2016 Chevrolet Volt: 600 Miles of Driving Impressions
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.
For me, the seating position is not that great. The steering wheel doesn't telescope enough for my preferred arm position so I'm forced to slide the seat forward. This, in turn, butterflies my legs and leaves me with few options to stretch out, which only amplifies long distance discomfort. I try sliding my left leg under the brake pedal. I try wrestling the manual seat-bottom adjuster fore and aft. Neither alternative is particularly convenient so I have to tough it out. My knees suffer the most.
Then there is the driver seat itself. The bottom is flat and the contours of its back arch in the opposite direction of the contours of my back. I tilt the seatback a couple of notches to compensate for the excessive padding against my shoulder blades with some success. And surprisingly, I am able to last a good two hours before my lower reaches grow tired. I'm not sure whether to credit the Volt for this or my own stubbornness.
This car rides nicely. Big dips, small bumps, freeway expansion joints, concrete or asphalt. Across across each one the Chevy remains compliant. No issues to report.
In electric mode the Volt has enough torque off the line to rarely feel underpowered. It maneuvers through traffic with ease and simplifies passing maneuvers. But only a sliver of my 600-mile weekend was fully electric. Most was in hybrid mode.
As a hybrid the Chevy drives like most other hybrids. Highway passing maneuvers require extra calculation before execution. And on longer grades, when electric boost is sapped and the engine kicks in to supply power, it falls flat at about 69 mph This doesn't seem to be quick enough for many. So keep an eye on the rearview for motorists coming up from behind.
Overall the Volt is a competent freeway companion. And there is another perk to driving the Chevy that helps us forgive its deficiencies: HOV lane stickers. Those are awfully convenient to have on the traffic-congested freeways of Los Angeles.
Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager @ 10,100 miles