If you’re looking to go green, but aren’t exactly sure if you could make do solely on an electric car, Chevrolet’s Volt could be the right vehicle for you. It offers up to 85 km of all-electric range, nearly matching pure electric cars like the Nissan Leaf and Ford Focus Electric. Yet it also features an on-board gas-powered generator and a sizeable fuel tank to give it a real-world range that’s on par with conventional compact cars.
The Volt’s refined exterior and interior are considerably more conventional than the first-gen car. The rounded-block styling has given way to sleek fastback-like shape. Although it looks like a sedan, the Volt remains a hatchback with a large rear trunk and fold-down rear seats. The high lift-over height remains, though.
On the inside, the Volt takes inspiration from the Chevrolet Malibu with greater use of premium materials, and a more conventional but still stylish dashboard and instrument cluster. The MyLink infotainment system is easy to use and offers Apple CarPlay and now Android Auto connectivity. Also greatly improved are the HVAC controls; conventional buttons take the place of capacitive touch switches. The Volt offers seating for five, but the fifth position is strictly for children only.
For 2017, the Volt adds an optional radar cruise control, which should help reduce the pain for highway commuters. The $1,375 option is bundled together with emergency autonomous braking, bolstering the Volt’s already available forward collision alert. It is worth noting that this application only engages the brakes at low speeds, so driver intervention may be required. Other nifty high-tech gadgets include an automatic park assistant, integrated 4G-LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, and a remote app that keeps tabs on the Volt’s vitals.
Also new to the range is Citron Green, a sort of pale yellow green that’s right in line with the Volt’s “green” nature. If you happened to have watched Disney’s Tomorrowland, it’s the colour of the Volt featured in the film.
At the heart of the Volt is the advanced Voltec drivetrain system that features an 18.4-kWh lithium-ion battery pack and a powerful electric motor. Total output is 149 hp and 294 lb-ft of torque. The latest Volt feels more progressive to drive than its predecessor, with a smoother ride and plenty of available power regardless of city or highway driving. It’s also considerably more refined when the 1.5-litre gasoline generator engine is running.
Although the Volt doesn’t have gears in its transmission, it does have steering wheel mounted paddles; pull back on the paddles and the Volt applies maximum energy regeneration – a neat feature borrowed from the Cadillac ELR. Charging times range from 13 hours from empty on a standard household 110-volt outlet, and can be reduced to as little as 4.5 hours on a 240-volt charger.
Pricing for the 2017 Chevrolet Volt starts at $38,390 for the well-equipped LT, and rises to $42,490 for the Premier.