America's mainstream EV, the Volt midsize sedan removes any anxiety over electric power with an onboard generator that allows continuous travel up to 380 miles. Although it looks rather futuristic, the Volt behaves very much like a conventional passenger car and offers an overall level of refinement that's commensurate with its price.
What's New for 2015
The Volt receives minor equipment adjustments only.
Choosing Your Chevrolet Volt
The Volt is powered by a 149-horsepower electric motor that gets its juice from lithium-ion battery pack. After about 38 miles of driving, the gas-powered generator kicks in to keep the motor humming. When the generator is in use, the Volt is rated at 37 mpg in combined driving. When necessary, the generator will also assist with propulsion, but that's a relatively rare event.
With a fully charged battery and full tank of gas, you're good to go for 380 miles. Bringing a fully depleted battery back to life takes about three hours on a 240-volt outlet. Every Volt comes with a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) and selectable driving modes to help you get the right mix of power and efficiency in different conditions.
Due to the location of the battery pack, the Volt seats just two in the back and the trunk is small for a sedan of this size. Such space concessions are to be expected on any electric vehicle and even conventional hybrids. On the plus side, the Volt operates in near silence, even under heavy acceleration, and the rear liftgate makes for easy cargo handling.
The Volt comes fully equipped from the start with keyless ignition, remote start, Bluetooth phone and audio, LED running lights, heated mirrors, a leather-wrapped steering wheels, 17-inch alloy wheels and a six-speaker sound system with satellite radio. The Chevrolet MyLink infotainment interface is standard as well. A navigation system is available in conjunction with a Bose seven-speaker sound system.
The Premium Trim package spruces up the interior with leather upholstery, heated front seats and a removable rear center armrest. The Enhanced Safety Package 1 tacks on a rearview camera, rear parking sensors and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. With those features in place, you can opt for the Enhanced Safety Package 2 with front parking sensors, forward collision alert and lane departure warning. Oddly enough, power seats are not available on the Volt.
Last year, Chevrolet slashed the Volt's price by $5,000 without taking away any equipment. That makes it a better value now than ever before. Note that a $7,500 federal income tax credit is still available, as well as various state-level incentives.