Chevrolet has been teasing us with the 2016 Volt for quite some time, tossing out random numbers that showed an increase in performance and range. This led to a lot of wild speculation, but as we got closer to the reveal, the less exciting it became. the excitement ground to a near halt when Chevy gave us an uncovered look at the new range-extended EV sedan at the 2015 CES and it could have easily been confused for a next-generation Honda Civic. If there was one thing the Volt always had going for it, it was its quirky looks that set it apart from the crowd.
Now with the 2015 Detroit Auto Show upon us, we finally get a full look at the new Volt and the upgrades it has in store. First up are its looks. From the front, the old Volt was overstated and clearly was something outside of the norm, but the new model honestly looks as if it could be a new iteration of the Civic; it is simply too plebian to succeed the last-generation Volt. From the rear, however,things get a little more exciting, as the Volt’s new taillights, the black strip on the rear fascia and the non-traditional liftback all retain the Volts quirkiness that I fell in love with years ago. I’ll call the exterior upgrades a wash, as the rear makes up for the front, and the swooping roofline is still pretty sexy.
On the inside, Chevy made some strides to make the look and feel more upscale. Blue ambient lighting and new color combinations help the cabin pop more, while soft-touch materials make it feel more premium. Unlike the last-gen Volt, the 2016 model has a full bench in the rear, giving it the ability to tote around five passengers instead of the old model’s four-passenger capacity. In the above image, you can see the optional Brandy leather seating with Jet Black accents. New equipment inside the cabin includes enhanced charge status indicators, a standard rearview camera, a longer and higher center armrest, a new front console storage bin, available heated rear seats and steering wheel, and available wireless cell phone charging.
Under the hood is where most prospective buyers are looking for massive improvements from the Volt, but be prepared for some possible disappointment. The 2016 Volt did undergo some serious changes for the new model year, but the end result is only a minor boost in performance and range. The new 192-cell, 18.4-kWh battery pack and Voltec system delivers an 8.4-second run to 60 mph and a range of 50 miles. Those mark a 0.8-second drop in sprint time and a 13-mile increase in range when compared to the 2015 model, which falls well short of some speculative numbers. Many of us were expecting a sub eight-second sprint and a range of nearly 70 miles.
That said, the 2016 Volt is far from a failure, as its new range-extending engine delivers a combined fuel economy of 41 mpg, the Volt can travel up to 420 miles on a single tank of regular fuel and a full battery charge (charging takes four hours on a 240-volt charger), and 102 mpg-e. Those numbers reflect respectable improvements of 40 miles in total range, four mpg in combined EPA rating on the range extender and a four mpg-e increase.
There’s no mention of pricing, but most experts expect a huge drop from the 2015 model’s $34,170 MSRP, possibly as low as $24k. We’ll learn more about pricing as we approach the 2016 Volt’s release date in the second half of 2015.