Hybrid cars used to sound different, look different and cost different. A number of buyers liked the option of a hybrid — but not all the “different.”
With the second-generation 2017 Chevrolet Volt, Chevrolet has solved a few of the “different” barriers.
The Volt looks like a standard compact five-door sedan. I like the rakish, almost shark-like profile with the “mouth guard” lower chrome grille up front. The rear hatch is more graceful than the first-gen model’s, concealing 10.6 cubic feet of cargo space.
Volt’s interior is a little monotone (especially in light gray) and features lots of curves, shapes and lights. The central display screen and instrument cluster feature mainstream switches and knobs. Available tech including Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, satellite, navigation and MyLink with smartphone projection technology means the Volt has the tech you expect.
Passenger-wise, there is seating for five; however, the middle rear passenger seat is basically a padded hump without a head rest. The overall fit and finish is good, but there is a fair amount of soft-touch surfaces and plastic panels.
The Volt is all about usable range — 53 miles electric range and 420 miles combined gas/electric. For 2017, Volt uses an 18.4 kilowatt-hour battery system featuring revised cell chemistry. The gas tank holds just 8.9 gallons of regular unleaded. The two-motor drive unit is up to 12 percent more efficient and 100 pounds lighter than the previous generation.
Exhausting the battery pack puts the 1.5-liter range-extender motor into motion, generating electricity by powering both motors (or one motor to drive the car while the second recharges the battery pack). Total output to the front wheels, using two motors, is 149 horsepower (111 kilowatts) with 294 pound-feet of torque.
This year, the Chevrolet Volt extended range electric vehicle (EREV) garnered a 2017 Wards 10 Best Engines Award. This is the second consecutive year Volt has won the award (and third time overall).
Recharge times vary depending on the method. Using a 120-volt standard electrical outlet takes 13 hours based on charge level (and, if outside, the temperature). Using a fast-charge, high-output 240-volt system drops it to around 4.75 hours.
The Volt is pretty spunky on the road, as acceleration is good. The electric drive unit (transmission) is set up like a standard automatic. Unfortunately, the transmission is slow and you must wait for it to respond after selecting a forward or reverse mode. On the plus side, the Volt is nimble and handles curves well once you get going.
For 2017, available active safety features include adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist with lane departure warning, side blind-zone alert with lane change alert, rear cross-traffic alert, forward collision alert with following distance indicator, forward automatic braking and advanced park assist with front and rear park assist for semi-automatic parallel parking.
As for pricing, the average transaction price of non-hybrids keeps creeping up, but incentives help bring down Volt’s base price. Just watch the options.