We loved the first generation Chevy Volt. So did more than 100,000 other people. But after four years, it was time to update this revolutionary car, the first to offer both plug-in electric driving and a gas-powered engine in the same car. Green when you want, gas when you don’t.
So Chevrolet asked those 100,000 Volt owners what they liked, what could be improved and what they wished for in the new Volt. Then, they built it. Here are some of the improvements, as well as some of the original details that make this car, priced at about $40,000 but factoring in incentives and tax breaks, closer to $32,000, so special.
1. Jewelry in your hand
According to engineer Pam Fletcher, the Volt’s design team recognized that grabbing the gear shift is an opportunity to look at some eye candy, so they topped the gear shift with a glowing blue crystal.
2. Smart storage and USB ports
The design team carved out space under the dash for you to stash stuff: your key, a small bag or your phone. They also provided two USB ports and a 12volt power port here, too.
3. 53 miles of all-electric driving
This was probably the number one request from Volt owners: More electric mileage, please! So Chevy’s engineers made it happen, raising the range from about 35 miles per charge to about 50 miles per charge. You can use a standard household plug to charge the Volt, which takes about 14 hours to fully recharge or you can have a 220V installed (similar to what is needed for a dryer) and charge time drops to about 5 hours. Here’s a good guide to charging types and times.
4. Put even more energy back into the battery
When you hit the brakes on the Volt, it recaptures some of the energy and sends it back to the battery (also known as regenerative breaking). But push this little regeneration pad on the back left side of the steering wheel and you can slow the car, putting even more energy back into the battery.
5. Volume controls on the steering wheel
Over on the back of the right side of the steering wheel are these very cool volume control buttons so more music is quickly at your fingertips.
6. Heated seats anyone? They’re standard!
Volt’s designers found that owners really wanted heated seats so they could avoid using cabin heating in the winter–extending the electric range! So, they added them: to the front AND back as standard equipment. We also liked that the climate controls were given a simple human form so you can easily control the heat or A/C.
7. Leading safety features are standard, too
These are some of our faves: adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and crash mitigation because they use the car’s cameras and sonar to keep you safe from suddenly slowing traffic ahead. Also, notice on the steering wheel the heated steering wheel icon, which we also love, all elegantly framed in chrome.
8. Always know where you stand (or where to stand!)
Lights on the dash show you which side the plug port is on, which side the fuel tank is on, and when the car is ready to charge. The standard for electric/gas hybrids is charge on the left, gas on the right.
9. Seating for five people. Sort of.
We were super excited when we heard the Volt upgraded its seating capacity to five, but that fifth passenger should definitely be wearing pants: they have to straddle the center console. This is a function of the car’s battery system, but hey, when you need a fifth seat in a pinch, there’s room and a seatbelt. Also, notice the cup holders and heated seat controls on the center console.
10. The most entertaining dash in the biz
11. Manual seat controls? Saves electricity!
Volt’s engineers looked f0r every possible way to funnel electricity into the engine for driving miles. This means not drawing on the battery to position your seats. Instead, they put these manual paddle controls on the sides of the seats to raise or lower the seat (right handle) and to recline the seat back (left handle); a bar under the seat lets you move it back and forth.
12. Pretty touch screen with some sweet features
One of the innovations we love most is Apple CarPlay: plug in your phone and let the hands free system read your texts, make calls and play your iTunes. The nicely designed screen also has its own features including navigation and apps like Pandora.
13. Still the same price
That’s a lot of car for $40K–or less, really, with incentives and tax breaks. Many owners come in around $32,000. Interestingly, the price has remained fairly steady since it was introduced in 2011, so you get all these new features pretty much as a bonus. You can read all about it in the Volt’s Monroney, the sticker that details all the car’s features and the price of extras–the two premium safety packages and MyLink system, which add about $1800 to the price of the Volt. Factor in the cost of those electric miles versus the cost of gas, the radio and safety features pretty much pay for themselves.