2016 Chevrolet Volt Premier Hatchback Review

Wednesday May 25th, 2016 at 11:55 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

2016 Chevrolet Volt Premier Hatchback

By David Colman

Hypes: The Electric Car Finally Reaches Maturity
Gripes: Rear View Mirrors A Tad Small

The completely revised 2016 Volt is a triumph of engineering for the Chevrolet Division of GM. In every way, Volt 2.0 is better than the original. This improvement is all the more impressive since Volt 1.0 was a very fine tool indeed. What’s most attractive about the 2016 Volt is its complete assimilation into the driving mainstream. Unlike the first iteration, the 2016 version has lost the need to proclaim how different and revolutionary it is. Gone is the annoying Chiclet-style dashboard surface of Volt 1.0. Gone too are the first offering’s corny Jetson styling touches. And best of all, the 38 mile electric travel range of Volt 1.0 has been superceded by a genuine, dependable 53 mile range which we proved in repeated usage.

2016 Chevrolet Volt Premier Hatchback

At first glance, the interior of the new Volt looks rather subdued, especially for such a ground breaking piece of equipment. The semi-gloss “Jet Black” cloth upholstery looks almost funereal, save for some counterpoint blue stitching around the edges. The exterior of the compact sedan hardly screams “I Sing The Car Electric.” With the exception of some matte aluminum tin foil burnishing the front grill bars, this new Volt could easily be mistaken for a two-year old Toyota Corolla. Maybe it was the muted tonality of its “Heather Gray Metallic” exterior shade, but our Volt tended to get lost in a sea of small sedans wherever we parked it.

That anonymity happens to be just what I liked about Volt 2.0. Since inception, revolutionary electric cars like the Volt, and especially the Prius, have found it necessary to scream about their world saving power source at top stylistic decibel. The Prius has always been most annoying in this respect, with its silly vent windows, goofy instrument graphics, and kindergarten control stalks. The first Volt was also complicit in this regard, with faux alligator upholstery and over-the-top styling aimed at declaring its revolutionary altruism. Chevy has really detuned all that bombastic noise, and the new Volt is ready to stand on its own as an engineering masterpiece rather than a styling exercise.

2016 Chevrolet Volt Premier Hatchback

In our week with Volt, we used exactly 1 gallon of gas! Only once did our normal daily commute involve a trip longer than 53 miles. At that point, the Volt cut seamlessly over to its 1.5 liter gasoline fueled engine for the 53 mile return voyage. By EPA estimates, the Volt’s “Range Extender” gas motor gets 42 MPG in combined city/highway driving, using 2.4 gallons for 100 miles of travel. In pure electric form, it returns 106 MPGe. Now we religiously recharged the Volt overnight every day. This is especially easy to accomplish since Chevy provides a recharge unit which stores neatly out of the way in a side compartment of the trunk. This recharger weighs about half what the same unit did in an Audi A3 e-tron we recently tested. It plugs into 120V household current and will recharge the Volt fully in about 14 hours, i.e. overnight. If you opt for the 240V recharge system, a full charge on a depleted battery takes just 4.5 hours. In other words, living with Volt on a gasoline free basis is very much a reality if your daily drive is under 53 miles.

2016 Chevrolet Volt Premier Hatchback

By every other metric of performance, the new Volt exceeds expectations. First and foremost, it handles really well since Chevy reduced its battery weight and curb weight. The Volt has lost 200 pounds, and now weighs just 3,543 pounds. Since Chevy added a new two-motor drive unit that is 12 % more efficient than before, the 0-30 mph acceleration is much quicker and overall performance verges on scintillating. Look to the torque figure of 294 lb.-ft. and you will see a thrust output unequalled by small sedans in this price range. Although the Volt utilizes relatively hard, small footprint tires in order to improve mileage figures, the car is so well-balanced that it will scoot through turns quicker than its Michelin Energy saver tires (215/50R17) would have you think possible. The only downside is they do tend to squeal when pushed hard. Chevy has done wonders with a suspension that uses a rear torsion beam axle and is not fully independent. The Volt hardly ever leans excessively in tight turns, and the overall ride quality provided by the torsion beam’s hydraulic bushings is excellent.

2016 Chevrolet Volt Premier Hatchback

Volt 2.0 is a winner in every regard. The hatchback configuration meant we could easily slide a couple of 4 foot long boxes containing metal shelves through the trunk and into the passenger compartment, after dropping just the 40% side of the 60/40 folding rear seat. While rear seating is tight, the Volt suffices as a usable 4 seater for adults, and the trunk area is plenty large without resorting to folded rear seats. If the parameters of the Volt’s range meet your needs you can forget about regular trips to the gas station from now on.

2016 Chevrolet Volt Premier Hatchback

2016 Chevrolet Volt Premier Hatchback

  • Engine: Voltec electric drive system With 18.4 kWh lithium-ion battery and Ecotec 1.5L gas-powered engine
  • Torque: 294 lb.-ft.
  • Fuel Consumption: 104 MPGe/42 MPG (Gas) Combined City/Highway
  • Price as Tested: $39,850
  • Star Rating: 10 out of 10 Stars

Posted in Chevrolet, Electric, Expert Reviews, Feature Articles |Tags:, , , || No Comments »

Review: 2014 Chevrolet Volt

Monday January 6th, 2014 at 2:11 PM
Posted by: D.Colman

By David Colman

Hypes: Bonanza for Cutting Edge Arrivistes
Gripes: Lose the CVT Tranny

Parking the Volt in the reserved spot of a recharging station at Sausalito’s Molly Stone grocery was a treat I had never before had the opportunity to enjoy. While food shopping for 35 minutes, the Volt supplied itself with 3.2kH of energy at no cost to me. This two slot charging station, which has been active for nearly a year, provides your first hour of charge free of cost, with subsequent time available at minimal expense. Going into overtime gives new meaning to the word “charge” card. It takes 4 hours at 240V to give this Chevy a full blast of electrical energy.

Free refills constitute the highpoint of Volt ownership. And there’s a lot to be said for letting someone else pick up your energy bill. In fact, those beneficent unseen others start picking up the slack for you the instant you buy a Volt because doing so qualifies you for a $7,500 federal tax credit. The dividends continue in the form of access to road surfaces others can’t use, like driving solo in HOV lanes at times of the day that would normally get you ticketed.

The downside of Volt ownership is the simple fact that this heavy, somewhat lethargic vehicle isn’t exactly a blast to drive when you’ve selected the “Normal” rather than the “Sport” setting on the Driving Mode selector switch. In Normal Mode, overall performance is adequate for most drivers. Acceleration is modest. The CVT transmission is the culprit in this equation. It gives you a choice of just two ranges: Drive and Low. Unless you are moving very slowly, Low is useless for increasing momentum, so you’re stuck with the Drive range only. But if you select Sport Mode, acceleration is notably spunkier, and the Volt becomes a pleasure to drive instead of a chore. Of course, you’ll pay the price in increased fuel usage, but the Volt is so much more fun in Sport that you’ll want to select this setting every time you climb behind the wheel.

The Volt’s Owner’s Manual is poorly segmented and indexed. It’s especially difficult to find any information about transmission usage, since there are no listings in the index for ”transmission.” or “shifting.” The only reference appears in a chapter mysteriously headed “Electric Drive Unit.” Call outs for dashboard and instrument panel controls are inexplicably identified by number on one page, with functions keyed to those numbers on a following page. This causes you to flip back and forth constantly from page to page in order to decipher the diagrams.

Unlike the Owner’s Manual, Volt itself is a triumph of engineering. Unlike Nissan’s Leaf, which goes dead when its battery expires, the Volt will keep chugging long after the battery has died. The Xanax tablet for that range anxiety is the presence of Volt’s tiny displacement gasoline engine which Chevy calls a “Range Extender.” When the 1.4 liter gas engine propels the Volt without benefit of electrical power, you’re still good for 37 MPG, or just 2.7 gallons per 100 miles. In pure electric mode, the Volt posts a stunning figure of 98MPGe, or 35kH per 100 miles.

Thanks in part to its 5.5 foot long, 435 pound, lithium-ion battery pack, the Volt weighs 3,781 pounds. That near two ton curb burden becomes noticeable when you attack a series of corners on a back road. The low rolling resistance 16 inch tires don’t provide a lot of grip, so the front end tends to wash out early on corner entry. This behavior makes you lift throttle as the tires lose grip. In case you are slow to respond to the message from your contact patches, Chevy has th (oughtfully supplied the Volt with traction control and Stabilitrak stability management. Worst case scenario backs you up in the event of a collision with no fewer than 8 airbags and 3 years of free On Star auto crash response.

Inside the survival cell, the Volt is easy to love. It affords great sightlines in all direction. Even the somewhat veiled lower rear view benefits from a strategically placed glass panel. Our test Volt enjoyed augmented vision thanks to 2 optional Safety Packages. The first ($575) provided a useful beeper and camera to discern rear proximity issues, while the second ($595) included Front Park Assist and Camera, Lane Departure Warning, and Front Collision Alert. Chevy does a nice job of integrating these aids into your daily driving routine. Unlike so many similar offerings from other manufacturers, these Safety Packages never become intrusive.

The instrument binnacle of the Volt is intimidating. If you’re the kind of person who can read every piece of information on CNBC’s Squawk on the Street at the same time, you’ll love the Volt’s information center, because Chevy has crammed 35 separate pieces of news into your viewfinder. I learned to ignore 90 percent of them and was quite happy to do so.

The Volt is a marvel of technology. Its drive train is an engineering dream, a real home run. It’s still early enough in the model cycle to be the first on your block to claim admission to the 21st century. That you can do so for just $39,545, guarantees you a spot in the Acumen Hall of Fame.

2014 Chevrolet Volt

  • Engine: 1.4 liter inline 4 + Electric Motor
  • Horsepower: 149hp
  • Torque: 273 lb.-ft.
  • Fuel Consumption: 98MPGe/37 MPG Gasoline Only
  • Price as Tested: $39,545
  • Star Rating: 8 out of 10 Stars

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2011 Nissan LEAF Review – vs. the Chevy Volt and Toyota Prius

Wednesday December 14th, 2011 at 4:1212 PM
Posted by: the911guy

2011 Nissan LEAF vs. Toyota Prius
By Dan Tsuchiya


  • 100 miles on a full charge
  • Eco Mode for dummies
  • Drives like a car, not an enclosed golf cart
  • It actually looks good and not a social statement
  • Batteries are mounted very low so out of the way physically and lowers the center of gravity
  • Total energy cost for a year is about $500
  • It turns a new leaf in the saga american motoring :)


  • 100 miles on a full charge (run it down, you’re stuck)
  • 14-16 hour charge using 110V household current
  • Front seats are very basic
  • $35k base will keep it away from the masses.

Video from Roadfly.com (click ’360p’ to watch in HD)
YouTube Preview Image

Remember the first time you rode/drove an EV? It could have been a battery powered toy car, a golf cart, or even a gas powered car converted to electric, but they all had one thing in common; acceleration like an on/off switch….no modulation. More than 10 years ago Toyota brought the hybrid Prius to the United States and it was one of the first cars with fantastic modulation and packaged in a base car that was previously gas powered. I currently have a second generation Prius in the stable and our staff was lucky enough to test the Chevrolet Volt a couple of months back.

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Posted in Feature Articles, hybrid, Nissan |Tags:, , , , , || 2 Comments »

Alaska Road Trip With the Chevrolet Volt and Olympus E-P3 Camera

Monday July 11th, 2011 at 12:77 PM
Posted by: ponycargirl

Chevy Volt Olympus E-P3 Alaska Trip
By Megan Green

This past April, I was given the opportunity to go on a June road trip in a 2011 Chevy Volt and photograph it with the newly launched Olympus E-P3 camera.

When I told friends that I was going to Alaska to drive a Chevrolet Volt around, their first reactions were, “Ice Road Truckers!” Then came a barrage of questions; “Good luck with that, can you even drive that far in it? What’s the range, like 50 miles? How are you going to charge it in the middle of the wilderness? Are small towns even equipped to recharge electric vehicles? How long does it take to charge it?”

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2011 Chevrolet Volt Review – Our Weekend With Chevy's New EV/Hybrid and a Prius

Monday April 11th, 2011 at 3:44 PM
Posted by: the911guy

By Dan Tsuchiya


  • Great Design and better looking than any Prius made to date
  • Electricity first; leading to 250-500 mpg if you have access an outlet
  • Feels safer and more substantial than it’s competitors
  • 0-60 acceleration faster than a Honda Civic


  • Electric Vehicle (EV) range limited to 35 miles before gas motor has to recharge batteries
  • Interior has too many hard plastic surfaces
  • Soft-touch buttons are too sensitive
  • Navigation and radio are integrated such that you can’t have one on without the other

Living with the Chevrolet Volt is about making a green statement, but without the usual green sacrifices. It’s not a hybrid as defined by the Toyota and Honda camp, it’s an extended range electric vehicle (EV) that combines the gas saving benefits of pure electric cars with the range and convenience of conventional gas powered cars. While the Toyota and Honda camps utilize gas and electricity in parallel, the Volt takes a series approach, EV first then gas. The EV range fully charged is about 35 miles and once that power depletes, the Volt fires up its 1.4L engine to charge the batteries and provide juice to the electric motor, allowing for another 250-300 miles of driving under normal conditions.

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Posted in Chevrolet, Expert Reviews, hybrid |Tags:, , , , || 4 Comments »

2011 Chevrolet Volt First Impressions Review – Driving the Chevy Volt

Tuesday February 8th, 2011 at 1:22 PM
Posted by: D.Colman

By contributing editor David Colman


  • Breakthrough engineering tour de force
  • No driving sacrifice needed to validate green passport
  • Interior design top notch


  • Even with tax rebate, pricey
  • Not the package for the driving enthusiast
  • 35 mile battery radius seems hardly worth the extra cost and weight

You’ll be reading reams of technical information about this car in the months to come, but what’s it really like to drive? Based on a 100 mile round trip between Sausalito and Marshall, the Volt offers a workable solution to everyday transportation for 4 with the added bonus of 25-50 miles of gas-free operation daily. Volt operates in 2 different modes. There’s battery power, which is good for that gas-free 25-50 mile romp, plus gasoline power for an added range of about 350 miles. If you drive short trips every day, it could be months before you need to refill the Volt’s 9.2 gallon gas tank.

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Posted in Chevrolet, Expert Reviews, hybrid |Tags:, , || 3 Comments »

2011 Chevrolet Volt First Impressions Review – Yes, it drives like a real car

Monday October 18th, 2010 at 6:1010 AM
Posted by: Derek

By Derek Mau

Don’t bore me with the technical details about GM’s hybrid system built into the Chevrolet Volt. I don’t care if the Chevy Volt is a pure battery-electric vehicle, or a parallel hybrid, or a plug-in EV that requires an electrical umbilical cord. The techno-geeks can search elsewhere if they are looking for torque/power efficiency maps that identify speeds the gas engine engages to assist with driving the car. Just tell me if this Popular Mechanics wet dream, range-extended EV can take me where I want to any day of the week without having to include a visit to an electrical recharging station (which are mightily scarce here in eco-conscious California and around the North American continent).

I drove the new 2011 Chevrolet Volt at one of the stops for the Chevy Volt’s western region “Volt Unplugged” tour where they are traveling from Seattle to San Diego in a caravan of Volts. My test drive was short, but very revealing as it gave me an opportunity to learn more from the team of engineers and experts from GM. The test course, laid out in the Presidio of San Francisco, included a chance to test brief accelerations, ability to climb short hills, some sweeping turns, and lots of low speed driving. Freeway performance is “very good” according to the anecdotal accounts from the team members who are on the western region tour. So far the tour has been a success and traveling between cities has had zero hiccups. Every night the Volts on tour are recharged off a 110V outlet and everything is good to go in the morning.

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Posted in Chevrolet, Expert Reviews |Tags:, , , || 11 Comments »

The Wait is Finally Over! 2011 Chevrolet Volt Pricing Announced

Tuesday July 27th, 2010 at 8:77 AM
Posted by: Derek

2011 Chevrolet Volt Production Show Car

After nearly four years of development and extensive testing with the pre-production models, General Motors has officially announced pricing and has begun taking customer orders for the 2011 Chevrolet Volt in seven select markets starting today. For the general public who are not up to speed on the details, the Chevy Volt is the first electric vehicle with extended-range capability and not limited to the battery’s capacity. The Volt’s MSRP will start at $41,000 ($33,500 net of full federal income tax credit, which ranges from $0 – $7,500) and includes the $720 destination charge.

The Chevy Volt has a total range of approximately 340 miles. The beauty is that the Volt uses a small gasoline engine which recharges the Li-Ion batteries and extends the car’s range another 300 miles after it runs tailpipe-emission-free for 40 miles on battery power. The purpose of the small engine is to recharge the batteries and extend the range of the vehicle — not to assist the powertrain as with the case of hybrid vehicles.

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Posted in Chevrolet, GM-news, Press and News |Tags:, , , || 2 Comments »

The 2011 Chevrolet Volt Gets an App

Wednesday May 19th, 2010 at 5:55 PM
Posted by: Derek

OnStar Mobile Application UnveiledOnStar 2.0 mobile app adds Google maps and voice search

GM has been talking about the 2011 Chevrolet Volt for three and a half years now. After listening to years of hype and Volt propaganda, GM’s main marketing message for the 2011 Volt is centered around the message that “It’s the electric car without limits, the one you can take on spontaneous road trips, and it’s different from all those other EVs with their limited ranges.”

Since battery powered EVs are relatively new and beginning to become available to the mainstream consumer, the most common question remains, “Where can I recharge when away from home and battery power is getting low?” With all-electric vehicles, “range anxiety” is very real among consumer perceptions. People don’t want be to waiting for roadside assistance if their batteries are depleted because getting restarted isn’t as easy as running for a gallon of gas. The reality is that building the infrastructure to support EVs will take some time and customers need an easy way of finding a charging station until they become as common as your local 7-Eleven store. The Volt isn’t bound by this problem because it has a small engine onboard that extends it’s range beyond the capacity of the batteries. Regardless, range anxiety exists and GM has the answer, or more accurately, a smartphone app that addresses this important issue.

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Posted in Chevrolet, Press and News |Tags:, , , , , || 1 Comment »

Honda To Have EV By 2015

Tuesday August 25th, 2009 at 9:88 AM
Posted by: tonyb

Honda EV Concept

OK, looks like the big time electric cars wars are on for real. Not just Tesla, and not just the Volt or Prius (which are hybrids anyway), but recent news of the Nissan Leaf threw fuel on the fire, and now come word that Honda will be making their own EV that will hit the streets by 2015.

Word out of Japan is that Honda plans to roll out an all-electric automobile in America by 2015. Honda, a company that essentially defined fuel efficiency combined with practicality by the early 80s will move to battery power in order to meet upcoming zero-emission regulations.

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