New for 2015For 2015 the Chevrolet Volt’s battery storage capacity increases to 17.1 kWh (kilowatt hours), a Wi-Fi hotspot with 4G LTE is now standard, and Iridescent Pearl Tricoat has been added as an exterior color option.
Vehicle OverviewThe Chevrolet Volt is a four-seat plug-in hybrid four-door hatchback that offers the experience of an electric car, without the range anxiety by including a gasoline-powered range-extender engine.
SummaryThe 2015 Chevrolet Volt pairs a 149-hp electric motor that makes 273 lb-ft of torque with a 1.4-liter I-4 that makes 84 hp but is only used to provide electricity for the electric motor. The drivetrain is designed to use the gasoline engine as a “range-extender” that charges the battery, leaving the majority of the acceleration to the silky smooth electric motor, except in certain scenarios (above 70 mph) where the engine is coupled to the drivetrain in the name of greater efficiency.
The EPA estimates a range of 38 miles on all-electric power, while the gasoline engine increases the range up to 342 additional miles. Charging takes 10-16 hours on a standard 120-volt outlet, or just 4 hours on a dedicated 240-volt outlet. While other plug-in hybrid vehicles exist, none come close to the Volt's 38 miles, but most other plug-in hybrids have more interior space.
The 2015 Chevrolet Volt received a five-star overall safety rating from the NHTSA (out of a possible five stars), and in IIHS testing is considered a 2014 Top Safety Pick+.
What We ThinkDriving the Chevrolet Volt can be compared to a competent EV, but without the range anxiety. One of the big advantages the Volt has over the Prius Plug-In is driving dynamic.
The problem is the Prius PHEV requires a feather-light touch on the gas pedal. Trying to accelerate in a moderate fashion will usually bring the engine online; trying to stay in EV mode while accelerating will likely annoy drivers behind you … With a fully charged battery, there's no such drama in the Volt. Response to throttle pedal input is brisk, acceleration is peppy, and the car generally responds and performs like any conventional compact car. The exception, of course, is that its electric operation is eerily quiet and smooth. The 1.4-liter I-4 does make a bit of noise when serving as a generator, but is largely isolated from the driveline. And it doesn't suffer the shudders exhibited by other hybrids when switching between drivetrain modes.
The 2015 Chevrolet Volt is a marvel of technology, winning our Automobile of the Year award in 2011, but the interior leaves something to be desired. Styling has been described as “mainstream” and “conservative,” while the four-passenger arrangement has been criticized for a lack of legroom and cramped headroom. Material quality for such an expensive vehicle could be better, and indeed it feels more like a Cruze than a Malibu once you step inside. One of the most universal complaint among our staff, one we hope is remedied for the updated 2016 Volt is the center stack controls. The controls are “capacitive-touch and poorly organized,” and our own Eric Tingwall went so far as to suggest revisions, complete with Photoshopped images of the old stack. The Volt can work nicely even as an only car, something that’s hard to say of traditional EVs, which haven’t been largely adopted due to range limitations. Expect the next Volt to take what made the first one popular and to improve in almost every way.
- Unmatched EV range before gas engine turns on
- No range anxiety like full EVs
- Smooth transition to gasoline power
You Won’t Like
- Cheap interior
- Center stack confusing
- Only four seats and still cramped
- Toyota Prius Plug-In
- Nissan Leaf
- BMW i3
- Honda Accord PHEV