2016 Chevrolet Volt: Gas Mileage Review

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By now, it's hardly a secret that we're big fans of the redesigned second-generation Chevy Volt plug-in hybrid.

We gave it our Best Car To Buy 2016 award, and we've written that it's better in pretty much every way than the innovative first-generation Volt.

Last month, we were able to spend four weekend days with a 2016 Chevrolet Volt, to get a sense for what it's like to live with every day--especially in cold weather.

DON'T MISS: Chevrolet Volt: Green Car Reports' Best Car To Buy 2016

Over almost 300 miles on our usual test route, roughly two-thirds highway driving and one-third city and suburban stop-and-go, we ran the Volt on both battery energy and gasoline.

Specifically, we covered 154 miles on grid energy used to charge its 18.4 kilowatt-hour battery, over one partial and two full recharging sessions.

2016 Chevrolet Volt

2016 Chevrolet Volt

The other 143 miles was covered using gasoline when the engine kicked on after the battery depleted during each of the long highway runs that bracketed our test.

We received the car with an indicated battery range of 38 miles, though we actually got 45 miles before the engine switched on.

ALSO SEE: 2016 Chevrolet Volt First Drive: Plug-In Hybrid Home Run

After 71 miles on gasoline, we charged for 3 hours at the 2016 Volt's maximum rate of 3.6 kilowatts, taking indicated range back up to 31 miles.

After 16 miles of local duties entirely on electricity--like many drivers, we'd assumed we'd covered more like 25 miles--an overnight recharge brought indicated range up to 45 miles.

More local errands were done on electricity, covering 49 miles, after which we had an indicated 8 miles of electric range remaining.

2016 Chevrolet Volt, first drive in California, July 2015

2016 Chevrolet Volt, first drive in California, July 2015

Another overnight recharge totaling 12.5 kilowatt-hours gave us 49 miles more of electric travel, in a mix of both local traffic and highway speeds.

Our test ended after using the gasoline range extender for a final 72 miles, giving us a blended "gas mileage" of 73.8 miles per gallon. 

The final "efficiency" over almost 298 miles was "90.7 miles per gallon."

CHECK OUT: 2016 Chevrolet Volt: Owner's First Impressions Of Car, Range, Dealers, And More

A note on those readings: In doing this test, we were reminded that we wish Chevy made it easier to discern, display, and save the energy used per trip leg and until a trip odometer is reset.

Those blended gas-mileage readings may be good for owner bragging points, but they don't give enough detail.

Onstar uploads both the gallons of gasoline and kilowatt-hours of electricity used by the car, assuming owners have given permission.

2016 Chevrolet Volt, first drive in California, July 2015

2016 Chevrolet Volt, first drive in California, July 2015

Displaying those items in a breakout of the "MPG" number, would let drivers more easily understand and track overall energy usage between electricity and gasoline.

It's worth noting from this test specifically that temperatures varied from the high 40s during the day to about 30 degrees F overnight.

Our Volt never had to switch on its engine to provide cabin heat, though, and we found the Premier trim level's heated seats and steering wheel to be adequate in the relatively small cabin.

IN DETAIL: 2016 Chevrolet Volt Powertrain: How It Works In Electric, Hybrid Modes

As before, we found the Volt quiet, comfortable, peppy, and smooth.

Its controls are intuitive, the color graphics and touchscreen displays are exceptionally bright and crisp, and the rearview camera gives a better-quality image than those we've used in most other cars.

2016 Chevrolet Volt, Catskill Mountains, NY, Dec 2015

2016 Chevrolet Volt, Catskill Mountains, NY, Dec 2015

A few additional notes after our long weekend spent with the 2016 Volt:

  • This is one good-looking car, especially in the rich Siren Red Tintcoat--something we never found ourselves saying about the previous version
  • As before, the 53-mile range rating is eminently achievable in normal driving at a mix of speeds
  • We used the "regen paddle" behind the steering at the left extensively to avoid using the brake pedal as much as possible
  • That, plus leaving the car's drive selector in the stronger-regeneration setting of "L," came pretty close to BMW-style one-pedal driving
  • While we heard a bit of electronics whine and motor whirr, these noises are far better suppressed than in the 2016 Nissan Leaf we drove back to back with the Volt.
  • The Volt information displays include a great deal more operating data than do those of the new 2016 Toyota Prius, which also just preceded our Volt drive.
  • For reasons we don't really understand, the SiriusXM satellite radio reception was significantly worse in the Volt than in any other test car we've had this year
  • And, for the first time, we discerned just a slight amount of pulsing in the 2016 Volt's power delivery at very low speeds, 3 mph or so

After time in four different 2016 Volts over the last six months, we're entirely confident sticking with the conclusion to the new Volt as the winner of our Best Car To Buy 2016 award:

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

What we didn't expect was how much of an improvement over the old car it would be--and how good a car it is.

If we had a place to plug it in, in fact, we'd seriously consider the 2016 Chevrolet Volt as our only car to use. It's really that good.

GM's Pam Fletcher and Josh Tavel accept Green Car Reports 2016 Best Car To Buy award for 2016 Volt

GM's Pam Fletcher and Josh Tavel accept Green Car Reports 2016 Best Car To Buy award for 2016 Volt

Our 2016 Chevy Volt Premier carried a base price of $37,520 and a total of four extra-cost options.

The first of a pair of "Driver Confidence packages" at $495 apiece gave us side blind-zone alert, rear cross-traffic alert, and lane-departure warning.

The second added lane-keeping assist to steer the car back into its lane, forward-collision alert, low-speed automatic braking, and intelligent headlights.

The Chevrolet MyLink system with built-in navigation added another $495, and the striking Siren Red Tintcoat paint was a further $395.

Including the mandatory destination charge of $825, the bottom line on our test car was $40,225.

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