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The Chevy Volt Is an Excellent Used-Car Value for Normal People

I’ve known a few people who have sold cars for a living, and they say the hardest customers to work with are the ones who have no idea what they want. All they know is that they want a vehicle with four wheels and a motor. I believe the protocol is to get them in a beige Camry or something and send them on their way.

If you’re one of these people (and for some reason you’re reading Oversteer), allow me to save your next car salesman a headache. Buy a used Chevy Volt.

The Chevy Volt is the ultimate car for normal people. If you’re like the majority of drivers who simply don’t care about cars or driving, and you simply need a vehicle to transport you to places, the Volt is perfect: It’s an electric vehicle that doesn’t leave you stranded if you run out of juice.

The story goes that Toyota said it was impossible to make a car work on a lithium-ion battery — and that was all GM product guy Bob Lutz needed to hear to not only make it work, but bring it to mass production. The Volt was the first of its kind as a plug-in hybrid fueled by a lithium-ion battery pack. The battery powers an electric motor, and when that battery gets too low to keep running the car on its own, a 4-cylinder gas engine kicks in to keep the battery alive.

In a traditional hybrid, you always need gasoline for the car to run. But with a plug-in hybrid, you can make short trips without burning a drop of gas. The first-generation Volt can get about 35 miles of pure electric driving out of a full charge, and about 37 miles per gallon in combined driving after that. It has a combined MPGe rating of 93 from the EPA.

Great, you’re thinking — so why not just get a Toyota Prius? The Prius isn’t a bad car — but it’s not an especially attractive one, and it’s generally considered to be a bit dull and uninteresting. The Volt doesn’t have the same stigma. I think most people know a Chevrolet Volt when they see one and the consensus seems to be that it’s just an electric car made by Chevy — and many people still think it’s a cool piece of technology, even many years after it first went on sale.

Fuel savings and environmental friendliness aside, the Volt is still a great car. Since it was kind of expensive when it was new (for a compact Chevy hatchback), Chevy had to justify the price tag by packing in a lot of desirable features. After all, if you could get a new, similarly appointed Prius for much cheaper than a Volt, nobody would buy a Volt.

Here are just a few of the features that came standard on the 2011 Volt, the first year for the model:

  • Bluetooth
  • Navigation (2011 was the only year navigation was standard)
  • SiriusXM satellite radio
  • 7-inch touchscreen display
  • USB port
  • Automatic climate control
  • Heated power mirrors with integrated turn signals
  • Remote start
  • 17-in aluminum wheels

All of this in a car you can drive without gas! And pricing is good, too: As of this writing, there are more than 300 used Volts for sale on Autotrader for $15,000 or less — and around half come with the luxurious Premium trim, which gives you heated leather seats, a backup camera and various other goodies. That’s a lot of car for quite a bit less than the average price of a used car, which is just under $20,000.

Even if the Chevrolet Volt isn’t the car for you, it’s an excellent car to recommend to someone who asks you, the car enthusiast, for car-buying advice. Find a used Chevrolet Volt for sale

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