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Volt is unique, high-tech drive

The 2013 Chevrolet Volt has a lot going for it.

It can travel up to 50 miles on all-electric power and has a backup gasoline engine for longer trips, is a recommended buy of Consumer Reports magazine and adds new features, including a new Hold mode that lets drivers set the Volt for gasoline-engine operation only, thereby saving the electric range for later in the trip, if needed.

For the first time since the Volt’s introduction as a 2011 model, the black-colored roof and liftgate are gone. Buyers now can get those parts painted the same color as the rest of the Volt body. And Chevrolet added global positioning satellite-based navigation for 2013. It’s part of an $895 option that also adds $495 in optional stereo sound equipment.

Meanwhile, the 2013 Volt earned top, five-out-of-five stars in overall crash protection for occupants during federal crash tests.

But the Volt’s electric plug-in system for charging remains less adaptable to some regular, 120-volt outlets than do the plug-in systems for the all-electric-only Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi MiEV and plug-in hybrid competitors like the 2013 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid and 2013 Ford C-Max Energi.

Simply, the test 2013 Volt — like the 2011 Volt tester two years earlier — would not charge via the regular 120-volt outlet in my circa 1970s residential garage. It would only charge at the 240-volt charging stations located at a city-owned, downtown parking structure.

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