2016 Chevrolet Volt: Every Car Should Be Like This
by Josh Sadlier, Senior Editor on March 21, 2016
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.
I began my Volt experience by running up an indicated 37.4 all-electric miles around the city, at which point the gasoline engine kicked in. It's capable of much more, but I got addicted to that electric torque, and electricity's cheap as hell, so who cares?
Also, and crucially, I knew I had a whole tank of gasoline waiting in reserve for the drive north to Rancho San Marcos, without the performance reduction you're stuck with in the BMW i3 REx or even the first-generation Volt, apparently (I somehow never drove one myself). I kept waiting for the 2016 Volt to stop feeling energetic once the battery was depleted, but it had no trouble whisking three men and their golf clubs up and over a number of mountain passes — Mountain Mode not required.
Speaking of golf clubs, it's a cinch to fit three bags' worth into the Volt's hatchback trunk if you flip down one of the seatbacks. And the 5-foot-8 rear passenger even remarked that there was decent legroom and headroom, which is not something I remember hearing about the first-generation car.
We were also pleasantly surprised by the Volt's composure on the road. This is a quiet and stable car on the highway, with refinement levels that fully match its price. Takes corners nicely, too. It may look like a Cruze/Civic mashup on the outside — that's the biggest weakness, in my opinion — but the driving character is appropriately upscale.
Here's the question I'm left with: Why aren't more car companies building cars like this? There's a handful of plug-in hybrids out there, but the Volt's combination of electric and gasoline range has been uniquely generous since 2011. I'd like to see other manufacturers go hard at the Volt with comparable capabilities and sexier designs. Seems like there's an opportunity here -- think about Audi A3 Sportback e-Tron shoppers who are turned off by its relatively humble 17-mile ceiling in EV mode.
Am I wrong?
Josh Sadlier, Senior Editor @ 6,303 miles