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January 7 , 2016 /

Chevrolet Volt

Overall: NEW_for_2016_3When the next spike in fuel prices comes, this is what you’ll want to be driving.

Drivetrain:

Improved battery pack helps extend maximum battery-only range; more powerful gasoline engine generator for charging the batteries.

The second-generation Volt arrives with an improved propulsion system, upgraded interior and a lower price tag. And with government rebates remaining in place, the car is clearly a better deal. That begins with an up-to-date hatchback body that’s sleeker from bumper to bumper, especially at the rear, where the previous Volt appeared a bit dated. Both old and new Volts are similar in length/width/wheelbase measurements, as well as in passenger and cargo volumes. However it’s now possible to squeeze three people in back, so long as a junior-sized rider occupies the middle position. The interior has been completely made over, including the dashboard and control panel that exude an entry-luxury look. The aerodynamic body is aided by grille shutters that, when activated, prevent air from becoming trapped inside the engine compartment at speed, which causes drag. The powertrain includes two new electric motors that are 100 pounds lighter and generate a combined 111 kilowatts (149 horsepower) and 294 pound-feet of torque. The battery pack that feeds them now uses one-third fewer cells, shaves 20 pounds off the weight (in total the new Volt has dropped more than 240 pounds) and produces more kilowatt-hours of electricity. This results in up to 53 miles of electric-only range (previously 38 miles). When the batteries run out, a 101-horsepower 1.5-liter gasoline generator engine, which replaces the 84-horse 1.4, supplies electricity. The Volt now boasts an extended range of 420 miles, up from 380 miles. Chevrolet also states that the car’s zero-to-60-mph time is 8.4 seconds, which is a half-second less than the 2015 Volt. The LT comes with all the basics plus a backup camera and eight-inch touch-screen for the communications and audio systems. The Premier trim adds a Bose-brand stereo, auto-dimming rearview mirror and heated front and rear leather-covered seats and a heated steering wheel. Options include a navigation system plus active safety technology to prevent collisions.

Base price (incl. destination): $34,000 (excluding government rebates)
Type: Four-door hatchback sedan
Base engine (hp): Electric motor (149) plus 1.5-liter DOHC gasoline generator engine (101)
Layout: Front-engine, front-wheel-drive
Transmissions: Single-speed controller
MPG (city/highway): 43/42 (106 mpg equivalent in battery mode)
Weight (lb.): 3,540

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