2016 Chevrolet Volt Design Flaw Revealed In This Video?


From the 2015 Chicago Auto Show, Mike Anthony reviews the 2016 Chevrolet Volt, and mostly seems to like what GM has offered.

But in the video, starting at 2 minutes and 45 seconds, Anthony discusses and demonstrates the issue.  He’s 6 foot 1 inch tall, so just a tad above the average American male height of 5 foot 10 inches.

As you’ll see in the video, Anthony’s head is basically trapped between the Volt’s rear hatch glass and a black plastic trim piece.  In the event of an accident, especially if the Volt rear ends another car, this could prove to be dangerous.

Yes, we’re aware that other hatchbacks have tight rear headroom too.  That’s not the point.  Point is, this issue could’ve been addressed during the design stage by either raising the roofline a bit or by lowering the lower portion of the rear seat (maybe it would be as simple as making the lower portion thinner), but now, it seems like it’s unavoidable that at some point in the future a rear-seat occupant will likely be injured during a crash due to his/her head striking either the glass or the black, hard plastic trim.  Maybe General Motors still has time to fix this potential flaw?

We’re wondering, is the current generation Volt this confining (in regards to head entrapment/headroom) for someone 6 foot 1 in the back?

Head Contact With That Black Plastic Trim Piece Seems Inevitable

Head Contact With That Black Plastic Trim Piece Seems Inevitable



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78 Comments on "2016 Chevrolet Volt Design Flaw Revealed In This Video?"

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The back seats in the volt have always been too small and tight. Nothing new here.

This issue makes the Volt a non-starter for my family. They added ~1″+ over the current Volt, but that doesn’t help enough.

Yeah, this has been discussed frequently in comments on Volt-related articles. Not exactly “news”.

I just cannot understand why there cannot be a “wagon” version, with a straighter roofline. More space for hunting, camping, biking, etc, and HEAD ROOM.

The Honda Insight has the same problem. Tight headroom, limited the sales of that vehicle.

I’m 6’2″ and usually I am driving my Volt but I have sat in the back and yes my head is almost touching the glass.

I fix it by just moving my hips a little forward in the seat which brings my head down a couple of inches. Obviously not ideal for hours at a time but for less time it’s not a big deal. I usually don’t sit as tall and upright as I possibly can anyway when I’m a passenger in any car seat.

I fix it by not sitting in the back 🙂

Or by wearing a safety helmet when sitting in the back – if space allows.

It’s not the concussion that would cause you the permanent damage at the little speed you could build up before hitting, but the spinal compression that might cause you problems for the rest of your life and the helmet won’t change that.

Thanks George S for letting me pony up to your post. I have enjoyed greatly the writings of InsideEVS Global Electric Fueled Vehicle Automotive Journalist Eric Loveday. Eric, you have got me steaming! Tell me, Eric how the back seat of the MY 2016 Chevy Volt Etended Range Electric Vehicle felt to you when you sat in it? Bet you haven’t. I have. Link Goes To My Twitter Album From NAIAS Detroit, Industry Days- 01.15.2015- https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CBo7e_WUkAAkdVV.png:large Yes, that is me sitting in the fifth seat at 6′ tall. Eric, your rant against GM and Chevroet Volt EREV back seat was uncalled for and a piling on. While Mr. Anthony produced an acceptable review of the MY 2016 Chevy Volt EREV, his misplaced attack on a new design, that allows for more seat belts in this vehicle, was, in my opinion sloppy and misleading and down right hostile. GM has made it clear that this 5th seat is designed for people smaller then his 6’1″ frame. As for you, my friend, sit in the back seat, report what you experience and then rant. This is called journalism fact finding! There, I feal better, now! So, lets us put a 6’10” Chevy… Read more »

It will sell well in China. 😉

or France 🙂

Could it only be sold here… 🙁

Another ignorant commenter 🙁

Yeah, the world tends to be overly politically correct these days such that you often can’t mention true facts because they are sometimes interpreted as offensive for whatever reason.

It is kinda annoying.

I have to agree with that. People who have little ability to actually discuss a point resort, at times, to politically correct jargon.

You guys don’t get it. Making a joke out of someone’s nationality is wrong. Stating fact, however, is simply, just stating fact. Nothing wrong there.


Understanding this has nothing to do with what nationality one is in. It’s simply, being educated and being respectful.

That’s where the line is drawn.

after looking at http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_height#Average_height_around_the_world it appears that the rear seat of a Volt wouldn’t be a problem as the average height in China is well below 6′, so it wouldn’t be a negative for sales in China I agree with Speculawyer and Nick some folks are just looking for a reason to be offended. is the back seat of a Volt a tight fit? yes is it a good car for you if you need to transport tall people? no, probably not is it some huge sin the Volt isn’t made to be all things to all people? no a Volt is what it is I’m 5’8″ My wife has an 07 Prius, the back seat of that car is no pick nick for tall folks or myself. I’ve had an iMiev. Several of our friends and associates have Leafs. I have driven and ridden in Leafs on many occasions. I now have a 14 Volt. I wish the Volt had more battery only range like the Leaf or the iMev but I got tired of not being able to take long trips in the iMev or being asked to drive our Prius because our friends Leafs couldn’t go the… Read more »

One day when you grow a bit older, Londo Bell, you will discover the world doesn’t quite fit the assumed ideals of your youth.

***mod edit***

Partial thread removal – there was a long and very off topic argument here between some members of the community that was entirely too distracting. It has been removed for the benefit of others.

***mod edit***

you must be chinese

I’m actually more concerned about the closing hatch hitting the head of rear passengers if you’re, say, putting in luggage.

Although the Volt’s rear headroom is insufficient, the glass near the hatch hinge never moves fast enough to cause any impact.

My daughter never wanted to ride in the Volt again after feeling trapped in the back seat during a test drive. It is too tight. Hopefully this will not kill anyone by breaking their neck in an accident. I’m guessing GM tested with a tall crash dummy in the back seat and saw the potential hit. Let’s hope they aren’t making the actuarial choice again like they did with the ignition switches.
The Volt has always been a very small car in terms of passenger space. I chose the Nissan LEAF and have not regretted the decision.
Scale it up 20% GM… and get rid of the hump battery. Too bad for this model… not significant enough upgrades. Odd looking grooves in the sides too. The blue paint hides them… but the recent grey side shot I saw makes the car look like it has been hit broadsides.

1 thing that many Volt fans seem to have forgotten (or ignored) – both LEAF & the Prius are categorized as mid-size sedans. Volt has always been a compact, and that may be the reason why its back seats are so tight. The 2 approaches with the sliding hatch are either long and dropping gradually (the Prius approach) or sudden drop (the LEAF or Prius C approach). The latter provides great interior space at the sacrifice of aerodynamics, the former the utter opposite. As a result, you really need to have a mid-size vehicle to have both interior space AND aerodynamics for the former, if a 5 seater is what the vehicle is.

Oh, I just have to have a smile on M.A. comments on the 5th seat. Nicely done video, for a general family sedan review (instead of a technology gizmo review).

Yeah, I think that just means we really want a mid-sized vehicle. An inch or slightly more of head-room in the Volt would have changed my buying decision.

The Volt may have exactly been designed to do just that.

But there will be a Malibu hybrid.

Note, the Volt has the wheelbase and width of a Prius.

Even in compact cars you normally have a lot more room, both for legs and heads.

And the outer dimensions of the Volt are not all that compact so a lot could have been done without expanding the cars foot print.

Yup, the old Volt is like that too.

Congrats on the clickbaiting headline.

It seems like they could have measured both and came to that conclusion vs just saying it is a problem with 2016 AND now planting a lawsuit seed in peoples head. Geez.

And InsideEVs thanks you for viewing their ads once on the main page, once on this page, and again after posting your comment.

Torso length? Being 6’1″ is just a part of it. Torso to leg ratio varies a lot. I’d like to know the seat to roof clearance on the new volt. That’s the number worth comparing.

This is a tradeoff between drag, hence range, and comfort, making the assumption that taller people will sit at the front. In my family, at least, that’s a correct assumption.

If your family or usual travel group consists of more than two tall adults, Volt 2.0 might not be for you.

+1 This guy could have a 31″ inseam.

If only he had tried to demo the fifth seat, would we have known how long his legs were.

Speaking of which, I’d like to see a video of someone trying to get into the fifth seat on a Volt. That cup holder raises the hump significantly. How exactly does one get their leg over the hump to straddle it when the roof is so low? It’s not like you can stand hunched over and step over the hump. If only the Volt had gull-winged doors. 😉

If only it had falcon doors 😉

D’oh! That’s what I meant to say. I got birds mixed up. 😀

It’s only a problem if you are sitting “wrong” 😉

A coworker who is 6′ 1″ often gets the honors to sit in the back during lunch rides and usually slouches down and sits with his knees in his chin. That’s the only way to avoid hitting his head and to avoid getting burned by the sun-heated black glass.

So the real news here is the new Volt not only doesn’t have a “real” 5th seat, it doesn’t even have a “real” 3rd and 4th seat. It remains a compact car.


Sadly, other compact cars don’t have this problem. Kudos to the other car companies that didn’t sacrifice rear passenger headroom in their designs. Now if only they’d engineer a electric drive for their rear-seat roomy compacts. Or better yet, GM could put a big honkin’ battery pack in their Malibu Hybrid to make a mid-sized EREV.

The cramped interior is the major issue I hear from Volt owners and would-be Volt owners and I onow quite a few. Chevy could have addresed this by raising the height 2″ but style and hitting that 50 mile goal were more important. Other than that, still a brilliant cramped car.

Headroom in the Volt is TERRIBLE. There is less headroom in the Volt than in my wife’s 2001 Corolla. The Leaf has so much head-room. If it even had another inch or so I would already be a Volt owner.

Yes, I loved the more open interior feel of the Leaf over the gen1 Volt. Lots of headroom…

Every vehicle made is a series of tradeoffs. I’ve been looking at both the Leaf and Volt for my next car. IMO the rear seat area is very “crowded” on the 2011-2015 Volt, and as they say the dimensions are staying essentially the same for the 2016, so it will be crowded to. But overall, I think I’ll get the 2016 Volt. Although many say current (affordable) BEV range (~85 miles) is enough, once freeway speeds are considered this drops off – so even though I really like the existing Leaf, I’ll be looking the volt over very seriously.

@shane, I would advise you that your though may be incorrect in several ways. If there is/are charging equipment(s), then you are really getting some 60 miles of freeway driving per way, or 120 mi round trip, @ 65 mi/hr or higher (which I strongly advise against). LEAF, Soul EV, i3 (BEV) and B-Class can do so with NO trouble. In fact, the latter 3 provides even longer range than the LEAF, if you can afford them and they are available at your region. Or, Tesla, of course. But if you don’t have any charging opportunity at the other end, then a Volt’s 50 mi range will drop to around 30 at those speed, since there’s no magic formula for 1 battery to “last” longer than the other when driving on freeway at high speed. If you do want longer electric range, the i3 REX is actually better since you will be driving longer on electric and using less gasoline for the extended portion of the trip. Or, a Tesla. If you trip is very, very long with no charging, a Prius Plug-In is actually better because it uses less gasoline than even the Gen 2 Volt. Or, possibly, a… Read more »

So what you’re saying is buy anything except a Volt. I think you might be showing a bias against this car.

Shane, it’s you who state that you’ve your eye set on Volt.

I provide you with alternates (the other options). There’s no point to simply say the Volt again, because it itself is NOT an option/alternate choice. Get it?

Londo Bell – When you stated, “I would advise you that your though(t) may be incorrect in several ways,” my point was to show why this was right for my preferences and situation. Actually, part of my concern is when people imply they know better what is best for me (or someone else) than I (they) do. If your point was simply to state there are other choices, then fine – thank you, but I am well aware of them (Teslas, i3s, i3(Rex), etc, and also enroute recharging).

The Tesla and i3 are well above my price range. It is enough of a stretch to buy any new car (vs my historic preference for ~ 3 yr old used cars). In Phoenix, some of the cars referenced aren’t available either (SOUL EV). Finally, I don’t want to plan my life around my cars limitations. Certainly not a $30K+ car (althought Fed incentive helps), but still more than 2x the highest price I have ever paid for a car (like I said, I buy used cars). I’m willing to go part way with the 2016 Volt, which can still drive to LA to visit family (~450 miles), and across town on the freeway to visit close friends (50 miles). My experience with a Leaf I rented for a week indicate the 50 mile trip typical weekend freeway speeds (~75 mph), would be too risky for my taste. My primary objective is to see friends, not to waorry about my car. Bottom line is that I think the 2016 Volt is a good balancing of all the criteria for my situation.

I think, overall the 2016 Volt will allow me to drive the great majority of the time on electric – but when it runs out, I still have a normal hybrid. Overall, on a yearly basis, I think I will use far less gas with it than I would a Plugin Prius or Cmax Energi. In a couple years I plan to look very hard at the promised group on 150-200 mile range EV cars from GM, Tesla and Nissan. But as of the choices on the table today (and soon), I think the 2016 Volt works best for my situation.

I think you are on the right track. I had an iMev and many of our friends have Leafs. The range was a problem. Many times I’d have to take a longer slower route to use less battery to get back home. My Leaf friends have had similar experiences with range limits. A Volt would use less gas than the Ford or Prius. Those cars only go 19-20 miles on battery. Before they switch to hybrid mode. In hybrid mode they do get better mileage than a Volt. But in my Volt I go twice as far before I need to use gas. My 14 Volt goes 38-42 miles on battery and then gets about 35mpg on gas. My wife has an 07 Prius which gets about 42-45mpg average over the years. The Ford is also notoriously hard to find. Around here none of the dealers stock them, you have to order (and pay full SRP). Even the Prius is difficult to find in stock. Our Toyota dealer doesn’t always have any stock and when he does only gets one at time. I’d like to have the extra battery range of the 16 Volt, I’d use even less gas. But… Read more »

2014 Model S has less rear headroom than volt. Is this a design flaw? And what is with the refugee from Star Trek the motion picture?


Any actual measurements from seat to roof of both cars?


Look at the Interior Specs: Headroom Rear in the middle of the article:

Headroom Rear: new: 35.8″ current: 36.0″

Yeah, but do they measure to the glass or to the projection of the roof line (where the roof would be if it continued towards the back)?

I think we all agree that headroom to a hard surface like glass is not equivalent to headroom to a soft roof material.

That depends, are you sitting “wrong”? 😉 It should be to the roof liner.

People often get the panoramic sunroof on the Model S to increase the rear headroom by an inch.

I’m kind of shocked by this. I thought the Tesla was much bigger.

So the new Volt, like the old Volt has bad headroom in the back seat. If you plan to haul around tall people in the back seat, don’t buy this car.

I’m 6’0″ and I rode in the backseat of a Volt. I fit but it was a tight fit and I did knock my head against the roof during some turn or pothole. That said, it would not stop me from buying the car because I’d be driving and have no plans for hauling tall people around.

(But the Volt is not for me because I want pure EV since I have a solar PV system, I don’t want to deal with ICE maintenance, I don’t want to deal with smog checks, etc.)


Leg room in the rear seats sucks just as much as the headroom.

No issue for me. FINALLY! A good reason to be only 5’7!

First gen’s the same. I’m 5-10 and can sit back there with maybe an inch to spare above my head.

I really don’t see this as a design flaw or safety issue. 6’1″ passengers are going to have limited headroom in the back of almost any compact car.

The flaw/safety issue is not because of the limited headroom per se, but how the head has no place to move because the head is already hitting the hatch glass, yet lodged in that space because the headliner doesn’t allow the head’s forward movement.

That’s what I saw and heard in the video.

But if you have more headroom, then the problem doesn’t exist.

The first gen is the same. If you’re tall, then it’s probably not the best place to sit.

Maybe GM should print a notice in the manual saying that taller passengers shouldn’t sit there.

I think that we are getting into schematics here. Sure, more head room may eliminate the problem, so you view is sounded.

However, the limited head room that you’ve initially stated, doesn’t actually mean a safety hazard. There is a difference, I believe. If the head isn’t being lodged into the space, say, you are basically touching the headliner, which also implies a limited headroom, then the “safety” factor here may not be as severe.

I’m not tall enough to tell if the 1st gen Volt has the same exact problem of the head being lodged into the space as shown in the video, unfortunately.

Hope you understand what I’m suggesting here.

So if GM filled in that gap with extra plastic molding, what would the passenger do? Would his head be stuck against the roof due to lack of room? Or would he just sit lower?

This seems like a non-issue to me.

I have yet to have someone in the back of my Volt that complains about room. Sure, it’s snug, but it’s also comfortable because they are bucket seat. If you have a bunch of tall people in your family, you wouldn’t buy ANY compact car, regardless of hybrid or otherwise. I know a few Samoans and they all own Chevy Suburbans and Ford Excursions, and for good reason. Big ol honkin bodies!!!

That’s odd. Every adult has issues getting in and out and all normal sized males are not please riding in the back of my Volt.

GM announced the Chevy Volt in January, 2007. And here we are eight years later, still with no plans to build a mid-sized EREV, or even a Volt EREV with decent rear headroom.


My Mazdaspeed 3 was smaller than my Volt and it had better headroom. GM likes to call the Volt a “hatchback”, but it’s really a sedan. I think a flatter roof-line would better suit the Volt.

BTW.. It Looks Like a HONDA Civic Now! I wonder If the size Is Similar ..Sure Sounds Like It!

Nah, the Honda civic has a noticeably roomier back seat. Heck the Honda fit is roomier than the volt.

I seriously don’t think this is, “breaking news at 11pm! ”

If you believe you will be transporting tall passengers on a regular basis, Volt as a true compact-classs car may not be for you.


I would like to add (I should have already) that they did not have a 2015 Volt at the Chicago Auto Show to take a look at. I would have if there was one there. If the head room and potential danger situation I talked about was there from the 1st Gen Volt, I would have revised it and said that the issue is still there with the upcoming 2016 Volt, when it should not be 😉
Thank you very much to everyone who watched the video!

Move your butt forward by 1 inch, problem solved… Sure, it will cramp your leg by 1 inch.

Just raise your knee…

If you are planning to carry 5 six footer in the car, then you bought the wrong car stupid…

Forget the issue with tall people, I’m concerned if my kids are in the back seat in their carseats and I get rear ended, is glass going to shatter all over the tops of their heads?

It’s safety glass.
It will be in tiny pieces and, I believe, not sharp.
If you’re in that kind of accident, you’ve got other things to worry about.

Overall, I like the Volt and it seems to be one of very few real options for a plug-in. That said, I hated how it feels in the back seat and I am only 6 foot. That was a show stopper for me unfortunately.

I heard NBA basketball players like Escalades and Hummers.

You might want to look at the Mitsu Outlander PHEV when it arrives.

Or the new Chevy Malibu Hybrid.

This is a so called non issues.

Go and get in the 3rd row seat of the Toyota Highlander and see if your head is stuck behind the roof line or NOT.

Sure, you will whine like a baby that 6 ftr shouldn’t be sitting in the 3rd row seats of the Midsize Crossover. But the fact is that just about all cars with tight rear space have this issue unless you get a “square” hatch instead.