2017 Chevrolet Volt Premier HatchbackPosted on August 19th, 2016
Second-generation model adds style and versatility
By Nina Russin
The Chevrolet Volt is an electric car that doesn’t suffer from range anxiety, thanks to a gasoline engine that kicks in when the charge runs out. The second-generation model that debuted last year has more driving range than the original: up to 53 miles according to the manufacturer. Combined with its thrifty gasoline engine, owners can travel up to 1,000 miles without stopping to refuel.
Engineers shaved weight off both the electric motor and battery pack to make the car more efficient. New exterior styling gives the Volt more presence on the road, while a redesigned interior is more luxurious and offers seating for up to five passengers.
Base price for the upscale Premier model tested is $37,570 excluding the $875 delivery charge. Options on the test car add blind spot monitoring, lane departure alert, rear cross traffic alert, lane keep assist with automatic braking, intelligent headlamps, Chevrolet’s MyLink infotainment system with navigation. Final MSRP is $39,950.
Test drive in Arizona
Over the past week I drove the newest Volt around Phoenix, Arizona’s east valley. I was curious to see how this area’s extreme summer heat would affect battery range and overall performance.
The Volt’s powertrain consists of a lithium-ion battery pack and 1.5-liter gasoline engine rated at 42 mpg, both mated to a continuously variable automatic transmission. The electric motor recharges in 4-1/2 to 5 hours using a 240-volt current. An independent front and torsion beam rear suspension provides a comfortable ride.
The solid rear axle is more compact than an independent setup, enabling engineers to locate the battery pack under the rear seats where it doesn’t interfere with passenger or cargo space. Electric power steering is a necessity on a vehicle that runs on electric power, but has the additional advantages of compact design and light weight.
Regenerative braking recycles energy back to the powertrain to extend the car’s range, even if the charge has run out.
While the heat did shorten the car’s pure electric range, performance was exactly as advertised: a seamless integration of electric power and gasoline engine. In addition to enhancing fuel economy, the electric motor gives the Volt exceptional low-end acceleration. Transition from electric power to the gasoline engine is invisible to the driver, the only indication being a graph on the gauge cluster.
Styling advances inside and out
Styling inside and out represents a huge improvement over the first-generation car, with a sporty exterior that is aerodynamic without the awkward appearance of some competitive products. Fit and finish inside the car is miles ahead of the original, with luxury accouterments and a versatile cargo area that should appeal to buyers with active lifestyles.
In earlier iterations, designers kept the interior Spartan to minimize weight. That is no longer the case, since engineers have been able to refine the powertrain and keep the mass of mechanical components to a minimum.
With the exception of its manually adjustable seats, the Volt is no different than any other premium car, with attractive leather upholstery, a bright center stack screen that’s easy to read in bright daylight and after dark, keyless entry and start and a Bose eight-speaker premium audio system. A mobile WiFi hotspot is a huge asset for those who need to stay connected out of the office.
I found the manual seat adjustments easy to use, with good lower lumbar support for trips lasting over an hour. A tilt and telescoping steering wheel enables smaller drivers to maintain a clear forward view.
Any air conditioning system that cool down a car with a black exterior when it’s 113 degrees out is a winner, and the Volt’s climate control system did so in about ten minutes.
There are a few touchpoints that get extremely hot in the heat, one being the shift lever. Designers might think about using composite materials in future iterations of the car. Ambient lighting throughout the interior makes it easier to see inside the car after dark.
Unlike some hybrid and electric cars, the Volt’s rear seats fold flat. While the interior isn’t as large as some of Chevrolet’s crossovers, cyclists should be able to squeeze a road bike inside with the wheels removed.
Active safety technology for the daily commute
Active safety features such as blind spot monitoring, a rearview camera with cross traffic alert, automatic braking and lane keep assist give drivers extra confidence when they commute through dense, rush hour traffic.
OnStar enables owners to call from the road for turn-by-turn directions, something that can be a lifesaver if the driver is unable to pull over and program the navigation system. OnStar will automatically notify police and emergency medical personnel if the vehicle is involved in a serious collision.
Other standard safety features include front, side, side curtain, driver and front passenger knee airbags, daytime running lamps, antilock brakes, stability control, front and rear park assist and tire pressure monitoring.
Chevrolet’s stylish extended range electric car is on display at dealerships nationwide.
Like: A stylish electric car with a tandem gasoline engine that eliminates the range anxiety of competitive products.
Dislike: Shift lever is too hot to touch in extreme summer heat.
Model: Volt Premier Hatchback
Base price: $37,570
As tested: $39,950
Horsepower (gasoline engine only): 75 Hp @ 5600 rpm
Torque: 249 lbs.-ft.
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: N/A
Bicycle friendly: No
Fuel economy: 106 MPGe (electric motor), 42 mpg (gasoline engine)2017, Green Hybrid 2017, Active Lifestyle Vehicles, auto review, Chevrolet, performance, pricing, standard safety, Volt