All new for the latest model year, the Chevrolet Volt is a compact plug-in hybrid hatchback powered by one of the most technologically advanced drivetrains ever installed in a passenger vehicle. It's more efficient than the outgoing model, it wears a more streamlined look, and it now offers space for five passengers.
Half of the Volt's powertrain consists of a pair of electric motors that join forces to deliver 149 horsepower and 294 lb-ft. of torque, 192-cell, 18.4 kWh lithium-ion battery pack. This electric drive unit gives the Volt a 53-mile electric-only range; if your commute or amount of daily driving is shorter than this distance, you could theoretically never have to put gas in the Volt, making it a financially and environmentally sensible car for customers with short-range driving needs.
It takes approximately 13 hours to charge the battery pack with a 120-volt household outlet, and roughly four and half hours to charge it with a 240-volt charging unit, though Chevrolet warns that actual times may vary.
However, when the Volt is driven for more than 53 miles, the other half of its powertrain comes into play - a 101-horsepower 1.5-liter gasoline engine that fires up to recharge the batteries and send power to the front wheels under certain high-speed conditions. With the gas engine running, the Volt is rated at 42 mpg in a combined cycle. That's decent, but it's not spectacular. Still, the gasoline engine gives the Volt a useful total range of 420 miles before needing to fill up or recharge the batteries.
The center stack boasts an eight-inch touch screen that functions both as a navigation unit and a vehicle information display point. It runs Chevrolet's MyLink infotainment system, and it's compatible with Apple's CarPlay software, which puts iPhone features on the display and lets passengers make calls, receive messages, listen to music, and access third-party apps. Android Auto - CarPlay's main rival - will be available later in the production run.
The configurable digital instrument cluster is futuristic but easily decipherable, and it features a display that aids in building efficient driving habits. Blue ambient lighting throughout the cockpit gives the Volt a premium feel.
The Volt's hatchback design is useful for loading cargo, but the trunk area only contains 10.6 cubic feet of stowage space - a function of space taken up by the battery pack as well as the car's sloping roofline.
Standard and Optional Features
The Volt is available in two trim levels called LT and Premium, respectively.
The LT model comes generously equipped with automatic A/C, Chevrolet's MyLink infotainment system, a six-speaker audio system, cruise control, an eight-inch touch screen, keyless entry and start, a rear-view camera, a remote vehicle starter, leather upholstery on the shift knob and on the steering wheel, LED headlights and 17-inch alloy wheels.
Premium models add an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, heated front and rear seats, illuminated vanity mirrors, a wireless phone charger, automatic park assist, heated door mirrors, and 17-inch alloy wheels with a split-spoke design.
The list of options includes automatic high beams (offered only on Premium models), an illuminated charging port, and all-weather floor mats.
Every Volt comes standard with ten airbags, including knee airbags for the front passengers, and a rear-view camera. Buyers can select a host of optional electronic driving aids including lane keeping assist with lane departure, side blind zone alert, rear cross traffic alert, and front automatic braking.
The Chevrolet Volt's main rival is the Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid.
Buyers can also look at the Ford Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid, as well as all-electric models like the Nissan Leaf, and the Ford Focus Electric.