The 2017 Chevrolet Volt offers unique plug-in hybrid functionality in a sleek, high-tech package. We like how it can go more than 50 miles on all-electric power before switching to gas. If you want real EV functionality without the usual range-based limitations, it's a home run.
This year marks the second year of production for the redesigned Volt, but last year's model was available only on a limited basis. As such, many shoppers may not be aware of the changes that the second-generation Volt incorporates. There's a new body structure, for one thing, along with more conventional styling inside and out that departs from the old Volt's concept-car vibe. Under the surface, a revised plug-in hybrid powertrain delivers a remarkable boost in all-electric range (the original Volt could only go about 38 miles). Moreover, the 2017 Volt's quieter 1.5-liter gasoline engine/generator no longer requires premium fuel, and it achieves an EPA rating of 42 mpg combined once the battery pack is depleted.
Fundamentally, though, the new Volt's appeal remains the same. Most plug-in hybrids offer roughly 10 to 20 miles of electric range, but this Chevrolet has enough battery power to keep you away from the gas station for weeks at a time, if not months. On the other hand, there's none of the range anxiety that plagues purely electric cars because the gasoline engine is always ready to kick in and propel you more than 400 miles between fill-ups. During the week, you can commute in your Volt and never use a drop of gas. And should a weekend getaway come up, you can simply rely on hybrid gas-electric power, with no need to stop and find a charging station.
- More all-electric range than most plug-in hybrids
- Plenty of advanced tech and safety features are available
- Nimble and easy to drive in the city
- Rear seat and luggage area aren't as roomy as some rivals'
- Interior material quality is disappointing
- Tricky parking since the nose of the car is hard to see