2015 Chevrolet Volt Review and Prices
Past and Future Reviews
The 2015 Chevrolet Volt is the best car for you if you want an advanced technology “green” car that operates as an electric car on short trips but can travel longer distances without the inconvenience of recharging the battery.
The 2015 Chevrolet Volt steers this 2012-vintage “extended range electric vehicle” into the homestretch. Chevrolet is readying a next generation Volt for model year 2016 where it will scuffle with a growing list of plug-in hybrid competitors: The 2016 Prius Plug-in that was all-new for model-year 2015, a refreshed 2016 Ford C-Max Energi and Fusion Energi pug-in hybrids, and the 2016 Honda Accord Plug-in. The 2015 Volt reprises the 2014 Volt and carries on as a four-passenger, four-door hatchback that can travel 25-50 miles using only battery power, before an engine pitches in to generate electricity that can extend the car's range to around 380 miles.
Should you wait for the 2016 Chevrolet Volt or buy the 2015 Chevrolet Volt? Buy a 2015 Volt if you want a cutting-edge plug-in hybrid with excellent electric-only driving range and you don't place a premium on the latest styling or technology before the all-new 2016 model arrives. The 2015 Volt still is a great package and should be available with attractive factory and dealer incentives as inventories are cleared for its 2016 replacement. Wait for the 2016 Volt if you want the latest advances in battery technology, features, and safety that will accompany the all-new design. Waiting will also mean your car's styling will look current for several years and it'll be worth more at resale than the outgoing 2015 model.
2015 Chevrolet Volt Changes back to top
Styling: The 2015 Chevrolet Volt styling carries over the look of the 2014 Volt. It'll continue with a shape that's come to define hybrid and electric vehicles: a four-door hatchback with a smooth front and a high, abrupt tail. The truncated rear, called Kammback, is a design shape that reduces the air resistance of the vehicle. The tail's low drag contributes to the Volt's drag coefficient of 0.28 that helps eke every last mile from the battery. While its general profile resembles the Honda Insight and Toyota Prius, the Volt is clearly a Chevrolet with the trademark twin-bar front grille flanked by headlamps that sweep upward into the front fenders. Optional seventeen-inch polished aluminum wheels add a touch of style to the judicious use of chrome and piano black over the window line.
Characteristic of plug-in hybrid vehicles, Volt has two “fuel” filler doors, a conventional gasoline-filler door on the right rear fender, and an electric charging point door on the left front fender.
Continuing its 177.1-inch length bumper-to-bumper, the 2015 Chevrolet Volt is about the size of the five-passenger 2015 Toyota Prius Plug-in hatchback, but is smaller than the 2015 Ford C-Max Energi and Fusion Energi plug-ins, and the 2015 Honda Accord plug-in. Volt shares its platform design with the Chevrolet Cruze compact sedan. Both have an identical 105.7-inch wheelbase - the distance between the front and rear axles - though Cruze is 4 inches longer overall and seats five. Placement of the Volt's unique powertrain reduces rear-seat space and the car has almost two inches less legroom than the Prius and C-Max Energi hatchbacks, three inches less the than the Accord Plug-in sedan, and four less than the Fusion Energi.
The 2015 Volt's cabin blends Chevrolet's traditional twin-cockpit design with a dashboard that looks like it was influenced by Apple computer and iPod styling. It's a refreshingly clean design with an Apple-sequel feel that replaces conventional gauges and switchgear with two 7-inch LCD monitors and “touch points.” Materials and grains are top drawer throughout.
The 2015 Chevrolet Volt returns with four passenger seating. Replacing the traditional three-place rear bench seat, a center console separates twin bucket seats. The layout is made necessary by the intrusion of the Volt's long, T-shaped battery pack integrated into the frame below the passenger compartment.
The battery pack placement also reduces cargo space, usually a hatchback hallmark. Expect the 2015 Volt to continue with just 10.6 cubic feet of cargo room behind the rear seats, though the seatbacks do fold slightly to add a bit more space. By comparison, the Prius hatchback offers 21.6 cubic feet of luggage room with its rear seatbacks up, and 39.6 cubic folded, and the C-Max hatch provides 19.2 cubic feet with seatbacks up, 41.8 cubic feet folded. The Fusion Energi's trunk space is a meager 8.2 cubic feet while the Accord Plug-in is even smaller at just 6.6 cubic feet.
Mechanical: The 2015 Chevrolet Volt won't undergo any mechanical changes. Chevrolet positions the Volt as an “extended range electric vehicle,” which in essence means it is somewhere between an electric car and a plug-in hybrid.
The Volt operates entirely as an electric car for its first 30 to 50 miles after the battery pack is fully charged. When the battery charge is 70 percent depleted, the 1.4-liter gasoline engine springs to life and powers an electric motor generator that produces electricity, which sustains the battery charge. Electricity from the motor generator is directed to an electric motor that powers the front wheels. The generator motor sustains the battery charge enough to give the car an additional 340 miles or so of range. In some conditions, the gas engine can also come online to add a small amount of drive power.
The 2015 Chevrolet Volt's electric drive system that Chevy calls “Voltec” will continue to produce an equivalent 149 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque. Torque is the main ingredient in acceleration and 273 pound feet is a muscular number for any compact car. However, somewhat counteracting the torque is Volt's 3,781-pound curb weight, which is fairly hefty for a compact car.
Thus, Volt's 0-60 mph acceleration of around 9 seconds is not stellar, but it is an indicator that merging into high-speed traffic is easily accomplished. Unlike a gasoline engine, an electric motor's peak torque arrives all at once, which does give the Volt a rather brisk throttle response in passing situations. Moreover, the electric propulsion system doesn't require a traditional multi-gear transmission, so the Volt employs a transmission with just a single forward gear.
When operating on electricity, Volt produces no exhaust emissions and can reach 100 mph. An electro-hydraulic regenerative brake system captures kinetic energy during deceleration and braking that would normally be lost as heat and transfers it to the Volt's battery, though not in enough quantity to sustain a charge beyond its operating range. For more aggressive regenerative braking, Volt drivers can shift from Drive to Low. This conserves energy by changing the throttle and brake settings so you have to brake less - lift off the gas and the car dramatically slows down.
The 2015 Volt will continue with an onboard rechargeable 16-kilowatt lithium-ion battery pack. Recharging the battery should again take 10 hours or so using a standard 120-volt power household outlet. The time can be reduced to around four hours with the installation of a 240-volt quick-charging station in your garage. While the price of a charging station itself is reasonably affordable - for model-year 2014 it was priced at $490 - installation coat is estimated at around $1,500. That can increase significantly if added work is required to conform to local building codes.
Chevrolet says the 2014 Volt has an all-electric driving range of between 25 and 50 miles on a full charge; the EPA estimate is 38 miles. That's not likely to change for the 2015 model. The electric-only range is dependent on driving techniques, speed, terrain, temperature, number of passengers, and usage of accessories such as air conditioning.
Volt owners will find the electric-only driving range is ample for most daily commutes and weekend shopping trips. Beyond that, driving distance is dictated only by the amount of gasoline is in the 9.3-gallon fuel tank. Bottom line: there are no worries about being stranded with a dead battery or concerns about range limitations associated with all-electric vehicles. With a fully charged battery and a full tank of gas, Chevy estimates the Volt can travel 383 miles before refueling.
Expect the 2015 Chevrolet Volt to again include four drive settings to accommodate different driving conditions and styles. “Normal” mode delivers a typical accelerator feel, while “Sport” mode provides a livelier throttle response with the downside of using more electrons from the battery. “Mountain” mode helps maximize performance by maintaining a sufficient charge so that extra power needed to negotiate steep grades comes from the battery and needs to be engaged well in anticipation of heading for the hills. Selecting “Hold” essentially holds the battery state of-charge level, allowing for pure-electric city driving later in the journey.
Look for the 2015 Volt to again ride on 17-inch lightweight aluminum wheels and all-season, low-rolling resistance tires optimized for electric vehicle range.
Features: As befits a technologically advanced premium-priced small car, the 2015 Chevrolet Volt will continue to offer a laudable array of performance, safety, and convenience features, including a navigation system.
On the safety front, the 2015 Volt should again include a full complement of active safety tech including four-wheel antilock brakes for more controlled emergency stops and GM's StabiliTrak antiskid stability control to help prevent the vehicle from skidding out of control in extreme handling maneuvers. Additionally, eight airbags including side-impact and knee-protecting airbags for front-seat riders and head-protecting side-curtain airbags for all four passengers should also be standard.
Standard features on the 2015 Volt should again include an audio system with USB interface and MP3 playback, XM satellite radio, and Chevrolet MyLink, which includes Bluetooth streaming audio for music and smartphones, voice recognition for phone, music and radio. Also included will be Siri Eyes, Apple's voice-activated “intelligent assistant.” Other standard amenities should continue to include remote start, keyless access and ignition, cruise control, automatic climate control as well as power door locks, windows and outside mirrors.
Additionally, Volt owners can manage and monitor the Volt remotely via a computer on MyVolt.com, or via a smartphone through the RemoteLink application. These allow selecting charging times to take advantage of lower off-peak electric rates, monitoring the battery level, available range, and tire pressure, remotely locking and unlocking the vehicle, and activating the remote start to heat or cool the interior to a pre-selected temperature.
Options on the 2015 Chevrolet Volt will likely again include a voice-controlled navigation system with real-time traffic information, a 7-speaker premium Bose audio system and leather upholstery with heated front seats. Forward collision alert, lane departure warning along with front and rear proximity warnings and a rearview camera will be available for safer driving and parking.
2015 Chevrolet Volt Prices back to top
Prices for the 2015 Chevrolet Volt had not been released in time for this review but should be roughly on par with 2014 Volt prices. Expect a 2015 Chevrolet Volt base price of around $35,000. (Base prices in this review include the manufacturer's destination fee; Chevrolet's delivery charge for the 2014 Volt was $810.)
Buyers of the 2015 Volt should again be eligible for a one-time federal income tax credit of $7,500 on the purchase of plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles. Additionally, 11 sates offer incentives or tax credits ranging from $605 (Utah) to $6,000 (Colorado).
Notable 2015 Chevrolet Volt options are expected to again include a voice-controlled navigation system with real-time traffic information for around $895 and a Bose premium audio system for $495. Expect to pay about $1,400 for a package containing leather upholstery, heated front seats, and upgraded door trim, about $575 for a package that bundles rear parking assist with a rear backup camera, and $600 or so for upgraded 17-inch polished aluminum wheels.
2015 Chevrolet Volt Fuel Economy back to top
EPA fuel-economy ratings for the 2015 Chevrolet Volt were not announced in time for this review but are likely to at least duplicate those of the 2014 model. With the battery fully charged, the EPA rates the Volt's fuel economy at 98 MPGe (Miles Per Gallon equivalent) combined city/highway driving. EPA estimates the EV only driving range is 38 miles. After the battery is depleted and the gasoline engine kicks in, the Volt is EPA-rated at 35 city/40 highway/37 combined.
The downside is the Volt's gasoline engine requires premium-octane gas, making it around 20 cents per-gallon more costly to drive in gasoline mode than a vehicle with similar fuel economy that runs on regular octane gasoline.
2015 Chevrolet Volt Release Date back to top
The 2015 Chevrolet Volt should reach dealers' showrooms in summer 2014.
What's next for the 2015 Chevrolet Volt back to top
One of the most politically "charged" cars ever produced, the 2012 Chevrolet Volt was hyped and hated in equal measure. While it hasn't quite become the “game changer” that General Motors proclaimed it would be, the Volt is head and shoulders above competitors in the small but growing plug-in car market with sales more than double of it's closest rival, Toyota's Prius Plug-in.
With an all-new Prius Plug-in arriving in 2014 and more car companies entering the marketplace, Chevrolet is optimistic that its second-generation Volt that arrives in the summer of 2015 as a 2016 model will continue its sales leadership.
Chevrolet is guarding details, but an all-new 2016 Volt is expected to be built on a new global platform that will also underpin other GM vehicles. These include a new Chevy Cruze compact car and Equinox crossover as well as upcoming vehicles sold in China, Europe and South America. This will aid in keeping manufacturing costs down, giving GM the ability to improve its model lineups.
The new platform is expected to weigh less and grow slightly in size, providing more interior room. It's possible that the new platform combined with a new battery pack - still using the T-shaped design - would allow three passenger seating in the rear, thus eliminating the stigma of a four passenger compact hatchback.
And speaking of a new battery pack, lithium-ion technology progress will likely extend the 2016 Chevrolet Volt's battery-only range to 50 or more miles. And, it's conceivable that a second Volt model with a smaller, less expensive battery pack with a 40-mile driving range will be offered.
Sources suggest that the Volt's current 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine could make way for a smaller engine in the 2016 model's revision, reducing weight and helping the car's range-extended gas mileage. A likely candidate is GM's next-generation three-cylinder 1.0-liter SIDI (Spark Ignition Direct Injection) turbocharged engine. Belying its diminutive size, this pocket powerhouse develops 115 horsepower and high low-end torque of 122 pound feet all the way from 1,800 to 4,700 rpm.
As for overall design, expect the 2016 Chevrolet Volt's profile to stay close to the outgoing model with some tweaks here and there to reduce aerodynamic drag. Up front, stylist will update the look while maintaining the signature Chevrolet crossbar front grille. Inside, look for a larger display screen and more configurable entertainment and navigation systems. New options are likely to include full-power seat adjustments, a heated steering wheel and full sunroof.
2015 Chevrolet Volt Competition back to top
Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid: An all-new model-year 2015 Prius Plug-in Hybrid will make its appearance in late 2014 or early 2015. Developed in parallel with the non plug-in Prius Liftback, both cars will share a new global platform that is slightly longer and wider than the outgoing models and will have a lower center of gravity. Toyota says improved lithium-ion batteries with more higher energy density will increase the electric-only driving range beyond the 2014 model's 11 miles. Additionally, thermal efficiency gains of the four-cylinder gasoline engine is expected to result in about 55 MPG combined when operating in hybrid mode, and as much as 120 MPGe combined with a fully charged battery. One thing that won't change: Spy photos reveal the fourth-generation Prius will retain styling that keeps it a rolling advertisement for alternative power, and Toyota says it will be even more aerodynamic than the outgoing model, one of the slipperiest cars on the market. Inside, expect refinements in design, layout, and ease of operation along with upgraded materials. It's anticipated that a new wireless-inductive charging system that would allow consumers to recharge the car's electric battery without a cable will be offered as an option. The 2015 Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid is expected to again offer a base model that's roughly equivalent to the Prius Three, and an Advanced model, which would be comparable to the highest-priced Prius Liftback. No word as of this review regarding pricing of the 2015 Prius Plug-in Hybrid, but we'd expect a base price of around $30,000. It should again be eligible for a federal income tax credit for plug-in hybrids, based on battery capacity, which for the 2014 model is $2,500.
Ford C-Max Energi: Like the Chevrolet Volt and Prius Plug-in, the 2015 C-Max Energi can charge its batteries from a plug-in source. All three have a lithium-ion battery pack, a continuously variable transmission, front-wheel-drive and hatchback body styles. The exterior design reflects Ford's Focus so the C-Max Energi won't shout “green car” at quite the same visual volume as the Prius Plug-in, or even the Volt. But its styling is distinctive and it is an intriguing competitor. The 2015 C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid will continue with essentially the same powertrain as the C-Max Hybrid. C-Max Energi should continue with only minimal changes until at least the mid-cycle refresh due in model-year 2016. Expect fuel economy ratings to continue with an EPA 100 MPGe combined and 44/41/43 mpg city/highway/combined. Estimated starting price for the 2015 C-Max Energi is around $32,000.