Green Car Reports 2016 Best Car To Buy Nominee: 2016 Chevrolet Volt

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2016 Chevrolet Volt

2016 Chevrolet Volt

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The first Chevrolet Volt range-extended electric car won all sorts of awards in 2011, the year it was introduced.

But it didn't win that year's Green Car Reports Best Car To Buy award, because we deemed the world's first mass-priced high-volume battery-electric car more significant.

That car, the Nissan Leaf, narrowly edged out the Chevy Volt to take the title that year--our very first such award.

DON'T MISS: Green Car Reports 2016 Best Car To Buy: The Also-Rans That Didn't Make It

Now, the all-new 2016 Chevrolet Volt is here, and it offers a little more of everything that owners loved about the first Volt while rectifying most of that car's flaws.

Its electric range rose from 38 miles to an impressive 53 miles; Chevy says that means nine of every 10 Volt trips will be solely on electricity from the power grid.

It's faster, smoother, quieter, and more efficient, and its fuel economy running on gasoline has risen from 37 mpg to 42 mpg as well.

2016 Chevrolet Volt, first drive in California, July 2015

2016 Chevrolet Volt, first drive in California, July 2015

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It has a fifth "seating position" (which is still marginal) and the charging cord has its own compartment at the side of the load bay, meaning owners don't have to unload all their cargo to get at it.

We've now had three separate driving sessions in the 2016 Chevy Volt, two in temperate California and one in colder upstate New York.

In each case, it delivered the promised electric range, recharged in roughly four hours, and ran quietly and smoothly when the engine kicked on.

ALSO SEE: Green Car Reports Best Car To Buy 2016 Award: Nominees Coming

The latest Volt operates more like a conventional hybrid when its battery is depleted, which is why we've chosen to call it a plug-in hybrid.

(Whether it's a range-extended electric car or a plug-in hybrid quickly devolves into a quasi-religious argument we're not going to address here.)

But regardless of what you call it, the 2016 Volt is based on GM's latest compact car architecture (as is the 2016 Cruze that will launch later this year) and its newest family of small engines.

2016 Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid - details of Voltec drivetrain from SAE presentations, Feb 2015

2016 Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid - details of Voltec drivetrain from SAE presentations, Feb 2015

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Its T-shaped 18.4-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack still occupies the tunnel and the area under the rear seat. That's up from the original Volt's 16.0 kWh, and GM now uses more of the pack's energy capacity as well.

The engine is now a 1.5-liter four-cylinder version of GM's new Ecotec series of three- and four-cylinder engines, and total power output is 149 horsepower.

That brings 0-to-60-mph acceleration down from about 9.0 seconds to about 8.0 seconds, but the new engine and car may be more notable for better noise suppression under maximum load.

2016 Chevrolet Volt, first drive in California, July 2015

2016 Chevrolet Volt, first drive in California, July 2015

Enlarge Photo

We've covered the 2016 Volt quite a lot since it was unveiled this past January, and it was crystal-clear that it would be a nominee for our 2016 Best Car To Buy Awards.

It joins the 2016 Audi A3 e-Tron Sportback on the list; we'll cover the three additional nominees in future articles.

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