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2015 Chevrolet Volt REVIEW

Edmunds.com logo Edmunds.com 4/3/2017

Con: Cramped two-person backseat; touchy brakes; no power front seats.

Interior: Inside, the four-passenger Chevy Volt has a modern feel, thanks in large part to touch-sensitive controls inspired by the latest in personal electronics. While this creates a suitably cutting-edge look, in practice, these small and similar-looking buttons are difficult to identify, provide no feedback and are poorly organized. They also don't work very well if you're wearing gloves.

The gauge cluster is another futuristic touch, as it digitally displays speed, battery pack and/or gasoline level, various trip functions and a little graphic that encourages efficient driving. It can be a bit overwhelming at first, and the screen itself can wash out in direct sunlight, but most owners will find it usable and even helpful.

The high-quality materials that line the interior give the Volt's cabin a sense of refinement. Front seat comfort is fine, but the lack of a power-adjustable driver seat and a cramped second row that lacks both headroom and legroom is somewhat disappointing, especially for a car in this price range. Out back, the Volt's hatchback design makes for easy loading and unloading. The trunk has 10.6 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats up, which is more than you'll get in a Ford Fusion Energi or Honda Accord Plug-In, but only about half of what competitors like the Ford C-Max Energi and Toyota Prius provide.

Body: The 2015 Chevrolet Volt is a four-door hatchback with seating for four passengers.

Standard features include 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, LED running lamps, heated mirrors, keyless ignition and entry, remote ignition, automatic climate control, cruise control, a height-adjustable driver seat, cloth upholstery, a leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, OnStar emergency communications, in-car WiFi, a 7-inch touchscreen display, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, Chevy's MyLink system (which includes voice-controlled audio functions and smartphone integration) and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, satellite radio, an auxiliary audio jack and an iPod/USB interface.

The Premium Trim package includes leather upholstery, heated front seats and a removable rear seat center armrest. The Enhanced Safety Package 1 bundles a rearview camera, rear parking sensors and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. To that, the Enhanced Safety Package 2 can be added, which includes front parking sensors and forward collision and lane departure warning systems. Packaged together, a navigation system and Bose seven-speaker sound system are also available.

Driving: The 2015 Chevrolet Volt is surprisingly rewarding to drive. It has an effortless wave of torque typical of electric power, and behaves like a more potent hybrid when the all-electric mode runs out. The Volt's appeal extends further than just its powertrain, though. From the compliance of its ride quality to the reassuring weight and response of the steering, the Volt drives more naturally and feels more substantial than hybrids like the Prius.

There are a few quirks, however. The change-over from running on battery power to generator power is impressively seamless, but once you notice its occurrence, it may take a while to get used to the engine revving out of proportion to the vehicle's speed. The brake pedal can be difficult to modulate until you acclimate, but stopping distances are very good. Perhaps most annoying is the Volt's low-hanging front airdam, which scrapes on just about every driveway and speed bump. But given its construction of black-colored flexible material, it is thankfully designed to take these inevitable hits.

What’s New: Previously separate, the navigation system and premium audio package for the 2015 Chevrolet Volt are now packaged together. Otherwise, the Volt carries over unchanged.

The front-wheel-drive 2015 Chevrolet Volt is powered primarily by an electric motor that puts out 149 horsepower (111 kilowatts) and 273 pound-feet of torque. The electric motor is fed by a 16 kilowatt-hour (kWh) lithium-ion battery pack until the battery charge is 70 percent depleted, at which point the Volt's 83-hp, 1.4-liter four-cylinder, gasoline-fueled engine springs to life to power the electric motor. The engine is used primarily as an electricity generator to power the electric drive motor, though in some situations it can also kick in to boost the car's performance. There are Normal, Hold, Sport and Mountain modes designed to maximize the powertrain's performance and efficiency in different situations.

Recharging the battery pack completely requires you to plug the car in to a 120- or 240-volt outlet, though regenerative braking and the engine generator can help recharge it to a certain extent. Using a 240-volt power source takes about three hours to recharge a depleted battery.

In Edmunds performance testing, the Volt took 9.2 seconds to accelerate from zero to 60 mph in electric mode and 9 seconds flat with the engine generator. Both are reasonably quick times for the traditional hybrid segment.

In long-term Edmunds testing, our Volt had an average all-electric range of 37 miles, with certain charges ranging from 25-50 miles. Once the battery was depleted, the Volt averaged 35 mpg in our yearlong test. Those numbers are very close to the EPA's official estimates of an electric-only range of 38 miles and when it's burning gasoline, a combined city/highway estimate of 37 mpg.

Note that the Volt's "Hold" mode allows the driver to optimize the car's efficiency by locking out all-electric propulsion until it's deemed necessary, and this can be useful on commutes that involve both city and highway travel.

Safety: Standard safety features on the 2015 Chevrolet Volt include antilock brakes, stability control, front seat side-impact airbags, front knee airbags and full-length side curtain airbags. Also standard is OnStar, which includes automatic crash notification, on-demand roadside assistance, remote door unlocking, stolen vehicle assistance and turn-by-turn navigation.

Front and rear parking sensors and a rearview camera are optional, as are forward collision and lane-departure warning systems.

In Edmunds brake testing, the Volt came to a stop in 117 feet, which is an excellent performance for this segment.

In government crash tests, the Volt scored an overall rating of five out of five stars, with four stars for frontal crash protection and five stars for side-impact protection. Similarly, in Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash testing, the Volt earned the highest rating of "Good" in the moderate-overlap frontal-offset, side-impact and roof-strength tests. Its seats and head restraints were also rated "Good" for whiplash protection in rear impacts. In that agency's small-overlap frontal-offset test, the Volt scored the second-highest rating of "Acceptable".

Pro: Low monthly fuel cost in normal driving; useful 300-plus-mile maximum range; pleasing number of standard features.

Edmunds Say: The 2015 Chevy Volt has the best all-electric range of any plug-in hybrid, while its gasoline engine offers peace of mind that true electric vehicles can't match.

Introduction: Whether you want a diesel sedan that will take you more than 800 miles between fill-ups or an electric-only vehicle that has just enough power for your morning commute, there's something out there that meets your needs. Somewhere between those two extremes is the 2015 Chevrolet Volt, a plug-in electric hybrid that offers electric-vehicle benefits like gasoline-free commutes, without the restriction of being tethered to a plug for long journeys.

One distinctive trait about the 2015 Chevrolet Volt is that it offers a longer electric-only range than most plug-in hybrids (think 40-ish miles). Ostensibly, what makes this plug-in Chevrolet appealing to shoppers is its ability to tackle the short daily commute on electric power while also offering the range necessary to facilitate weekend road trips. You plug it in at home for a charge, but if your travels take you farther than expected, a gasoline-powered engine that serves as a generator kicks in to extend the Volt's range. At this point it's similar to a standard hybrid, using gasoline along the way. However, when you exceed the electric-only range and run on gasoline, the Volt gets an EPA rating of a mere 37 mpg combined, while the Toyota Prius and some of its ilk get upwards of 50 mpg combined. Some owners may be thrilled to go weeks or months without ever visiting the pump, while others may be looking for a hybrid vehicle with better overall fuel economy.

If the 2015 Chevrolet Volt's specifications meet your driving needs, quality should be your next consideration. Earning an Edmunds.com "B" rating, we noted the Volt was easy to drive with a comfortable and silent ride, but its interior design had some glaring flaws. The layout and design earn points for their futuristic aesthetic, but the touchscreen is poorly organized and endlessly frustrating. The sloping rear roof impinges on rear headroom, and the T-shaped battery pack interferes with hip space in the backseat. This hybrid isn't big on storage space, either, offering a paltry 10.6 cubic feet of cargo space in the trunk.

Thanks to its generous range, the 2015 Chevy Volt doesn't have direct competitors, but there are a few other plug-in hybrids worth considering. The 2015 Ford C-Max Energi, Honda Accord Plug-In and Toyota Prius Plug-In are all strong choices, but keep in mind that each has a much shorter electric-only range than the Volt. If you're considering all-electric cars, we recommend checking out the 2015 Nissan Leaf for its proven reliability and respectable electric range. Still, of the bunch, the 2015 Chevrolet Volt stands out as a rewarding car to drive. If it fits your lifestyle, we'd definitely recommend taking it out for a spin.

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