2016 Chevrolet Volt Unveiled: More range, passenger room (+VIDEO)
All new from the ground up, the 2016 Chevrolet Volt raises its design benchmarks across the board, from platform, powertrain and performance to style, utility and creature comforts. On sale in the last half of this year, the second generation of Chevy's groundbreaking extended range electric vehicle looks to have all it will need to retain its position as America's best-selling plug-in model. "The improvements in the efficiency and performance of the 2016 Volt are driven by what owners said they wanted in the next-generation model: more range, better fuel economy and stronger acceleration," notes Andrew Farah, vehicle chief engineer. "Building on General Motors industry- leading battery and drive-unit technologies, we've delivered all of that, while also making the Volt more refined and fun to drive."
At the heart of the 2016 Volt is a far more sophisticated Voltec propulsion system that's roughly 100 pounds lighter and up to 12 percent more efficient than the current setup. A new but still liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery pack with 20 percent greater capacity (18.4 kWh) and 33 percent fewer cells energizes a redesigned two-motor drive unit that still cranks out 149 horsepower but can send the Gen II Volt from 0-60 mph in 8.4 seconds - a 7-percent gain -- while allowing it to operate for up to 50 miles in pure EV mode compared to the present 38-mile range. Supplementing this is a new 1.5-liter direct-injected 4-cylinder range-extender engine that makes 101 horsepower and no longer needs premium unleaded gasoline. Chevy expects the new Volt's total maximum range to rise from 380 to 420 miles and its MPGe figure to pop from 98 to 102. Based on driving data gleaned from current Volt owners, it believes the added EV and gas range will allow most drivers to go between 1,000-1,500 total miles before having to fill up.
Visually, the 2016 Volt builds on the basic cues of its predecessor, but boasts a sportier look that's also more aerodynamically efficient thanks to new details like active shutters behind the lower grille, a full underbody fairing and sculpted taillamps that help to optimize airflow off the rear of the car. Riding on a bespoke version of GM's new Delta II platform, the recast Volt is slightly larger than the current model but almost 250 pounds lighter. Wheelbase also rises from 105.7 to 106.1 inches, which contributes to added legroom in the aft quarters.
Stepping up user-friendliness
Inside, the 2016 Volt has a more upscale look and feel highlighted by additional soft-touch surfaces, better acoustic isolation and improved ergonomics whether trimmed in premium cloth or available leather. While the dual digital displays carry over, they've been scaled up to 8.0 inches and a redesigned center stack jettisons the largely unloved touch-control setup for a more elegant infotainment touchscreen that sits above conventional knobs/switches that operate the HVAC systems. Formerly a 4-passenger vehicle, the Volt also boasts a new three-passenger split-folding rear bench, although the diminutive center spot does give new meaning to the term "occasional" seating.
On the convenience/connectivity front, the 2016 Volt features heated front buckets, auto climate control, a rearview camera, Bluetooth, dual USB ports, Siri Eyes Free for iPhone, OnStar 4G LTE with three years of service and a Wi-Fi hotspot. Options include Navigation and Bose premium audio, heated rear seats and steering wheel, lane-departure warning, forward collision alert, front/rear park assist and wireless smartphone charging. The key question that remains about the 2016 Chevrolet Volt is pricing. Despite extensive speculation about potential cuts in MSRP, Chevy has yet to announce any changes.
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