2016 Chevrolet Volt: Quiet As a...Well, It's Just Quiet
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.
But it's still noticeable how the highway and engine hum is nicely damped and attenuated in the new Volt. When we decibel-tested our former first-generation long-term 2011 Volt, it generated 64.5 dB at a 70 mph cruise and 47.9 at idle. Not bad numbers, but more than you'd like from a car of the future. By comparison, a BMW 528i of the same vintage made 62.7 dB at 70 mph and 41.4 at idle. An Audi A4: 63.7 at cruise, 40.4 at idle.
The first Volt's grainy tractor engine sound, and the boisterous way it announced its handover from the electric motor, was one of our main gripes about it. We haven't track-tested our new Volt yet to compare, but my front seat impression is that Chevy took the last Volt's NVH seriously, either layering more sound deadening on the panels, refining engine sound (especially at handover from the electric motor), dialing out some frequencies in the suspension, or some other resonant voodoo.
Whatever they did worked. The Volt is a nice place to hear yourself think.
Dan Frio, Automotive Editor