One in an occasional series reviewing consumer vehicles.
As the Chevrolet 2017 Volt Premier Hatchback snaked along the road on the way to Silverado Canyon, the passenger asked if we were riding in a luxury car.
"No," came the reply from this driver, "it's more like a sporty sedan."
"Well, it feels like a luxury car," said the passenger in reference to the smooth ride.
We'd left Costa Mesa with a full tank (8.7 gallons) of gasoline and all the bars lit up for the plug-in hybrid's battery. That would get us a billed 45-55 miles of all-electric range before the 101-horsepower engine kicks in to drive the front wheels and recharge the lithium-ion cells (with the assistance of the motor/generators).
Total range: 400 miles plus!
Our trip involved picking up a third eater in the canyon to join us on a cross-county ravioli run to preview National Ravioli Day, which is today. We continued to ride under battery power from Silverado to our first stop: Tutto Fresco Fresh Italian, 1333 N. Glassell St. (at Katella) in Orange.
Out of four restaurants sampled, Tutto Fresco served the most pleasing ravioli of all the places we sampled when combining flavor, quality of ingredients and price. It's one of those places where you order from a counter and then either take your food out or grab a pager so a server can bring the dish to your table. It's very clean inside and outside on the patio, with booths and tables set up perfectly for family style dining.
The spinach ravioli ($10.99) featured an organic spinach filling and a rich sauce with generously sized pieces of artichoke and sun-dried tomatoes bobbing in it.
You get larger pasta envelopes with the cheese ravioli ($8.99), and it is plenty filling if drenched in the rich, red and tasty marinara sauce—especially when accompanied by some of the best fresh bread I've had anywhere and a glass of house chianti or Palomino Pale Ale from Bootlegger's Brewery of Fullerton.
For a buck more, you can cover the cheese ravioli in a meat sauce. A fresh parmesan sprinkling is free, of course.
Making the trip over to Brea, I did not notice the Volt's power had shifted to combustion until I looked at the fuel gauges right before the 57 freeway's Imperial Highway offramp.
In gas-only mode, we still had more than 350 miles of range.
Our next stop was Fratellino’s, 600 S. Brea Blvd., and perhaps it was the weird time we hit the joint—between lunch and dinnertime, but still with an impressive number of tables full—but the spinach-filled ravioli ($8.95) with sliced cooked mushrooms was bland and the marinara sauce covering them was watery. This was especially disappointing compared to what we'd just gorged on in Orange.
Fortunately, Alessa by Chef Pirozzi, 234 Forest Ave., Laguna Beach, brought us back to culinary heaven. Of course, at $26 a plate (and a relatively small portion at that), the Aragosta Ravioli had better have been good. The ravioli is filled with Maine lobster and roasted fennel, with fresh pieces of lobster swimming in the out-of-this-world sherry tomato vodka pink sauce.
It was a wonderful dish and we all agreed we'd like to return to Alessa to sample the prosciutto and mozzarella bar fare. But one in our party said the house chianti was actually better at Tutto Fresco, and we all agreed the Orange restaurant was more our scene, all things considered.
The added weight of the passengers did not mar the ride back home to Costa Mesa, where we made a quick stop at the neighborhood family Italian joint, Nick's Pizza D’Oro, 1145 Baker St. We had intended to stay for the lunch special beef ravioli ($7.95), but given our escalating levels of indigestion we instead ordered the fried cheese ravioli appetizer ($7.25) as take out.
That came with a generous cup of the house marinara, which was much better than Fratellino’s, to dip the fried raviolis into. What to do when the pasta was gone? Tear off pieces of the half loaf of garlic bread ($5.50) that we added to our to-go order. Tum-Tum-Tum-Tum-TUMMMMSSSS!!!
The Volt made the whole trip like a champ. It does not look like a hybrid on the outside, and the two-tone interior gives it a sporty look inside as well. My partly leather front bucket seat somehow felt as if it had been custom-fitted to my back, providing an incredible amount of support during a long day on Orange County’s roads.
When we weren’t being led around by the navigation system on the 8-inch screen in the middle of the dashboard, we listened to XM radio out of the Bose audio system (with eight speakers). Buyers have options when it comes to SiriusXM, OnStar and wireless hotspot subscriptions, and the Volt includes wireless device charging capabilities, with two USB ports and an auxiliary port.
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Another reason to look into the Volt are these standard features: loads of air bags; a theft deterrent system; traction control; power door locks with lockout protection; rear-vision camera; front, rear and automatic park assist; keyless open and start; heated outside mirrors; solar absorbing windshield; auto-dimming rearview mirror; heated, leather-wrapped steering wheel with radio controls; an eight-year/100,000-mile battery and Voltec limited warranty; and a five-year/60,000-mile power train limited warranty.
For all that, the standard manufacturer’s retail price is $37,570. My test ride was a couple thousand more when you factor in the destination charge and such options as the Driver Confidence 1 Package (side blind zone alert with lane change and rear cross traffic alerts), Driver Confidence 2 Package (lane keep assist, front automatic braking at low speed, Intellibeam headlamps and forward collision alert), the Chevrolet MyLink Radio with navigation and a front license plate bracket.