Surprise Test Drive of the 2016 Chevrolet Volt


It’s the first review of driving in the all-new 2016 Chevrolet Volt, and no, it’s not from the media.  A lucky Canadian Volt owner recently had the chance to take a 2016 Chevrolet Volt for a spin, now in production at the Detroit Hamtramck facility.

Overall, forum member “kickincanada” reports that the 2016 is a big improvement over the already-popular and highly-ranked Generation 1 Chevrolet Volt that recently ended its production run in preparation for the next-generation model.

Things they liked?  Better visibility, higher quality interior, intuitive controls, comfortable seating, quicker acceleration, great handling, and – once the battery is depleted after 53 EPA-rated miles of gas-free driving – a much quieter gasoline engine than the first generation Volt.

Additionally, the new steering wheel paddles provide strong regenerative braking on demand, and use of those paddles is said to also engage the Volt’s brake lights.  Optional rear heated seats, a heated steering wheel, and the ability to use Apple CarPlay to display Google Maps on the center touch screen also impressed.

2016 Chevrolet Volt Out For A Spin On Canadian Roads

Another 2016 Chevrolet Volt Out For A Spin On Canadian Roads

The 2016 Volt... With Wireless Charging for your Cellphone

The 2016 Volt, Complete with Cellphone Cooling and Wireless Cellphone Charging, Standard on the 2LZ Trim

The reviewer confirmed that the engine will run to help assist in heating the cabin at temperatures colder than 15F, which is the same set point as the outgoing Volt (barring some last minute SW change).  Some may be disappointed with this detail, wanting to avoid gasoline use as much as possible and willing to sacrifice their comfort/warmth to that end.

Also noted is optional integrated wireless charging for your cellphone, eliminating the need for power cables to keep your phone charged while consuming power with features like Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.

The fifth seat was stated to make for an improved rear center console that can be folded down for use, but the fifth seat position is, as expected, not ideal for adults.  Many will still hail this as an improvement, allowing for three children to easily ride in the back seat, or if you prefer, your favorite canine.

After the initial “high” of being able to drive the most anticipated plug-in vehicle release of 2015, kickincanada had these final summary of his first impressions:

A View of the Driver and Center Console in the 2016 Chevrolet Volt

A View of the Driver and Center Console in the 2016 Chevrolet Volt

I’ve been thinking about my drive since my original post and I have to be honest and say the new 2016 is very, very good – best car for the money (with rebate) out there period. I’ve driven BMW and a few other “upscale” brands lately and there is nothing I would rather do than drive the new Volt (ok perhaps a Volt CUV if GM had one). And this is coming from someone who once said he would never ever buy a GM product. With this car, GM has proven to me it is probably the best car company out there. Even GEN 1 is still relevant five years after it was released, and it looks like this tradition will continue. Thanks GM!

For more details and an extended discussion on this early surprise test drive, check out the full discussion thread at

See also a list of Standard and Available Equipment for the 2016 Volt over at

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97 Comments on "Surprise Test Drive of the 2016 Chevrolet Volt"

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Yes, the new Volt is getting good reviews, howsoever, “GM the best car company out there”?

You may think it is overkill but I was impressed and really the production of this car is a testament to just how much GM has changed. Sure Tesla and BMW have some great offerings (Leaf too but I don’t like the BMS) but GM was basically first to market with Volt, they are still unmatched when it comes to range and quality in a PHEV (IMHO), and they will be no doubt be first to market with a 200 mile EV that is within reach of the average consumer. They are not a perfect company but Honda, Toyota and others are getting way to much credit than they deserve. GM is making well designed and good products these days and are certainly worth a look.

I have a new Honda cross tour, a Ford electric focus and a new 2015 Volt. The Volt is by far the best in initial quality, amenities and entertainmet system function. THe Honda is last in my opinion. Got the Volt for $18225 after all the discounts and rebates.

Thanks Kickin, for the first review of Volt2 – plus it’s always great to get a consumer’s view rather than someone in media.

You can be bias and many of us who love the Volt brag on it too because it possesses a combination of attributes no other vehicle as yet to match.

Now if only GM can arrange some Prius/Volt shootouts….

No mention of the fact that the Volt 2.0 has Apple CarPlay, and will be software-upgradeable to Android Auto in a few months from now. That should be major selling points, once you have had the chance to experience them.

Looks like a commercial ad to me. P.R. move, not a genuine random driver experience.

Clearly states “lucky Canadian Volt owner”, not random driver.

Two things to expect from that. First, a favoritism toward the Volt experience, and secondly, the best possible comparison to gen 1.

Looking forward to getting past the August numbers and welcoming the September models.

Check my profile on gm-volt. Long time Volt owner and poster. Hardly a P.R. move. If the car was worse than the old or the competition I would say so – but the fact is, it is just better.

Sure it’s better. Slightly better, not much if you account for the 5 years between the two models.

The first model was ahead of its time. Even Mitt Romney once said the Chevy Volt was an “idea whose time has not come”. As someone driving a Volt on a daily basis at the time I had to laugh.

Based on what is typical in the auto industry (longer lead times to market) from what I can gather there have been many improvements during the previous 5 years compared to typical models (remember first year was limited role out for the Volt so I think of it as a 4 year interval – certainly here in Canada first model year was 2012). As I say to any of the haters/doubters – go drive a BEV or EREV and then you can pontificate. Since obviously you haven’t driven a GEN 2, your comment is somewhat ill-informed.

Just a quick subjective question for you, KIC.

How does the fit and finish compare with the 2011 Volt? Does the car seem as solid and BEEFY as the 2011?

We have been told they’ve taken the expense out of making the 2016. Does anything to your knowledge look like its been “built DOWN to a price?”.

Thanks man for you initial insights.

The funny thing is the fit and finish seems better than the GEN 1. It actually feels like they put more $$$ into the car rather than decontented – bizarre I know. I think some people forget that the GEN 1 was paper napkin drawing to production in 4 years – unheard of in auto industry – especially for the moon shot the GEN 1 was. Cleary GM had time to refine pretty much every aspect of the Volt and it shows for the better. I was very surprised. And it seems just as solid and beefy despite the lighter overall weight.

Well, you can’t have real world experience until the car is delivered.

Still NOT bad for the first review. Why are you so negative?

I’m sure GM was careful to select someone who would give a very positive review, including calling GM “probably the best car company out there”. So we should read this with the understanding it’s more of an advertisement than an objective review.

That said, it’s still great to see a review from someone who’s not a GM employee, despite the fact it’s not from a neutral party.

I’m on my second Volt now (first one was a 2012, now driving my 2015 having 17,000 miles) and I’d be very delighted if GM empowered owners in the Generation 2 Volt to turn off the blasting horn if (#1) the owner needs to stop and get out of his/her Volt briefly and leaving it turned on and (#2) purposely leaves a spare set of keys in the Volt.

I also hope they abandoned the use of chrome inside the Volt near and on the instrument panel as well as the shiny plastic that reflects the sunlight like a laser.

Horn blasting is exceedingly annoying and irritating!

Well looking at the article, plenty of chrome on the inside.

The horn signal is a direct result of people being unable to tell that they’ve left their car on, and then suing GM after their car is left running in a closed garage. This is why we can’t have nice things.

As for your second problem, remove the battery from your second key remote and your problem should be solved.

Or buy the Bolt instead, or an eGolf if the Bolt does not come out in time 🙂 Once there is no gas engine there is no problem with leaving it on besides draining the battery and that can be solved with a timeout automated turnoff too.

what about fast charging possibilities(Cha-demo)????

Andre, I have a 2012 Nissan Leaf and it’s the LS model with The quick charge outlet. I have never used it. When I got my Nissan Leaf I thought I would have needed the quick charge capability and I found out I really don’t. If I can live without it on the Nissan Leaf, I sure can live without it on the Chevy Volts. It may not be as important as you think it is.

It really amazes me that so many people seem to think “one size fits all” when it comes to daily driving distance.

And in one study, Volt drivers stopped en route to charge more often than Leaf owners. For those who are actually committed to using as little gasoline as possible, that’s hardly a surprise, since the Leaf’s EV range is considerably farther than the Volt’s.

The slight increase in range from the Volt 1.0 to 2.0 isn’t going to change that.

The CCS standard is supposed to allow DCFC through the standard J1772 (AC only) plug, up to 80A, so 25-30kW, give or take. I wonder if GM would announce DCFC capability at a later date… Although of course, that wouldn’t make any sense until somebody actually makes and deploys some stations that would support it.

Sans the “GM is the best” overkill, GM *should* take this driver’s advice, which I have also given a couple times in the past without even having ridden a Volt (just based on its spec and reliability reviews):

GM should market it as its best compact/midsize, period.

Thanks Eric, Whatever *some* people think about GM, the Volt is so far ahead of the rest and looks to be staying there.

Interesting that ERDTLT, or engine on below 15 degrees, Fahrenheight, should come up. That’s cold! In Boston, maybe ~14 mornings a year, on average? Canada I can understand, but since it is way better than the ELR’s ~36F, and better than the pre-’13 Volt’s ~25 degrees, I suspect for most it will be a non-issue.

The ELR will start the engine at 36 degrees??? !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

That means I won’t have an electric car for 3 months !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The owner’s manual only states “The engine might run if its cold out”. Thanks Cadillac!

lol good one…

Bill: I hear you! But—on the ’12 Volt I have, the heater seems to go off and on as the car attains a certain temperature when that heater came on. You know better than I how that worked. Preheating in my garage helped reduce the gas generator, though. Frankly, as much as I hate not driving on the battery, there was legitimate comfort when it did kick on. My non electric time is closer to 1-2 months down here in Philly and it’s not every day. January and February would usually be cold enough to start the generator in the morning, but on a sunny day the car was warmer and fairly often would not induce the generator to turn on.

How are you enjoying the ELR? We have a Walgreens manager who drives a black ELR(I think the car looks really sharp)and I was showing it to my wife. She liked it too. Way out of our price range though(even at the re-worked prices). That’s OK, we love our Volt.


Ugh! Wrote a long response then the thing ate it. Here’s the synopsis: 2011 VOLT. Like the car, except GM has the unnerving habit of, shall we say “Engineering Wet-Dream Arrogance”. My 1995 Buick Riviera would not run the air conditioner since the computer in the dashboard ‘communicated’ with the ever-so-distant engine computer over a rs-232 link to run on the compressor clutch relay. Heaven forbid they run a 3 foot long #26 wire, which I did as a cheap repair. Then, it would stagger the turn on of the dashboard lights so you’d think you were driving a 747. Except when it would forget to turn them on. Every other car I had just wired the dashboard lights to the parking lights and its done. Its like that on the VOlt also. Its the first car I’ve EVER been stuck in the snow, since the traction control limits the power to the wheels to 3 horsepower and thats not enough. It also will run the engine in the garage on the remote start with the charge cord connected, a very very dangerous situation. I didn’t do the recall that shuts the car off if it is on too long… Read more »

The elr is worse about running the engine. supposedly starting at 36 degrees. Its below 37 degrees where I am 4 months out of the year, so I’ll only have 2/3 an electric car. But at least it should be winter survivable.

The owner’s manual is huge but much worse than the volt. Talks all day but says nothing. Example “The engine might start when it is cold outside”.

Gee I wish they wouldn’t be so technical.

oh, and in neither car do the ‘home’ garage door openers work whereas they worked fine with my 2004 Kia Amante. Now that was the finest car I’ve ever owned. A big full luxury car for $23,000. Unbelievable. I traded that car in, but should have sold it to a friend so that I’d never actually ‘part’ with it permanently.

Some day, since I only buy EV’s now, I wish someone would come up with a good one.

Other things:

No rear seat room, but better than the I8.

Navigation screen absolutely sucks. Much better in the 2011 volt.

Voice commands as equally dismal as the 2011 volt.

Bought a tablet to use the remote charging function you get with on the volt, but says its incompatible with my tablet.

Bunch of motorized junk in the car like sliders, doors, etc, that work sometimes, and sometimes dont’ but of course always work without fail at the dealership.
Only improvement is it has a plain charge door, not that dopey remote control volt thing that freezes in the wintertime, and then had to be constantly taken back in the wintertime to get the silly thing to open. This is the sole improvement of the ELR, and the new volts have it also. What idiot was thinking there is anything to steal BEFORE the cord is inserted? If it was just a marketing gimmick, then it shows they’re even more dumb.

“The reviewer confirmed that the engine will run to help assist in heating the cabin at temperatures colder than 15F, which is the same set point as the outgoing Volt (barring some last minute SW change). Some may be disappointed with this detail, wanting to avoid gasoline use as much as possible and willing to sacrifice their comfort/warmth to that end.”

Hopefully like with 2011-2015 Volts, you can modify the circuit for the ambient air temperature sensor so ERDTT will not occur unless the battery pack is too darn cold, in the 2016 Volt. Maybe the ELR too.
The battery pack has temperature sensors in it so it if really is too cold, below 0 degrees Fahrenheit I’m guessing, the engine can turn on while the pack heats itself up with it’s 1800 watt coolant heater.

Searching “ERDTLT” for the Volt 2 brought me back, again.

As much as 15F is useful, mostly for males 😉 , I am still trying to find whether 33-36F is what the new car uses? Time for a test drive.

I’ve already caught my wife simply going to Hold mode, “becuase the heat’s better” in the ’13. She’ll end a day with half the battery. So, I’m glad about the higher setting. ERDTLT, while starting the engine, maintains a fairly low idle, and consumes little gas for the duration its on. Otherwise, her 45 mile days end up mowing the battery down in ~25 miles. This is the perfect distance to take advantage of ERDTLT, as battery range ends up optimized, rather than waste heat all at the end of a day.

I’d be curious how people fake the setting to different values, as I think was mentioned? For her sake, I’d go up to 45 degrees or more. Volt 2 has a higher kw heater, which would get my wife away from ‘Hold’ mode temptation, but then, too, you’re mowing the battery down even faster.

“With this car, GM has proven to me it is probably the best car company out there.”

Lol… Tesla

Fleet car. Put an Avis tag on it and stuff it with a guy in a gray suit and some clothes hanging in the back window.

What a lucky guy! Although the review stretches into hyperbole at times (“the already-popular … Generation 1 Chevrolet Volt”, “GM has proven to me it is probably the best car company out there”, etc), it is great to see his excitement for the car. I hope GM can capitolize on that and get more people excited about the Volt. It truly is like nothing else on the road and it just got better!

Capitalize. Didn’t mean they should make a political statement out of it! Heaven knows the first Gen Volt was already enough of a political football…

The Gen 1 Volt was the best-selling plug-in in America until two months after its replacement was revealed. To the extent that EVs can be classified as “popular,” the Gen 1 Volt certainly qualifies.

Agreed. But therein lies the rub – EVs are FAR from “popular”. Not only in sales, but in mind share. GM may not sell huge numbers of Corvettes either, but it certainly qualifies as a popular (desireable) car.

as long the Volt 2 or Opel Ampera 2 is as not to buy in Europe , unfortunately for us Europeans uninteresting 🙁

At least in Nederland it would be the number one. They love plugin-hybrids in there. First Outlander PHEV and now Golf GTE.

Opel Ampera didn’t had success in Europe only because it was very overpriced.

It was ahead of time. Now the Volt would sell. People see lots of PlugIn Hybrids from VW, Audi, BMW etc. This was not the case years ago.

Chevrolet: Give the Volt a chance in Europe !

It won’t work…

GM already pulled Chevy brand.

An Opel Ampera would have to be priced competitively in order for GM to make a dent.

Unless GM is going to price it to $30K Euro, it won’t have a chance.

zoe-driver said:

“It was ahead of time. Now the Volt would sell.”

If the Volt 2.0 is priced 50% higher in Europe, as the Volt 1.0 was (sold as the Opel Ampera), then it won’t sell either.

If GM wants to sell the Volt 2.0 in Europe, then it needs to assemble the car there.

It’s still an ugly looking vehicle.

“a much quieter gasoline engine than the first generation Volt”

Wow, that is impressive.

Gen1.0 is already pretty quiet unlike the engine is reving to max at very low speed (steep hill climb without mountain mode engaged)…

I can’t wait to try it out.

I’m glad that GM also managed to get rid of the necessity to use Premium gasoline in the Volt 2.0, and also improve the MPG. (That is, the true meaning of MPG, which is a measure of how much gasoline is consumed to propel a car, and has nothing to do with the Volt’s EV range.)

Premium gas isn’t required, but highly recommended. Probably best to use premium though because otherwise less MPG and power so may not be worth the $0.20 per gallon price drop. Doubt engine would incur damage because it has knock sensors but who knows

My biggest question: Will they apply the $7500 tax credit to the residual like they did Gen1? If so, PLEASE DON’T.

I would really like to lease and then buy out the lease (since I don’t make enough money to qualify for the full $7500 tax credit for an outright purchase).

Nissan allows this, but GM doesn’t. It’s one of the reasons why I didn’t get a Gen1.

Not that you are necessarily in the market for one, but Ford – like Nissan – applies the tax credit as a cap cost reduction. So your residual is unaffected, but it counts as “cash down” at lease signing.

It kills me that GM tries to take the tax credit away from you. Although now I wonder – if that car is returned at the end of Lease, can/does GM write off the loss, preserving the car from being counted towards their 200,000 limit? (In other words – nobody ends up taking the credit on the car)

I qualify for Ford A-plan pricing, but considered the C-Max Energi and Fusion Energi *only* because of their friendly tax application to leases- and because I would qualify for more of the tax credit even if I bought it from the start.

But the Energi products from Ford are total crap. They have major reliability issues (mainly limited to electronics) and they have terrible AER.

I’ve decided to extend my LEAF lease and just wait and see what comes out.

I really hope that GM considers people like me- who have enough money to buy the car, but not enough to qualify for the full tax credit. I don’t want to be stuck in perpetual leases just to enjoy a plug in vehicle.


“But the Energi products from Ford are total crap. They have major reliability issues (mainly limited to electronics) and they have terrible AER.” This statement is entirely subjective. Major reliability issues? More like teething issues. Most if not all have been solved. And it was largely around the Sync infotainment system. Terrible AER? Well that also depends on your needs. For many (myself included), the AER is more than enough for daily driving. The Gen 1 Energis get about 1/2 of the Gen 1 Volt’s AER. But they get about double the Gen1 PiP. Just 5 years ago, we were clamoring for ANY vehicle with a plug. To the extent that people were putting an aftermarket kit into Gen II Prii just to get a handful of miles of AER. Don’t get me wrong, as an Energi owner, I don’t need to justify my purchase to you or anyone by proving it is the best for you. I’ve always maintained that the Gen 1 Voltec is a superior drivetrain in almost every way to the Gen 1 Energi. On the flip side, the Gen 1 Energi is a better vehicle (for my usage) than the Gen 1 Volt. Both Ford… Read more »

So many cynical people here. Thanks for the review. It’s sparked my interest to think about upgrading my 2013 gen 1.

Seriously! What the heck, this is such great news. The Gen2 is better in every way compared to the first one. This is awesome!

Vic: I am flummoxed by the cynicism, mostly by folks who don’t know much first hand about the car, the rest gear heads with concerns that don’t affect most of what I assume the intended audience for a general purpose car are. My main complaint about the Volt is the lack of advertising and the misunderstanding of most of my friends about an American car with excellent engineering. which is a pleasure to drive. I bought a 2013 from CarMax with 28000 miles on it, with the idea that I would upgrade to the 2016 if I liked it. At this point I don’t see a need to upgrade. I like what I got. I got 46 miles on last night’s charge (only 23 on the coldest Chicago days). That’s enough for one day’s driving most days for me. I rarely switch to gas and don’t mind if I do because the mileage is still better than any other car I have owned. I will never suffer range anxiety and won’t worry about whether there is a charge station nearby. I view this as an excellent intermediate stage in the development of personal transportation. Whatever comes next will be better,… Read more »

I think its brilliant that they have the wireless cell phone charging and cooling (!) solving real issues I have had.

For example I drive the eGolf and a Honda oddysee, and both are great with their bluetooth connectivity, my music just starts playing off the phone when I enter the car where it stopped last time without me touching a button or connecting a cable, but then when I want to charge it I still have to look for the USB cord and plug it in. And I have had the iphone6 overheat and refuse to work until cooled down, too.

But how does wireless charging work with the iphone, I did not think it supports that?

still I find it somehow sad that the new Volt doesn,t have fast charging capacities!!!Because it will exclude a bunch of good people who live in apartments,or Condos!!!!(so GM will loose many potential clients-who will buy some diesel, hybrid etc—.or a few the a Tesla S(….one charge is good for a week…)

+1, why not offer it as an option or at least 6.6KW charging as an option

RE: charging at 6.6 kw option.

I was charging my ELR at one of only 2 ev docking stations available at the NYState Fair earlier today, and they must have plugged them into a 200 volt line this year whereas last year it was 240volts.

The point of it is, I started charging at 2PM and the dashboard said it would be done at 7:15 (ok 5 1/4 hours). When I got back to the car 4 1/2 hours later, the dashboard said the car would be done at 8:30 pm (that’s 6 1/2 hours – for a PHEV!).

So, the 3.3 kw charger really doesn’t cut it in the ELR or the Volt sometimes. 6 1/2 hours is really too long to wait if you are travelling, especially since my charge rate seemed to be much lower than 3.3 kw, maybe 2.9, even considering there may have been some battery conditioning required.

I still do not understand why anybody would buy a clunker prius. Hardly any EV drive 10 miles and not able to go highway speeds in EV mode. The Volt outperforms this clunker all ways. Yes everyone says it get 50MPG. However you cannot put your foot to the medal or you end up in the 30MPGs. The Volt can go foot to the medal and still be all electric for 40 miles. Now it will be 50 miles, do not buy a prius even if cheaper because it is cheap. Also Toyota does not want to make an EV even after all the Tesla publicity. I guess Toyota can not match Tesla in performance. At least GM is trying with Volt and Bolt. However GM needs to make decision on charging network or join with Tesla on charging. Bolt will not sell like Tesla if no charging available. I am sure Tesla would let the Bolt charge, GM needs not be like it was in prior years and shake hands with Tesla.

What about the automatic audible signal during low speed driving ? What kind of sound does it make ?