The 2018 Chevrolet Volt continues to lead the charge toward energy efficiency. Still fresh from a relatively recent redesign in 2016, the 2018 Volt returns with only a few changes. An impressive powertrain, excellent technology integration, and luxury features make the Volt a frontrunner for eco-conscious compact cars.
2018 Chevrolet Volt Overview
What's New for 2018
The cheaper LT trim gains the option of Chevy’s Driver Confidence package, which adds blind-spot detection, rear-traffic alerts, and a parking assist. The LT also loses the 2017 model’s leather steering wheel in favor of a vinyl unit. A (heated) leather wheel is still available via the Comfort Package, which customers will also have to add in order to unlock the Driver Confidence Package. Otherwise, the nuts and bolts of the Chevy Volt remain entirely unchanged for the year.
Choosing Your Chevy Volt
All Volts come with the same powertrain: a T-shaped lithium-ion battery working in tandem with a 1.5-liter four-cylinder and an electric motor. But unlike a traditional hybrid, like the Prius, the gas engine's only job is to recharge the 18.4-kilowatt-hour battery when it goes flat – it doesn't provide power to the front wheels. That's the job of the electric motor, which produces 149 horsepower and 294 pound-feet of torque.
With a full tank of gas, the effective range of the Volt is an expected 420 miles. But that's missing the point of Chevy's hybrid hatchback. This is a plug-in hybrid, designed to run off electricity only as often as possible. The large battery pack holds enough juice to cover 53 miles on a single charge, and owners can refuel it in as little as 4.5 hours via a 240-volt charger. A normal wall plug, meanwhile, does the deed in around 13 hours. The Volt might carry gasoline in its tanks, but it's not unusual to hear about owners going months between visits to the gas station.
Styling is fairly conservative, but customers can choose from eight exterior colors (three cost extra). All Volts come standard with LED headlights, keyless entry, remote start, and a capable infotainment system operated out of the central eight-inch touchscreen.
The Volt’s base trim starts at $34,095 (including an $875 destination charge). While it's the base trim, the Volt feels worth its price thanks to LED headlights, push-button and remote start, an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility and SiriusXM satellite radio, a 4G LTE wifi hotspot, and an eight-inch digital instrument cluster.
With this spec level, it’s worth adding the Comfort Package ($460), which includes power-adjustable heated mirrors, heated seats, and a heated leather steering wheel. We also recommend the Driver Confidence package for its blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert systems (not to mention its front and rear parking sensors. The only other option to really consider (beyond dealer-installed accessories) is a Bose audio system, which rings up at $560.
Upgrading to the Premier trim adds even more upscale options. A Premier-level Volt comes with heated leather seats, a heated leather-wrapped steering wheel, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, and all of the content from the LT's Comfort Package. It also adds the Bose audio system and a wireless charging pad for mobile devices.
Parking assist is standard on the Premier trim, but buyers can still add in the other features of the Driver Confidence package for a reduced $495. The Premier trim also unlocks the Driver Confidence 2 package, which includes lane keep assist, automatic emergency braking, forward collision warning, and automatic high beams for a worthwhile $495.
Other interior options are largely the same as the LT trim, although Premier-level cars can also add a navigation system for $495 (it's a redundant feature, considering the standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility). All these extra goodies do come at a price – the Volt Premier starts at $38,445, and it’s not too hard to push it close to $40,000. That sounds a little pricy, but tax rebates – the Volt is eligible for a $7,500 federal tax credit – along with state incentives will soften the blow.
Unless you’d like the latest and greatest safety technology, it’s wise to stick with the LT trim. The Volt’s specialty is its powertrain, not its interior, and the most desirable extras are available in the Comfort package anyway. Keeping costs low will make that tax rebate all the sweeter, and you’ll save enough to go on an inaugural road trip.
2018 Chevrolet Volt Review
Three years into its current model cycle, the 2018 Chevrolet Volt scores points for its EPA-estimated 53 mile electric-only range, ride quality, and silent operation – even with the gasoline engine running. But poor driver visibility, strong initial acceleration that quickly tapers off, and expensive advanced safety features temper much of the enthusiasm.
Available in two models, 2018 Volt prices range from $34,095 for one in base LT trim, and can top $43,000 for a loaded Premier model finished in optional Iridescent Pearl Tricoat. With only one drivetrain, the choice comes down to equipment levels.
Despite losing the option of some advanced safety features, we'd forego the Premier model's extras (wireless charging, automatic park assist, lane keeping assist, Bose sound, etc.), choose the LT, and spec it out like this:
- Model: 2018 Chevrolet Volt LT
- Engine: 1.5-liter four-cylinder range extender / 111 kW two-motor drive unit / 18.4-kWh lithium-ion battery pack
- Output: 149 horsepower / 294 lb-ft
- Transmission: One-speed direct drive
- Drivetrain: Front-wheel drive
- MPG: 106 MPGe combined / 42 mpg combined
- Options: Driver Confidence Package ($790, rear park assist, blind-spot monitoring, lane change alert, rear cross-traffic alert), Comfort Package ($460 – required with Driver Confidence Package – heated front seats, heated leather-wrapped steering wheel, leather-wrapped shift knob, heated outside mirrors), and Leather Appointed Seats ($900, required with Driver Confidence Package).
- Base Price: $34,095 (including an $875 destination fee)
- Best Value Price:$36,245 (before any federal/state tax credits)
It may have a smooth, quiet ride, but hybrid buyers expect excellent fuel economy, which the Volt delivers in spades, along with an EPA-estimated 53 miles of all-electric range on a full charge – enough to handle many driver's daily commute. Upping the ante is the central placement of batteries, giving the Volt better balance in cornering than most compacts.
Some of that goodness, however, is offset by strong off-the-line acceleration that quickly tapers off, a ho-hum driving experience that falls short of entertaining, and its lack of DC quick-charging compatibility which translates to four-and-a-half hours to recharge a depleted battery.
The Volt's slick, aggressive styling doesn't announce its greenness which – comparing it to the current Toyota Prius – isn't necessarily a bad thing. Inside, supportive front seats, an integrated touchscreen, and the intuitive placement of real buttons represent a big improvement over the first-gen model.
On the flip side, a high beltline and low front seat hip point combine for exceptionally poor driver visibility. And while a third seat belt is supplied for the back seat, anyone other than a small child is going to find that space extremely confining.
The Best and Worst Things
The Volt's combination of ride comfort and fuel efficiency make it highly competitive in the compact class, but poor driver visibility and, especially, expensive active safety technology – only available on the Premium trim – could prove to be a turn-off for many buyers.
Right For? Wrong For?
EPA-estimated numbers of 54 miles of all-electric driving, 106 MPGe combined in all-electric mode, 42 mpg combined in gasoline-only operation, and 420 miles of total range are bound to attract more eco-conscious buyers to the Volt.
Safety-conscious buyers won't be excited to find out that a rearview camera and pedestrian safety signal are the only standard advanced safety features, while they'll have to step up to the Premier trim and fork over an additional $1,685 to gain adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, forward collision warning, lane keeping assist, and automatic high-beam headlights.
The Bottom Line
Despite mediocre driver visibility and expensive active safety technology, sleek, conservative styling, a smooth ride, and outstanding fuel economy make the 2018 Chevrolet Volt a solid choice in the compact class.