As someone who drives hundreds of cars a year, I’m rarely surprised by a weekly test car – and the 2016 Chevy Volt Premier was surprisingly good.
I’m not an electric vehicle (EV) lover. I live in truck country, and I personally own two classic trucks.
I don’t really care about fuel economy and most of my driving is around a few small towns with 20k residents. And yet, after a week of driving the Volt, I came to appreciate what it had to offer.
What really got me about the Volt was many things including three days driving it on battery power alone, the strong acceleration of the electric motor , the smooth ride quality and the roomy cabin.
The Volt was redesigned for 2016, and gone is the dull front end and interior. Instead, it features styling that’s bold and unique. The Volt is also much improved inside, with nicer materials. And, there’s an improved charging setup for home use.
In short, Chevy combined the pluses from the previous Volt with the solid appeal of its other vehicles. The end result is arguably one of the top hybrid-electric vehicles on the market.
What is also surprisingly good about the Volt is how easy it is to operate. During my week of driving, I ran out the battery power to zero and the car seamlessly switched over to the gas engine while I was driving. I didn’t have to stop, hit a button or, heck, even pay attention. The Volt took care of it.
Running it out of battery power was actually a bit of a challenge. The Volt has an estimated range of 53 miles on battery and owners can now select a new “Regen on Demand” option to regenerate the brakes using a paddle behind the steering wheel. With slow takeoffs (conserving power) and light braking, I could see owners pushing the 53 miles limit easily.
Also, how much do you really drive? I ended up driving 48 miles in three days, and I monitored how much battery power I had left and how many miles I had driven. As I turned onto my street at the end of the third day, the gas engine kicked in, and it was time to charge the Volt.
Speaking of charging, this is another improvement for the Volt.
First, the charging system is neatly tucked into the rear sidewall accessible from the trunk. There is a plastic door that stores the cables – it resembles a large gas tank pump on one end and a large laptop charger on the other.
It’s simple to use: pop open the battery door driver’s side front fender, then plug one end into the car and the other to a wall outlet.
Then, a light will appear on the dash letting you know it is charging. When it is done, this light will turn green. That’s it.
I charged the Volt overnight, so I’m not entirely sure exactly how many hours it took. However, a quick Google search reveals it takes 10 hours on a standard 120-volt plug and only 4 hours on a 220-volt plug (much like an oven takes). If I were to purchase a Volt, I’d consider installing a 220-volt plug to speed up the charging.
After it finished charging, I quickly put away the charging setup and found the Volt was starting fresh with another 53 miles of battery range. Simple as plugging in my cell phone or laptop computer.
On the road, the Volt is smooth, quiet and surprisingly quick.
Inside, the driver’s position is good, visibility is decent and the seats were comfortable.
The knobs and buttons were easy to find, and the extra storage space below the climate controls was handy. The only thing that seemed odd was the 8” touch screen, which seemed like more of an afterthought than a part of the design.
Also, the knob on the touch screen could be larger and easier to grip.
Beyond the few detail items I found with the Volt, I enjoyed the drive and was impressed with its overall goodness. No wonder EVs are becoming more mainstream.
Model: 2016 Chevy Volt Premier
Engine: LI-ION Battery/1.5L four-cylinder
Transmission: Voltec 4ET50 Multi-mode electric transaxle
Fuel Economy: 53 MPG battery, 420 combined
- Driver Confidence 1 Package (side blind zone alter with lane departure alert, rear cross traffic alert) – $495
- Driver Confidence 2 Package (Lane Keep Assist, Front Automatic Braking, Intellibeam Headlights, Forward Collision Alert) – $495
- Iridescent Pearl Tri-coat – $995
- Chevrolet MyLink Radio with Navigation – $495
Price as Tested: $40,825, including the $825 destination charge
- Touchscreen Knob Size
- No Sunglass Holder