Read the 2016 Chevrolet Volt's introduction to our long-term fleet.
See all of the 2016 Chevrolet Volt's long-term updates.
What We Got
At the time of its release, the 2016 Chevrolet Volt was the champion of plug-in hybrids. It was in its second generation, and it not only had more electric range than its competitors but also a reasonably gutsy engine to lean on when the juice ran out. Our experience with a long-term 2011 Volt further influenced our decision to buy one.
The new Volt represented a step above the first-gen car in every way. The 18.4-kWh battery pack allowed for more range, and the 1.5-liter engine generated 17 horsepower more than the outgoing four-cylinder while improving efficiency to 42 mpg.
The 2016 Volt was available in two trim levels. We passed on the LT and opted for the top-level Premier, which gave us a lot of standard equipment: a backup camera, an 8-inch touchscreen, keyless entry, automatic climate control, leather upholstery, heated seats and a Bose audio system.
The Premier trim also unlocked additional options. We selected the Driver Confidence 1 package, with blind-spot, lane departure and cross-traffic alerts and the Driver Confidence 2 package, with lane keeping assist, low-speed auto-braking, auto high beams and forward collision warning. We also added navigation, Kinetic Blue paint, an illuminated charge port, a cargo mat and a cargo net.
We wrote a check for $38,114 and the 2016 Chevrolet Volt Premier was ours. Factoring in tax rebates ($7,500 federal, $1,500 California), the Chevy was a far more attractive purchase.
"I decided I'd just climb the mountain grade using the Volt's Normal driving mode and see what happened. Short answer: nothing out of the ordinary. The Volt's gasoline engine fired up unobtrusively and kept the Volt powering up the grade at 70 mph, just like a typical car. There was no real engine racket or lack of oomph. 'Did it without breaking a sweat,' you might say." — Brent Romans, senior editor
"In electric-only mode, accelerator response is immediate with a nice amount of torque right off the line. Acceleration is strong until about 30 mph, then begins to drop off pretty significantly. In this mode, the Volt is quicker to 30 mph compared to running on the gas engine." — Jonathan Elfalan, road test manager
"The benefits to a quick charging time aren't limited to reducing the impact on your personal schedule. While there are public charging stations out there that cost nothing to use, many charge per kilowatt-hour of energy transferred or per hour that the vehicle is plugged in. If you're using a station with per-hour pricing, the higher-capacity onboard chargers mean you'll pay less to charge it." — Cameron Rogers, staff writer
"The Volt hovered at '1 mile remaining' for about 3 miles, then the range ran out at 74.8 miles. This on a car rated at 53 miles of electric range." — Mike Magrath, features editor
"The Volt is decently comfortable (in the back seats). Adults up to 6 feet tall should be OK. There's more legroom than I would have thought, and an elevated seating position provides some useful thigh support. There's also suitable padding on both the door and center armrests.
"A more questionable aspect, however, is headroom. The angle of the rear seatbacks places the occupants' heads directly below the rear hatchback window. This is both good and bad. It's good because it provides a couple extra inches of headroom that wouldn't be available if your head were right underneath the headliner (which is lower). It's bad because (Captain Obvious here) your head is right below the hatchback glass." — Brent Romans
"Then there is the driver's 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 or my own stubbornness for this." — Mike Schmidt, senior manager, vehicle testing operations
"A reader commented that he wouldn't want to stack heavy items such as 50-pound bags of concrete inside the cargo area, but the area is well-supported underneath, so that whatever weight is placed there is surprisingly well-distributed. It doesn't hurt that we also have a rubber cargo mat." — Calvin Kim, road test editor
"Our luggage fit easily (behind the second row of seats) in multiple configurations, thanks to the largely square-shaped cargo floor. Interior dimensions with the second-row seatbacks in place measured approximately 29 inches deep by 38 inches wide at the wheelwells. One limitation within the space is the Volt's sloping rear hatch. We were unable to close the lid with two checked-size bags, though it fit other configurations without issue." — Mike Schmidt
"The Volt has a big hatch/cargo area, but here's one place the car reveals its compact dimensions: rear-seat footwells. There's not enough room for two grocery bags to fit lengthwise. And this is with the seat set for a 5-foot-6-inch driver. You might be able to jam them in there, at the risk of crushing your bread and bruisin' your peaches." — Dan Frio, staff writer
"Why, why, oh why, is there so much faux chrome (faume?) in the Volt's interior? I give this car a lot of credit for being comfortable (P.S. thank you, Chevy, for the extendable sun visors), but on my commute there were moments when the chrome surround of the bowtie on the steering wheel reflected the afternoon sun directly into my eyeballs. If this were my car, there'd be a piece of tape permanently affixed to the center of the steering wheel." — Will Kaufman, associate staff writer
Audio and Technology
"After five minutes I was in business and on the road, where the system worked beautifully. And I mean that literally because the full-width Google Maps and the audio and phone display graphics looked great. That's right: Google Maps. This alone puts Android Auto on a plane above Apple CarPlay, which forces you to use the dreaded Apple Maps. As with CarPlay, pressing and holding the voice control button bypasses the GM voicemail and jumps to Android voice commands, which understand natural language amazingly well." — Dan Edmunds, director of vehicle testing
"One annoyance is related to the handshake between the Volt and the iPhone 6. The Volt has Apple CarPlay, which is fine, but CarPlay doesn't put Waze on the Volt's screen. No big deal since Waze alerts come over the car's speakers if the phone is plugged in.
"But what happens next is where the annoyance sets in. Immediately following a Waze alert (or, I suspect, similar such actions from apps running natively on the phone), the Volt's audio system always switches over to playing your phone's music. Doesn't matter if you were on FM or XM, you're now listening to your phone's music. Constantly switching back to XM after every Waze alert grew particularly aggravating on my long trip. Eventually I simply unplugged my phone. In fairness, this hiccup might be an Apple issue and not a Volt issue." — Jason Kavanagh, senior road test engineer
"When I arrived, Fernando cheerfully gave me the key and had me sign an invoice for the oil change, tire rotation and three recall checks. Dealerships catch a lot of online flak for their service operations, but I got nothing but good vibes from the folks at Hooman. I would look forward to visiting them again." — Josh Sadlier, senior manager, content strategy
"A flat tire may not top the official list of 'Bad Ways to Start Your Morning,' but it's certainly among the more frustrating. Alas, that's how my Wednesday started." — Carlos Lago, senior writer
"I continue to recommend the Volt widely to people who ask me for shopping advice. It's a legit EV with 60-plus miles of electric range, it's an equally legit hybrid once the battery runs down, it's admirably refined on the road, and its compact size makes it a cinch to park. I still wish it looked cooler, and I could do without the ginormous gold bow-tie badges (seriously, I wonder if Chevy's lost some sales because of that dorky emblem). But from an engineering and driving perspective, this car is a home run. Deserves so much more attention than it gets." — Josh Sadlier
"This week marked my first non-EV experience in the Volt. The only noteworthy thing about the experience was how uneventful it was. You hear a little thrum from the engine and maybe a small vibration, but otherwise the Volt behaves almost exactly like it does in EV mode. Pretty remarkable stuff, especially compared to the noisy range-extender engine in the BMW i3." — Carlos Lago
Maintenance & Repairs
GM recommends routine service in 7,500-mile intervals. Under the Chevrolet Complete Care free maintenance plan, our 7,500- and 15,000-mile visits were free. Due to some confusion at 22,500 miles, we paid $45 even though the visit fell within the free period.
As for non-routine maintenance, we had that, too. We bought a new Michelin Premier A/S tire after a flat damaged the original irreparably and the emergency tire goo wouldn't seal. A second flat called for a second tow, stranding us again. But at least it could be patched. A dead 12-volt battery left us hanging for the third time during our test, though we eventually limped it to the dealer for replacement. A windshield chip repair and traffic accident rounded out the last of our extracurricular excitement.
Recalls were resolved in a timely manner, and in our case, each was performed during routine service. In order of repair:
Recall 38240: Confirm seat track locking pin is intact.
Recall 27660: Update power inverter module software.
Recall 40240: Inspect the fuel feed pipe for leaks.
Recall 16055: Reprogram the hybrid computer.
Recall 17058: Reprogram power inverter module.
Recall 39570: Recalibrate front view camera.
Recall P0442: Correct emission pipe contacting A/C hose.
Fuel Economy and Resale Value
Observed Fuel Economy:
According to EPA estimates, the Volt's gas engine is rated at 42 mpg. We averaged a bit less — 37.3 mpg — while covering almost 29,000 miles. The EPA estimates the Volt's all-electric range at 53 miles. At 51.8 miles, we came pretty close, and twice we managed to drive the Volt more than 70 miles on a full charge.
Resale and Depreciation:
We purchased the Volt for $38,114 two years ago. After 28,992 miles, the Edmunds TMV Calculator valued the car at $19,763. We headed to CarMax and accepted its offer of $20,000. At a glance, this 48 percent depreciation was brutal and reflects both high miles and low demand since used-car buyers don't enjoy the tax credit that new-car buyers do. So let's factor in the rebates.
If we subtract the $7,500 federal and $1,500 California rebates from the price, our Volt cost us $29,114. At this price, depreciation was 31 percent. Our 2011 Volt depreciated just 14 percent, although it had half as many miles at the time of sale.
Free scheduled maintenance. Max electric-only range upward of 70 miles. Gasoline-only fuel economy around 40 mpg. Innovative tech. Available federal and state tax rebates.
Lacked long-distance seat comfort. Several recall campaigns. CarPlay and Android Auto hiccups. No spare tire.
If we look past the series of recalls, seat discomfort and occasional phone integration glitches, this Volt is arguably the best plug-in hybrid on the road.
|Total Body Repair Costs:||$7123.24|
|Total Routine Maintenance Costs:||$45.70 (over 23 months)|
|Additional Maintenance Costs:||$354.02|
|Warranty Repairs:||Replace 12-volt battery; recalls: 38240, 27660, 40240, 16055, 17058, 39570, P0442|
|Non-Warranty Repairs:||Replace tire; patch tire; repair windshield chip|
|Scheduled Dealer Visits:||3|
|Unscheduled Dealer Visits:||3|
|Days Out of Service:||37|
|Breakdowns Stranding Driver:||3|
|EPA Fuel Economy Rating:||42 mpg|
|Average Lifetime Fuel Economy:||37.3 mpg|
|EPA Electric Range Rating:||53 miles|
|Average Electric Range:||51.8 miles|
|Best Electric Range:||74.8 miles|
|True Market Value at service End:||$19,763 (private-party sale)|
|What It Sold For:||$20,000|
|Depreciation, ignoring tax credits:||$18,114 (48% of paid price)|
|Depreciation, including tax credits:||$9,114 (31% of price, less tax credit)|
|Final Odometer Reading:||28,992 miles|
Edmunds purchased this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.