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SAFETY | 9 out of 10
Five stars overall; four stars frontal; five stars side; five stars rollover
'Good' for moderate-overlap frontal crash, side crash, roof crush, and seats and headrests; 'Acceptable' for small-overlap front crash - and Top Safety Pick+
The Volt doesn't currently make any synthetic noise outside the car to alert pedestrians of its presence, as the Nissan Leaf does.
The 2014 Chevrolet Volt continues to earn high scores on crash tests from both the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The NHTSA gives the 2014 Volt five stars, its highest rating, for overall, side crash, and rollover safety, and four stars for frontal crash. The IIHS awarded the Volt its highest rating of Good on its four traditional tests, and Acceptable on its newest small-overlap front crash test. That enabled the 2014 Volt to recapture its designation as an IIHS Top Safety Pick+.
By now, the echoes of a 2011 media brouhaha over supposed Volt battery fires have died down. They stemmed from a fire in a Volt sitting in a wrecking yard--three weeks after it was destroyed by the NHTSA in a crash test--and led to a Congressional hearing into the car's safety. An NHTSA study concluded that the circumstances surrounding the fire were extremely rare, and that the Volt was as safe as any other vehicle (GM offered a modification to early Volts that few owners took advantage of).
And, indeed, during the Volt design process, GM safety engineers subjected Volts to a variety of crash testing, focusing especially on the T-shaped lithium-ion battery pack under the tunnel and rear seats. That pack in protected in crash situations by beams that transfer crash loads through the pack and into the rest of the car's structure.
The Volt comes with eight airbags: front and side airbags plus knee bolsters and side air curtains that stretch the length of the passenger compartment. Last year, Chevy added both lane-departure warning and forward collision warning systems to the standard electronic stability and traction control systems. Adaptive cruise control and blind-spot monitoring, however, are not available. All Volts are fitted with GM's OnStar telecommunications system, which comes with three years of free service for Volt owners.
It's also worth noting that Volts have a driver-actuated noise generator that pulses the horn rapidly to warn inattentive pedestrians or others of the silent electric car's approach. It's best described as a chirping sound; drivers trigger it by pulling back on the turn-signal lever.
The 2014 Chevy Volt scores well on IIHS and NHTSA crash tests, though it now lacks some of the latest electronic safety gadgets.