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2016 Chevrolet Volt
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By: CARandDRIVER On: 09-14-2015 Model(s): We have only fond memories of the original Chevy Volt, that slab-sided toccata and fugue of Yankee ingenuity from 2011. 2016 Chevrolet Volt
Author Experience: Expert review

We have only fond memories of the original Chevy Volt, that slab-sided toccata and fugue of Yankee ingenuity from 2011. It looked like something Jimmy Carter acolytes created after locking themselves in a bunker with a Commodore PET computer, the Tupperware collection for 1981, and a laserdisc of the movie Tron. But the Volt worked, delivering both electric-vehicle stealth and internal-combustion freedom. It may have missed the energy crises for which it was perfectly suited, but its timing was still propitious. The 77,000 or so units that Chevy sold, the majority in California, thoroughly expunged the mark of Cain borne by General Motors ever since it was accused of killing the electric car.

The Volt II proves that GM’s novel idea for an enviro-hybrid has cleared the tower of experimentation and is on full-powered ascent into a regular product line with a history and a sustaining business case. Could we finally see the Volt give birth to a family of vehicles—at least, besides a Cadillac coupe? Given the public’s current ­fascination with small crossovers, surely GM must have a little SUVolt in the works.

Either way, the new Volt’s styling makes a 30-year thematic leap to contemporary windswept sensuality, and the interior is no ­longer something out of the Apple catalog c. 1999. The silly touch-sensitive capacitive controls are gone, replaced by a mosaic of conventional push buttons set in a pleasingly organic fan of interior plastics and complemented by an elegantly integrated infotainment screen.

No doubt some Voltifosi will lament the car’s reach toward design normalcy, toward looking a lot more like a Honda Civic. But the car both looks and functions a lot better, especially since GM makes a terrific effort to cater the car’s controls to the needs of EV buyers and especially their hypermiling radical elite. And Volt lovers can rejoice that the basic four-door-hatchback envelope is essentially unchanged, with just about a half-inch inserted in the wheelbase and 3.3 inches added overall, mainly for styling and to give rear-seat passengers a little more legroom. Indeed, the frontal area and claimed drag coefficient of 0.28 are essentially as they were before.

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