I live pretty far from the office, so my M.O. when driving the 2016 Chevrolet Volt is to milk the charge as far as I can, then run it off the engine until the next time I can get it back to the Edmunds garage charger. Driving the Volt primarily like a hybrid, running solely off the gas engine, isn't really in the spirit of the thing, but I don't have a Level 2 charger at home and I suspect the next-gen Volt would be here by the time I could replenish the battery from the garage outlet.
Where Did We Drive It?
After a spell in Fresno, California, with editor Brent Romans, our long-term 2016 Chevrolet Volt returned to Edmunds' Santa Monica base only briefly. I was then off on a voyage to Corvallis, Oregon, and back a week later. My trip north was the first time we've driven our Volt in conditions with plenty of precipitation, including snow. Then I ventured southeast to Temecula, California, for more rain, and back. In total, we drove almost 3,000 miles in December.
It was an engine-heavy month because there were scant few charging opportunities in between. Such is the beauty of the Volt, though. It can do the daily commute grind solely on battery power and still provide the convenience of a conventionally fueled car when the need arises.
Where Did We Drive It?
Our 2016 Chevrolet Volt started November strong, with most of the drivers only tapping into the gasoline engine for 20 to 30 miles at a time before plugging into a charging station. Michael Massey filled up early in the month for a gas-only average of 40.8 mpg. It stayed around Los Angeles, mostly running on electricity only, until I took it over the Thanksgiving break. Traveling around Orange County for a week made it too difficult to stay hooked up to charging stations, so most of my errands involved running on gas. The Volt closed the month with a 0.2 mpg downtick in overall fuel economy.
Where Did We Drive It?
Our 2016 Chevrolet Volt made the usual rounds this month, mainly ferrying editors to and from our office in Santa Monica on their commutes. We also drove it to Rosamond, California, home of the famous Willow Springs Raceway, for our annual driving school. On the way, the Volt made a cameo appearance at Vasquez Rocks, aka arguably the most exciting sight on the desolate stretch between Santa Clarita and Palmdale.
by Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor on October 27, 2016
I like driving our 2016 Chevrolet Volt. It has plenty of all-electric range, it's quick to accelerate at low speeds and its hatchback design provides a fair amount of utility. Logically, this car makes a lot of sense. But given the not-insubstantial sticker price, I'm dissatisfied with the Volt's interior.
by Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor on September 29, 2016
We've written a few prior updates about the regenerative braking paddle on our 2016 Chevrolet Volt's steering wheel. None of them has been positive. After driving our Volt for about two weeks, though, I've found that using the paddle in conjunction with the "Low" driving mode works pretty well.
by Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor on September 27, 2016
A large part of the second-generation's Chevrolet Volt's appeal is its normalcy. Yes, it's a plug-in hybrid with more than 50 miles of all-electric range, but you can also just drive it like a regular car and not give a second thought to the electrical wizardry happening underneath.
To me, though, viewing the Volt as a normal car adds some further expectations of functionality. And one of those is the ability to comfortably seat adults in the back.
by Josh Sadlier, Senior Editor on September 20, 2016
Fleetmaster Schmidt informed me that our 2016 Chevrolet Volt was due for a service before I took it for the long Labor Day weekend. We knew the oil change and tire rotation would be covered gratis by Chevy's Complete Care maintenance plan, but there were also a few open recalls to attend to.
I headed to Hooman Chevrolet in Culver City on Saturday morning to get things done. It was a genuinely pleasant experience.
I still buy compact discs. They're cheap, plentiful, and most new releases have abandoned crappy plastic jewel boxes for the cardboard "digi-pack," which lends some nostalgic analog to vinyl records. Helps them consume less space in the home collection, too. I'm not alone in this preference (which for me boils down to the boring discussion of compressed vs. uncompressed audio quality), but the 2016 Chevrolet Volt isn't with me on this one.
by Travis Langness, Automotive Editor on August 18, 2016
The top of the trunk on our long-term 2016 Chevrolet Volt is tall. Basically, the beltline and the decklid are both tall on this car, all the way around. As a result, you can't really see the headlights of the vehicle behind you. For me, in a comfortable seating position (I'm 5'9"), it's a windshield-and-up view of cars in the rearview mirror.
by Mark Takahashi, Automotive Editor on August 16, 2016
Our long-term 2016 Chevrolet Volt was slow-roasting in the L.A. sun for a few hours. When I opened the door, I could feel the heat pouring from the interior. Not surprisingly, when I started it up, the automatic climate control went into full-power mode to try to cool things down.
by Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing on August 9, 2016
We recently leased a 2016 Fiat 500e for my daughter. In case they don't sell them where you live, the "e" stands for electric. I'm not a fan of the regular 500's engine and transmission, but that stuff gets magically wiped away when they build a 500e, leaving behind a torquey, cute-as-anything pocket rocket with an ultra-low center of gravity.
But I digress. We're supposed to be talking about the 2016 Chevrolet Volt long-term test car I drove home a couple nights ago. The connection, literally, comes in the form of the Fiat's 120-volt Level 1 power cord.
I'm lazy, you see. Why unwind the Volt's Level 1 cord when my daughter's Fiat cord is already plugged in and ready to go?
It's easy to forget that our 2016 Chevrolet Volt is a hybrid. After all, with anywhere from 50 to 70 miles of electric range, you can drive for an entire day on electricity without even thinking about it.
There are several interior design elements of our second-generation 2016 Chevrolet Volt that are far more traditional than their first-generation counterparts. Call it evolution, or the simple realization that the original Volt's cabin had a few features that weren't very practical. Either way, I like the interior of this Volt much better.
by James Riswick, New & Used Car Editor on July 12, 2016
I recently had the chance to drive the 2016 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid and walked away declaring it my automotive surprise of the year. To put it simply, it's shockingly good to drive, with composed handling and consistent, well-tuned controls. It's especially shocking since it's a hybrid — the gasoline-electric versions of midsize sedans are generally compromised in ways significant enough to make you constantly say, "well, at least it gets 40 mpg."
Aside from its smaller trunk, the Malibu Hybrid just isn't as compromised. Take the brake pedal, for instance, which feels normal and free from the weird, numb, two-stage pedal feel indicative of most other hybrids' regenerative braking. As such, I think the Hybrid is actually the Malibu to get. Not just because it's less compromised than other hybrid sedans, but because its powertrain is so good. The reason for that: it's basically a 2016 Chevrolet Volt without the plug.
by Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager on July 7, 2016
Will the luggage fit? To answer this question we loaded (our 2016 Chevrolet Volt) with bags in different configurations and took photos. What constitutes carry-on luggage varies depending upon who you ask. So for the sake of standardization we used the same blue carry-on bag--size (21 x15x10 inches) and red checked bag--size (30x20x13 inches).
by Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager on June 14, 2016
I spent a lot of time in our long-term 2016 Chevrolet Volt recently. In four days I covered just over 600 miles and spent more than 15 hours behind the wheel. Much of the drive included stop and go traffic. The majority of this time, the Volt was in hybrid mode rather than full electric. This experience left me with mixed feelings about the Volt.
Our 2016 Chevrolet Volt is a technological wonder that rivals any car in the world when it comes to the complexity of its drivetrain. That's why I find its climate control setup so satisfying. It keeps things simple in spite of the car's other high-tech systems.
by Mark Takahashi, Automotive Editor on May 13, 2015
Rather than take a flight up to California's wine country for a work trip, I opted to drive the 425 or so miles each way. So the call went out to our in-house wranglers to see which of our long-termers needed some miles. Since our 2016 Chevrolet Volt has been used primarily as a commuter with a charge station on at least one end of the route, it was lacking in the long-distance part of its life.
by Cameron Rogers, Associate Editor on May 11, 2016
I arrived at Edmunds HQ at 6:45 on Monday morning. The 2016 Chevrolet Volt was in desperate need of a bath, and our preferred car wash wouldn't open for another couple hours. Perfect, I thought. This would (or should) be enough time to fully recharge the Volt's depleted battery
Based on my experience with our old 2014 BMW i3, I estimated I would make it out of the office with the Volt around 10 a.m.. The i3 had a 22 kilowatt-hour battery and an all-electric range of 72 miles. It took about four hours to fully charge.
Our Volt, meanwhile, has a range of 53 miles from an 18.4 kWh battery. Using the i3 as my mental yardstick, I reasoned that it would take less time for the Volt to charge.
by Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor on May 4, 2016
A common annoyance for drivers of hybrid-powered vehicles is a brake pedal feel that's not consistent or easy to modulate. This was an issue we noticed with the previous generation Volt. But the 2016 Chevrolet Volt is noticeably improved. It's now easy to come to a stop smoothly every time.
by Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor on May 2, 2016
The 2016 Chevrolet Volt comes standard with an 8-inch touchscreen interface. It's the "MyLink" system that Chevy has been utilizing for a few years now. In the past, we were underwhelmed with MyLink, finding it slow and unresponsive at times. But our Volt has the latest iteration, and it has some appealing aspects. Here are five reasons why I think you'll like it.
by Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor on April 28, 2016
I've been driving our long-term 2016 Chevrolet Volt for more than a week straight now. One of the interesting aspects to me about has been how easily the Volt blends in with everything else on the road. Styling the second-generation Volt to look more "normal" was clearly a priority for Chevrolet, and it seems to have worked.
Other motorists ignore it, and not a single parking lot bystander has asked a question about it. It's pretty easy to imagine other people dismissing it as some sort of Chevy Cruze hatchback, or a Honda or Kia.
With the caveat that my experience is just a small sample, I pose the following question: would you want to buy a Volt because of this, or would you want something that stands out more?
by Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor on April 26, 2016
One of the big improvements for the 2016 Chevrolet Volt is greater full-electric driving range. The previous generation Volt had an EPA-estimated range of 38 miles; the new model can go 53 miles typically before switching on its gas engine/generator (and we've already exceeded that easily a few times). The upshot is that we're spending even more of our time driving our Chevy Volt like it was an electric vehicle (EV).
That's pretty neat, but it also made me wonder: When it's just using its electric battery power, how efficient is the Volt compared to other plug-in hybrids or even other EVs? Or, put in the way we would ask a friend about his or her regular new car: what kind of mpg is it getting?
by Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor on April 22, 2016
There's a scene in the 1991 movie L.A. Story when Steve Martin's character gets in his Chrysler LeBaron to drive to his friend's house. His friend lives two houses away from his. It's played for comedic effect, yet I've seen a neighbor of mine do essentially the same thing to get her mail from the communal mailbox just a few houses away.
Nobody walks in Edmunds.com's hometown of L.A., or so the saying (or song) goes.
If you're that type of person, odds are you're not worried about wasting gas or incurring the tailpipe emissions that occur mostly at cold engine startup. But that said, it's arguably easier to feel less guilty if you're driving a 2016 Chevrolet Volt to pick up your mail from your mailbox or visit your friend a neighborhood away. Revel in your laziness, in fact!
by Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor on April 19, 2016
A few days ago, I was driving our 2016 Chevrolet Volt for the first time. I also happened to be driving north on Interstate 5 approaching the Tejon Pass (the "Grapevine"), which is a mountain pass north of Los Angeles that climbs to about 4,100 feet and then eventually dumps motorists out into California's agricultural and bovine heartland. As the mountains loomed in the Volt's windshield, I thought to myself: "Wait, isn't there a mountain mode that you're supposed to use in this thing?" This was based on recollections of our previous long-term 2011 Volt.
Well, it turns out that there still is a special mountain driving mode in the new Volt. But the Volt's mechanical improvements have rendered it less necessary, at least in my mind.
by Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing on March 31, 2016
When the 2016 Chevrolet Volt was first introduced to the media, its 8-inch MyLink touchscreen audio system was touted as being able to support Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. But there was an asterisk: CarPlay would work at launch, but Android Auto fell into the automotive abyss called "late availability."
We later learned this meant the necessary reflash would become available to Chevrolet owners with the supported MyLink touchscreen audio systems in March 2016. March was nearly over when I decided to call our Volt dealer to set up a time to bring it in. But the person I talked to seemed unsure and said something about the update being delayed until April. Funny: I hadn't read any such press release.
It's easy to forget that our 2016 Chevrolet Volt has a gasoline engine under the hood. Given how often it runs, you barely know it's there. Even when it is running, it's far quieter than the previous Volt.
Let me start by immediately walking that assertion back. Not every car, of course. The world still needs Mustangs and Corvettes and 911s and things of that nature. Or I do, at least.
But what if every commuter car were like our long-term 2016 Chevrolet Volt? Urban fuel consumption — and thus pollution — would plummet. Gas-price anxiety would stop being a thing, yet there wouldn't be any range anxiety, either. Sure, electrical grids would have more to deal with, but that's not really a problem. And everyone would enjoy instant-on electric propulsion that really thumps in the heavily trafficked zero-to-40-mph range.
These were the thoughts I was having last weekend as I drove our Volt all over Los Angeles and Santa Barbara Counties. TLDR: If everyone had a Volt, I think the world would be a better place.
by Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing on March 17, 2016
"You don't want to do that," said the guy at Selman Chevrolet, where we bought our 2016 Chevrolet Volt. We were surrounded by three pristine Corvettes in the showroom.
In my head I was nodding in agreement like Angus Young. But my mouth said, "Yeah, but this car spends a lot of time in West L.A. and Santa Monica, places where parking enforcement would gladly write us up for no front license plate."
Because it's a requirement in California (and 30 other states,) a front license plate bracket came with the car. But the necessary attachment hardware was nowhere to be found. It takes 6 to 8 weeks for license plates to be issued, so it didn't matter until now.
"I'm here to get the pop-rivets and screws that were supposed to come with the bracket," I continued.
"You don't want to do that," he repeated, meaning something slightly different this time. "Bring it around and we'll put it on for you."
This time he was wrong. "Thanks, but I want to do it myself. Can you see if you have the parts?"
"You're the first person who's wanted to do that," he said. But he soon returned with a baggie containing the four pop-rivets and four screws I needed.
by Reese Counts, Vehicle Testing Assistant on March 14, 2016
Testing a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle like our long-term 2016 Chevrolet Volt requires adjusting our testing procedure. Usually we test a vehicle's braking before diving into our acceleration runs, but we want to test battery-powered vehicles with a full charge. It's not a huge change, but it's an important one.
This new Volt is a substantially better performer than our previous long-term car, though 0-60 times are not what a car like the Volt is all about. Read on to see how this new generation model fares when pushed to its limits.
by Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing on March 8, 2016
My commute is dreadful. It's 46.6 miles from Santa Ana to Santa Monica, and my route includes some of the worst L.A. freeway miles imaginable. To survive, I time-shift and work an East Coast schedule, setting my alarm at 4:15 am in order to get on the road at 5:00 am (OK, usually 5:15 am), at which point I have a decent chance of getting to work by 6:00 am. My early arrival allows for an early escape that usually gets me out ahead of the worst of the afternoon commuting wave — theoretically, at least.
But a recent week was full of scheduled meetings that would stretch into late afternoon. I would have to work a normal schedule. My solution? Drive our 2016 Chevrolet Volt and take full advantage of its single-occupant HOV lane access stickers.
by Reese Counts, Vehicle Testing Assistant on March 4, 2016
It's frustrating when something little like this happens.
I was staring at the cargo area in our long-term 2016 Chevrolet Volt with my hands on my hips. I was attempting to install the small sheet of fabric that Chevrolet deems fit to call a cargo cover when one off the hook points comes loose.
by Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager on February 25, 2016
There was a thin layer of exterior grime on our 2016 Chevrolet Volt when I grabbed the key six days ago. Consecutive mornings of fog, wind and condensation elevated grunge levels to moderately-thick, but still well below the car wash threshold. A glance through the windows in any direction was obstructed only by a harmless layer of dust.
by Mike Magrath, Features Editor on February 22, 2016
I'm a competitive person no matter the subject. So when we got our new 2016 Chevrolet Volt, I knew I'd be playing the "how far can we (reasonably) go in the real world on a charge?" game and I assumed it would be with Dan Edmunds. Again. (Carlos and I will later play the "How little distance can we reasonably cover in the real world?")
And then Dan got 70 miles and I had to beat it. I just didn't expect it to be so easy.
by Travis Langness, Social Media Editor on February 17, 2016
We got our long-term 2016 Chevrolet Volt in a paint color that Chevy calls Kinetic Blue Metallic. And it's fantastic.
Seriously, look at that color. It's awesome. I'm glad that we avoided colors like Heather Gray Metallic or Summit White (see: gray and white). The Kinetic Blue reminds me of one of my favorite colors ever, the Sonic Blue Pearl paint on the 1999 Honda Civic Si.
by Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor on January 28, 2016
I recently took our long-term 2016 Chevrolet Volt on a straight-shot freeway drive from Los Angeles to Las Vegas and back. In keeping with the fast-talking, Vegas hustler theme, I'll present my impressions in rapid-fire fashion.
by Dan Frio, Automotive Editor on January 22, 2016
We're still gathering drive data on our 2016 Chevrolet Volt to compile meaningful numbers on our EV range and gas-engine mpg. But here's another early anecdotal result, taking the car's trip computer at its word. During my first drive with the Volt, I was able to eke out 48.2 EV miles before staying on gasoline for the remainder of the miles.
OK, so that falls short of the Volt's EPA rating of 53 electric miles, and it's well eclipsed by Dan's 70-mile outing and the 62-mile performance we managed in an initial road test. But I was mildly impressed just the same that it came within five miles of the EPA rating given conditions: A short-trip to the on-ramp, followed by open highway miles at open highway speeds.
Maybe I'm still too entrenched in the mpg mindset where efficiency promises are always viewed with suspicion, and anything in the ballpark is generally deemed acceptable. But where a five-mpg shortfall in gasoline engine efficiency can earn you a class-action lawsuit, electric miles are a whole different voodoo.
by Jonathan Elfalan, Road Test Editor on January 19, 2016
One of the great advantages of an electric car, or in this case a plug-in hybrid operating solely on electric power for some amount of miles, is how quiet it is inside and out. Whether it's executing the perfect holeshot across an intersection in virtual silence, having an effortless conversation with your passenger, or listening to music untainted by the melodies of internal combustion, our 2016 Chevrolet Volt lends itself well.
This cocoon of silence is also something that could possibly drive you mad.
by Dan Frio, Automotive Editor on January 13, 2016
The 2016 Chevrolet Volt is quiet. That's one of the first things I notice about it during my first minutes behind the wheel. It's not silent in that "quiet like a vault" way that auto-journos like to use when describing large German sedans. There's still wind, road, and eventually engine noise, at least on my drive, which started with about a half-battery of charge and switched to engine for the rest of the way.
by Mike Magrath, Features Editor on January 5, 2016
Access to our long-term fleet is usually awesome, but once in a while it just gets tiring. Having a clean car every night is great. Having to bring your gym bag up to your desk, along with your parking pass, all your change, and whatever other miscellanea has accumulated is not.
And then you've got to worry if the person who has the car you want will be in the office by the time you want to leave. Or if they've gassed it. Or if they wear terrible cologne. I had a string of bad luck and was ready to trade out of the fleet and into my own new daily driver. So a few weeks ago, before we bought our long-term 2016 Chevrolet Volt, I walked into a Chevy dealer to buy one for myself.
by Cameron Rogers, Associate Editor on January 4, 2016
Scroll down and you'll notice a few posts about the curious brake paddle on the steering wheel of our 2016 Chevrolet Volt. I should have read the blog before I signed the Volt out for a week, as I was utterly confounded when I pulled the paddle for the first time and nothing happened. Note that I played with the paddle when the car was stopped and the transmission selector was in the typical "D" drive mode.
I tried it several more times. No lights or messages on the dash. No noticeable difference in the way the car drove. I paged through the owner's manual and read that the paddle activates the "Regen on Demand" feature. I assumed it toggled brake regeneration between unobtrusive and halting, like the menu setting in our old long-term 2013 Tesla Model S.
But the Volt always came to a stop in the same way. Lift off throttle and the car coasted until I hit the brakes. I thought the paddle was broken. Then I tried using it when the car was in motion.
by Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing on December 31, 2015
Longtime readers may remember our 2011 Chevrolet Volt long-term test car. You may also remember that Magrath and I got into a cut-throat maximum range competition. I ended up winning that no-holds-barred geek-off with an all-electric run of 54.6 miles, a figure that exceeded that Volt's 35-mile electric range rating by a full 56 percent.
My commute tends to have the right conditions for prolonged EV range; primarily, slow-and-go freeway traffic that never quite stops, never quite gets going faster than 50 or 55 mph. So I applied all the lessons I learned driving the old Volt and promptly went 70 miles on a full charge in our new 2016 Chevrolet Volt on my first attempt.
by James Riswick, New & Used Car Editor on December 29, 2015
I always remember being comfortable in our long-term 2010 Chevrolet Volt. Not so with its successor. I find the 2016 Chevrolet Volt's driver seat is mounted too high, or rather, I can't crank the rear portion of the seat bottom down enough using the manual height adjustment. And unfortunately, there is still no power driver seat available, which strikes me as odd given how much other equipment is available.
by James Riswick, New & Used Car Editor on December 25, 2015
Yes, the 2016 Chevrolet Volt is a hatchback. Yes, consequently it has a more versatile cargo area than a compact sedan. Unfortunately, unlike other hatchbacks, the Volt has a significant liftover height. One must hoist whatever up and over the bumper and then lower it onto the cargo floor.
by Kelly Hellwig, Managing Editor on December 17, 2015
Back in 2011, when we took delivery of our first long-term Chevrolet Volt test car, the Chevy seemed so glamorous and high-tech. Until then we were mostly driving around in hybrids that looked like hybrids (read Toyota Prius), and the Volt seemed like a far more exciting option.
by Jonathan Elfalan, Road Test Editor on December 16, 2015
There are many things to like about our new long-term 2016 Chevrolet Volt. For one, the general consensus is that it's an attractive car. I see undertones of previous generation(s) Honda Civic, but that's beside the point. I'm also impressed by its electric-only range. I could exist quite comfortably under its 53-ish-mile ceiling for the majority of the week, which means far fewer pesky stops at the pump. Single-occupancy carpool lane access also a huge plus.
One thing I haven't quite wrapped my head around though is how Chevy decided to integrate a control for maximum regenerative braking. It's the steering wheel paddle on the left, and its reason for existence is questionable at best.