Test Drives: 2016 Chevrolet Volt Goes Further Than Expected In Electric-Only Mode


2016 Chevrolet Volt

2016 Chevrolet Volt

2016 Chevrolet Volt Window Sticker (click to enlarge)

2016 Chevrolet Volt Window Sticker (click to enlarge)

Wired.com posted a test drive review of the 2016 Chevrolet Volt. It’s perhaps the only largely negative review of the 2016 Volt out there.

The intro paragraphs set us up for what’s to come.  It opens with a faulty discussion on the failure of the first-generation Volt:

“When it hit the market in 2010, sales were disappointing. Its engine required premium fuel. It had room for just four people. It cost $41,000. It could only go 38 miles on electric power. Sure, it was enough to cover 80-percent of trips Americans make, but it just didn’t live up to the hype.”

“Then Nissan came out with the affordable, all-electric Leaf. Tesla made electric driving thrilling with the luxury Model S. Ford, BMW, Porsche, and Toyota introduced their own plug-in electric hybrids. All of a sudden, the Volt wasn’t special anymore.”

Most of us would likely stop reading right there, but some of us who read on find this discussion on all electric range of the 2016 Volt:

Electric Range

Image Via Auto World News

Image Via Auto World News

“One upgrade matters more than any other: The Volt has a greatly improved range that will let it go 53 miles on nothing but electricity. In a July test drive, I did even better, covering 54.9 miles in electric mode. That’s despite spending much of the drive on the highway at 65 or 70 mph, the speed at which EV range tends to fall off steeply.”

So, the 2016 Volt, even when driven by a pessimistic journalist, beats its published electric range figures!

Wired.com isn’t the only site to post on the 2016 Volt’s electric range.  As Autoweek states:

“Jumping into our first 2016 Volt, the range readout before we left promised 52 miles on batteries alone. Driving conservatively (but not hypermiling) over mostly flat ground -– one pass was 1,808 feet high –- we managed 54 miles before the gasoline engine kicked in. On the next “tankful” of battery we got 61.5 miles in EV mode, but that was downhill for most of the first 10 miles, so maybe saying 51 miles would be more accurate there.”

And Motor Trend writes:

“A few weeks earlier I’d driven the car from San Jose to Monterey and back along with several other journalists, and I actually got the worst EV range of anybody there—and that was still 49 miles. Yes, driving like a nut. Some got upward of 57.”

So, it seems the 2016 Volt is easily capable of delivering at least 53 miles of electric range (its EPA rating), but in the hands of some it will provide even more.

Source: Wired

Categories: Chevrolet


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43 Comments on "Test Drives: 2016 Chevrolet Volt Goes Further Than Expected In Electric-Only Mode"

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It’s better that GM downplay the range then over state the car’s range. In that I would feel better if they say the car gets 50 miles a charge but it gives me 56 miles a charge when I drive it.

I however would get angry if I drive car they say gets 50 miles a charge but only gets 40 miles a charge when I drive it.

Ok… but for the careful hyper-miler… looks like a few more commutes are makable on AER.

Wired ? Seems more like ‘Unplugged’.

Ever try getting ‘Rated Range’ out of a Tesla? Sorry, but give credit where credit is due. Show some ‘spect for all the “38 mile” Volts getting 40+.

There are way too many Volt, plus Tesla, owners out there for the truth to hide.

“Ever try getting ‘Rated Range’ out of a Tesla?”

Setting the cruise control to 65 mph and putting the climate control on range mode often does a bit better than rated range on our road trips to New Mexico and back. Of course I only drive like that when we pass the last supercharger on interstate 10. I tend to get something like 15% less than rated range during normal California freeway driving.

I got the rated range on my Roadster but I cheated because I used Low Rolling Resistance Tires.

I find the Tesla “rated range” realistic. Careful, slow driving can easily yield about 10% more than rate range, but mostly my range is within 10% of rated range.

It seems that people who criticize the Volt for “not living up to” the hype are all people who have never owned the car. Correct me if I’m wrong, but the Volt maintains GMs top spot for most customer satisfaction compared to all GM vehicles, and per Consumer Reports, is second place overall in customer satisfaction only to the Tesla Model S. It sounds to me like Volt owners LOVE their car, it’s just that non-Volt owners don’t appreciate it and average consumers aren’t interested. It’s a niche product, and that’s unfortunate- because I know how much of an engineering wonder the Volt really is. It’s just unfortunate that due to GMs lease calculations and my tax status, I can never realistically own the car. GM needs to stop applying the $7500 tax credit to the residual and start offering it as a capitalized cost reduction like Ford and Nissan do. That way people who aren’t rich can lease-to-own and still enjoy the $7500 off the cost of the car. I can’t afford a $34000 car. I can afford a $26500 car. So either fix your lease, or I (and many others like me) are going to buy used or… Read more »

I just paid $27500 for a 2015 before incentives

3 positive reviews of the Volt, one negative, and the negative one gets the publicity. Sheesh! 😉 :p

(I am of course kidding, Mark did a great write-up on another review earlier today) 🙂

I think some other strange contributor around here recapped a positive one too, (=

Surprise Test Drive of the 2016 Chevrolet Volt

Pfff, that guy is an awful writer. 🙂

Just aweful 😉

Have we all forgotten?!?!?
Wasn’t the promise 50EV/50MPG…….lol
Still a MISS!

At least GM hit 50% for Gen 2.

Maybe Gen 3 they’ll get it right for this tiny compact?


When did GM promise 50 / 50 ?

Since Gen 1 from Bob Lutz himself. The goal was always 50/50.

Those who have followed it from the days when Lyle started the gm-volt site know it’s been 50AER/50MPG. Those who just joined the bandwagon don’t know.

Then it got discounted to 40AER and 35mpg.
Minor incremental updates got it close. But Gen 2 got it to 50%.

Is that EPA goal or real life goal?

I know Gen1 Volt owners who managed 46 mpg in real life. So, I am sure the same person might be able to pull 50mpg with Gen2 Volt.

The original 50/50 claim from GM actually came even earlier than that link. And it was before the EPA changed the EPA Test Cycle to the current version that is much tougher than the old version.

But even though the EPA test cycle changed, GM was going through bankruptcy and reorganization, and couldn’t afford to announce new numbers based upon the new test cycle. So they kept using the original numbers. Now only California CARB uses the old test cycle, and those old numbers look like even worse misses than they really were.

Congratulations on being a LONG TIME anti-Volt-nic, and for criticizing the affirdable & useful EV range no other car company has been able to best (range anxiety? What range anxiety? And no visible loss of battery range after 200Kmi). Incredible engineering.

My best range ever was 52mi on a single charge, from the EPA rated 38mi range. Had the car 3 years and new Volt is first in line when I update.

So sad to have to ruin such a nice front grill with a license plate holder.


“It could only go 38 miles on electric power.”

Actually, the 2011 Volt (released in 2010) could only go 35 miles on electricity.

The outgoing Volt was rated at 38 EV miles.

Man this is really great to hear!! I really hope Chevy Volt will be a huge success.


I started reading Wired with v1, stopped a long time ago when they lost their mojo.

They used to explain the significance and the future path of disruptive technology.

A line like this: “Sure, it was enough to cover 80-percent of trips Americans make, but it just didn’t live up to the hype.”

shows how far they have fallen.

I think this Wired article is the first time I know of where the terms “didn’t live up to the hype” and “disappointing early years” were applied to a car that was literally the most awarded consumer car ever created.

I suppose Wired also believes that the Model S is an underwhelming first attempt that falls short of expectations?

******* BREAKING NEWS !!! ************

Roadster 3.0 battery (only) upgrade, $29,000 installed. Must call service center to schedule. supposedly 2 – 3 per week; new battery slightly heavier than old one.

So a “Normal” driver can get around 57 miles range on the new Volt?

And to think some here said that 50 miles would be impossible.. It is – the car goes 57!!! hehe.

Seeing as my Caddy would have taken 6 hours to charge at the NYS fair, I wonder how long the new volt will take at 195 volts?

When is the Voltec SUV coming out of GM? Will Mitsubishi beat it?

Well, considering the Mitsu will be here next May, my bet is yes, Mitsu will beat them…..lol

Um, found this AWESOME nugget in the Motor Trend review:

“Chris disappears to the dragstrip and returns with a mild smile; 7.1 seconds to 60. A stomping 1.4 seconds quicker than the last one.”

Read more: http://www.motortrend.com/new_cars/04/chevrolet/volt/#ixzz3kWQoSdSr

And that’s with a 50% charged battery to boot (I suspect fully charged batteries yield slightly more performance). This is MUCH better that GM’s stated 8.4 seconds. I think Motor Trend is the only entity that actually tried to get some actual numbers on their short preview test stint. It will be interesting to see other mag tests when they get full reviews done.

I will say the only piece of that puzzle left unanswered was “was the engine running during the dragstrip run..and thus assisting at all”…I have a feeling it wasn’t since they purposely saved the battery for the track testing, but who knows. IF the number proves accurate (it may not), that puts the Volt’s acceleration right on top of the i3 rex whose 0-60 time is 7.0 seconds.

Actually the i3 gets 7 seconds flat but the i3 rex is 300 lbs. heavier and gets to 60 in about 7.7 seconds.

I think Motor Trend is the only magazine that uses a rolling start for their 0-60 times. So a 7.1 second 0-60 is probably more like a 7.4 second one in the real world.
Strange how an 11.5″ head start adds up to such a big improvement in the time.

I think it’s possible that they put some of the ELR tech in the Gen2 Volt.

The ELR can use simultaneous battery+engine energy to get max power output; this allows it to have a 0-60 time of 7.8sec, even with essentially the same powertrain as the Gen1 Volt. I think the Gen2 Volt may be able to do the same in Mountain Mode.

It seems to me that GM won’t advertise this, and will only provide the battery-only 0-60 time because that is how the car is marketed. But I also think GM isn’t exactly distraught to hear that outlets like Motor Trend have figured out this “easter egg,” and will weakly protest that “this isn’t the intended usage of the car.”

Sounds great to me! That’s how you create a plugin hybrid – by making it better than the previous ones!

I’ve gotten 49 miles out of my volt, so I should get 60 out of this one. Not bad. Still looks like a fleet car.

Honestly I thought the Wired article was neutral and fair. When the Volt launched, there were only two other real EV options. Today there are a lot to choose from and compared to some options the Volt is a little vanilla. Nothing wrong with that.

Nothing on the market today is a game changer, including the new Volt. But we are getting closer each year.

Beginning of wired article sounds totally neutral and fair.

“Most of us would likely stop reading right there”
I don’t agree with that at all. Nothing wrong with the intro. unless there’s a pro-GM or pro-Volt bias at work. Amazed how sensitive many EV sites are to Volt criticism or even lack of compliment.

Come on man, read the whole article..

But yeah, when someone says “All of a sudden, the Volt wasn’t special anymore.” it *reveals* the authors bias. How exactly is he measuring “special”?

Engineering wise there is no competition. For way less money, we Volties can out-distance a Tesla by driving EV on gas (road trip to and back from a place with no superchargers is NEVER a problem).
We Volt drivers do MORE EV miles than Leaf owners… apparently by voodoo?
Ford, Toyota… with a dozen mile range? And worst acceleration in their classes?

The Volt isn’t everything to everybody, but it certainly IS still special. Go drive one for a month – I dare you to not miss the car afterwards. 🙂

Sounds like a very nice car.

Guessing they never drove the original volt.
It’s hard to NOT exceed the rated range on a summer day.

People regularly get 45mi extremely easily, 50 for those who try to be efficient.
My morning estimate was up to 79 km a few weeks ago (roughly 50mi)
On a “38” mile rating.

So I’m actually disappointed they only did 54, it’s actually kinda bad, lol.

What is the oil change interval on the Volt?

At least every 2yrs…to keep the oil from going all gummy.

*If you use gas, the engine may need one before then. My first oil change was at 38K mi, and I may need one next year at about 70K. My commute is ~80mi round trip.