What Is It?
2016 Chevrolet Volt
What's New About This Model?
For 2016, the Chevrolet Volt is completely redesigned.
When Does It Go on Sale?
The second-generation 2016 Volt will be in Chevrolet dealerships sometime in the second half of this year.
How Much Does It Cost?
There's no word yet on pricing, but Chevrolet has worked since the launch of the Volt in 2011 to make its price more competitive with similarly sized conventional cars. Despite the new Volt's total makeover, many cost-saving innovations might help to deliver a lower price than the current Volt's starting MSRP of $34,995.
How Many Body Styles and Trim Levels Are There?
As with the first-generation model, the 2016 Chevrolet Volt is available only as a four-door hatchback in a single, well-equipped trim level. Features such as leather seats, navigation and electronic driver aids are grouped in a few options packages.
What Kind of Engines and Transmissions Does It Have?
An all-new drive system for the 2016 Chevrolet Volt consists of dual electric motors (the first-generation Volt used a single motor) that work individually or in tandem to drive the front wheels. An equally new 1.5-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine serves as a generator to charge the Volt's lithium-ion batteries once their initial charge is depleted. Although the number of battery cells has been reduced from 288 to 192, total battery capacity jumps from 17.1 kilowatt-hours to 18.4 kWh.
The gasoline engine — which now runs on regular unleaded gasoline instead of premium — under certain conditions also can drive the front wheels by itself or combined with the electric motors. The power goes to the wheels through a two-motor, continuously variable transmission (CVT).
What Kind of Performance and Mileage Will It Deliver?
The twin drive motors generate a total of 149 horsepower (the same output as the previous-generation Volt) and a plump 294 pound-feet of torque, but do it 12 percent more efficiently, Chevrolet says. The gasoline engine chips in with 101 hp. Chevrolet claims the 2016 Volt will accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 8.4 seconds, which is a solid improvement from the 9-second run Edmunds squeezed out of the first-generation Volt.
Best of all, the 2016 Volt's enhanced power and drivetrain efficiency, along with a total weight reduction of about 243 pounds, translates to an increase of 12 miles in combined-driving electric range, to a new maximum of 50 miles. The total distance the Volt can travel on a full battery charge and a full tank of gasoline jumps from the previous 380 miles to 420 miles.
Chevrolet says overall fuel economy for the 2016 Volt is 41 mpg, up from the previous 37 mpg EPA combined rating. The new Volt is also expected to earn an electric-efficiency rating of 102 MPGe, compared with the 98 MPGe for the outgoing Volt.
What Unique Features Does It Offer?
Apart from its unique drive system, the 2016 Chevrolet Volt brings several new innovations to bear, including a driver-selectable control for the intensity of brake-energy regeneration that returns braking energy to the battery pack, a GPS-based charging strategy that automatically initiates immediate charging when the Volt is plugged in away from home, and a less bulky charging cord with an improved onboard storage area.
The 2016 Volt interior is all-new, most notably replacing the first-generation Volt's center stack of fussy touch-sensitive controls with an artfully integrated 8-inch touchscreen and conventional knobs for the climate control system; Chevy says most functions can be controlled via the system's rotary dial and four buttons.
The gauge cluster also consists of an 8-inch screen that offers four configuration "themes." The new Volt for the first time offers GM's expanding availability of wireless charging for mobile phones, as well as an optional heated steering wheel.
There's news in the Volt's rear seat, too: the area now is belted for three occupants (the previous rear seat accommodated only two), although the center passenger is perched high and rather precariously on the central tunnel, making headroom quite scant. The rear seats also offer the option of heating (even with the base cloth upholstery).
What Kind of Standard and Optional Safety Equipment Is Offered?
The 2016 Chevrolet Volt comes standard with traction and stability control, 10 airbags and a rearview camera.
Available advanced safety features include lane-keeping assist and lane-departure warning, blind-spot warning, forward-collision alert, front and rear parking sensors and automated parallel parking.
What Models Will It Compete Against?
BMW i3: An all-electric version of the i3 is available, but most will consider the range-extended version that, like the new Volt, uses a gasoline engine when the battery charge runs out.
Ford C-Max Energi: Ford's plug-in hybrid sedan offers great efficiency and loads of useful interior space, but as with most plug-ins, the C-Max Energi's showroom appeal has come in fits and starts.
Toyota Prius Plug-In: It makes sense that the most well-known name in hybrids would include a plug-in version, but the Prius Plug-In has only a fraction of the electric-only driving range of the Volt and overall is much more utilitarian inside, albeit at a lower sticker price, too.
Should You Wait for It?
The new-generation Volt's enhanced electric driving range would be enough reason for many considering a plug-in vehicle to wait for this second-generation model. Add in the all-new design and numerous other innovations — including what's promised to be a notably quieter interior — and this Volt should be well worth the wait.