2017 Chevrolet Volt Premier Review By John Heilig
THE AUTO PAGE
By John Heilig
The Auto Channel
MODEL: 2017 Chevrolet Volt Premier
ENGINE: 1.5-liter range extender plus Li-ion battery
TRANSMISSION: Voltec electric drive unit
HORSEPOWER/TORQUE: 101 hp (gas engine) at 5,600 rpm/294 lb.-ft. torque
WHEELBASE: 106.1 in.
LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT: 180.4 x 71.2 x 56.4 in.
CARGO CAPACITY: 10.6 cu. ft.
ECONOMY: 106 mpge/42 mpg gasoline
FUEL TANK: 8.9 gal.
CURB WEIGHT: 3,548 lbs.
COMPETITIVE CLASS: Toyota Prius Plug-In, Ford C-Max Energi, Nissan Leaf
STICKER: $40,325 (includes $875 delivery, $1,880 options)
BOTTOM LINE: The Chevrolet Volt is a very nice compact car, with the added advantage that it can be run as a pure electric for 53 miles, yet still has a “range extender” gasoline engine when the battery runs out.(When the battery pack is depleted, the range-extending gasoline engine starts to power an onboard generator that makes electricity to power the wheels for another 300 miles or so or until the gasoline runs out).
I had driven the Chevrolet Volt previously, but messed up by trying to charge the electric side of the car using an extension cord. The Volt seamlessly switched from all-electric power to the 1.5-liter “range extender” gasoline engine and I used gas.
This time, I charged the batteries the “right” way, by driving it up on my lawn and using the provided charge cord and inserting it directly into my house’s 115-volt outlet.
Therefore, in normal daily driving (this was a week that included no extensive trips) I used zero gallons of gasoline. Chevrolet says the average motorist will travel 1000 miles without having to use and gas.
To me, this is the charm of the Volt, and other pure electric vehicles. For normal short trips no gasoline is used. Now, there is a charge of some sort due to the use of my house’s electricity, and to be honest, I did not calculate it. In any case, it’s cheaper than gasoline. Volt’s silent operation is at times disconcerting. I had to remind myself that when I crept up behind people, they couldn’t hear me, so I was a nice guy and didn’t try to scare them. There is some tire/road noise that creeps into the vehicle that could probably be eliminated with additional soundproofing. The Volt is a very nice compact car. It offers decent acceleration thanks to the electric motor, which is pure torque. Handling is good. We took the Volt on our favorite winding mountain road and it was fun zipping through the curves.
My only complaint is that, as a compact, I had to fold the rear seat backs to get my golf clubs in the trunk. Cargo capacity is 10.6 cubic feet with the rear seats up, but expends to more than double that with the rear seat backs folded.
I like the interior design. It is reminiscent of the Impala and was probably penned by the same designer.
Normally, my prime annoyance with hybrids and “techy” vehicles is that the gauge packages are confusing and give too much information. With the Volt, however, the central information panel is clear and informative.
There is a central digital speedometer in the center. To the left is the battery usage wrapping the speedometer in green; to the right the gas. wrapping its half in blue. As you accelerate, the “battery” symbol shows yellow. It turns to green under braking, showing you are regenerating. The wrapping green works just like a gas gauge, giving a graphic idea of how much battery power remains. There’s also a digital gauge at the bottom showing how many miles are left. We had a maximum of 53 miles range on a full charge. A similar fuel range cause is at the bottom right that shows many hundreds of miles available. Chevy says more than 400 miles total. It is very easy to read and understand quickly without taking your eyes off the road for too long.
While the front seats are comfortable the rear seat legroom is tight, as in most compacts. There are two permanent cupholders and a center console in the rear, restricting seating to two passengers. All seats are heated.
The infotainment screen is fairly standard GM. The HVAC did a great job in hot weather. There are two knobs for HVAC control - fan speed and temperature - while a bunch of switches control air flow.
At the base of the center stack is a deep cubby with 12-volt, two USB and an AUX outlet. In addition, there is a nice deep center console/arm rest.
On the center console itself is a drive mode switch that allows the driver to switch among Normal (electric to fuel), Sport, Mountain and Hold. We kept it in Normal.
Volt has the standard assortment of safety additions, including blind spot monitor, lane departure warning and forward crash warning if you wait too long to brake.
I had fun with the Chevrolet Volt this time. I admit that some of the “less-than-fun” of my previous drive was due to my carelessness in using the power. This time I was more careful, and being an ex-engineer, I enjoyed driving in pure electric mode and the challenges I faced.
(c) 2016 The Auto Page Syndicate
2016 Chevrolet Volt – From The Horses Mouth
2016 Chevrolet Volt Vehicle Highlights
- All-new, second-generation model with 53 miles of EV range, greater efficiency and stronger acceleration
- New two-motor drive unit is up to 12 percent more efficient and 100 pounds lighter than the first-generation unit
- 420 miles total driving range
- All-new sleek design and five-passenger seating
- Location-based charging
- Enhanced Chevrolet MyLink with smartphone projection technology, featuring Apple CarPlay capability
2016 Chevrolet Volt Product Information
ALL-NEW 2016 CHEVROLET VOLT DELIVERS 50 MILES OF EV RANGE, OFFERS EXPRESSIVE, SLEEK DESIGN AND NEW FEATURES
The all-new 2016 Volt electric car with extended range offers a sleeker, sportier design – along with 53 miles of EV range, greater efficiency and stronger acceleration.
In fact, with its new, efficient propulsion system, the new Volt offers a General Motors’-estimated total driving range of more than 400 miles and with regular charging, owners are expected to travel more than 1,000 miles on average between gas fill-ups.
“The 2016 Chevrolet Volt provides our owners with a no-compromise electric driving experience,” said Alan Batey, president of GM North America. “We believe our engineering prowess combined with data from thousands of customers allows us to deliver the most capable plug-in vehicle in the industry.”
The 2016 Chevrolet Volt’s technology and range advancements are complemented by a design that blends sculpted, muscular proportions with aerodynamic efficiency, and an all-new interior with seating for five and improved functionality.
New smartphone projection technology on Volt’s MyLink system displays content from Apple iPhone 5 or later models on the multicolor screen through the Apple CarPlay feature. Supported apps for the system include phone, messages, maps, music and compatible third-party apps.
Everything on the 2016 Volt, from charging the battery and checking the charge status, to the intuitiveness of instrument panel controls, were designed for easier use.
“According to independent surveyors, Volt owners are the most satisfied in the industry and they were our compass for developing the next-generation model,” said Batey.
2016 Volt highlights:
- New two-motor drive unit is up to 12 percent more efficient and 100 pounds lighter (45 kg) than the first-generation drive unit
- Two-motor design enables 19-percent stronger zero-to-30 mph acceleration
- Battery capacity has increased to 18.4 kWh using 192 cells (96 fewer than current generation) with weight reduced by more than 20 pounds
- Regen on Demand™ feature enables driver control of energy regeneration via a convenient paddle on the back of the steering wheel
- New 1.5L range extender, designed to use regular unleaded fuel, offers a combined EPA-estimated 42 mpg
- Stronger body structure and quieter ride
- New braking system with improved capability and blended Regen feel
- New, five-passenger seating with available rear heated seats
- Location-based charging capability
- 120V portable cord set has a simpler, compact design with more convenient storage location
- Available illuminated charge port.
Sleeker, sportier design
The 2016 Volt has an all-new, muscular design that incorporates Chevrolet performance vehicle DNA-inspired cues refined in the wind tunnel.
New features, including active grille shutters, help balance design with efficiency.
Volt’s flowing, dynamic shape is inspired by the toned physiques of athletes and even the natural shapes of wind-swept sands, with carved body sides and fenders that blend into the hood. The front-end appearance retains the iconic Volt identity, with bright upper and lower grille pads.
Greater attention to detail in the design cues, materials and colors also lends a more premium, contemporary aura to its appearance. It also retains the distinctive Volt signature on the upper front doors, carrying over one of the first-generation model’s identifiers.
Inside, the new Volt includes seating for five. Fresh colors exude an inviting upscale aura – complemented by blue ambient lighting – while the controls are more intuitively placed and simpler to operate.
The Volt retains its signature dual digital color displays with an eight-inch-diagonal reconfigurable screen in the instrument cluster to relay driver information. An additional eight-inch-diagonal touch screen in the center of the instrument panel controls the Chevrolet MyLink system.
MyLink with smartphone projection technology
New for Volt in 2016, Chevrolet’s new MyLink system with an 8-inch-diagonal color touchscreen is compatible with Apple CarPlay, which puts iPhone features (iPhone 5 and later) on the display in a smart, simple manner, allowing drivers to make calls, send and receive messages and listen to music right from the touchscreen or by voice via Siri. That helps drivers spend more time with eyes on the road and hands on the wheel.
Apple CarPlay-supported apps include Phone, Messages, Maps, Music and compatible third-party apps. A full list of those apps can be found at Apple.com/ios/carplay.
While development and testing is not yet complete, Android Auto compatibility may be available later in the 2016 model year.
New Voltec propulsion system
An all-new, second-generation Voltec extended range electric vehicle (EREV) propulsion system is the power behind the 2016 Volt’s increased all-electric driving range, greater efficiency and stronger acceleration. It was engineered based on the driving behaviors of first-gen Volt owners.
“Volt owners complete more than 80 percent of their trips without using a drop of gasoline and they tell us they love the electric driving experience. Putting that experience at the center of the new Voltec system’s development helped us improve range, while also making the new Volt more fun to drive,” said Andrew Farah, vehicle chief engineer. “We established a precedent when the original Voltec propulsion system debuted and this newest iteration sets the EV technology bar even higher.”
The Voltec system includes the battery, drive unit, range-extending engine and power electronics.
GM’s industry-leading battery technology has been re-engineered for the next-generation Volt. The 2016 Volt will use an 18.4 kWh battery system featuring revised cell chemistry developed in conjunction with LG Chem. While overall system storage capacity has increased, the number of cells have decreased from 288 to 192 as the result of a revised chemistry. The cells are positioned lower in the pack for an improved (lower) center of gravity and the overall mass of the pack is 21 pounds (9.8 kg) lighter.
Like the battery system, the next-generation Volt’s two-motor drive unit delivers increased efficiency and performance along with reduced noise and vibration. The drive unit operates up to 12 percent more efficiently and weighs 100 pounds (45 kg) less than the current system.
Both motors operate together in more driving scenarios, in both EV and extended-range operation. The ability to use both motors helps deliver a 19-percent improvement in electric acceleration from zero to 30 mph (2.6 seconds) and a 7 percent improvement from zero to 60 mph (8.4 seconds). GM engineers designed the Voltec electric motors to use significantly less rare earth materials. One motor uses no rare earth-type magnets.
More convenient location-based charging
Using real-world experiences of today’s Volt owners, Chevrolet made the charging system in the next-generation Volt more convenient for customers to recharge the battery – and to check the charge status.
The new and enhanced features include:
GPS location-based charging
“Owners will now be able to set their charging preferences exclusively for “home” charging and the vehicle will automatically adjust to that setting when it is at “home” based on GPS data,” said Farah, the chief engineer. “The new Volt will give owners greater flexibility for charging on their terms and make public charging easier.”
This will allow owners to pre-set their 120V charging level (eight amps or 12 amps) and whether they wish to charge immediately, set a departure time for each day of the week, or set a departure time and a utility rate schedule to charge only at off-peak rates. These setting will only have to be programmed once and the Volt will default to them when the vehicle return to its home location.
New, more intuitive charge status indicators
The next-generation Volt makes it easier for owners to confirm their Volt is charging and gauge charge status. The new status system features a specially designed tone that indicates when charging has begun, with additional tones for delayed charging. It will even indicate if the charge port door was left open after unplugging but before entering the vehicle.
With a glance through the windshield, an updated charge status indicator light on top of the instrument panel will show the approximate charge level through a series of flashes. An available illuminated charge port makes it easier to plug in after dark.
Portable cord set enhancements
A new 120V portable cord set has a simpler, compact design with more convenient storage location. The storage bin for the cord is now located on the left side of the Volt’s rear cargo area, above the load floor, for improved accessibility.
The new Chevrolet Volt offers new standard and available safety features that work with an all-new body structure to provide crash-avoidance and passenger protection capability. Highlights include:
- Standard rear-vision camera
- Ten standard air bags, including driver and front-passenger knee air bags
- Available active safety features offering Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure Warning, Side Blind Zone Alert with Lane Change Alert, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Forward Collision Alert with following distance indicator, front automatic braking, and advanced park assist with front and rear park assist (semi-automatic parallel parking)
- Expanded use of high-strength steel throughout the body structure improves strength and reduces weight
- More effective structural load paths in the frame, along with reinforced rocker panel structures and side structure reinforcements.
The new, active safety technologies and structural enhancements build on the Volt’s legacy of top safety performance, which includes a 5-Star overall New Car Assessment Program rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for the current model.
GM invested $435 million in the production of three products, including the next-generation Chevrolet Volt, at the Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Plant and future battery technologies at the Brownstown (Mich.) Battery Assembly Plant, where the Volt’s lithium-ion battery pack is produced.
The drive unit is manufactured at GM’s Powertrain plant in Warren, Mich., and the 1.5L engine is manufactured at GM’s Toluca, Mexico, engine plant for the first year of production, then shifts to the Flint, Mich., engine plant.
Since its introduction in late 2010, the Volt has established southeast Michigan as the hub of vehicle electrification development and manufacturing. The next-generation Volt will feature approximately 70 percent U.S. and Canadian components within its first year of production, a nearly 20-percent increase from the first generation.
Founded in 1911 in Detroit, Chevrolet is now one of the world's largest car brands, doing business in more than 115 countries and selling around 4.8 million cars and trucks a year. Chevrolet provides customers with fuel-efficient vehicles that feature engaging performance, design that makes the heart beat, passive and active safety features and easy-to-use technology, all at a value. More information on Chevrolet models can be found at www.chevrolet.com.