by Michael Massey, Vehicle Testing Assistant
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 September 22, 2016
Most redesigned vehicles these days are incrementally improved. A few more horsepower here, an inch more legroom there, and perhaps a "boldly styled!" dashboard to top it all off.
But the 2016 Chevrolet Volt? Just about everything is dramatically better compared to the first-generation model.
Let's take a look.
by Ed Hellwig, Executive Editor on July 29, 2016
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.
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 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.
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.
Nope. It took five hours.
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 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 Kelly Hellwig, Managing Editor on April 13, 2016
by Ed Hellwig, Executive Editor on March 30, 2016
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.
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.
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.
At first, freeway survival was my sole objective.
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 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 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.
Your move, Magrath.
by James Riswick, New & Used Car Editor on December 23, 2015
"That's one way to brake! Two ways to brake! That's, three! Three ways to brake, mwah hah hah hah!"
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.
by Mike Magrath, Features Editor on December 11, 2015
If you don't think General Motors has cutting-edge technology, you haven't been paying attention.
Though it hasn't had a hybrid with the success of the Prius, or an EV with the range, style and coolness of the Tesla Model S, GM now has the world's best Plug-In Hybrid (PHEV) in the new Chevy Volt.