Base Price: $33,170
Price as Tested: $40,225
Engine: 111 kW electric drive with 1.5-liter four-cylinder
Mileage: 106 MPG equivalent
Curb Weight: 3,543
While Tesla is making waves with its “affordable” $35,000 all-electric Model 3 that’s set to ship at the end of 2017, there’s one electric car for the masses that’s highly underrated: The Chevrolet Volt. With an all-electric range of about 53 miles and a 1.5-liter gasoline engine that kicks in after that, the all-new 2016 Chevy Volt gets an impressive 106 MPG equivalent. Starting at $33,000 for the LT trim and $37,000 for the Premier Trim, Volt is a powerful, good looking electric car with a decent price.
The 53 mile estimate on all electric power was pretty dead on, providing more than enough juice for my 30-mile round trip daily commute with some leftover for after-work errands. When plugged into a 240-volt plug – the same kind that runs your electric dryer – it took about 5 to 6 hours to complete a full charge from a fully depleted battery. A typical household 120-volt outlet will nearly triple the charge time. And while 53 miles doesn’t seem like much, remember the Volt is also equipped with a gasoline-electric hybrid engine that kicks in when there is no long enough battery to power the car. This is extremely important because depending on where you live, independent charging stations can be few and far between.
The 2016 Chevrolet Volt’s technology and range advancements are complemented by a design that blends sculpted, muscular proportions with aerodynamic efficiency, and an all-new interior with seating for five and improved functionality. Volt’s flowing, dynamic shape is inspired by the toned physiques of athletes and even the natural shapes of wind-swept sands, with carved body sides and fenders that blend into the hood. The front-end appearance retains the iconic Volt identity, with bright upper and lower grille pads. New features, including active grille shutters, help balance design with efficiency.
But the Volt is more than a midsize commuter. It’s loaded with luxuries that make it a real solid competitor for Tesla. For starters, new smartphone projection technology on Volt’s MyLink system displays content from Apple iPhone 5 or later models on the multicolor screen through the Apple CarPlay feature. Supported apps for the system include phone, messages, maps, music and compatible third-party apps. Plus Volt is already on the road. The eight-inch full color display is a leader in the midsize segment and offers smart, simple controls for every function of the car. And the rear-view camera offers one of the crisper images in the entire segment. The next-generation Volt makes it easier for owners to confirm their Volt is charging and gauge charge status. The new status system features a specially designed tone that indicates when charging has begun, with additional tones for delayed charging. It will even indicate if the charge port door was left open after unplugging but before entering the vehicle. Chevy has developed a smart phone app that will help drivers stay in constant communication with their car as well.
The base model comes well equipped, but the Premier trim with $1,000 worth of driver confidence packages, which add blind-spot monitoring, cross-traffic alert, lane keep assist, automatic braking at low speeds and forward collision alert give the feel of a much more luxurious sedan. These confidence packages plus an additional $395 for the Kenetic Blue Metallic paint brought the test Volt’s MSRP to $40,225.