Five years ago Chevrolet launched the Volt – a groundbreaking vehicle that changed the trajectory of electric cars and went on to become the top selling plug-in hybrid car of all time. Fast forward to today and Chevrolet has rebuilt the new 2016 Volt from the ground up with an all-new electric powertrain, a driving range of 400 miles, a sportier exterior, and a quieter interior. The second generation 2016 Chevy Volt is cuter, faster, lighter, less expensive and more efficient – and we recently had a chance to take it out for test drive around the San Francisco Bay Area. Read on for our impressions of this game-changing electric car.
Some of the most spectacular landscape in all of California likes just north of San Francisco. We put the 2016 Chevrolet Volt through its paces on a three-hour drive from the misty redwoods of Mount Tamalpais to the breathtaking cliffs of Stinson Beach and finally through rolling hills of Point Reyes into Sonoma County.
As a plug-in hybrid-electric car, the Volt strikes a compromise between a pure electric vehicle and a gasoline-powered hybrid like the Toyota Prius. The Volt is powered by electricity until the battery is drained – at which point a range-extender gasoline engine kicks in for long-distance driving, so you don’t have to stop to charge. We didn’t use any gas at all for the first hour of our drive, and the range extender quietly switched on after about 53 miles to cover the rest of our trip. This transition was so seamless that we hardly noticed it.
The 2016 Volt was apparently modeled after the Corvette C7, and it shows. The car looks much sportier and sleeker than any competing plugin hybrid electric car. The 2016 Volt is a blast to drive with quick pickup, a smooth ride, and responsive cornering – we deftly carved through the winding and hair-raising descent from Mount Tamalpais to the coast. One interesting feature of the new Volt is a regenerative braking paddle mounted on the steering wheel that allows you to slow the car while controlling how much energy is transferred to the Volt’s battery. Braking with your hands takes a bit of getting used to, but with some practice we were able to eke out extra efficiency while coasting, approaching curves and slowing down for stop signs.
All in all, we’re extremely impressed with the new Chevy Volt. We’ve long admired the Volt for it’s groundbreaking technology and the convenience of the range-extending gasoline backup engine. But whereas the original Volt was a little bit of a novelty car that was still a bit awkward and ironing-out-the-kinks, the new 2016 Volt seems to have figured it all out. The car is decidedly sleek, good looking, well-engineered, super efficient and a joy to drive. A friend of mine had the original Volt and literally never needed to fill up the gas tank – he maybe refilled the tank once every 4-6 months. And this new Volt is cheaper than the older model!
The 2016 Volt just officially went on sale in California this week, and you’ll have to fight us for one! If you’re not in California, word is they will be coming to dealers in other states in the next few months.