2019 Chevrolet Volt Review

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2019
The Car Connection
2019
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

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October 16, 2018

The 2019 Chevrolet Volt is a solid plug-in hybrid choice thanks to its long overall range and comfortable, high-quality feel.

The 2019 Chevrolet Volt is a robust plug-in hybrid that doubles as an all-electric daily driver and gas-aided road trip vehicle, all in the form of a usable compact hatchback.

The 2019 Volt had the honor of being the first extended-range electric car, using a small gasoline engine to eliminate the range anxiety associated with other small EVs such as the Nissan Leaf, while still providing most of the benefits of an electric car in everyday driving. We’ve given the 2019 Volt 6.7 out of 10 on our scale. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The 2019 Volt comes in two trims, LT and Premier, the former still nicely equipped for a base model. For 2019, the Volt receives a handful of changes including a newly optional 7.2-kWh chargcharger that can reduce the time spent charging by half, as well as a six-way power driver’s seat, both of which are standard on the Premier trim and optional on the LT.

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Along with the electric-only Bolt EV, the Volt is Chevy’s mainstream eco-friendly option. The latest Volt has a much more conventional look than the first generation, very similar to the compact Cruze. Inside, things are less wacky than rivals such as the Toyota Prius, but that’s a good thing in our opinion, giving the Volt some sense of normalcy. However, all of those batteries stuffed inside make for a cramped affair for passengers, not to mention the sloping roofline and high beltline in back.

But once you get past the relative lack of space, the Volt’s numbers are pretty impressive. The EPA rates the Volt’s all-electric range at 53 miles thanks to an 18.4 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack. A 1.5-liter inline-4 gas engine cuts in as a generator and powertrain supplement after range is depleted, and the 8.9-gallon fuel tank yields another 367 miles of range for a total of 420 miles and an overall figure of about 42 mpg combined.

Well-equipped and comfortable to drive, the Volt is a refined small car that is more subtle than sporty. A fully-loaded Volt easily crests $40,000, but don’t forget the $7,500 federal income tax credit you’re entitled to for buying one, not to mention numerous state incentives.

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2019 Chevrolet Volt

Styling

More conservatively styled than most eco-friendly cars, the 2019 Chevrolet Volt will blend in with the crowd.

The 2019 Chevy Volt doesn’t scream “I’m an electrified car” like GM’s first plug-in hybrid did. Its styling is subdued, attractive even. We rate it at 7 out of 10, giving it points above average for a stylish exterior and an interior to match. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The 2019 Volt has a lot in common with the Chevy Cruze, especially in its “dual grille” front end. Where the Cruze needs plenty of fresh air to feed its engine, the Volt’s intake is mostly a matte silver panel that looks thoroughly modern. It’s a nice way of blending traditional automotive styling cues with a forward-thinking powertrain.

From the side, the Volt shares the Cruze’s profile—albeit with a charging port on the driver’s side front fender, of course. The tall tail helps the Volt cheat the wind. We’re not big fans of the Volt’s clear taillights, but they’re less jarring in this car than in some designs.  

Inside, the Volt features a twin-cowl cockpit. Most Volts are either black or light gray inside, but Chevy also offers stylish two-tone options. The 8.0-inch touchscreen for infotainment integrates well into the dashboard, too.

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2019 Chevrolet Volt

Performance

Though no sports car, the 2019 Chevrolet Volt provides adequate performance, both in the driving department and in terms of livability.

Technically, the 2019 Chevrolet Volt is a plug-in hybrid, but more accurately, it’s an extended-range EV. The small gas engine provides no help motivating the wheels, just extra juice to the battery system when the 53-mile electric range is depleted. We’ve given it a 6 out of 10 for performance. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

A T-shaped battery splits the rear seats and provides 18.4 kWh of juice, while a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine up front quietly kicks on when range is depleted to recharge the battery. The whole system is rated at only 149 horsepower, but a hefty 294 pound-feet of torque thanks to the electric powertrain.

The Volt is available only in front-wheel drive and is driven by a combination of the electric and gas motors, whatever the car determines to be most efficient at that point in time.

Acceleration is strong but not jarring, and though it won’t be winning any drag races, 60 mph comes in over 8 seconds, making this zappy little hybrid about average for compact cars. The gas engine is quiet and almost unnoticeable on the highway, and the low center of gravity from the battery give it a heavy, planted feel with decent stability in the corners.

Most owners will make use of a conventional 240-volt Level 2 charger, which brings a depleted battery back up to full in about 4.5 hours, but the optional quick-charging capability for this year cuts the Volt’s charging time in half.

The battery pack sits low in the Volt, which gives it a commendable center of gravity. Though it’s not sports car-zippy, the Volt handles well and can be entertaining to drive on a curvy road. Its hefty weight and soft suspension help quell road imperfections.

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5

2019 Chevrolet Volt

Comfort & Quality

High-quality materials and a comfortable, quiet ride give the 2019 Chevrolet Volt a more premium feel than many other compact cars.

The 2019 Chevrolet Volt handles a modest amount of cargo with relative ease, but poor outward vision and a cramped rear seat are hard to overlook. We’ve given it 5 out of 10 points accordingly. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Easily the best seats in the house, the front thrones are comfortable with good lumbar support, and the optional leather seats are comfortable even for the long haul.This year’s new 6-way power driver’s seat option adds to the Volt’s appeal.  

Rear-seat access isn’t a strong point for the Volt, and once back there passengers won’t find a lot of space. There’s technically a middle seat in the back, but it’s best for children.

One of the most comforting features, though, is just how quiet the Volt is, even with the gas engine thrumming away. There’s limited road noise and only some shimmy in the ride, unlike many other small cars. Inside, high-quality soft touch plastics adorn the cabin, and the straightforward controls and interesting design give the Volt a premium feel. Fully-loaded Premier trims add plenty of comfort features including heated seats for all four outboard passengers.  

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2019 Chevrolet Volt

Safety

With high marks in crash tests all around and good active safety tech available, the 2019 Chevrolet Volt is a safety star.

The 2019 Chevrolet Volt received high marks in crash tests all around and offers some important active safety technology, enough to warrant a 7 out of 10 for safety. Its strong crash-test record earns it two points above average. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

For 2019, a new digital rearview camera and pedestrian detection system add to the laundry list of safety options, including automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, rear cross-traffic alert, blind spot monitors, active lane control, lane-departure warning, and forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking.

That safety tech is welcome, and the Volt scores well in federal and independent crash tests. It earned stars all around from the federal government and a Top Safety Pick award from the IIHS last year, though the 2019 results haven’t been released yet.

Souring the experience slightly are the Volt’s low seating position, high beltline, and poor driver vision thanks to thick pillars that can obscure view.

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2019 Chevrolet Volt

Features

Well-equipped from the start, the 2019 Chevrolet Volt is good value when you factor in the tax credit, though the active safety features should really be standard.

Unlike other Chevrolet models, there’s no bargain basement trim on the 2019 Chevrolet Volt, making it a well-equipped compact car from the start. There aren’t many options, however. That’s enough for a 6 out of 10 from us, with an extra point going toward the Volt’s good infotainment system. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The Volt LT includes automatic climate control, keyless entry and start, an 8.0-inch touchscreen for infotainment with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot for a monthly fee.

Stepping up to the Premier trim gets heated seats all around, a heated steering wheel, Bose audio, and a wireless charging pad for mobile devices. This pushes the price of the Volt over $40,000 with options, but you’ll want to load it up and make use of the $7,500 tax credit, especially when it comes to safety features.

The Driver Confidence I package includes automatic high beam headlights, forward collision warning, blind spot monitors, and rear cross-traffic alert, while the Driver Confidence II package includes automatic emergency braking.

For 2019, the Volt receives a new pedestrian alert system, a new color (Pacific Blue Metallic), and a new dealer-installed black appearance package, with black bowties, sport pedals, and 17-inch machined aluminum wheels with black accents. There’s also a new standard 6-way power driver’s seat on Premier and optional on LT, as well as the option of the 7.2-kW charging system.

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2019 Chevrolet Volt

Fuel Economy

Not quite an electric car, not really a traditional hybrid, the 2019 Chevrolet Volt nevertheless achieves excellent fuel economy and overall range.

The 2019 Chevrolet Volt’s combination of solid electric range and the ability to quadruple that figure thanks to the gas engine warrant a 9 out of 10 in this category. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

With 53 miles of electric-only range and another 367 miles of gas-aided range, the 2019 Volt would be as comfortable on a long road trip as it is on a jaunt around the city. The combined system manages 42 mpg according to the EPA, and a 106 mpge figure for when it’s fully-electric.

Though some plug-in hybrids offer longer overall range, none (save the BMW i3 Rex) offer such a robust all-electric range, keeping the Volt competitive with all hybrids and even some EVs for those who don’t mind the gas-aided performance.

Full battery charge is achieved in about 4.5 hours on a 240-volt charger, while the new fast-charging system cuts that time more than in half if you opt for it.

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$33,520
MSRP based on 5-Door HB LT
 
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6.7
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 7
Performance 6
Comfort & Quality 5
Safety 7
Features 6
Fuel Economy 9
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  • 2018 Volt remains in good supply
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