Reviews

2017 Chevrolet Volt Walk Around


The Volt is a low, crisp, sleek wedge. Gone and not missed are the slab sides of the previous generation; now there are lines to accent the angularity. The sharp nose sweeps back from the ground, through the headlamps and fenders to the steep windshield and rising window line. It makes the car look like its leaning forward, almost like a sprinter in blocks at the starting line.

But the rear window is steep too, so it doesn’t look cut off at the back. The rear deck is high but not flat, while the liftgate has a single glass panel.

There’s not an actual grille, rather a two-panel design to look like one, using a diagram-like pattern that unfortunately resembles the entry-level Chevy Cruze sedan a bit too much. One might also see the Honda Civic in the Volt’s profile, and Subaru Legacy in the taillamps.

Interior

The first-generation Volt tried too hard to be futuristic in the cabin, but this second-generation Volt does a good job of coming back down to Earth. The gimmicks are gone. It’s still a twin-cockpit design, accented in black and silver with some elegance, while two-tone interiors are available for those wanting to make a statement. The quality of the materials is high, and the touch is soft.

The gauges and instruments are easy to read, while the switches and controls are intuitive. Knobs for audio and climate control are conventional, hardware you would expect in a Chevrolet. The crisp resolution of the eight-inch touchscreen in the center of the dash makes it easy and relaxing to view. A power flow diagram is shown there, although it’s really just a thing to satisfy curiosity that wears off on about the second day, though it may be of interest to your passengers.

The front seats are low but the side window deepens at the windshield pillar, giving the effect of a higher seating position. The seats have good bolstering and were comfortable for us after a long day driving.

Headroom and legroom in the rear is okay if not generous, but the side glass narrows back there to accommodate the roofline, making the rear feel tighter than it is. The outboard rear seats are separate and reasonably comfortable buckets, but the center rear seat is compromised by the battery pack underneath. In fact, GM doesn’t call it a seat, they hedge and call it a “seating position” (not unlike “cheese spread” as opposed to actual cheese).The seat is basically just a padded cushion with shoulder belt, and the unlucky passenger there has to spread his feet and straddle the tunnel that contains the batteries.

Rearward visibility for the driver isn’t very good, especially over the shoulder, and also in the rearview mirror, as the sloped single-panel rear window reveals much of the rear deck and blocks the area up against the rear of the car. This makes the excellent standard rearview camera important. The image is crisp and displayed on the 8.0-inch center screen, best we’ve seen in a compact car.

There’s very little wind noise thanks to the sleek aerodynamics. By the same token, the car is so quiet, under engine use at highway speeds, that tire noise is high. The tire rubber is harder for low rolling resistance, to increase fuel mileage, and that makes them louder.

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