Checkpoint: 1000KM Edition

Checkpoint: 1000KM Edition

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It’s taken quite a bit longer than most people anticipated but I just broke the 1000KM mark on my Volt’s odometer. I don’t drive it for work and I’m not known to go galavanting around town for the sake of it so it’s taken quite a while to reach this mark.

I’ve grown to enjoy the car the more I use it. I got used to the height of the dead pedal to the point that it’s actually a comfortable arrangement now. Sirius XM’s preview is surprisingly decent for pop music which makes the lack of a subscription a relative non-issue. The estimated range continues to impress; I even managed to bump it up to 86 KM (1KM over the official estimated range).

I still try to avoid using the internal combustion engine whenever possible which involves me trying to improve my rate of acceleration and braking. I’m not being annoyingly slow or unsafe by any means but it’s still an interesting exercise to practice.

I’m looking forward to the car’s first appointment in July for the bug fixes and firmware update that includes Android Auto. I don’t have an Android phone but I’d like to see how it works with other people’s phones.

So far so good, here’s hoping it remains an enjoyable ride until 10,000 KM as well.

I just wrapped up Ratchet & Clank. I should have a review up on Wednesday. That is unless I get way too distracted by Overwatch.

 

2016 Chevy Volt Impressions Pt. 2

2016 Chevy Volt Impressions Pt. 2

posted in: Gadget Impressions | 0

Here are an assortment of impressions after spending some more time with my new Volt.

ICE Time

This was a bit concerning. I used the internal combustion engine (ICE) for the first time and I experienced the effects of “engine burn off”. This is what I posted on the GM-Volt forum:

I’ve had my 2016 Volt about two weeks now and, outside of ERDTT, today was the first time I used the ICE as it was intended. I ran out of EV range and relied on the ICE to get me to work.

 

I exited the highway, pulled regen paddle, came to a stop at the light and noticed this burning smell. My buddy and I just chalked it up to the car in front of us or something else in the area. On the way back home, I noticed the same smell after exiting the highway again! It dissipates after a few minutes of driving but it’s still irksome and puzzling.

 

At first I thought it was regen braking related but I never had that issue before. After some searching on the forums, this sounded an awful lot like the issues in this “Smelly Volt after extended gas runs” thread.

 

So is this normal for first time use? If so, how long does it take before it goes away? Or is this something more serious and I should get in contact with my dealer ASAP?

 

Thanks!

Apparently the burning smell was normal and part of the burning off oils and chemicals used during manufacturing and assembly.  It was likely exacerbated by the fact that I was running the fan. I’ll keep an eye on it but I wish something I was warned about. I guess it’s a reason to drive more efficiently and keep off the ICE.

Automated Park Assist

After multiple botched attempts, I finally managed to get the automated perpendicular parking assist to work on Saturday evening. I tried it again on Sunday but it didn’t go as smoothly as I hoped. I think I may have been reversing too quickly but it’s not the feature I thought it would be.

I’ve been focusing on the automated perpendicular parking assist feature because parallel parking is uncommon in my travels.

I was hoping the system would just help park in an empty parking spot but unfortunately the system requires actual vehicles or physical objects as reference points. This explains why all my attempts have failed and the one success parked my car near a concrete pillar. The manual didn’t explicitly spell this out but it makes sense. I don’t know why I thought otherwise because my car doesn’t have a 360 degree camera system.

Built-in Navigation vs Apple Maps via Car Play

I don’t have a sizeable data plan (250 MB) on my iPhone. I never really needed a big data plan before but Apple Car Play is building a compelling argument for buying a sizeable data plan.

I bought the built-in navigation option for the Volt because I wanted to have a standalone GPS solution. Coming from a 2008 Garmin GPS unit, the Chevy solution is sleeker and more robust but it’s still pales in comparison to Apple Car Play.

Dictating the address to the built-in navigation is cumbersome. With Siri and Apple Maps, I can say “Take me to <store name>” and a list of store locations would appear on screen with the nearest one on top. The built-in navigation only recognizes addresses and I have to drill down to each address starting from the city and province level. It’s also very strict with naming and offers very few suggestions.

Suite of Sensors

I originally wanted to build my Volt with only “Driver Confidence Package I”. I thought the Side Blind Zone Alert with Lane Change Alert and Rear Cross Traffic alert features were the most beneficial but after the test drive, I decided to include both options because I appreciated the extra eyes the second “Driver Confidence Package” included:

  • Forward Collision Alert
  • Lane Keep Assist
  • Low-speed Front Automatic Braking

It’s excessive for careful drivers and anytime the alerts went off, I was well aware of what I was doing but I liked the reassurances. It’s like when I use the GPS even though I am somewhat familiar with the route.

The second “Driver Confidence Package” also included Following Distance Indicator and IntelliBeam headlamps but I haven’t used either.

Multimedia

I have a free trial to XM Radio but I don’t I have any desire explore the paid radio service. For music, it appears to be occupying a weird middle ground between AM/FM radio and music services like Spotify. I can see it being useful for talk or sports radio but none of that interests me. Nevertheless, it works albeit a bit cumbersome to explore; I wish there was a way to sort by genre or moods.

The AM/FM radio was fine and the Spotify experience through Apple Car Play was easy as pie to use. I have no complaints about the included Bose audio system but I haven’t put it through its paces. I would like to load up a small USB stick full of familiar music to give it a real test.

I also discovered I could watch videos on the entertainment screen which is a neat but useless feature for even the passenger because, for safety reasons, the video image will be hidden while the car is in drive.

Still Lots to Tinker With

I still have a lot to tinker with in the Volt including driving in Low drive mode which would technically give me the ability to drive with one pedal. I’m also looking forward to the warmer weather so I can give sport mode a more thorough work out.

Checkpoint: Volt Delivered Edition

Checkpoint: Volt Delivered Edition

posted in: Editorials & Features | 0

After 94 days of waiting, I finally got my hands on my 2016 Chevrolet Volt. Delivery was painless and everything is running as expected thus far. Electric range suffers in cold weather conditions and I already had to see how much of a toll -25 C takes. But let’s wind it back a bit and take a look at the timeline leading up to the delivery date.

Timeline

  1. Monday, Nov 9, 2015 – Ordered
  2. Friday, Nov 20, 2015 – No Target Production Week.
  3. Thursday, Nov 26, 2015 – No Target Production Week
  4. Thursday, Dec 3, 2015 – Tentative Build Week of Jan 18, 2016
  5. Wednesday, Dec 16, 2015 – Tentative Build Week of Jan 18, 2016
  6. Wednesday, Jan 6, 2016 – Tentative Build Week of Jan 18, 2016
  7. Tuesday, Jan 19, 2016 – Tentative Build Week of Jan 18, 2016
  8. Tuesday, Jan 26, 2016 – Vehicle built but not released to carrier. Still in Michigan.
  9. Tuesday, Feb 2, 2016 – Will arrive in Montreal yard in 2 days. The vehicle has to go quality control before shipped to the dealership.
  10. Wednesday, Feb 10, 2016 – Volt delivered.

Only 1 and 2 involved my local dealership; the other status updates were acquired by me. I got my order code from my salesman and used Chevy.ca’s live chat to check in their systems. Surprisingly, there were no delays and everything went according to my internal estimations. I would have gotten it sooner if the Christmas holidays didn’t shutdown the manufacturing plant. I was impressed that the car was built and delivered within a couple of weeks.

On Star

Registering for On Star was a simple process but it’s clearly a move to have someone try to sell their expensive coverage and data packages. I was given a 3 month 3GB data trial and I don’t intend to renew it despite the fact that I don’t have a sizeable data plan on my smartphone.

I was also given a 3 year trial of their Guidance package. There are a lot of niceties on the package but the two features that I can see myself missing when the trial ends are the diagnostic and Remote Link capabilities, Being able to remotely start my car on my iPhone could be very useful during the colder winter months and those diagnostic reports could be very useful.

Handling The Cold

The Volt handled the -25 C weather admirably. I lost approximately 10 KM in range but it was still more than enough to not have to rely on the internal combustion engine (ICE) during my errands. The engine ran due to to temperature (ERDTT) after every cold start but not for long. Once I finally found the setting to differ the ERDTT from 2 C to -10 C and disable the “Engine Assist Heat Plugged In”, I should hear the ICE unless it’s really cold or I run out of battery.

The added benefit of disabling “Engine Assist Heat Plugged In” is the ability to remote start the car without having to open the garage door.

The Little Engine

When the 1.5 L ICE decides to kick it into high gear, the Volt sounds like a scooter and creates a tiny bit of noticeable vibration and noise in the cabin. It’s tolerable but, at the same time, it’s enough to deter me to drive inefficient.

A Big Gadget

There’s a lot to tweak and tinker with in the Volt — I still haven’t given the parking assist a genuine try. I’ve tried it once but I failed in spectacular fashion. (I tried to use parallel park when I wanted perpendicular park). Playing with the Volt is like playing with a new gadget but the key difference is that I have to sit in the garage to tinker and that’s not undesirable in this cold weather.

I haven’t tried Apple’s Car Play yet because I don’t have a spare Lightning cable. I haven’t tried Sirius XM radio yet because I know it’s only a trial and I have no idea what’s an entertaining channel. I did play with the Navigation option and I’m impressed with it coming from someone who used a Garmin for years. It reminds me of Google Maps and Apple Maps a bit.

Sport Mode

While it was easy to stay efficient in Normal mode, shifting the car into Sport gave a noticeable improvement in throttle and braking response. It wasn’t an earth shattering difference but I can see myself using it when I know I’m not travelling very far.

So Far So Good

There’s a lot more to try and explore with my Volt and I doubt that’s something I can claim if I had purchased a Camry Hybrid or any other regular gasoline car. I don’t seek out complexity but I enjoy depth. It’s very easy to just treat it like a normal car but at the same time, it’s very easy to get into the nitty gritty.

Started playing Helldivers with my brother. It’s fun so far but I can see why it didn’t exactly garner the highest reviews. I don’t want to make any bold claims yet because it’s still early but I hope they mix it up a bit.

I like Far Cry 4. I recognize that the formula is extremely similar to the Ubisoft’s other open world titles but there’s something about it that works.

Checkpoint: Chevy Volt 2016 Edition

Checkpoint: Chevy Volt 2016 Edition

posted in: Editorials & Features | 0

So after a nearly a year of waiting, I finally test drove the Chevy Volt 2016.  I enjoyed my hour or so with the car. It didn’t matter if it was through suburbia or highways, it was enjoyable for myself and my passengers.

The Looks

I knew exactly what I was expecting after months of ogling the thing through official photos and GM-Volt forum posts. Even the size wasn’t a surprise to me since the 2015 Volt was virtually identical in size with the 2016.

The Drive

The most noticeable difference in the drive was visibility. The 2016’s front visibility felt liberating compared to the 2015’s which was slightly claustrophobic by comparison. I’m sure I could have gotten used to the 2015’s much narrower view but with the 2016, I didn’t have to. I also want to say the side window visibility was also improved as well. I’m not 100% certain but I believe they increased the size of those windows. The rear visibility was more or less the same though.

The drive was similar to the 2015’s. It got off the line with a pep and did a decent job ramping up towards highway speeds but I wouldn’t call it exhilarating. I’m not going to lie and say I didn’t miss the feeling of 200+ horsepower on the highway. I would have preferred if they injected an additional 25 HP but you know what? It’s not a deal breaker for a driver like myself; I’m the furthest thing from an aggressive driver and can easily manage.

The ride is supposedly quieter than the 2015 Volt but I couldn’t really tell. I was in electric mode in both vehicles so if there were improvements in quietening the internal combustion engine, I didn’t get to experience it.

I tried out the “regen on demand paddle” which was more like a button than an analog paddle. This made for very abrupt stops at the tail end of a slow down. I’m going to have to combine it and the regular breaking. I must admit: that regen on demand button is fun to use. Braking with a button turned breaking into a game of sorts.

Comfort

The redesigned center console is fantastic. It’s functional and looks great. The 8″ touch screen fits well and is the clear highlight of the car. I didn’t manage to try Apple Car Play but Sirius XM worked nicely.

The seats were comfortable throughout the ride for all passengers. The feel of the leather appears to be a step up from 2015’s which was what I was hoping for. The steering wheel’s leather still felt a little too plastic for me.

I wasn’t a big fan of the raised left foot rest; it’s a little too raised. I didn’t recall it being a thing on the 2015 Volt.

We tried sitting with three people in the back it wasn’t comfortable for 5’8″ person like myself. We three thinner asians fit in the back but I was too tall for the middle seat; it was definitely made for children or shorter people.

Making It So

I was happy with what I drove and barring some significant hurdles, I believe I’m going to own one.

I started Halo 5: Guardians earlier this week and I’m just about done the campaign. The lack of Xbox Live! Gold will curb any real desire to play the multiplayer right now though. I really want to try Warzone but at the same time, I hear the cards system that they employ for summoning equipment is a hinderance. It may be time for Black Ops III.

 

 

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