2016 Chevy Volt


The current Volt has an aesthetic that wouldn’t be out of place in a Japanese carmaker’s showroom. It has a wide stance and rounded lines. Reviewers point to a resemblance to both the Chevy Cruze and Honda Civic.

The swoop of the roofline between the A and C pillars is smooth and wave-like. The Volt is most distinctive when viewed from the front, where its restyled split faux-grille now sits lower to the ground on top of active shutters that give the fascia the expression of an open-mouthed sneer. Inside, the 2018 Volt receives a generous helping of refinement. The center console is slim, contoured, and easy to use.


The 2018 Volt now uses an efficient 1.5-liter gasoline engine mostly to power the car while it’s operating as a hybrid, rather than to charge its battery. A new twin planetary gearset allows for versatility in how the engine, motors, battery, and regenerative brakes are optimized to meet different driving demands. Maximizing efficiency is the name of the game.

2016 Chevy Volt

The car’s impressive acceleration highlights another critical distinction between the Volt and any other hybrid using a gas engine. Certainly during its first 53 miles—but even beyond that—there is no clunky switching back forth between gas and electric systems. Step into the accelerator as hard as you like, and you’ll hear not a peep from the engine. The 2018 edition is quieter than ever before thanks to its newly designed more efficient engine.

2016 Chevy Volt

The Volt’s technical arrangement is called a “series” plug-in hybrid. It’s fundamentally different from a “parallel” hybrid, like the Toyota Prius, in which the car’s computer frequently switches between the engine and a much smaller battery pack.

Technical terminology and marketing lingo aside, the Volt is characterized as a plug-in hybrid. As such, it sets the gold standard for the segment because few other plug-in hybrids come close to offering 50-plus miles of efficient all-electric driving before the gas engine comes on.

Where efficiency demands often cause hybrids and EVs to respond like they’ve just driven into soft packed sand as soon as you remove your foot from the accelerator, the Volt’s disengagement is smoother. For those looking to maximize their regenerative capabilities, Chevy has added a paddle on the back of the steering wheel that manually increases regenerative braking whenever a driver wants it.

The 2018 Volt features handling that is more engaging than the original model. You will not mistake this car for a German performance coupe, but in highway driving, you will be pleased with a decision to drive the Volt over, say, the lackluster Prius.

Efficiency & Range

The Chevy Volt operates entirely as an electric car for its first 53 or so miles after receiving a full charge. It burns no gasoline during those miles, drawing energy from a lightweight lithium-ion battery pack containing 18.4 kilowatt-hours of energy. Current from that pack powers two motors (87-kW and 48-kW) that drive the Volt’s front wheels.

After 53 miles, a 1.4-liter gas-powered engine takes over most of the workload, adding 367 miles of total range when the 8.9-gallon gas tank is full. Owners of earlier models regularly reported going well beyond its official range with careful driving techniques. According to Chevy, Volt drivers average just 42 miles per day of driving, meaning that the vast majority driving days in the 2018 edition are likely to fall well within the car’s 53-mile range. Chevy now offers drivers more power to extend their electric miles with its new paddle-activated regenerative brake control. Hypermilers had previously used the car’s shifter to rapidly alternate between low-energy and normal driving mode to increase benefits of the regenerative braking. Drivers can now use a paddle located behind the steering wheel to decelerate quickly and efficiently where it makes sense, but preserve the car’s limited coasting capability when they prefer it.

Official EPA numbers for the 2018 Volt peg the “miles per gallon equivalent” while driving on electricity at 106 MPGe. When the gas engine comes on board—and the car turns into a regular hybrid—the rating is 43 mpg in the city and 42 mpg on the highway (for a combined average of 42 mpg). The main metric in terms of efficiency, for many drivers, is the length of time between visits to a gas station—which is commonly counted in months. Chevrolet reports that Volt drivers average about 1,000 miles between fill-ups.

2016 Chevy Volt


The idea that EV owners worry about limited driving range—frequently referred to as “range anxiety”—is flipped on its head when it comes to the Chevy Volt. With a total range of 420 miles and the ability to visit the pumps to fill up its 8.9-gallon tank, Volt drivers never really have to worry about running out of range. Instead, the concern—you might even call it a game—is at all costs avoiding using a single drop of gasoline. This has been given the tongue-in-cheek term: “gas anxiety.”

Data collected by the Department of Energy suggests Volt owners plug-in 1.5 times a day compared to 1.1 times a day for the Nissan LEAF, and for a good reason. The key to going weeks or months between visits to the gas station is to charge wherever an outlet or charge station is available—whenever you have the opportunity, regardless of whether you expect to use the juice right away or not.

Every Volt comes standard with a portable charge cord that can easily plug into a standard 120v outlet. In this manner, the 18.4-kWh battery pack can fully charge in about 13 hours according to GM. This method, sometimes called “trickle” charging, only adds about three to four miles in an hour. In many cases, a couple of hours of charging via 120v is the difference between having to use any gasoline or remaining fully electric all the way to your destination.

Fortunately, the Volt uses the standard J1772 connection found in all U.S.-based home and public EV chargers that supply 240-volt, Level 2 power. This bumps up the number of electric miles you can replenish to 11 to 13 miles in an hour. Charge times are now slightly faster thanks to the Volt’s new 3.6-kW onboard charger, which replaces a 3.3-kW charger in previous models.

Passenger & Cargo Room

The 2018 Volt’s battery pack is now slim enough for Chevy to offer a third seatbelt in back and technically call the car a five-seater. But it still makes sitting in the middle of the car’s rear bench seats unpleasant for an adult. If you can last a short drive to a local restaurant as the fifth passenger, then more power to you. Practically speaking, the Volt remains a four-seater—though the fifth seat does come in handy for car seats and small children.

The Volt’s four grown-up seats are all supportive and reasonably comfortable for a car of this size, though rear headroom is limited. Leather and heated seats are both available, though power seating is not. A wireless phone charger in the center console is also optional.

2016 Chevy Volt

The scant 10.6 cubic feet of cargo hatch space behind the rear seats beats most sedans in this class but fails to measure up to other hatchbacks. Storage can be easily expanded by folding down the Volt’s 60/40 split rear seats. The snug interior design and thick roof pillars create a significant visibility problem for some drivers. This has improved somewhat in the 2018 model—and a standard rear camera certainly helps things—but it remains an important consideration. Shoppers are strongly encouraged to study blind spots during a test drive, to make sure visibility is not compromised beyond the limits of your size and comfort level.


The Chevrolet Volt qualifies for Top Safety Pick+, the highest award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The Volt earns across-the-board good ratings for crashworthiness. Its performance in the small overlap front test was an improvement over that of the previous generation of Volt, which earned an acceptable rating. The new version had less intrusion into the occupant space. The small car earns a superior rating for front crash prevention when equipped with optional Front Automatic Braking and Low-Speed Front Automatic Braking. In IIHS track tests, the vehicle avoided collisions at 12 mph and 25 mph. The systems also include forward collision warning that meets National Highway Traffic Safety Administration criteria.

Optional features include parallel and perpendicular parking assist, forward collision and lane departure warning systems, and automatic braking.


The 2018 Chevy Volt starts at $33,200—putting it within reach of more Americans than ever before. And that’s before taking into account any federal or state incentives. For example, the combined $7,500 federal tax credit and $1,500 rebate for plug-in owners in California drops the effective price of a new Volt to around $24,000. We encourage buyers to shop around for attractive lease deals.

Comparisons of Similar Cars

The Volt gets bonus points for the sportiness of its drive compared to more sedate plug-in hybrids—that have gas engines that fire up too easily—and smaller pure electric cars, that feel less substantial on the road compared to the Volt.

Competing plug-in hybrid models such as the Prius Prime plug-in, and Energi versions of the Ford C-Max and Fusion, don't have as much all-EV range. The new 2018 Honda Clarity Plug-in Hybrid comes close with 48 miles of all-electric range. The Clarity is a larger sedan, but availability is still limited (and reviews are still coming in.)

With an electric range in the mid-20s, the new Hyundai Ioniq and Kia Niro are worth a look. Also, the Sonata Plug-in also boasts a bigger engine and almost 35 percent more horsepower than the Volt and a much larger cargo area but still loses out in torque, range, and price.

The A3 Audi E-Tron sports a range of 20 to 30 miles, 203 combined horsepower and a top speed of 138 mph—much faster than the Volt’s 98 mph ceiling. It also brings luxury appeal and a certain sexiness that aren’t present in a domestic more affordable plug-ins aiming to build a mainstream audience. At $33,700 after federal incentives, the A3 starts significantly higher than the Volt, but some luxury buyers could find the design and driving dynamics of the Audi worth the extra cost (even at the expense of all-electric range).

It’s important to remember that comparing the starting price of the Volt to those of other plug-in hybrids is a misleading exercise. Because of its comparably massive battery size, the Volt is eligible for the full $7,500 federal plug-in tax credit. Its competitors with smaller batteries are eligible for incentives that top out at $4,200.

Purchase Process

The Volt is available at dealerships throughout the United States.The 2018 Volt benefits from the support of sales staffs that already have several years of plug-in vehicle experience under their belts. Electric vehicle buyers have complained for years about undertrained salespeople with little interest in selling plug-ins, but you’re less likely to encounter that at a Chevy dealership.

Chevrolet Volt specifications

Availability: Discntd.
Base MSRP: $33200
Est. tax credit: $7500
Technology: Plug-in Hybrid
Body type: Sedan
Seats: 5
EPA Range: 53 miles electric + gasoline
Battery size: 18 kWh
Charging rate: 3.6 kW

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