Versatile Volt: The 2016 model’s improved range, space-age sleekness, and lowered price tag make it the hottest plug-in hybrid on the market

Nov 08, 2016

The redesigned, front-wheel drive, extended-range 2016 Chevrolet Volt comes with lots of improvements, including an excellent all-electric range of 53 miles, agile handling, strong brakes, sharp steering, a smooth ride, a quiet cabin and a sleek, futuristic exterior design.

The new EV hatchback is powered by 2 electric motors and a battery that can be charged from a household outlet. These motors are smaller than before – 100 pounds lighter. Volt’s 18.4 kWh battery pack boasts 20% more capacity that last year’s model, despite dropping 20 pounds of mass. The battery pack’s internals are composed of less lithium-polymer cells (192 versus the old 288), simplifying construction. Acceleration of 0 to 30 occurs in just under 2.6 seconds: getting to 60mph takes 8.4 seconds.

Volt’s four-cylinder gas engine propels the car, charges the battery as it depletes, provides around 400 miles of total range and a 43/42 mpg city/hwy rating: offering, as many reviewers are saying, one of the top plug-in performances on the market.  Says Automotive Magazine: “When running on electric power alone, the 2016 Chevrolet Volt is uncannily quiet. Almost no wind or tire noise intrudes into the cockpit – impressive, given the firm, low-rolling resistance rubber at every corner.”

Real world plug-in hybrid efficiency – a combination of gas and electric numbers, changes dramatically between driving styles and distances traveled. Chevrolet claims that some of its current generation Volt drivers see an average of 900 miles of driving between fill-ups; this of course, is possible by using the battery only for shorter hops and recharging immediately when it gets close to a zero charge.

The 2016 Volt’s passenger space is much nicer than the 2015 Volt’s interior, thanks to easier-to-use controls and attractive design elements, which have earned praise. In place of past touch control buttons are rotary knobs and simple buttons for climate-control. CarPlay phone integration allows iPhone users with Lightning connectors to access Siri, Eyes Free text-message alerts, Maps, iMessage, Apple music functions and all mobile phone functions.

Reviewers say that the Volt’s rear seat is still tight: this may be the Volt’s biggest flaw. Though Chevrolet says its 2016 model, which has a new “rear bench seat” added, can seat five, the fifth passenger has to be a small child or a very small adult who doesn’t mind being squeezed above the battery pack in the center tunnel, which still takes up room underneath. Headroom in the back is slightly less than before. Another space point to consider: the 2016 Volt has less cargo room than its 2015 predecessor and half the cargo volume of a Nissan Leaf, though the hatchback’s 60/40 split-folding rear seats expand the cargo area, partially solving this issue. Because the Volt’s a hatchback, cargo is easy to load and unload.

The previous Volt had a very flat rear end with a split rear window. The new rear window has been lowered, providing slightly less headroom in the backseat, and has been replaced by a black plastic panel, which makes for reduced visibility versus last year. A standard rear camera makes up for this somewhat.

The 2016 Volt comes in two trims: LT and Premier. Standard features include automatic climate control, satellite radio, two USB ports, a rearview camera and Chevy’s MyLink infotainment system, which includes a touch screen and Apple CarPlay iPhone integration. Leather upholstery, navigation, a heated steering wheel and heated front seats are available.  The optional Bose sound system, wireless charging for portable electronics, auto-parallel and perpendicular parking assist, forward collision warning, lane keep assist, automatic low-speed pre-collision braking, blind spot monitoring and a rear cross traffic alert system make the 2016 Volt a high-tech car with a lot of “Gee Whizzes” for tech lovers.  A new lower air dam that reduces under-car turbulence and resistance at any speed has been added; by tucking it beneath the front bumper, it doesn’t scrape when the car enters a steep driveway.

Automobile Magazine: “The new Volt is a gargantuan leap forward. Not only is it more capable, efficient, refined, versatile and user-friendly than the original – it’s cheaper.”

Chevrolet considers the Volt the most popular EV in the world. The numbers experts still rank it #2 behind the Nissan Leaf in sales. Leasing a Volt via CURRENT drops the dealer’s price by $7,500.  Customers also receive a State of California rebate check for $1500 within 4 to 6 weeks of starting their 3-yr. lease.