Motor Trend Claims Volt Gets 127 MPG, Not Quite True

I guess I am one of the lucky ones, because growing up, I always knew what I wanted to be. I wanted to write. It wasn’t until I got my driver’s license though that I figured out what I wanted to write about. Cars. I just love cars, and I would read every car magazine I could find cover to cover, pretending I didn’t hear my name called in the dentist’s office just so I could finish one more paragraph or page. I really used to idolize the writers at publications like Car & Driver and Motor Trend. Lately though…I guess you could say I’ve become jaded.

For one, I found out that many full-time auto journalists don’t even own a car. They simply go from one corporate loaner to the next, reviewing them and moving on to the next one. What kind of car guy are you if you don’t even own a car? And then there are omissions of truth…like Motor Trend claiming to get 127 mpg out of the Chevy Volt. Too bad they didn’t tell the whole story until a whole day later.

In their initial piece, titled “127 MPG: This Volt Story Must Be Told“, Motor Trend writer Johnny Lieberman goes on and on about how they romped and railed on the Chevy Volt, driving 299 miles, him and a fellow driver had used just 2.36 gallons of gas. I will admit initially, I was wowed, impressed, even shocked, especially after so many other outlets had claimed Volt gas mileage from between the upper 20’s to upper 30’s. 127 mpg? That is nothing short of amazing, blowing away any other car on the street. How is that possible?

Well, the devil is in the details. A day after the first post, Motor Trend released a follow-up story called “127 MPG: The Chevy Volt Dairies”, where they released their driving log. Turns out, they had got that 127 mpg figure over the course of three days, driving 214 miles in EV mode and just 84 miles in “charge sustaining” mode. To me, that is just not an accurate representation of real world mpg, because in reality the Volt got 36 mpg, not 127 mpg. It’s just like GM claiming the Volt got 230 mpg, because in a typical gas mileage testing function of 50 miles, 40 of those miles would be under electric power and not use any gas at all. I didn’t let GM off the hook for that, and I won’t let Motor Trend off the hook either.

In today’s age of minuscule attention spans and multi-tasking, a snappy headline like 127 mpg is sure to get page views. But to publish a story like that without 100% of the information up front and available just smacks of dishonesty and cozying up to GM close to the Volt’s launch.

Having said all of that, aI will say this about Motor Trend’s test. It represents what one might consider a “real world” commute. This is exactly how GM is marketing the car…as a commuter vehicle to use as little gas to get back and forth from work as possible. In this scenario the Volt certainly seems at home, and I imagine many commuters could see similar results. Still, it seems a little odd to me that Motor Trend would make a test that was essentially designed to optimize mileage. That is just fine, and technically the Volt really did go almost 300 miles on just 2.36 gallons of gas. But does this really represent 127 mpg? Not to me. For $40,000, I was hoping GM could do a bit better than 36 mpg in charge sustaining mode.

How about you guys? Do you feel deceived, or am I overreacting?

Source: Motor Trend


Christopher DeMorro

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or else, he's running, because he's one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.