Chevy Volt Takes Big Leap Forward with Second-Generation Model
The 2016 Chevy Volt made the media rounds this month, with auto journalists taking the customary “first drives” that precede any major new release. This will mark the first major refresh of the Volt since its debut five years ago. The first deliveries arrive at dealerships this week.
The critics gave mostly glowing reports.
It’s Quicker and More Refined
“The extra torque of the electric drivetrain and 200 pounds less weight show up in slightly quicker performance, aided by a slightly more aggressive throttle tuning to deliver more power when demanded…Under maximum power, the new Volt is noticeably quieter than the old one.” (GreenCarReports)
“The Volt doesn’t protest when pushed, though tire scrubbing could be heard as we challenged the low rolling resistance Michelin tires built for Volt fitment...On the highway, it’s smooth and with plenty of passing power.” (HybridCars.com)
53 Miles of Electric Range. Really.
“The Volt had little difficulty hitting the EPA certified range of 53 miles on a charge, and consciously frugal testers went farther in all-electric mode.” (Detroit Free Press)
“On our drive, we saw 54 miles range alternately pushing it and nursing it by using the paddle on the left backside of the steering wheel for regenerative braking.” (HybridCars.com)
Technology is Abundant (and Easier to Use)
“The Gen 1 Volt was nice inside, but its intention to convey its high-tech nature through the use of a touch-sensitive control panel fell short…The Gen 2 Volt completely rethinks the interior, and the result is perhaps the best mixture of touch-screen tech and dedicated buttons I've yet seen on a new car.” (Cars.com)
“Like that of many new cars, the exterior of the Volt is studded with tiny cameras and proximity sensors. For a few dollars on top of the sticker price, you can add driverless car technology such as alerts for lane departure, rear cross-traffic, and forward collision; automatic braking if you get too close to the car in front of you; and semi-automatic parallel parking: Pull up next to an open space and the car’s computer will back it into place for you.” (Yahoo!)
Seating for Five? Not so fast.
“That fifth-place seat you've heard about in the rear? Yeah, just forget about that. Even putting a child back there for a brief trip would be problematic. It's easier to just accept that the Volt remains a four-seat car, due to its battery design.” (Cars.com)
“Unlike in the first-gen Volt, the battery pack no longer bumps up into the rear seats. Sadly, it still runs through the rear seat leg area, so whoever sits in the middle will have to straddle the bulge the whole time…If you're not trying to go all clown car with the Volt, there is enough head- and legroom in the front and back to fit four adults in the car.” (AutoBlog)
Living Up to the Hype
“It's got pretty much everything a current Volt owner could want in the next generation of the car, and it's easy, comfortable, and very pleasant to drive.” (GreenCarReports)
“Turns out, the 2016 Volt matches all its hype; it's an efficient, no-compromise EV. My on-road experience tells me that there's real potential for the second-gen Volt to be a big hit and I've now got my reasons why I think all of these changes, updates, and tweaks will turn a lot more people onto the Volt.” (AutoBlog)
A New Era for the Volt
The first-generation Volt did a lot of things right, but it was clear from the start that it would be an early adopter’s car, rather than a surprise mainstream best-seller. The first generation Volt was strictly a four-seater. Early models suffered in inclement weather, giving drivers the option of facing losses in electric range or turning the heater down and bundling up inside the car. Moreover, the total package of price, range, gas-only fuel economy, comfort and space failed to fully deliver on the massive "game-changer" hype that Chevy issued in the early days.
Price cuts, software tweaks, battery upgrades and cold weather improvements helped to mitigate these issues over the last four model years, but for 2016, Chevy should put the original Volt’s shortcomings behind it once and for all. The second generation Volt has a new larger battery pack, and delivers an impressive 53 miles in combined all-electric range, and starts for nearly $8,000 less than the 2011 Volt. We'll know better when the first few months of sales numbers are reported, but it appears that Chevy has built a car that could finally make plugging in, and driving on electricity, a mainstream activity.
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