YONKERS, New York — The 2011 Chevrolet Volt has undergone its first series of road tests by Consumer Reports and the reaction is underwhelming, with the consumer watchdog complaining that the Volt is “an expensive way to be green” and does not provide top fuel efficiency versus some of its competitors.

“So far, the Volt works as an electric car with a gas backup, but it’s not really much of a money saver in many places,” said Consumer Reports in its April issue, which takes a hard look at automakers and individual vehicles. “Cheaper electricity or more expensive gas could tip the scales in its favor. For now, it seems that owning a Volt is an expensive way to be green.”

Consumer Reports has just completed an initial study of the Volt, which took place during the Northeast’s “deep freeze,” it said. A full road test of the Volt, GM’s first plug-in hybrid, will appear in an unspecified future issue.  …… 

Consumer Reports warned the buying public that the Volt’s fuel economy “depends largely on your driving pattern.”….

Consumer Reports‘ product testers also noted that the Volt’s electric range is “very susceptible to cold weather, primarily because the heater runs on electricity. We also found that an extended highway cruise shortens the electric range.”

Testers liked the Volt’s “quiet operation, brisk acceleration and taut yet supple ride.”

“But the big question is what you can expect in terms of fuel economy and range,” Consumer Reports said.

Consumer Reports‘ take on the Volt is critical, especially as U.S. consumers consider alt-energy vehicles in the wake of climbing gas prices.