Times have changed since the first Chevrolet Volt was sold in late 2010. Back then, gas prices were on the way to a generational high, and even some die-hard gas-guzzler enthusiasts were dropping their big rigs for hypermilers. These days, fuel prices are down, Americans are driving more than ever, and trucks and SUVs are back in a big way. Through it all, however, Chevrolet’s once revolutionary Volt has remained the gold standard for plug-in hybrid vehicles. While most plug-in hybrids can manage roughly 10 to 20 miles of electric-only range, the Volt can eke out 53 miles of fuel-free driving before switching on its gasoline engine and charging the battery. Its extended range is not the Volt’s only high point. It’s also unexpectedly rewarding to drive, with solid dynamics, respectable acceleration, and relatively few compromises in the name of fuel efficiency. The plug-in market is changing quickly, and the Volt has more credible competition than ever before. But for now, it’s still the best plug-in hybrid money can buy.
What’s New for 2018?
The Volt is almost completely unchanged for 2018. There are three new exterior paint colors (Green Mist Metallic, Satin Steel Metallic, and Cajun Red Tintcoat) and a new driver-assistance package, which is optional for the entry-level LT trim and adds blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and rear parking sensors. Some interior materials in the LT trim have been downgraded from leather to vinyl. Otherwise, the 2018 Volt is indistinguishable from last year’s model.
What Was New for 2017?
The Volt was largely unchanged for 2017, with just three additions to the available equipment list: A teen-driving safety feature became standard on all models; it is designed to encourage safer driving behaviors in young drivers. It allows parents to set a speed warning, keep the radio muted until the front seatbelts are buckled, and prevent their teenage drivers from disabling traction and stability control. Adaptive cruise control and automated emergency braking became options in the top Premier trim level. A limited-availability exterior color—Citron Green Metallic—joined Siren Red Tintcoat and Kinetic Blue Metallic on the list of extra-cost paint colors.
Trims and Options We’d Choose
The base Volt, at $34,095, is already comprehensively equipped and comes with this car’s most important standard feature: 53 miles of guilt-free driving on electricity alone. The Premier trim adds a better audio system, wireless charging for phones and other devices, and leather seats, among other features. But it also adds more than $4000 to the bottom line, so we’d skip it. Standard features in the base LT include:
• MyLink infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, two USB ports, and built-in 4G LTE and Wi-Fi connectivity
• Remote keyless entry with push-button start
• Single-zone automatic climate control
For options, we’d go with the leather seats ($900); choosing them requires that you also purchase the Comfort package ($460) with its heated front seats, steering wheel, and side-view mirrors. Those packages bring the total cost of our Volt to $35,455. Purchasing the Volt can qualify buyers for up to $7500 in tax credits (not included in our calculations above), a salve for the sting of an otherwise high price.