2016 Chevy Volt Charges Into Detroit With 50-Mile Electric Range, Greater Performance

General Motors is stepping up it game in the electric car arena with its second generation Chevrolet Volt, and it’s also adding some enhancements to make what’s already a pretty solid commuter vehicle even better this time around. The original Volt combines the best of both worlds by giving drivers the ability to travel 38 miles on battery power alone before the gasoline engine kicks in — the 2016 Chevy Volt extends that all-electric range to an even more impressive 50 miles.

To hit the 50-mile mark, the lithium-ion battery pack was increased in capacity from 17.1 kWh (2015 model) to 18.4 kWh. In addition, the battery pack’s weight has been reduced by more than 20 pounds, dropping from 288 total cells to just 1921 cells. Greater efficiencies were also found by going from a single- to a dual-motor set, which is 100 pounds lighter overall. This allows the electric drive to output a maximum of 149 hp and 294 ft-lbs of torque compared to 149 hp and 273 ft-lbs for the previous generation model. With more low-end grunt on tap, the 2016 Volt can hit 30 mph in 2.6 seconds (a 19 percent improvement) and 60 mph in a respectable 8.4 seconds (a seven percent improvement).

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But attention wasn’t just paid to the electric components; a new 1.5-liter “range extender” gasoline engine comes aboard to replace the existing 1.4-liter engine. It still runs on unleaded gasoline, but allows the Volt to achieve 41 mpg once the onboard lithium-ion battery is depleted (up from 37 mpg). It also helps to boost overall driving range (electric plus gasoline) from 380 miles to over 400 miles.

There are a number of new features this time around including active grille shutters to improve aerodynamic efficiency and a more conventional dashboard arrangement that ditches with the finicky capacitive touch controls. Drivers will now be presented with an 8-inch, reconfigurable display directly in front of them to display primary vehicle information, while another 8-inch touch screen is situated in the dash to control the Chevy MyLink infotainment system.

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The “T” shaped battery pack has also been redesigned to allow for a lower center of gravity, and also to provide additional room for the rear passengers. As a result, the Volt goes from being a strictly four-passenger vehicle to a much more useful five-passenger arrangement.

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And we can’t leave you without talking about the styling of the 2016 Chevy Volt. It definitely carries on styling cues from the first generation model, but I feel that the overuse of chrome on the front grille is a bit much and the overall design reminds me a little too much of the current Honda Civic with a little bit of Dodge Dart thrown in. But at least the Volt retains its hatchback versatility and the aforementioned five-seater arrangement is a definite plus. 

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Overall, it appears that Chevy played it safe with the Volt redesign. It improved upon the vehicle’s performance and electric driving range (which drivers of Volts most care about) while also improving things that make the vehicle more functional (increasing interior space, packaging). Now all we need to know is how much GM plans on charging for the vehicle. The 2015 Volt costs $34,345 before a $7,500 federal tax credit, so it will be interesting to see if GM holds the line or goes for an even lower price tag this time around.