ELECTRO SHOCK THERAPY II
We test the second-generation Chevrolet Volt
This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!
Published on Sun, Jul 3, 2016
By: The LACar Editorial Staff
The first generation Chevrolet Volt created quite a jolt in the industry. With a back-up gas engine serving as a generator for its electric propulsion, the Volt could travel well over 300 miles—far longer than any electric car that preceded it. The press showered it with awards. After six years, Chevrolet introduces a second generation Volt—promising greater range, better hybrid fuel economy, smarter electronics, curvier styling, occasional five-passenger seating, and all at a lower price. Can lightening strike twice?
Story by Harvey Schwartz
Pictures by Roy Nakano
The all-new second-generation 2016 Chevy Volt has matured into a great compact sedan. The new Volt features curvier styling, a new powertrain, better handling, a more comfortable ride, and a more upscale interior with additional comfort, connectivity and safety systems.
The shape is more like gasoline-only sedans with scalloped doors, glossy deep side/rear extensions, a low profile and deeply cut A-pillars. Rear LED lamps, front LEDs add a more modern touch. Front halogen headlamps are placed below the active grille shutters that help balance design with efficiency. Using more high-strength steel and aluminum, the body is stronger, lighter for a quieter, more compliant ride.
The heart of the all-new Volt is its larger 1.5 liter hybrid engine. An all-new second generation Voltec extended range electric vehicle (EREV) propulsion system is the power behind the new Volt’s increased all-electric driving range, greater efficiency and stronger acceleration. It was engineered based on the driving behaviors of first-generation Volt owners. It features direct injection, 16-valves, and VVT.
The Voltec system includes the battery, drive unit, range-extending engine and power electronics. GM’s industry-leading battery technology has been re-engineered for this next generation Volt. The new Volt uses an 18.4 kWh battery system featuring revised cell chemistry developed in conjunction with LG Chem. While overall system storage capacity has increased, the number of cells has decreased from 288 to 192. The cells are positioned lower in the pack for an improved (lower) center of gravity and the overall mass of the pack is 21 pounds lighter. Like the battery system, the new Volt’s two-motor drive unit delivers increased efficiency and performance along with reduced noise and vibration.
The drive unit operates up to 12 percent more efficient and weighs 100 pounds less than the current system. Both motors operate together in more driving situations, in both EV and extended-range operation. The ability to use both motors helps deliver a 19 percent improvement in electric acceleration (0 to 60 mph in 7.6 seconds). GM engineers designed the Voltec electric motors to use significantly less rare-earth materials. One motor uses no rare-earth-type magnets. A total of 420 miles of total driving range is longer than before.
With the new engine pumping out 101 horsepower with a total torque rating of 273 pound-feet available at 0 RPM, the Volt is more fun to drive than ever. Mix in a reworked independent MacPherson strut setup with side-loaded strut modules, specially tuned coil springs, direct-acting hollow stabilizer bar with hydraulic ride bushing and specially adapted compound crank (torsion beam) with double-walled, U-shaped profile at the rear with specifically tuned coil springs and hydraulic bushings. The rack-mounted electric tilt/telescopic power steering with a ZF steering gear feels slightly heavier and more precise.
The brakes also feel stronger with power brakes, 11-inch vented discs up front and 10-inch solid discs in the rear including ABS, StabiliTrak, all-speed traction control, drag control and fully regenerative to maximize energy capture including rear brake proportioning.
The all-new Volt rides on 17X7 inch Split-Y Ultra Bright Machined aluminum wheels with painted pockets wrapped with Michelin Energy Saver 215/50R17 inch tires. The gearbox has also been reworked and is quieter and smoother than before. Also, behind the steering wheel is a paddle shifter to decrease acceleration via increased regenerative braking, to help slow the car at higher speeds.
I tested the Premier Trimmed Volt, which includes a leather interior that seats four adults comfortably, rear heated seats and a fold-down armrest. Up front, the Volt retains its signature dual digital color displays with an eight-inch diagonal reconfigurable screen in the cluster and an additional eight-inch diagonal touch screen in the center of the instrument panel that controls the Chevy MyLink system. The tilt/telescopic/leather wrapped steering wheel is heated.
The audio system features Chevy’s MyLink Radio with SiriusXM satellite radio, Bluetooth streaming audio for music and select phone, voice-activated technology for radio and phone featuring Apple CarPlay capability for compatible phones, Chevy’s Navigation System, heated front seats, cargo cover, cruise control, dual map lights, single zone AC/heater, power door locks, drive mode control switch for Normal, Sport, Mountain and Snow, floor mats, keyless access, push-button start/stop, map pockets behind the front seatbacks, self-dimming rearview mirror, OnStar, two auxiliary inputs (one 12-volt in the storage bin and one in the rear of the center console), a wireless charging system for devices, express power windows, heated/power sideview mirrors, and two assist grips in the rear.
Safety systems include front/side airbags, thorax side-impact seat-mounted, side-front outboard airbags, head curtain airbags, front/rear crumple zones, 5-3-point safety belts/center lap belt, LATCH system for child seats, tire pressure monitor, front/rear sensors for parking assist, theft deterrent system/alarm, blind-spot alert, lane keep assist, pre-braking and a pedestrian safety signal with an automatic audible signal during low-speed driving. The trunk features a charge cord for easy charging. The base price is $33,179 and $39,065 as test fully loaded.
© Words supra Harvey Schwartz
So Harvey explains why the new Volt is a significant leap forward from the old Volt. As an old Volt owner, I can appreciate the extended range to 53 miles in pure electric propulsion, and 400 plus miles with the back-up gas motor, the smart phone integration, the emergency fifth seat, the easier-to-use controls (the first Volt has enough buttons for a Star Trek convention), and the lower sticker price.
I’m surprised that no one in the press seems to mention the one big step back from the first-generation Volt: Visibility. The old Volt already had marginal visibility, but the new one is even harder to see out of. The glass slot below the rear hatch of the old Volt is gone in the new one—replaced by, of all things, a fake window. Also, the A-pillar quarter windows up front are gone—replaced by…nothing. Thankfully, the car now comes standard with a rear view camera. As for the rest of the car’s visibility-challenged angles, I strongly recommend the optional Driver Confidence I package, which will get you Side Blind Zone Alert, Lane Change Alert, and Rear Cross Traffic Alert. Alas, it’s only available when moving up to the $37,520 Premier model. Yeah, I know, it’s back up to the price of the old Volt. At least now you’ll get better range and all the other previously mentioned attributes. – Roy Nakano
SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicle: 2016 Chevrolet Volt Price: $33,170 and $39,065 as tested, fully loaded. EPA fuel economy rating: 42mpg/106mpg-e Engine: 1.5 liter hybrid engine with direct injection, 16-valves, and VVT, and a second generation Voltec extended range electric vehicle (EREV) propulsion system. Torque: 273 pound-feet at 0 RPM Transmission: Single speed direct drive Steering: Electric power assisted rack and pinion Drive configuration: Front-wheel drive Suspension Fully independent front suspension and multi-link rear suspension, with stabilizer bars front and rear. Brakes: 11-inch vented discs up front and 10-inch solid discs in the rear including ABS, StabiliTrak, all-speed traction control, drag control and fully regenerative to maximize energy capture including rear brake proportioning. Wheels and tires: 17X7 inch Split-Y Ultra Bright Machined aluminum wheels with painted pockets wrapped with Michelin Energy Saver 215/50R17 inch tires Dimensions Length: 180.4 inches Width: 71.2 inches Height: 56.4 inches Curb weight: 3,543 pounds