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2017 Chevrolet Volt: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader November 2016

Fresh from a complete overhaul last year, the 2017 Chevrolet Volt continues to offer buyers the best of both worlds. Around town, the Volt can cruise solely on electric power for up to 53 miles on a single charge. Once the juice is gone, the Volt's 1.5-liter 4-cylinder gasoline engine comes online, but unlike with the Toyota Prius or Ford C-Max, the Volt's gasoline engine doesn't drive the car; it merely creates power for the electric motors, increasing the Volt's overall range to 420 miles. Compared with the first-generation car, the new Volt has more style and substance, more interior room and better efficiency. For 2017, Chevrolet even adds the latest in driver-assist and safety features, making the Volt a cutting-edge hybrid worthy of consideration.

Oh, sure, the Volt is still pricey for what you get, but federal and local tax incentives -- combined with constant special offers from Chevrolet -- ensure its pricing remains fairly reasonable. If you're looking to go green, the latest Volt is a great way to do it.

What's New for 2017?

The Volt can now be equipped with adaptive cruise control and forward automatic emergency braking. Teen Driver is added to the MyLink system, and Chevy will offer a limited number of Volts painted in Citron Green.

What We Like

Zero-emissions potential; excellent range; low fuel cost; nice amenities; modern styling

What We Don't

Pricey; poor rear visibility

How Much?

$34,095-$45,000

Fuel Economy

The 2017 Chevrolet Volt is propelled by a 149-horsepower 1.5-liter 4-cylinder engine. Thanks to its large battery pack, the Volt can travel an EPA-rated 53 miles on a single charge before the range-extending gasoline engine kicks in. As for charge times, Chevy says it takes about 4.5 hours to recharge a Volt using a 240-volt outlet, or 13 hours with a standard household plug.

If you're interested in the actual fuel economy figures, the EPA says the Volt's combined city-and-highway driving figure is 106 miles per gallon equivalent (mpge) -- the agency's rating system for plug-in hybrids and electric cars. Once the electric motor has shut off, the gasoline engine alone returns an impressive 42 mpg combined.

Standard Features & Options

The Volt is offered in two trim levels: a base-level model dubbed the LT and a high-end version called the Premier.

The LT ($34,095) is generously equipped, offering a remote starter, a backup camera, keyless access with push-button start, LED headlights, an 8-inch center touchscreen with Chevy's MyLink app interface, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, 17-in alloy wheels, automatic climate control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, two USB ports for music, OnStar with 4G LTE Wi-Fi connectivity, satellite radio and Apple CarPlay compatibility for iPhone users.

The Premier ($38,445) offers even more features, including leather upholstery, auto-dimming mirrors, heated front and rear seats, a heated steering wheel, heated mirrors, a Bose sound system, an automated parking system for both parallel and perpendicular parking spaces, and a wireless charging pad for mobile devices.

Options on the Volt LT include several features that come standard in the Premier (leather upholstery, heated seats, a heated steering wheel and the Bose sound system), while the Premier offers two available Driver Confidence packages. One touts a blind spot monitoring system, lane-departure warning and rear cross-traffic alert, while the other offers those features plus adaptive headlights, lane-keep assist and forward-collision warning with automatic braking. The Premier also offers navigation and, when equipped with the Driver Confidence packages, adaptive cruise control.

Safety

The Volt offers everything you'd expect as standard equipment, including a backup camera, side curtain airbags, anti-lock brakes, and traction and stability control. GM's OnStar system, which boasts automatic crash notification and stolen-vehicle assistance, is also standard. Options run the gamut from adaptive headlights and lane-keep assist to an automated parallel-parking system, forward-collision alert with automatic braking, a blind spot monitoring system, lane-departure warning and rear cross-traffic alert.

At the time of this review, the Volt has not yet been crash-tested by the federal government's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). However, the nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave the 2017 Chevrolet Volt its highest rating of Good in every crash test, Superior in its crash-avoidance and mitigation tests, and Marginal in the ease-of-use test for the child seat anchors. IIHS also awarded the 2017 Volt a Top Safety Pick+ award.

Behind the Wheel

If you've driven the first-generation version of the Chevrolet Volt, we suspect you'll find it very similar to this model. That's because the latest Volt offers the same general size, shape and driving dynamics as its predecessor, and it even retains the same powertrain. The most noticeable differences we've found are a roomier cabin, slightly better acceleration, more safety features and a little more composure through the turns.

If you've never driven a Volt, you'll be immediately surprised by just how quiet the hatchback is. The electric motor makes no noise, meaning the only sounds you'll hear are rushing wind and tire noise on the pavement. The Volt's ride is compliant -- not firm but not cushy -- while handling is merely average, offering a predictable feel but very little gusto or excitement. That isn't necessarily a drawback that's unique to the Volt, however, as few rivals (including gas-powered models) tout especially involved driving dynamics. The same can be said for acceleration, which is adequate but little more. The Volt offers excellent interior room, especially for rear passengers.

When you're behind the wheel of the Volt, we suspect the only real drawback you'll find is visibility. Owing to the car's aerodynamic styling, visibility isn't especially good, especially out the rear, which has thick pillars. Even in front, however, you can lose pedestrians and even other vehicles in the Volt's large A-pillars.

Other Cars to Consider

2017 Ford C-MAX Energi -- The plug-in hybrid C-MAX Energi is a hatchback with an amazing 550-mile range. Its fully electric range is only 20 miles, though, and it doesn't have the Volt's level of cutting-edge technology.

2017 Nissan Leaf -- As the first mass-produced pure-electric car for the U.S., the Leaf delivers a range of about 107 miles with zero tailpipe emissions. But with that comes a lot of range anxiety: The Leaf doesn't come close to the Volt's 420-mile cruising range, and the Volt's dynamics are skewed in a sportier direction.

2017 Toyota Prius Prime Plug-in -- The Prius Prime Plug-in offers less than half the Volt's all-electric range. But operating as a normal hybrid, its fuel economy is far better, with a predicted range of about 640 miles at around 54 mpg. The Prius is also less expensive and offers quite a bit more cargo space.

Used Tesla Model S -- The Tesla Model S is a high-tech, upscale, fully electric luxury sedan that offers an impressive range of well over 250 miles. Prices are high, though, so you may want to consider a used model.

Autotrader's Advice

We'd go with the Volt Premier and we'd add the top-level Driver Confidence packages, adaptive cruise control and navigation. It may be expensive, but tax rebates will soften the blow, and you'll be able to enjoy the best of both worlds: lots of features and lots of fuel efficiency.

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Used 2017 Chevrolet Volt Premier
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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2017 Chevrolet Volt: New Car Review - Autotrader