2016 Chevrolet Volt Review +VIDEO
2016 CHEVROLET VOLT IN AVILA BEACH
A Shunpiker Travel Review
Having your cake and eating it too
By Steve Purdy
The Auto Channel
We’re driving a new, second-generation Chevy Volt, not the most ideal car for this week of exploration, particularly considering our resort has no place to plug in this “extended range” electric car. Fortunately, it gets great gas mileage even when you’re running it as a conventional car.
For those unfamiliar with this automotive genre let me explain.
And, it’s a good thing we have an extended range. We picked our Volt up near LAX and headed north for about 200 miles to get to Avila Beach, first along the 405 then the 101. The midday LA traffic coagulated a few times but less than expected. In a bit more than three hours we were watching the crashing waves on the beach from our fifth floor balcony at a lovely older resort in Avila Beach.
Otherwise it was a most comfortable size. Up front we were quite comfortable in the nicely finished cabin. The mostly intuitive controls caused little annoyance as we programmed our destination into the navigation system and got under way onto the northbound Santa Monica Freeway passing the Getty Museum in short order.
Our test car has the optional Driver Confidence Package that includes what they call “Lane Keep Assist,” a feature that tries to push you back into your own lane if you wander near the lane markings or try to change lanes without a turn signal. It is rather disconcerting at first and it includes an audible signal as well under some circumstances. The package also has the “Forward Collision Alert” that beeps frantically if you are closing too fast on a vehicle in front, and automatic braking that will bring you to a stop from low speeds if you don’t do it yourself. We accessed the first two of these systems a few times in that awful LA traffic and got used to them fairly quickly.
The Volt was up to the task of plying that challenging road with responsive suspension, tight steering and gobs of torque. This generation II Volt gets lighter and more efficient with a new gasoline range extender (named one of Ward’s 10 Best Engines), new architecture based on the Chevy Cruze, a more energy-dense lithium-ion battery pack and entirely redesigned electric power system. Electric range is up to 53 miles from barely 40 on the previous model. Using just the range extending gasoline engine to make electricity without plugging in, the EPA says to expect around 42 mpg, and that is exactly what we achieved. The EPA’s MPGe (an arbitrary measure of overall efficiency) is 106. That is only relevant in comparison to other electrics.
While watching the sunset from a sandy bank just above the sedentary seals (they call this a “rookery”) we photographed the car. This new Volt benefits visually from a major restyling. The exterior is much improved with crisp, coupe-like styling that makes it look more conventional. Inside it looks and feels a good measure upscale with nicer interior trim, redesigned dash, better seats, a third seating position in the rear (on some models) and more technology throughout.
Our loaded Volt “Premier” shows a beginning price of $37,520. The entry-level car begins at $33,170. The Premier trim level gets you lots of extra content including leather seating, Bose premium audio, heated and folding outside mirrors, heated front seats, and availability of the driver assistance options. With a plethora of those options our tester shows $40,245 on the sticker’s bottom line. Federal and sometimes state incentives apply to the purchase but usually in the form of tax credits, which means you’ll pay the whole price up front and hope to get the subsidy back when you file your tax return the following year.
So, can we have our cake and eat it too? Yes, by all means.
If you drive less than 50 miles/day, as do most people in urban and suburban areas, you’ll never have to buy gasoline making this one of the nicest electric cars for the price. But, if you need to make some longer drives you have a very efficient, gasoline powered range extender that will allow any length of trip as long as the fuel tank is filled up.
©Steve Purdy, Shunpiker Productions, All Rights Reserved