Chevrolet redesigned the ingenious Volt in 2016, but because of a limited roll-out, many shoppers may have missed the updates to the Volt. The changes are significant: There's a new body structure with more conventional styling, and, more importantly, an updated powertrain that provides up to 53 miles of electric-only range, which is 15 miles more than the original. The Volt's ace in the hole is a 1.5-liter gasoline engine that kicks in once the battery runs low, allowing the Volt to drive up to 400 miles, a range that matches a regular gasoline-powered car.
What hasn't changed is the Volt's basic appeal. Most plug-in hybrids give you 10 to 20 miles of electric-only range before they require either a recharge or gasoline-fed assistance. The Chevrolet Volt's 53-mile battery is sized to cope with the average commute, which means that owners may go weeks, if not months, without visiting a gas station. Functionally, it works like a pure battery-powered car, but the presence of the gasoline engine eliminates range anxiety. The gas engine starts up automatically when the battery gets low, and if there are no charging stations to be found, it operates like any other hybrid.
We like the new Volt's interior. It's more conventional than the original Volt, and feels less like a concept car (or an Apple prototype). The front seats are comfortable, though we wish power adjustment was an option. The backseat is split by the T-shaped battery pack, and while the cushions are shaped for three passengers, it really only accommodates two in comfort (and even then, we use that term loosely). Cargo space is 10.6 cubic feet, which is skimpy by hatchback standards, but the backseat folds down to accommodate larger items.
The Volt's plug-in hybrid powertrain uses a pair of electric motors that develop 149 horsepower, along with a 1.5-liter gasoline engine. The Volt is designed to drive its full range with power coming from the 18.4-kWh lithium-ion battery. When the charge runs low, the gasoline engine starts up and turns a generator to power the motors, though it also provides direct mechanical assistance under certain driving conditions. Recharging takes about 4.5 hours from a 240-volt EV charger and 13 hours from a 120-volt outlet. The battery also can be charged by the engine, though this has a deleterious effect on fuel economy. The EPA rates the Volt at 106 miles per gallon equivalent on battery power and 42 mpg (43 city/42 highway) in gas-powered hybrid mode. Official electric-only range is 53 miles, but Edmunds achieved 62 miles of all-electric driving during our road test of a 2016 Volt. Another improvement in the new model: It uses regular (87 octane) fuel, whereas the outgoing Volt required premium.
Chevrolet offers the Volt in LT and Premier trims. Both are nicely equipped, with the Premier adding some luxury features. Edmunds can help find the perfect 2017 Chevrolet Volt for you.