William Maley

Review: 2016 Chevrolet Volt Premier

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General Motors took a huge gamble when they introduced the first-generation Chevrolet Volt for the 2011 model year. It was positioned as an alternative to a standard electric car by having a gas generator providing electric power once the battery was depleted. This different take on an electric vehicle solved the issue of range anxiety. But GM was too ambitious in terms of sales numbers. This lead to dealers being stockpiled with models because not many people were buying them. Within a year, GM made some key changes such as reducing the production amount and offering incentives that the Volt was finally able to make some headway in the market.

 

Now we come to the second-generation Volt introduced last year. Chevrolet felt that the Volt needed to lose a bit of the concept car look to make it somewhat more appealing to buyers. But they also improved key components to make the Volt more efficient. Let’s see if these changes help or hurt it.

 

The design of the first-generation Volt looked like someone’s prediction of what the vehicle of the future would look like. It stood out, but not in a good way. Thankfully, Chevrolet’s designers addressed this with the second-generation model. Yes, the 2016 Volt does have a similar profile to the outgoing model. But designers have smoothed out the shape and added some new lines. Take the front end for example. There are new grille inserts that are not only smaller, but have a pattern that mimics sheet metal. The back end features a reshaped tailgate with an integrated spoiler that not only improves the overall aerodynamics, but makes it look sleeker. Finishing off the design are a set of seventeen-inch alloy wheels and what Chevrolet calls Kinetic Blue that sets off the Volt’s design.

 


2016 Chevrolet Volt Premier 10

The sore point of the first-generation Volt had to be the interior. It began with the material choices. For a vehicle that started near $40k, the cheap and shiny plastics were a big no-no. Then there was center stack full of capacitive-touch controls. The implementation wasn’t great as it would take you a few moments to find the one control to change the temperature or fan speed. The controls also didn’t respond when pressed, meaning you needed to hit them a couple of times before something happened. The back seat was only useable for small kids due to the small amount of head and legroom. Thankfully, most of these issues have been addressed.

 

The interior has grown up with a handsome design for the dashboard and better quality materials used throughout. There is a fair amount of soft-touch plastics and faux metal trim used up front. Disappointingly, Chevrolet didn’t give the back any soft-touch materials. The rear door panels are plastered with hard plastics. For the price tag of just a hair over $40,000, this isn’t acceptable. The new dash also brings forth a simpler center stack layout with an eight-inch touchscreen and new controls for the automatic climate control.

 

Our Volt tester featured heated leather seats for both the front and rear. Getting yourself comfortable up front is quite easy with manual adjustments for the seat and a tilt-telescoping steering wheel. The back seat is slightly larger with more head and legroom, but it is best reserved for those under 5’7”. I happen to be 5’8” and found my head touching the roof.

 

Chevrolet has improved the Volt’s various bits of tech. The driver faces an eight-inch color screen that provides basic details such as battery charge, fuel gauge, and trip computer. You can customize the layout with various themes and efficiency gauges to coach you into being a more efficient driver. Another eight-inch screen resides in the center stack with the latest version of Chevrolet MyLink. The system seems to be getting better in terms of performance and reliability.

 


2016 Chevrolet Volt Premier 14

 

The big news for 2016 is the addition of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to MyLink. We tried out CarPlay and it was simple to setup: Plug in a compatible iPhone into the USB input and hit the CarPlay button, and you’ll be greeted with a screen that is similar to your iPhone’s home screen. You’ll have access to various things such as Siri, Apple Maps, your music, and other applications such as Audible and Spotify. Using CarPlay is very easy since it is like using an iPhone but with a larger screen. There are still some issues that need to be ironed out with CarPlay such as various applications freezing or not responding to various commands. We also found that the MyLink wouldn’t recognize our phone when plugged in. After restarting the Volt, the system would recognize it.

 

The Volt’s powertrain has seen some major changes for the second-generation model. A set of electric motors produces 111 kW (about 149 horsepower) and 294 pound-feet for torque. A larger 18.4 kWh Lithium-Ion battery pack helps boost overall electric range. Finishing off the powertrain is a new 1.5L DOHC four-cylinder generator producing 101 horsepower. The improvements in the powertrain boost overall electric range from 35 to 53 miles and overall range stands at 420 miles.

 

Pulling away from a stop, the Volt feels spritely as it gets up to speed at a surprising rate. This is due to the torque being available at zero rpm. Around town, the Volt zips around with only the gentle hum of the electric motor entering the cabin. Once the battery is depleted, the gas generator will kick on. The transition is seamless and the generator stays quiet for the most part. However, if you push the accelerator into the floor, the generator will make a lot of noise.

 

Like the previous Volt, the 2016 model offers a set of different driving modes that changes how the powertrain behaves.

  • Normal: Powertrain runs on electric power until the battery is depleted, then the gas generator kicks on.
  • Sport: Improves throttle response.
  • Mountain: Turns on the generator to provide battery charging when driving through mountainous or steep terrain.
  • Hold: This mode preserves the battery charge by having the gas generator provide power for the electric motor. For when you are driving on the freeway and know you'll want to save your battery power for city driving later
One other trick the 2016 Volt has up its sleeve is the Regen on Demand system. First used on the Cadillac ELR, the system uses a paddle behind the steering wheel allows a driver to control how much energy is being regenerated when driving via the electric motors. Think of Regen on Demand as putting the vehicle into a lower gear; the electric motors act as an engine brake to slow the vehicle down and recapture energy to charge the battery.

 


2016 Chevrolet Volt Premier 9

 

In terms of range, we were able to go between 47 to 51 miles on a full charge. EPA fuel economy estimates say the 2016 Chevrolet Volt will return 106 MPGe when running on electric power only, and 42 MPG when gas generator kicks on. Our averages for the week landed around 112 MPGe and 43 MPG.

 

Chevrolet says it will take about 4.5 hours to recharge a depleted battery when plugged into a 240V charger. When plugged into a 120V outlet, time increases about 13 hours. We found the 13 hours estimate to be right on the money as that is how long it took for our test Volt to fully recharge. When half of the battery charge was depleted, we found the charging time to be around 6 to 7 hours.

 

In terms of ride, the 2016 Volt retains the smooth ride of the first-generation model. Bumps and other imperfections are ironed out to provide a comfortable ride. More impressive is how little outside noise comes into the cabin. When running on just electric power, very little wind and road noise comes inside. For handling, the Volt doesn’t embarrass itself. There isn’t any sign of body lean and the vehicle is able to change direction quickly. Steering feels responsive and heavy. No, the Volt would be replacing a sports car anytime soon. But compared to other plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles, the Volt has to be one of the better driving models.

 

Pricing for the Volt starts at $33,995 for the base LT and $37,820 for the up-level Premier. Our Premier tester featured a pricetag of $40,225 with two safety packages, navigation, and the Kinetic blue paint. For our money, the Premier is the way to go as it is the only trim that you can get blind-spot warning and lane change alert, both necessary features due to the Volt’s poor rear visibility. I wish these features were standard on the Premier and optional on the LT.

 


2016 Chevrolet Volt Premier 6

 

In 2016, electric vehicles are still seen as a bit of novelty. Despite the number of improvements made in terms of batteries and infrastructure, there is still the issue of range. This is where the Volt stands on its own as it provides a fallback option. Use up all of the battery? No problem as the generator will kick and get you to your destination where you can plug in. Plus the changes made by Chevrolet not only make the Volt somewhat more useable and efficient, but it also looks quite handsome. There are some niggling issues that we hope get addressed in the near future.

 

If you’re intrigued but don’t want to fully jump into the electric vehicle landscape, then the 2016 Chevrolet Volt is an excellent place to start at.

 

Cheers: Improved electric only range, design that stands out in a good way, clever bits of powertrain tech.
Jeers: Cheap materials are still here, MyLink still has some issues to work out, blind spot monitoring and lane change alert is optional on the Premier and not available on the LT (how does this make sense?!)

 

Disclaimer: Chevrolet Provided the Volt, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas

 


 

Year: 2016
Make: Chevrolet
Model: Volt
Trim: Premier
Engine: Voltec Electric Drive Unit, 1.5L Four-Cylinder (Range Extender)
Driveline: Electric Transaxle, Front-Wheel Drive
Horsepower @ RPM: 149
Torque @ RPM: 294 @ 0
Fuel Economy: EV/Gas Only - 106 MPGe/42
Curb Weight: 3,543 lbs
Location of Manufacture: Detroit, MI
Base Price: $37,520
As Tested Price: $40,225 (Includes $825.00 Destination Charge)

 

Options:
Chevrolet MyLink Radio w/ Navigation - $495.00
Driver Confidence 1 Package - $495.00
Driver Confidence 2 Package - $495.00
Kinetic Blue Metallic - $395.00



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Very nice write up that was informative and helped me out in understanding the updated auto.

 

Shame they still have some hard plastics and that head room is a bust due to the stupid Coupe design.

 

Over all, excited to see the improvements and that the volt continues on and is not killed off.

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i loved how the 17 I drove, drove.

 

I'd like to see the electric only range get to 100 miles one of these days.  200 would be nice for long trips but maybe that's a lot to ask in the next few years.

 

At this point though, the flaw here is that the Volt is still small and that makes it a hard sell for anyone who wants space for people and stuff.  If the Volt were a midsize, i guarantee you there would be a whole lot more interest in this car, even during the time of cheap gas.  

 

Maybe Chevy needs this Volt and then to plug the Voltec into the Malibu and new Equinox.

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i loved how the 17 I drove, drove.

 

I'd like to see the electric only range get to 100 miles one of these days.  200 would be nice for long trips but maybe that's a lot to ask in the next few years.

 

At this point though, the flaw here is that the Volt is still small and that makes it a hard sell for anyone who wants space for people and stuff.  If the Volt were a midsize, i guarantee you there would be a whole lot more interest in this car, even during the time of cheap gas.  

 

Maybe Chevy needs this Volt and then to plug the Voltec into the Malibu and new Equinox.

I see no reason not to use the BOLT battery pack with the generator system of the VOLT and put this into a mid size CUV and have that 200 mile range with generator.

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Hold Mode was introduced for the 2013 model year.  I believe Mountain Mode is designed to maintain a higher average (around 40%  for the first generation) battery state of charge (SOC) to deal with spirited driving up the longest and steepest inclines, so charging will only occur if this mode is engaged while the SOC is below the desired minimum.  Mountain Mode may not be needed as much given the higher output of the range extender in the second generation model.

Edited by KevinW

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Ten cubic feet of luggage space with the rear seats up.  The 2016 Spark has eleven cubic feet of luggage space with the rear seats up.

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i loved how the 17 I drove, drove.

 

I'd like to see the electric only range get to 100 miles one of these days.  200 would be nice for long trips but maybe that's a lot to ask in the next few years.

 

At this point though, the flaw here is that the Volt is still small and that makes it a hard sell for anyone who wants space for people and stuff.  If the Volt were a midsize, i guarantee you there would be a whole lot more interest in this car, even during the time of cheap gas.  

 

Maybe Chevy needs this Volt and then to plug the Voltec into the Malibu and new Equinox.

 

No place to put the batteries for that kind of range really. 

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Ten cubic feet of luggage space with the rear seats up.  The 2016 Spark has eleven cubic feet of luggage space with the rear seats up.

Wow, good eye. I never would have realized that it was that small. 

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Ten cubic feet of luggage space with the rear seats up.  The 2016 Spark has eleven cubic feet of luggage space with the rear seats up.

right, $h! like that keeps it a niche product.  on purpose, no doubt.

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i loved how the 17 I drove, drove.

 

I'd like to see the electric only range get to 100 miles one of these days.  200 would be nice for long trips but maybe that's a lot to ask in the next few years.

 

At this point though, the flaw here is that the Volt is still small and that makes it a hard sell for anyone who wants space for people and stuff.  If the Volt were a midsize, i guarantee you there would be a whole lot more interest in this car, even during the time of cheap gas.  

 

Maybe Chevy needs this Volt and then to plug the Voltec into the Malibu and new Equinox.

 

No place to put the batteries for that kind of range really. 

 

batteries keep getting smaller with more range...speed up the process with that

 

a vehicle like the envision with a voltec would have lots more room plan wise and vertically for battery arrangments.

 

Honda Fit i believe has gas tank under front seat.  Move gas tank to under front seat and there you go, even more room for batteries.

 

Bolt ultimately leaves most flexibility for battery pack.  Thing is, can we mesh the battery friendly packaging of the Bolt with the gas range extender of the Volt.

 

In any case, Volt is fantastic but like the guy said to me at the auto show when we were both sitting in the Volt, "i want this car, but i can't justify buying it its too small to use for my family".  If it were midsize, the price / value relationship would align for more people.

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http://www.edmunds.com/chevrolet/volt/2016/long-term-road-test/2016-chevrolet-volt-vs-2016-chevrolet-malibu-hybrid.html?SID=iqlhzsggdq000b1p001ol&kw=flexibletexttool&PID=3193616&AID=10364102&mktid=cj260233&mktcat=affiliates

 

by the way, this is a great take on the whole Volt vs. Malibu hybrid thing.  It's dead spot on, and I agreed so much that is why my wife and I attempted to get the hybrid Malibu first (but settled on the 1.5, hybrid was just a bit out of reach and I imagine i will be kicking myself for a long time on that).  Malibu hybrid is that good!  The one thing I think the 1.5t might have over the hybrid is no engine drone at 70-75 mph, like interstate driving.....the 1.5t is smooth and quiet settled into a cruise at that speed, the hybrid would have some gas engine drone.

Edited by regfootball

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    • By William Maley
      We had high hopes for the Hyundai Tucson when we did a first drive back in August 2015. But when we did our full review last April, we ended it by saying the model wasn’t “the slam dunk we thought it was.” This was due to some key issues such as a small cargo area, a tough value argument and a dual-clutch transmission having some hesitating issues. A year later, we find ourselves revisiting the Tucson. There has been a software update to the transmission, along with some minor changes to the infotainment system and interior.
      A quick refresher on the Tucson’s powertrain lineup: A 2.0L four-cylinder producing 164 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque is used on the base SE and SE Plus. The rest of the Tucson lineup features a turbocharged 1.6L four-cylinder with 175 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic comes standard on the 2.0L, while the turbo 1.6 gets a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. The engine does show some turbo lag when leaving a stop, but it will soon pick up steam and move the Tucson at a pretty decent rate. The engine doesn’t feel overtaxed when you need to make a pass. The seven-speed dual-clutch transmission still has issues. While Hyundai has reduced some of the hesitation issues we experienced in the last Tucson via a software update, there is still a fair amount of this when leaving from a dead stop. We also noticed some rough upshifts during our week. At least the ride and handling characteristics have not changed since our last test. The Tucson still provides one of the smoothest rides in the class, even with the Limited’s 19-inch wheels. It doesn’t flinch when going around a corner as body motions are kept in check. A Mazda CX-5 would be more fun to drive as it is quicker when transitioning from one corner to another and the steering has the right amount of weight and feel. Road and wind noise are kept to very acceptable levels. The interior remains mostly unchanged except for a couple of minor things. The 8-inch touchscreen system now features Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility. We’re impressed with how fast the system was able to find the iPhone and bring up the CarPlay interface. The other change deals with more soft-touch materials being added to various parts of the interior. There is still a fair amount of hard plastics, even on the high-end Limited model which is very disappointing. There is still a lot to like about the Tucson’s interior. Space is plentiful for those sitting in the front or rear seats, even with the optional panoramic sunroof. The list of standard equipment is quite extensive as well. Limited models get automatic headlights, power and heated front seats, an 8-speaker Infinity sound system, dual-zone automatic climate control, proximity key with push-button start, and blind-spot monitoring. Cargo space still trails competitors with only 31 cubic feet with the rear seats up and 61.9 cubic feet when folded. The CR-V offers 35.2 and 70.9 cubic feet respectively. The Limited seen here came with a $35,210 as-tested price, which is about average for a fully-loaded crossover in this class. But the Tucson becomes a bit of a tough sell when dropping to the lower trims as you cannot get certain features. As we noted in our full review last year, “if you want navigation or dual-zone climate control on the Sport, you’re out of luck.” Despite some of the changes made for 2017, our verdict is much the same as the 2016 Tucson. There is a lot to like about the Tucson, but there are still some issues the company needs to address - smoothing out the dual-clutch and trying to make the model a better value.  
      Disclaimer: Hyundai Provided the Tucson, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2017
      Make: Hyundai
      Model: Tucson
      Trim: Limited AWD
      Engine: Turbocharged 1.6L GDI Four-Cylinder
      Driveline: Seven-Speed Dual-Clutch Automatic, All-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 175 @ 5,500
      Torque @ RPM: 195 @ 1,500-4,500
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 24/28/25
      Curb Weight: 3,686 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Ulsan, South Korea
      Base Price: $31,175
      As Tested Price: $35,201 (Includes $895.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Ultimate Package - $2,750.00
      Cargo Cover - $190.00
      Reversible Cargo Tray - $100.00 
      Rear Bumper Applique - $70.00
      First Aid Kit - $30.00
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