By Steve Hanley
Edmunds got a chance to drive a new 2016 Chevy Volt on an extended road trip recently and found the car to be a noticeable improvement over the first-generation car in almost every way. Chevrolet engineers have massaged every aspect of the car. The battery has been bumped to 18.4 kWh but is 20 pounds lighter than the 15.5 kWh battery in the old car. It also fits in the same space as the old unit.
With the extra oomph, Edmunds says the onboard gasoline range extender engine didn’t start until they had traveled more than 56 miles on battery power alone. At another point in their drive, the battery transported them 63 miles before it needed help from the gas engine.
Speaking of engines, the one in the new Chevy Volt is a 1.5 liter four as opposed to the prior car’s 1.4 liter engine. Why bother with such a slight change? It’s about more than just displacement. The old engine had a cast iron block and had to rev fairly high to keep the battery charged up. The new engine is an all-aluminum design. Not only is it lighter, it runs at lower revs, which keeps things quieter inside the car.
The new engine is also more fuel efficient. The old car got 37 mpg using its gasoline engine; the new car is rated at 42 mpg on the highway. Overall, the 2016 Chevy Volt qualifies for an EPA MPGe rating of 106. In all, Chevy has made the new car over 300 pounds lighter. Going 0-60 now takes 8.6 seconds as opposed to over 9 seconds in the old car.
Despite all this technological goodness, the biggest changes to the new Volt are its exterior styling and interior design. When the Volt first arrived, Chevrolet wanted it to stand out from the crowd. It was aimed at early adopters, much the way the Toyota Prius was in 2007. But now Chevy wants to appeal to more mainstream buyers.
The new car looks very much like the current Chevy Cruze (especially when they are both painted the same electric blue color). The styling is modern and tasteful. But inside, everything has changed, says Edmunds. Gone is the high-tech, space-age interior of the previous car, replaced with an up-to-date cabin that rivals what customers would find in an Impala — or a Lexus ES 350.
The 2016 Chevy Volt starts at $1,000 less than the old car at $33,995. Step up to the Premium version for $38,345 and get not only the standard backup camera and larger 8″ touchscreen, but a whole host of goodies including leather seating, an eight-speaker Bose stereo upgrade, and heated front seats, steering wheel, and mirrors.
It also comes with an automated parking system, heated rear seats, a wireless charging pad for smartphones, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, and unique 17-inch wheels with an ultra-bright finish. Add to that list blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning and a cross traffic alert system, lane-keeping assist, and forward collision warning with automatic braking and you get a lot of extra equipment for not a lot of extra money.
Overall, Edmunds has nothing but good things to say about the new Volt. “Roll into the throttle and the Volt pulls away smoothly. It’s more responsive and snappy around town and it’s quieter just about everywhere. There’s less road noise much of the time, but the big payoff comes when the engine is running. More of a purr than a growl, the more refined 1.5-liter engine sounds (and feels) more distant and remote. Sure, the volume goes up when climbing a grade, but it’s dramatically less raucous.”
They loved the new car. More than likely, customers will, too. Chevy is anticipating strong demand for its updated, second-generation car when it hits the showrooms a few weeks from now. The combination of excellent efficiency, great looks, and a modern interior, coupled with a lack of range anxiety, make the 2016 Chevy Volt a car mainstream car buyers could fall in love with.