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Published on March 29th, 2016 | by Nicolas Zart

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2016 Volt Is A Clear Winner! (CleanTechnica Video Review)

March 29th, 2016 by  


You might have heard the raving accolades the press has given the new 2016 Volt. CleanTechnica confirms this after a week-long test drive. The 2016 Chevrolet Volt is a clear winner in our book. However, a word of warning: much like any Apple products, if you own a previous Volt, the new Volt will give you serious Volt envy and will make your original Volt feel… quaint. All in all, we’re giving the 2016 Volt 5 stars out of 5.

2016, Chevrolet Volt Class: PHEV

Curb Weight: 3,543 lbs.

Base Model: $33,995
Lease: $357/m
As Tested: $37,520
Drivetrain: 1.5L Gas. Engine, 101HP, 18.4-kWh lit-ion battery pack, Combined 149HP, 294 lb-ft Torque City/Highway/Combined Range: 43/42 Highway Hybrid mode, we got 80 MPG.
Engine/Electric Motor: 111 hp/81.696 KW, 147 lb-ft/199 NM MSRP as tested: $ 37,520

2016 Chevrolet Volt Test Drive

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2016 Chevy Volt Overview

What hasn’t been said about the new Chevy Volt? Perhaps, if you only drove the first generation, you will be very surprised and very impressed with the 2016 Volt. Not only is its Voltec platform updated, with 8% more battery capacity, but also the engine dropped about 140 pounds while boasting more horsepower. The exterior has been completely redesigned, as well as the stunning interior. Still, the best part about it is that it feels good, and drives very well.

The 2016 Volt will not make you feel awkward next to a European sedan. We drove the Volt through Los Angeles traffic in complete serenity, and all the way up to San Luis Obispo, cruising on beautiful scenic nature roads on nothing more than electricity. Even the grazing cows enjoyed our presence, and some even came up for a closer inspection of this peaceful vehicle. The car was simply fun to to live with, with a touch of luxury and futuristic highlights not previously seen, nor felt, but certainly not “over-doing it.”

In a few words, the 2016 Chevrolet Volt is a rolling computer platform and owns the plug-in hybrid (PHEV) market.

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2016 Chevy Volt Competition

Finding the exact competition to a PHEV is always a little difficult. For instance, as much as we enjoyed the Ford Fusion Energi, which comes in at $33,000, it only has a 7.6 kWh battery, which only gives it a 20 to 22 mile range on electricity. Also, most of its trunk is taken away by the battery pack. The Hyundai Sonata PHEV starts at $34,600 with a bigger battery pack, 9.8 kWh, and longer range, 27 miles, but that doesn’t compare to the Volt.

The Honda Accord PHEV impressed us a lot the first time we drove it in 2013, but its short 13 miles of electric range falls drastically short of the Volt’s. Finally, we might consider the Toyota Prius PHEV as competition, but it’s very limited 11 miles of electric range makes it feel more like a conversion than a bona fide PHEV. The new version is due to be announced today, March 23rd, by the way.

The Audi A3 Sportback e-tron might be a closer match with its 8.8 kWh pack. Although, its electric range is still under half of the Volt’s, at just 16 miles. The ride level, however, comes closer. The A8 e-tron would also be a contender, but at $95,000, that is way out of the Volt price point.

We deliberately left out the Cadillac Volt, since it rests on an older Voltec platform, and sources are starting to hint at a version based on the newer Voltec 2.0. Also considered: Volvo V60 PHEV, but we don’t have as much personal experience with it.

2016 Chevy Volt Strong Points

As we mentioned earlier, the new Volt is a complete redesign, and a car you need to study a little before jumping in and driving it. We usually like driving our test cars without studying them too much to see if the vehicle is intuitive. The Volt is intuitive, but it packs a lot of technology you might want to familiarize yourself with first. And after all, this is GM at its best engineering, something we might not have seen for a very long time.

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The interior feels good – real good. It shows the right balance between luxury and futuristic touches, with a definite quality improvement. The ride feels solid, with no heavy body rolls.

Accelerations are frank and will have those front wheels spinning in no time. You will surprise a few “sports” sedan with the new Volt. Another nicety is that there is no need for high octane, as the 2016 Volt takes in 87 grade. It was a pleasure to drive in traffic due to its inherent silent modes, and equally comfortable on longer highway trips.

2016 Chevy Volt Weaknesses

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There isn’t really much to fault with the new 2016 Volt. We might wish for a beefier onboard charger than the 3.6 kWh. We did find some light reflections around noon on the plunging front windshield. The brushed chrome, although eye pleasing, can also reflect sunlight.

Test Period Length and Limitations: We had the car for eight days and drove it under various conditions. 25% highways, 50% city, and 25% cruising between cities on moderate speed roads. We drove a fun 800 fun miles with it.

Conclusions

If you ever had doubts that GM could produce a car that can look good, feel great to drive, that can also show the company has a complete handle on electronics, PHEV drivetrain, and can produce an elegant interior that is well built, the 2016 Chevrolet Volt is that car you need to check out. This shows GM finally owns the PHEV market with what could arguably be the best PHEV car out there. We give it a 5 plugs out of five and feel this is the company’s best work in many decades. Congratulations GM on the 2016 Volt — it is now a worthy global contender.


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About the Author

Nicolas was born and raised around classic cars of the 1920s, but it wasn't until he drove an AC Propulsion eBox and a Tesla Roadster that the light went on. Eager to spread the news of that full torque, he was invited to write for various CleanTech outlets in 2007. Since then, his passion led to cover renewable energy, test drives, podcasts, shoot pictures, and film for various international outlets both in print and online. Nicolas offers an in-depth look at the e-mobility world through interviews and the many contacts he has forged in those industries. He particularly enjoys communicating about the new e-mobility technology and what it means to us as a society. Today he focuses most of his writing effort on CleanTechnica, a global online outlet that covers the world of electric vehicles and renewable energy. His favorite tagline is: "There are more solutions than obstacles."



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