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.

Best Value

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)

Performance

Chevrolet Volt

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.

Style

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?

Chevrolet Volt

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.