Way back in 2010, it seemed like the Chevy Volt would take over America. The premise is solid: A few hours plugged in overnight will get a Volt driver about 35 or 40 miles (depending on how he’s driven, GM says it’ll take 25 to 50 miles) of electric driving every day; a lot for the average trip. Once the battery is depleted, the efficient gasoline engine will work to keep things running smoothly. No anxiety range, no fuss, no fuss.
And it works exactly as advertised too. I tested the new Volt myself soon after it debuted, and within a week of driving that included running around my neighborhood and a few hours of highway walking across the Phoenix area, I averaged better than 100 miles per gallon of gas. Even including the electricity I pumped into the battery pack, the Volt was easily the most efficient method of road transport I’ve experienced up to that point, and actually quite fun to drive.
The second-generation Volt debuted in 2016 with many improvements, including more power range and greater efficiency. We regretted its retreat from the market in 2019 when General Motors decided to pull out, literally and figuratively, on the Volt experiment. A few years have passed since the Volt’s death (and the arrival of the next Bolt EV hatchback), and fully electric vehicles are making more and more sense to more and more Americans, at least those with access to a charger at home or a plug close enough to them.
But the Volt still makes a lot of sense as a used buy, priced at around $10,000 on the low end and still well below $30,000 for a low-mileage model from the last year of production. The numbers represent the current reality with today’s inflation rate, and they are expected to drop in due course along with other used vehicles. But even for today’s numbers, the Volt is a very attractive option.
The closest competitor offering a similar ownership experience to the Volt is the Toyota Prius Prime. Between the two, the Chevy is better to drive, more efficient for most drivers and, while looks are of course subjective, I find it far more attractive regardless of which Volt generation you’re comparing. It’s also cheaper. Blue Book Value for a well-equipped 2017 Chevy Volt in excellent condition with 50,000 miles currently stands at $18,658. The Prius Prime with a similar option from the same year (the first on the market) is $25,044.
Of course, the Volt has been on the market a little longer than the Prius Prime. It’s not hard to find an older Volt with around 100,000 miles for less than $10,000 or one with much less mileage for just $1,000 or so. That strikes me as a great bargain for a solid vehicle. And while I fully expected the Prius Prime to be reliable, the same goes for the Volt, which has solid reliability and satisfaction scores across the board from the agency that published the rating.
It’s also worth mentioning that a very similar drivetrain to the Volt is used in the Cadillac ELR, a slinky two-door coupe packed with all the luxuries you’d expect from a vehicle sporting the Wreath and Crest. It didn’t sell for as low as the Volt, with the 2014 model’s book value hovering around $23,000 now. The upgraded 2016 edition costs a bit more. Either way, the ELR could be a potential collectible—it’s very expensive when new, meaning few are sold, and oddities sometimes gain traction after decades have passed.
If you’re in the market for a highly efficient vehicle that isn’t completely tied to available charging plugs and are looking for a deal, the Chevy Volt is worth a close look.
Looking for more cheap car deals? Here are our picks for the best used cars under $10,000, and the best used SUVs and crossovers under $10,000, and our car sales center.