Chevrolet Volt ›› 2016 Chevrolet Volt

2016 Chevrolet Volt

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2016 Chevrolet Volt Premier 7

Overview (Final Score: B)

As much fuss is made about electric vehicles, they are only for a small audience. A combination of a limited driving range and lack of a charging infrastructure means many people don't give them a chance. But Chevrolet wanted to change that. In 2010, the American automaker introduced the Volt. Here was a vehicle that provided an insurance policy of a gas generator to provide electric power once the battery was depleted. It might not have the range of other electric vehicles; it only offered 35 miles of range. But in turn, it had a better overall range of over 300 miles when the generator would kick on.

For 2016, Chevrolet has introduced the second-generation Volt. This new model brings a lot of changes not only to the powertrain but the overall vehicle.

What We Love About the 2016 Chevrolet Volt

  • Improved electric-only range

  • Exterior design that stands out

  • Barely any road or wind noise inside

What We Didn't Love About the 2016 Chevrolet Volt

  • Rear seat is for kids only

  • Slow recharging when plugged into a 120V outlet

  • Gas generator can become quite noisy

2016 Chevrolet Volt Premier 2

Exterior View (10/10)

The first-generation Chevrolet Volt's exterior was out there in terms of design. The shape was dictated to be as aerodynamic as possible to improve overall efficiency. The end result looked like something you would see from a cheesy sci-fi film from the seventies. Chevrolet decided this needed to be fixed with the second-generation Volt.

The overall profile is the same as you'll find on the first-generation Volt. But designers sharpened and smoothed out the design to make the new Volt stand out. The front gets new grille inserts that are smaller and have a pattern to make it look like stamped sheet metal. There are also new headlights are slightly slimmer than the outgoing model. The side still features the ‘Volt' nameplate on the front fenders and a set of 17-inch alloy wheels. Around back, the rear tailgate has been restyled with a new shape and integrated rear spoiler. Finished in what Chevrolet calls ‘Kinetic Blue' metallic paint, the Volt really stands out.

2016 Chevrolet Volt Premier 12

Interior Comfort, Quality and Ease of Use (8/10)

A big complaint about the previous Volt was the interior. Chevrolet thought it would be a good idea to take an interior from a concept and put into a production model. The end result was a mess as the center stack was finished in a cheap-looking white plastic and most controls used capacitive touch buttons which were hit and miss on responding. In the back, there was barely any room for most passengers.

Chevrolet has fixed these issues with the 2016 Volt. The dash is conventional in its design, with flowing curves and the use of chrome trim. Soft-touch plastics are used on the top of the dash and parts of the door panels. Some will be disappointed with the use of hard plastics in various parts of the interior. We're ok with it in certain parts such as lining the lower parts of the door panels. However, other parts of the interior such as the rear door panels are plastered with hard plastics, a big no-no for the price Chevrolet is asking for the Volt. The control layout is easy to understand and are in easy reach for driver and passenger.

The Volt's front seats provide manual adjustments and it is to find a position that works for you. The driver also gets a steering wheel that tilt and telescopes. The back seat provides slightly more legroom and there is the option a middle seat. But the Volt's back seat is best left to small kids as adults will find head and legroom at a premium. Cargo space measures out to 10.1 cubic feet, the smallest in the class.

2016 Chevrolet Volt Premier 14

Technology (8/10)

The Volt's technology story begins in front of the driver with an 8-inch color screen. The screen provides basic details such as speed, electric charge, fuel gauge, and trip computer information. You can customize the screen with various themes and efficiency gauges to help coach you into being a more efficient driver.

The center stack features another 8-inch screen with the Chevrolet MyLink infotainment system. Chevrolet MyLink has been getting better in terms of performance and overall usability. Touch points are large and we like the buttons underneath the screen to take you back to the home screen or skipping tracks. The Volt gets some added functionality with MyLink as you can bring up a screen showing a diagram of the Volt's powertrain and showing where the power is coming from. You can also set up times for when you want to charge up the Volt and see an average of how efficient you have driving since the last full charge. There are still some issues with MyLink as the system would sometimes take a long time to bring up the navigation system or play something through the USB port.

The Volt also features OnStar 4G LTE with Wi-Fi hotspot which turns the Volt into a well-connected vehicle. We like OnStar 4G LTE as it provided a consistent and fast data connection when hooked up to our phone, especially in places where the phone would have 1 to 2 bars of signal. The hot spot can handle up to seven devices. GM will give three free months of OnStar with a 3 GB data cap when you purchase a Volt. After the trial period, plans range from $15 to $50 depending on the data cap. We have to wonder how many people will take this on after the three month trial as most smartphones have LTE.

Chevrolet is one of the first automakers to put in Apple's CarPlay integration into their vehicles. If you have a compatible Apple iPhone, you can hook it up to the USB port and hit the CarPlay button on MyLink home screen. There, you'll be able to access various functions of the phone such as Siri, music, Apple maps, and other applications. CarPlay is much easier to wrap your head around than other infotainment systems thanks to it looking like an iPhone with larger touch points. One nice touch is the amount of applications available for CarPlay such as Audible and Spotify. That isn't to say CarPlay doesn't have issues. We found from time to time that the system wouldn't recognize the iPhone when plugged in. If we turned the vehicle off and turned it back on, the system would recognize the phone. Also, CarPlay applications would freeze or not respond to various commands. One issue that is apparent only on GM vehicles is how you cannot scroll through a list of tracks when the vehicle is moving. This is understandable as this is a big distraction. But even at a stop, you still cannot scroll through them. Why Chevrolet?!

2016 Chevrolet Volt Premier 13

Fuel Economy (9/10)

The 2016 Chevrolet Volt has an electric range of 53 Miles, up 39 percent from 37 Mile range of the first-generation model. During the week, we were able to travel up to 60 Miles on electric power only if we were easy on the accelerator. When driven normally, the Volt was able to go between 47 to 51 Miles. In terms of the EPA fuel economy estimates, the 2016 Volt is said to get 106 MPGe when running on electricity only and 42 MPG when the gas generator kicks on. Our average for the week landed around 112 MPGe with electric and gas operation combined. As for gas generator, we saw an average of 43 MPG.

When it comes to recharging times, Chevrolet says it will take about four and a half hours to charge a dead battery to full when plugged into a 240V charger. Time increases to about 13 hours when plugged into a 120V outlet. We found that it did take about 12 to 13 hours for our test Volt to fully recharged when plugged into a 120V outlet. If we only used up half of the battery's charge, the time dropped to about six to seven hours. This fits in line with recharging times of other electric vehicles. We highly recommend going for the 240V home charger if you decide to get a Volt.

Predicted Reliability, Initial Quality Ratings (N/A)

Reliability information for the 2016 Chevrolet Volt is unknown at the moment. But if the previous generation Volt is anything to go on, the new model will prove to be reliable. Both J.D. Power and Consumer Reports say the first-generation Volt has an above average reliability record. One item the new Volt should be able to improve on the is initial quality. The first-generation Volt earned a 2 out of 5 rating in initial quality by J.D. Power, most likely due to the plastic-heavy interior.

Safety (N/A)

At the time of this writing, the 2016 Chevrolet Volt hasn't been crash-tested by either NHTSA or IIHS. Standard safety equipment includes a number of airbags including driver and passenger knee airbags; traction and stability control, front and rear parking sensors, a backup camera, OnStar emergency services, and a pedestrian safety signal that alerts pedestrians when the Volt is approaching in all-electric mode. The Premier adds automatic parking assist that allows the Volt to park itself.

The Premier also gets the option of two safety packages. The Driver Confidence 1 package adds blind-spot monitoring and lane departure warning. The Driver Confidence 2 package includes forward collision alert, low-speed automatic braking, and lane keep assist. We wished the blind spot monitoring and lane departure warning were standard on the Premier and optional on the base LT as the Volt's blind spots are huge.

2016 Chevrolet Volt Premier 10

Performance (9/10)

The Chevrolet Volt's powertrain begins underneath the vehicle. There you'll find two electric motors that deliver 111 kW (about 149 horsepower) and 294 pound-feet of torque. Next is an 18.4 kWh lithium-ion battery pack that provides power for the electric motors. Finally, there is a 1.5L gas generator producing 101 horsepower.

The Volt's EV powertrain feels very responsive and quick. Leaving from a stop, all of 294 pound-feet is available at zero rpm. This means you'll be up to speed in no time. When the battery is depleted, the generator will kick on. The transition is almost seamless with the generator starting up. It stays quiet for the most part, except when you step on the accelerator. Then the generator will make a lot of racket.

The Volt offers four driving modes that's alters how the powertrain performs.
Normal: As the name suggests, powertrain runs on electric power until the battery is depleted. Then the generator kicks on.
Sport: Increases throttle response
Mountain: Turns the engine on to provide charge for the battery in mountainous or steep terrain.
Hold: Used to preserve battery charge for certain situations such as driving on the freeway. Gas engine provides power for the electric motor.

One other key item of the Volt's powertrain is the Regen on Demand system. A paddle behind the steering wheel allows the driver to control the amount of energy being regenerated when driving. Press the paddle down and the Volt's braking system kicks on to slow down vehicle and capture energy to recharge the battery. It is a clever piece of engineering and makes you feel that you are more involved with driving the vehicle.

One area Chevrolet hasn't messed with the Volt is the ride comfort. Like the first-generation model, the 2016 Volt irons outs road imperfections to provide a very smooth ride. More impressive is how well the Volt isolates the interior from exterior noises. Running on electric power only, you'll find yourself amazed at the lack of road and wind noise coming into the cabin. Thank the Volt's shape and the interior featuring a good amount of noise deadening material.

The Volt doesn't embarrass itself when it comes to handling. Driving on a twisty road, the Volt feels confident with no sign of body roll and the vehicle able to change direction quickly. Steering feels responsive and has good weighting. The Volt won't be replacing a sports car anytime soon. But compared to the current crop of hybrid and electric vehicles, the Volt is towards the top in driving fun.

2016 Chevrolet Volt Premier 4

Pricing and Value (8/10)

The 2016 Chevrolet Volt starts at $34,095 for the base LT and $38,445 for the up-level Premier. Our Volt Premier came with an as-tested price of $40,225 with options. For that same amount of money, you get into a decently equipped compact luxury sedan. But keep in mind the majority of the price is due to all of the technology in the vehicle. The Volt does qualify for a $7,500 federal tax credit and various state credits. Note these tax credits cannot be used if you purchase as Volt.

For most people, we would recommend the Premier as it is the only trim in the Volt lineup that you can get blind-spot monitoring as an option.

2016 Chevrolet Volt Premier 9

Total Score and Competitive Comparison (52/60, 87%)

The closest competitors to the 2016 Chevrolet Volt are the BMW i3 and the Ford C-Max Energi. The BMW i3 does cost a fair amount more than the Volt ($42,400) and doesn't offer the same overall range as the Volt when equipped with the range extender (420 miles for the Volt vs. 150 miles for the i3). The i3 does fight back with a better electric-only range of 83 miles and features one of the most impressive looking interiors. The C-Max Energi offers more passenger and cargo space thanks to its tall-hatchback shape. But it falls behind the Volt in terms of overall electric range (19 Miles) and it isn't as smooth or quiet riding.

The 2016 Chevrolet Volt provides a comprise when it comes electric vehicles. If you run out of charge on the battery, a gas generator will kick on and get you back home where you can plug-in. It doesn't hurt Chevrolet has put a lot of effort in making the Volt stand out in terms of design and list of standard equipment. If you want to explore what it is like to own an electric vehicle without many of the downsides, the 2016 Chevrolet Volt is an excellent choice.

Trim Engine Drive Train MSRP
LT 4dr Hatchback 4 Cylinder FWD 33170
Premier 4dr Hatchback 4 Cylinder FWD 37520

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