Motor Trend Reveals The "Secret" To Getting 127 MPG In A Chevy Volt

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer
motor trend reveals the secret to getting 127 mpg in a chevy volt

Since we questioned Motor Trend’s decision to claim that it got 127 MPG in a Chevrolet Volt without publishing a trip log, the buff book has apparently come to terms with the fact that the Volt is “as efficient as you want it to be.” In a piece dismissively subtitled “ Yes, Your Mileage May Vary. Welcome to the Real World,” MT Editor-in-Chief Angus Mackenzie publishes MT’s Volt test trip log, but not before harumphing

For decades we have routinely published “MT Observed” fuel economy numbers as part of our road test data. And apart from the odd complaint that we journalists always seem to have a heavy right foot, those numbers have drawn few comments. Until our Chevy Volt test.

No surprise, perhaps. After all, 127 mpg is a pretty big number. But, as outlined on the next page, it’s a real number. It’s what we observed during our test.

Except that nobody (here at TTAC anyway) was surprised at the size of the number. Because of the Volt’s unique drivetrain, it would have been eminently possible to record 300 MPG, given enough recharges. What was surprising is that a publication would throw out a meaningless number and then wait a day (and a call-out) to condescendingly provide the raw data behind their test. And even then, still not point out that the Volt’s post-EV range efficiency (described by MT in terms of “EV/Gas miles”) was actually under 36 MPG (in line with tests conducted by MT’s buff book “peers”). Finally, it might have been appropriate for MT to explain that, on this particular test anyway, a Nissan Leaf would have needed one extra charge (over the night of the 22nd-23rd) but would have returned infinite MPG (though the 100 mile claimed range would have been properly tested on the 23rd). But there we go being inconveniently rude again… and who are we to turn up our noses at MT’s (belated) transparency?

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  • MattPete MattPete on Oct 15, 2010

    I think you need a sliding scale showing the gallons used per mile (assuming a recharge between trips). So, assuming a 40 mile battery range and 30mpg when in gas-only mode, the Volt would look like this: [sorry about the formatting] Miles Elec.-Miles Gas-Miles gallons-used mpg 10 10 0 0.0 NA 20 20 0 0.0 NA 40 40 0 0.0 NA 80 40 40 1.3 60 160 40 120 4.0 40 320 40 280 9.3 34

  • Engineer Engineer on Oct 15, 2010

    That's an interesting piece of BS from MT. Odd that they didn't claim you can get infinite mpg* *keep that battery charged up! The claim that electricity is cheaper than gas is demonstrably false. As it turns out, electricity is the most expensive enegy source, $/BTU basis. Of course, what people are really interested in, is what they would pay per mile. And, the Volt does use electricity more efficiently than the ICE uses gas. Fair enough. What's the bottom line? Down here in SoCal, electricity is ~$0.20/kWh. The Volt has a 16 kWh battery, but only uses ~50% of the capacity, so its ~$1.60 per charge. If the EV only range is ~35 miles, that translates into $0.046/mile. That's EV mode only. Once you get to CS mode, @35 mpg and the local gas price of ~$3.15/gal, you're up to $0.090/mile. It's clear that MT is right on that score: Volt owners would want to keep the battery charged, if money is any concern. Now, if you're the green-hued type of individual who might be interested in the Volt (as opposed to the money-is-no-objection Wall Street banker type), you'd be curious how the Volt compares to other greenish offerings. That would be the Prius, which is reported to get 50 mpg (by Uncle Sam, so you know it's a true number, ha ha; why no 2011 model?). At the stated gas price, that translates to $0.063/mile. Bottom line: for the Volt to even make sense in operating cost terms (say you got it as a gift from a rich uncle [Sam]), you'd need to do no more than ~40% of your driving in CS mode. Impressive? Your call...

  • Damon Thomas Adding to the POSITIVES... It's a pretty fun car to mod
  • GregLocock Two adjacent states in Australia have different attitudes to roadworthy inspections. In NSW they are annual. In Victoria they only occur at change of ownership. As you'd expect this leads to many people in Vic keeping their old car.So if the worrywarts are correct Victoria's roads would be full of beaten up cars and so have a high accident rate compared with NSW. Oh well, the stats don't agree.
  • Lorenzo In Massachusetts, they used to require an inspection every 6 months, checking your brake lights, turn signals, horn, and headlight alignment, for two bucks.Now I get an "inspection" every two years in California, and all they check is the smog. MAYBE they notice the tire tread, squeaky brakes, or steering when they drive it into the bay, but all they check is the smog equipment and tailpipe emissions.For all they would know, the headlights, horn, and turn signals might not work, and the car has a "speed wobble" at 45 mph. AFAIK, they don't even check EVs.
  • Not Tire shop mechanic tugging on my wheel after I complained of grinding noise didn’t catch that the ball joint was failing. Subsequently failed to prevent the catastrophic failure of the ball joint and separation of the steering knuckle from the car! I’ve never lived in a state that required annual inspection, but can’t say that having the requirement has any bearing on improving safety given my experience with mechanics…
  • Mike978 Wow 700 days even with the recent car shortages.