In the world of hybrid cars, there is no room for complacency. Take the award-winning Chevrolet Volt, for example. It was released rather recently- just at the end of 2010- but hybrid technology advances at an incredibly fast pace. New features are available every year: better batteries, lighter frames, improved peripheral features. With this in mind, GM undertook a serious overhaul of the plug-in hybrid for 2016. The change is incredible. This year’s model, built largely in Michigan, has a wholly redesigned powertrain, fine-tuned controls, and an interior that creates a sophisticated driving experience.
The first generation Volt, released in late 2010, won high praise for its innovative technology. Experts say it revitalized the electric car market. Drivers realized that electric didn’t have to mean bizarre chunky silhouettes and sluggish performance. The first Volt was a practical car for real drivers- which wasn’t something that could be said for earlier electric vehicles.
The new Volt is poised to shake up the market all over again. The main cause for this excitement is the Volt’s extended range and efficiency. It has an EPA estimated electric range of a staggering 53 miles, and if you’re limited to city driving it will provide a 57-mile range. That’s double the range of similar plug-in hybrids.
How is this efficiency achieved? Much of the credit goes to the Volt’s ultramodern drive unit. The transaxle is a hundred pounds lighter without sacrificing horsepower. In fact, torque is actually improved. GM did this by ditching the old arrangement, where a heavy 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine was paired with a large and a small generator. Now the Volt relies on a lighter 1.5-liter aluminum block engine teamed with two smaller generators. These work together where the older system relied primarily on the larger generator. Working in tandem allows them to produce more power from smaller engines, dropping the Volt’s 0-30 acceleration time from 3.2 seconds to 2.6.
Driving the 2016 Volt feels refreshingly modern. Chevy’s knowledge of how their clients actually use their cars is shown here. They’ve increased the driver’s ability to control how the power is being generated with four specially tailored driving modes. There’s even a “hold” toggle that forces the engine to switch to gas. These settings are now accessed via the steering wheel instead of the shifter, where they were in the previous model. Canny drivers can use the max regen paddle to slow the Volt without wasting energy applying the friction brakes. The cabin is quiet even during the very smooth switch from electric to gas. Only when the Volt is pushed by race-track maneuvers or a steep hill is the engine noise noticeable.
The Volt’s interior should please drivers who want to be environmentally responsible while still being comfortable. Reviewers report excellent back support, a wide field of view, and attractive furnishings. There’s something graceful about the way the central screen is mounted into the dashboard. One handy improvement is the small screen below the speedometer that echoes the navigation system. Drivers won’t have to look away from the road to follow instructions anymore. The Volt can also take advantage of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to link itself to its driver’s smartphone.
Are you excited by all the new technology built into the 2016 Chevy Volt? Visit Heidebreicht Chevrolet on Van Dyke Road in Washington to see them for yourself. Even if you’ve never driven an electric car before, our knowledgeable sales staff can teach you everything you need to know in the space of a test drive. Drop by our showroom today!