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Chevrolet Volt: More Range, More MPG, More Fun

September 2015, by Tariq Kamal - Also by this author

2016 Chevrolet Volt.
2016 Chevrolet Volt.

First sold in late 2010 as a 2011-MY, the plug-in hybrid gas/electric Chevrolet Volt has racked up more than 70,000 sales stateside and another 15,000 overseas. Redesigned for 2016, the second-generation Volt aims to continue that momentum with ­improved mileage, range and drivability and an all-new interior and ­exterior.

The Volt is designed to run as a pure electric vehicle until its battery charge falls to 30%, at which point the gasoline engine kicks in to power an electric generator and extend its range. The first-generation model was able to travel 38 miles in pure-electric mode with a total range of 379 miles.

According to General Motors, when engineers began work on the new Volt, they reached out to early adopters to ask how they could improve the vehicle. Their answers, in declining order of importance, were more range, better driving dynamics and “less quirky” styling. Remarkably, the OEM appears to have delivered in all three areas.

Specs for 2016 Chevrolet Volt.
Specs for 2016 Chevrolet Volt.

The new Volt’s range has improved to 53 miles in all-electric driving and 420 miles overall. Those improvements were made possible by refinements to the battery — which features fewer cells but 20% more storage capacity and a 22-pound weight loss — and two small electric motors that replace a single, large unit and now deliver 149 horsepower (hp) and an impressive 294 pound-feet (lb.-ft.) of torque.

The gasoline engine, a 1.5-liter inline four, now delivers 101 hp and an estimated 104 lb.-ft. More importantly, it now runs on regular unleaded fuel, forgoing the premium juice demanded by its predecessor. Taken together, the new powerplants now offer a combined miles per gallon (mpg) equivalent (MPGe) rating of 106, up from 98 in the 2015.

When it debuted at the 2007 Detroit Auto Show, the four-door hatchback’s styling was purposely unique and instantly polarizing. The second-generation sheet metal remains distinctive but will blend in a bit easier. The see-through rear panel and lower-body moldings have been replaced by a more traditional hatch and continuous side panels.

The new cabin features an 8-inch touchscreen, redesigned controls and a smartphone charging pad, as well as uptown options such as leather upholstery, heated seats and steering wheel and automatic parallel parking. The rear bench now features a third seatbelt, but the T-shaped battery’s floor hump reduces the middle seat’s appeal.

The 2016 Chevrolet Volt is available now with a starting MSRP of $35,170.

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