2016 Chevrolet Volt: Seats Five, But Not (Really) On A Fifth Seat

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2016 Chevrolet Volt, 2015 Detroit Auto Show

2016 Chevrolet Volt, 2015 Detroit Auto Show

Enlarge Photo

The new 2016 Chevrolet Volt, its designers and engineers say, carries many features requested by owners of the first-generation Volt built from 2011 through this year.

Among them are more electric range, an illuminated charging port ... and a fifth seating position.

DON'T MISS: 2016 Chevrolet Volt: 50-Mile Range, 41 MPG, Five Seats, All New (Photos)

Note the phrasing, please, because what Chevy calls an "occasional seating position" is not the same as a seat.

One of the biggest mysteries before last week's reveal of the new Volt in its entirety at the Detroit Auto Show was exactly what any fifth seat might be like.

2016 Chevrolet Volt

2016 Chevrolet Volt

Enlarge Photo

The mystery got more attention once GM released photos of the compact hatchback's battery pack, which retains its T-shape and again sits in a wide tunnel between the two front seats and under the rear seat.

In the end, the "fifth seating position" is effectively padding over the middle position of the rear seat--which previously had a hard plastic insert to prevent a fifth passenger--plus a seat belt. No headrest, incidentally.

ALSO SEE: 2016 Chevrolet Volt - Full Preview Details

When we spent some time with the 2016 Volt, we decided that a test of the "seating position" was required.

We took three adult men with a range of body sizes: one burly, one about average, and one skinnier, fitter, younger auto writer to play the role of your teenage kid's friend who unexpectedly needs a ride home from after-school practice.

2016 Chevrolet Volt, 2015 Detroit Auto Show

2016 Chevrolet Volt, 2015 Detroit Auto Show

Enlarge Photo

The bottom line: We all fit, but none of us was particularly comfortable. The two outboard riders were tilted toward the center of the car by the deeply dished lower cushions in the Volt's two real seats.

Meanwhile, the center rider sat slightly higher, requiring him to hunch slightly, and with his legs splayed into the outboard footwells. He was by far the least comfortable.

MORE: Chevy Bolt, 2016 Volt, New Sonata Hybrids, Honda Electric Car: The Week In Reverse (Video)

In other words, it's usable, but only for "occasional" passengers, over short distances--and it's best that the fifth occupant be slim and lithe, and not like to complain.

(Our thanks to Jake Lingeman of Autoweek for accepting the role of the fifth passenger. With luck, he won't have to do it again any time soon.)

For all the latest news and updates on the upcoming all-new plug-in hybrid, see our Chevrolet Volt News page.

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