Scoping out the Chevy Volt
The 2016 Chevy Volt marks the second generation for the electric-hybrid car, and is promised to be more satisfying to drive than before. Which is impressive, because as far as electric-hybrid cars go the first generation is already said to be pretty satisfying. With the combination of stunning design and balance of power and efficiency, the 2016 Volt was voted the 2016 Green car of the Year by Green Car Journal. With the addition of a new and improved powertrain, design (inside and out), and efficiency, it only makes sense that the second generation Volt is going to be better than the first. Chevy dealers in KY can expect to see an increase in sales with the way this fresh model looks and performs.
The overall dimensions of the Volt have changed with the second generation. It has become 3.3 inches longer, the wheelbase has increased by 0.4 inches, and the roof has become 0.2 inches lower. While these dimensional changes are negligible, the change in curb weight is significant. The nemesis of efficiency is curb weight, and the fact that the curb weight has dropped by 200 pounds shows that the engineers recognized that.
The Volt’s fresh redesign is a welcoming addition, and the result is a Volt that looks more rounded and sculpted in the front. It gives the Volt an appearance of being jacked up in the rear, and no longer looks like the other electric cars out there. This more conventional more akin to a regular gas powered sedan, and is sure to attract some attention. Especially by those who wanted an electric car but avoided them because of their outlandish designs. Overall, it’s a much more handsome and sleek design than the first generation.
Under this new design, the Volt is still riding on GM’s front-drive Delta II chassis. Even though it’s still sitting on the same chassis, the engineers were able to make the frame structure more stiff. This provides a more stable and secure feeling to the driver when going down the road, which is a nice plus for an electric car. The way the engineers were able to provide a stiffer structure is by dropping the rubber mounts that isolated the front subframe cradle.
Even though it feels more solid and secure when going down the road, there is nothing to absorb the noise without those rubber mounts. The new Volt now rides a little louder than before, but a more stable feeling electric car is a fair trade off.
Inside, the Volt has gotten just as much of a redesign, particularly the touchscreen display. The first generation’s touchscreen is gone, and has been replaced with a new eight-inch informational one. Accompanying this new touchscreen is an array of practically arranged dials, switches, and knobs that make utilizing the features in the cab effortless and more intuitive than before.
The finishing inside the cab matches the exterior design: more rich but conventional at the same time. The primary material inside is leather, accompanied by good-quality plastic to fill in the gaps. Chrome accent runs playfully throughout the dashboard, providing an accent that demands attention. As far as seating goes, Chevy managed to squeeze a third “seat” between the two in the back. Something that will warrant very limited use, and make those who get stuck in the center feel like they are being punished. Other than that minor setback, it’s a well-done and much needed redesign overall.
Performance and Powertrains
The 2016 Volt also has a new engine: one of GM’s new 1.5-liter four-cylinder direct injection aluminum block engine. The previous 1.4-liter with 84 horsepower had a better compression ratio, but Chevy decided to go with their new 1.5 aluminum anyway. This is because, much like the frame, the new engine is lighter, 100 pounds lighter to be exact. Even though it’s lighter, it still pushes out 101 horsepower total, 17 more horsepower than the previous model. For Volt users, this is a win-win situation. Consumers who drive the Volt primarily use the electric aspect for transportation, obviously, and many consider the engine to just be dead weight. By providing a more lightweight engine Chevy eliminated both of those problems, while adding to fuel-efficiency.
The Volt kept to its first generation roots though, and still uses two electric motors. This time though, there is not a shred of comparison between the first and second generation Voltec powertrains. The first generation used a big and small motor, whereas the second generation uses two that are relatively the same size. This allows these two motors work in unison more efficiently to to optimize and conserve energy, all while providing more power and torque. The combined electrical horsepower sits at 149, and the torque is 294 pound-feet, another upgrade from the last generation.
This Volt is quicker than its predecessor, and now accelerates from 0 to 60 in 8.4 seconds. It now gets 41 mpg running on the gas engine and 102 MPGe while using just the electric motor.
Things are looking good for the battery; it’s dropped 31 pounds and gone up in energy capacity. Engineers knew that consumers preferred using the electric motors in the Volt, so they focused on creating a new regenerative feature. The “Regen on Demand” allows the driver to engage regenerative braking using a paddle behind the steering wheel. When this mode is engaged, the driver will lift off the gas pedal and the Volt will slow itself down. Allowing you to essentially operate it with one pedal under normal conditions, and letting the Volt capture its own momentum to recharge the battery.
Thanks to the new battery capacity, the Volt is now able to drive 53 miles on a full charge without using the gas, and when the battery runs low on energy the Volt will switch over to using the gas engine. At this point, it engages a gas-powered generator that replenishes the battery as you drive. With a full charge and a full tank, the volt now gets a combined range of 420 miles.
The Volt is also sporting some impressive safety features for an electric-hybrid car. It features 10 airbags and a sensor that detects 360-degrees, allowing the proper airbags to inflate depending on the severity of the crash. Some other cutting-edge technology available is lane keep assist, rear cross traffic alert, and forward safety awareness. All designed to help keep you as aware as possible while cruising down the road. Like most Chevy products, the Volt is also accompanied by OnStar and automatic crash response. Allowing OnStar to contact you or send someone when the Volt’s sensors detect a safety feature has been engaged.
Not Many Downsides
This is one of the few model upgrades that doesn’t have a downside to it, everything has either been upgraded or redesigned for the better. Certainly the increase in powertrains and performance is going to be the main selling point of this electric-hybrid car, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the new look plays an important factor as well. The Volt also sports a new durable and lightweight frame, along with cutting-edge safety technology designed to keep you as safe as possible. Sure, it might be a little bit louder in the cab than the first generation, but I’d rather have a louder drive accompanied by a more protective frame than a quiet ride and weak frame.