the heater so when you get inside it’s really toasty. That’s really nice for Minnesota winters.

The Volt also runs on gas. How often are you filling up?

I tracked my first 10,000 miles in great detail — how much did I spend on electricity and fuel? It was just 300 bucks. And my commute to work is about 50 miles round trip per day. I haven’t been to a gas station in three months. Actually, I have been to a gas station to buy a soda or a coffee.

Where do you go to recharge that electric engine?

So the car comes with a standard household plug-in. I carry that in the trunk of the car, and that’s what I use when I’m at work. At home I have a special 240-volt charger. There are charging stations popping up throughout Minneapolis and St. Paul. They have four of ‘em at the Mall of America, for example. Xcel Energy Center has plug-ins. A lot of the St. Paul parks put them in, the downtown Minneapolis library, certain Lunds grocery stores. Of course, [Chevy] provides a map of all the charging stations in your neighborhood.

How long does it take to charge?

At 240 volts, it’s 3 and a half hours. If you took a standard household plug-in — where you plug in your hair dryer — it takes 7 and a half to 8 hours. The car’s smart enough it will calculate how long it will take to get a full charge. I also have my car set up so it notifies me when my charge is complete. It sends me a text message.

Have you had the chance to bond with other Volt drivers?

There’s an online community called GM-volt.com. The people there post a lot of informal polls — what kind of car did you trade it in from? Are you having any issues? For some reason, there are a whole bunch of BMW 3 Series owners who are trading in their cars. There was another poll asking how many people were former Corvette owners and a few hundred people jumped on. The Volt seems to be attracting people who just love cars.

 

Christy DeSmith • 612-673-1754

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