The car that brought electric power into the mainstream, the Volt receives its first comprehensive makeover. Its most compelling asset remains an onboard generator that makes long trips possible and erases any anxiety about running out of juice in the middle of nowhere.
2016 Chevrolet Volt Overview
What's New for 2016
The Volt has been completely redesigned.
Choosing Your Chevrolet Volt
The reborn Volt dispenses with the outgoing model's futuristic design in favor of a mainstream contemporary look inside and out. There's now a bench seat in back, so three-across seating is possible in a pinch. Although it has the appearance of a swoopy sedan, the Volt is actually a hatchback -- but the cargo area holds no more than a conventional trunk due to the intrusive lithium-ion battery pack.
The Volt is powered by a pair of electric motors that together produce 149 horsepower. After about 53 miles of driving (up from 38 last year), the gas-powered generator kicks in to keep the motor humming. When the generator is in use, the Volt achieves 42 mpg in combined driving, a gain of 5 mpg. When necessary, the generator will also assist with propulsion, but that's a relatively rare event. As you might expect, the Volt operates in near silence, even under heavy acceleration.
The redesigned Volt is offered in LT and Premier trims:
The LT is attractively priced for what you get, but the lack of available safety technology is a bummer. That makes upgrading to the Premier mandatory for the safety conscious.
2016 Chevrolet Volt Review
Chevy is taking its plug-in hybrid to new heights—and ranges—with the 2016 Volt. Boasting an expansive total range of 430 miles, the Volt leads the way among plug-in electric/gasoline hybrids.
Pricing and Equipment
Starting at $33,000, the entry-level LT comes standard with a generous complement of features and technology. Chevy manages to add just enough bells and whistles, so that you don’t feel like you’re missing out by going with the lower level trim. Standard features on the LT include:
- Cloth seats
- Keyless access and ignition
- OnStar 4G LTE with 3-year Guidance Plan
- Seventeen-inch painted aluminum wheels
- A rearview camera
We test-drove the Premier model with leather seats, a high-end Bose sound system and a surprisingly unobtrusive Driver Confidence Package ($990). The package’s Forward Collision Alert, Low-speed Automatic Braking and a Side Blind Zone Alert made itself felt when necessary but wasn’t a distraction.
How it works: The Volt uses an 8.4-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack to produce an impressive 53 miles of battery-only driving, almost a third more than last year’s 38 miles. The battery pack is complemented by a lively, range-extending 1.5-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine rated at 101 horsepower at 5600 rpm. When the battery runs out of charge, the gas engine kicks in and begins turning two motor-generators which then recharge the battery. As for felt performance:
- The Volt produces 111 kilowatts and 149 horsepower. Combined with a responsive 249 pound-feet of torque, the results were impressive. We really did not feel like we were driving a hybrid.
- The 8.9-gallon fuel tank and larger battery give the Volt a range of 430 miles. The gas engine comes in at 42 mpg and when running on battery alone, the Volt gets a staggering 106 MPGe!
- To us, it still feels a bit heavy for its size.
- It's not exactly nimble on curvy roads, but better than last year.
- Braking is a bit jerky at times, and could be smoother
We found the 2016 Volt interior much improved:
- Last year's confusing touch controls have been replaced with more intuitive, easy-to-use switches and knobs.
- The twin-cockpit design is clean yet stylish. Aesthetics matter, and Chevy seems to get that.
- Still a touch too many design flourishes for our taste.
- The rear fifth seating position feels way too small to be considered a true seat.
The Most Pleasant Surprise
We're impressed by the Volt's 106 MPGe and 430-mile range! This combination of efficiency and range puts the Volt clearly in the winner’s column.
The Least Pleasant Surprise
Over-the-shoulder vision is just plain bad. This blind spot is somewhat mitigated, though, by the rearview camera.
The Bottom Line
The new Volt goes the distance. Its power, handling and improved interior won us over from the start. The most important thing was range -- the Volt proves that you can go green and go far at the same time. Also, go with the Premier if you can. The leather and Bose sound system adds a touch of luxury you’ll really appreciate.