by Jay Traugott
The 2019 Chevrolet Volt is one of the compact segment's foremost plug-in hybrids, offering an unparalleled all-electric range of 53 miles. However, with the clean-living popularity of pure-electric vehicles growing throughout the U.S. and, considering the market's expeditious progression of all-electric vehicles in general, the 2019 Chevrolet Volt that has been deemed the crowning glory of Chevrolet's hybrid range will be discontinued from production as of late 2019. Nevertheless, there are now more competitors within the segment than ever before, and even with top brands such as the Toyota Prius Prime, Kia Niro, and Honda Clarity plug-in holding strong positions within the segment, favor is high for the 2019 Chevrolet Volt. Equipped with a hybridized 1.5-liter inline-four gasoline engine and dual electric motors, total outputs of 149 horsepower and 294 lb-ft of torque are forwarded to the Chevy's front-wheel-drivetrain via a continuously variable automatic transmission. Has the Volt run its course, or is GM simply killing it off too soon?
With the Volt's upcoming demise, Chevrolet has gone ahead and applied some considerable tweaks and upgrades for the 2019 year model. All trims are outfitted with Chevrolet's Infotainment 3 system with an eight-inch touchscreen that incorporates a new, Volt-exclusive Energy App. An HD rearview camera replaces the previous analog system, decorative seating patterns are offered on cloth seats, and a tire fill alert system is now standard. Standard-fit on the Premier trim and available for the LT is a 7.2 kW charging system that cuts recharging times by almost half. A six-way power-adjustable driver's seat is now standard on the Premier and available for the LT, while adaptive cruise control with forward automatic braking has been added to the options list for both trims, and the available wireless charging pad has been relocated ahead of the shifter for easier use. Pacific Blue Metallic has been added to the exterior color palette, and a Jet Black/Porcelain Blue interior is now offered on the Premier.
While most plug-in hybrids are distinctly recognizable by their futuristic and almost alien designs and styling cues, the Volt isn't even discernible from your typical sedan or liftback, only differentiated by its front-mounted charging port and blanked off grille. LED exterior lighting is standard on both trims, from the headlights and daytime running lights, to the taillights and high-mounted brake light, while 17-inch aluminum wheels fill the arches of either Volt varying only in design and color.
The Volt's dimensions are also typical to that of an ordinary sedan; compared to the Chevrolet Cruze - another compact offering from within the Chevrolet stable - the Volt measures slightly longer at 180.4 inches in length, while the Volt's 106.1-inch wheelbase is marginally shorter than the Cruze's. The Volt stands 56.4 inches in height and 71.2 inches in width, making it slightly wider than its Chev sibling. The Volt LT, with all standard equipment and necessary operating consumables, tips the scales at 3,519 lbs; the Volt Premier weighs in at 3,543 lbs, slightly heavier by cause of its larger 7.2 kW onboard charging module featured in place of the LT's 3.6 kW module.
With the late addition of Pacifica Blue Metallic, there are now eight exterior color options available for the 2019 Volt. Some of the price inclusive options include Satin Steel, Green Mist, and Mosaic Black, all featured in a metallic tint. The Cajun Red Tintcoat and Iridescent Pearl Tricoat will set one back $395 and $995 respectively - the price to pay for exclusivity and premium style. The newly added Pacific Blue Metallic stamps its mark on the Volt, giving it a striking presence in a world dominated by white and silver cars.
The Chevrolet Volt is an impressively sprightly machine for a hybridized eco-friendly commuter. Though the hybrid engine's 149 horsepower doesn't do much for the Volt's acceleration, it's the monstrous 294 lb-ft of electrified torque that packs a potent punch. From a standstill, the electric motor scoots the Volt from 0-60 mph in around 7.5 seconds, only relying on the 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine to act as a range extender and take over once battery power is depleted. That's slower than the smaller, all-electric Chevrolet Bolt by a full second, but faster than the Toyota Prius Prime by more than two. The Volt's top speed is electronically limited to a mere 98 mph. The Volt is to no extent a fast car, but its systems are - by design - ideal for casual driving styles. As with all compact plug-in hybrids, the Chevrolet Volt is solely setup with a front-wheel-drivetrain. An all-wheel-drive configuration is not available, and there are no rival manufacturers offering such alternatives.
The Volt's plug-in hybrid system comprises a gasoline-powered 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine, dual electric motors, and an 18.4 kWh lithium-ion battery pack powering the front-wheel-drivetrain via a continuously variable automatic transmission. The electrified components primarily provide the Volt with vigorous off-the-line propulsion and day to day usability, and only once the battery has run dry does the combustion engine modestly takes over as a range-extending generator. The system's total outputs of 149 hp and 294 lb-ft are ample for propelling the Volt throughout its various driving conditions, from start/stop driving in town to high-speed overtaking on the highway. Power delivery is consistent throughout, and with a fitting CVT mated to the setup, also imperceptibly smooth. The small 1.5-liter engine and automated CVT work favorably together, making the Volt an easy vehicle to commute on a day-to-day basis.
Surprisingly for an eco-warrior, the Volt boasts an unexpected proclivity for poised but high-spirited handling, giving it another quality that has it outshine the competition. Its steering responses are precise and accord the driver with enough confidence to guide the car around bends and through sharp corners at speed, although the low-rolling-resistance tires hamper things slightly with their low levels of grip under duress. Although steering effort can feel heavy at times, it's weighted comfortably in general. The combined regular and regenerative brakes work subtly together; the pedal responses are linear and smooth, and stopping power is adequate for the commuter. Buzzing the Volt around winding roads reveals its unanticipated penchant as it retains its composure and exhibits tremendous poise. Body roll is present, however, and mid-corner bumps tend to throw it off and discombobulate it a little. With a standard suspension and economy-focused tires, the Volt's limitations are set, but it's through these casual driving conditions where the Volt truly shines.
The Volt is a semi-comfortable commuter, prominent road imperfections and undulations will jostle the chassis, but over more typically smooth roads, it's mostly refined and buttoned-down. It rides quietly too, by virtue of its hushed hybridized engine and well-built cabin, with very little outside noise permeating even at higher speeds.
The 2019 Volt's prime prerogative is electrified efficiency, and it outshines all its competitors in just that regard. With its battery fully charged the Volt's all-electric range is capped at a class-leading 53 miles, from there onward, and with a full 8.9-gallon gas tank, the four-cylinder can soldier on for another 367 miles, totaling 420 in ideal conditions. It returns an all-electric EPA combined estimate of 106 MPGe, 42 mpg in hybrid mode. The Volts' 18.4kWh lithium-ion battery pack can be fully charged on a standard 120V household power outlet in just under 20 hours with the 3.6 kW onboard charging module. Standard on the Premier and optional for the LT is the 7.2 kW onboard charging module which - via a 240V power outlet - completes a full charge in under 2.3 hours, half the charge time of the prior model year. With a 120V outlet, a full charge will only take four and a half hours with the 7.2 kW charging module. Unfortunately, the Volt is not available with fast-charging technology.
Occupants in the cabin are in for a pleasant experience, as the Volt has been well assembled and feels surprisingly plush. The cabin is well isolated from exterior noise, and the solar absorbing glass windows help keep things protected. The upholstery is decent in quality, as are most of the interior trim elements, which are made up mostly of hard-touch materials and gloss plastics. The LT's standard cloth seating can be upgraded to leather-appointed upholstery via the Power Convenience Package, which is standard on the Premier. The seats themselves are suitably comfortable and supportive; however, some extended lumbar support would be appreciated. Though the rear outboard seats are nicely contoured and the armrests soft-padded for comfortable adult occupation, the rear cabin space is limited, even for average-sized adults. The front of the cabin is spacious though, and the ergonomics intuitive and practical; the driving position is optimal with all controls in easy reach and the driver's sightlines clear for good outward visibility.
The Volt is equipped to seat a total of five passengers - however, with limited overall rear cabin room, only two small adults or three children will find a suitable level of comfort there. The seats throughout the cabin are, nevertheless, well-padded and contoured for decent comfort and support. Head and legroom up front are suitable and the level of steering and seat adjustability sufficient for most physiques to find an optimal driving position. Newly standard in the Premier and available for the LT is a six-way power-adjustable driver's seat, which adds favorably to the Volt's versatility. Getting into and out of the front cabin is easy to live with, but the rear cabin is somewhat trickier due to the sloping roofline and small door openings.
Although the Volt's interior exudes a contemporary design and minimalistic styling cues, the materials are only mediocre in quality, yet still, manage to give off a sophisticated impression. The LT's interior can be optioned in either Jet Black or Light/Dark Ash cloth seating with chrome and gloss plastic trim as standard, although $460 will upgrade the interior to feature a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob from vinyl, and adding leather-appointed seat upholstery. The Premier comes standard with the in-cabin leather-appointments and can be featured with either a Jet Black or a combination of Jet Black/Porcelain Blue interior.
With only 10.6 cubic feet of room available in the trunk of the Volt, there's not much offered in the way of practicality, albeit only marginally less than what's offered in the segment as average. That's about enough room to haul along a desktop PC, screen, and everything else you'd need for a good old fashioned LAN session. The rear seats are also 60/40 split-folding, offering some versatility for storing larger or odd-shaped cargo items. The liftback design of the Volt also benefits practicality by means of presenting a massive trunk opening for easy loading.
In-cabin storage solutions are plentiful in the Volt, with wide door pockets fitted on every door, seatback map pockets behind both front seats, dual cupholders up front and in the rear, a small storage tray in the front center console, a compartmentalized center armrest cubby, and an average-sized glovebox.
The Volt is comprehensively outfitted with features that offer a decent level of comfort, convenience, and entertainment. Enter the LT with its remote keyless entry and start, and on the inside, you'll be met with power windows, manual tilt and telescoping steering column, six-way manually-adjustable front bucket seats, and 60/40 split-folding rear seats. Comfort and convenience are covered by single-zone automatic climate control, cruise control, teen driver controls, ambient interior lighting, and a pedestrian safety signal which alert pedestrians of the vehicle's presence with an automated exterior sound. The Premier is offered as a more premium and comprehensive package, featured as standard with leather-wrapped interior appointments, a six-way power-adjustable driver's seat, a heated steering wheel, and front and rear outboard seats. In terms of standard active and advanced safety and driver-assists, the LT is only fitted with an HD rearview camera, while the Premier has automatic parking assist as well. Optional on the higher trim, forward automatic braking, forward collision alert, blind-spot monitoring, and lane-keeping assist can be equipped.
Both the LT and the Premier are fitted with an eight-inch HD color infotainment touchscreen installed with Chevrolet's infotainment 3 Plus system, with a Volt-exclusive Energy App and 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot capability. Audio is delivered via a standard six-speaker setup in the LT and via an eight-speaker Bose sound system in the Premier. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay functionality are standard for both trims along with a SiriusXM trial, however, navigation is only standard in the Premier. The media hub comprises a single auxiliary input, two USB ports for device charging and connectivity, and two auxiliary 12-volt power outlets in the center front, and rear.
There have, to date, been two recalls commissioned for the 2019 Chevrolet Volt, the most recent recall pertaining to an improperly locking rear seat belt retractor; the other, because of insufficient rear brake caliper piston coating which would cause gas pockets to form, potentially reducing brake performance.
J.D. Power rated the 2019 Volt with a below-average predicted reliability rating of only two out of five. Still, the Volt is covered by a three-year/36,000-mile basic limited warranty, five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty, and an eight-year/100,000-mile battery and electric component warranty.
The NHTSA awarded the 2019 Chevrolet Volt with an overall crash test safety rating of five out of five stars. Of five crash test evaluations conducted by the IIHS, the 2019 Volt scored a top rating of Good for all. Those ratings are not too competitive for the Volt though, as high safety ratings are typical for the segment with some rivals, such as the Toyota Prius and Prius Prime, even boasting Top Safety Pick designations from the IIHS.
Both Volt trims are equipped with a decent level of standard safety features at their base point, with an extensive selection of optional advanced driver assists available too. As standard, Volt trims feature an HD rearview camera and ten standard airbags, including driver and front-passenger knee airbags. The Premier also comes with automatic parking assist as standard. The Driver Confidence Package is available for the LT and includes lane change alert with side blind zone alert, rear park assist, and rear cross-traffic alert. The Driver Confidence II Package is available for the Premier and includes the above plus forward collision alert, lane keep assist with lane departure warning, low speed forward automatic braking, following distance indicator, and IntelliBeam headlamps. Advanced adaptive cruise control is also available for the Premier.
The 2019 Chevrolet Volt is a good hybrid vehicle - and for more reasons than just its best-in-class all-electric range. It also performs competitively with the 1.5-liter four-pot motor and refined CVT aptly coordinated for efficiency and drivability. While the engine's 149 hp isn't much, it's ideal for both city and highway driving. For a vehicle of its class, the Volt is also surprisingly fun to drive, vastly more so than others in the segment. It exhibits some handling prowess while also retaining a suitable level of ride comfort. Technology in the Volt is also impressive, and features in the line of comfort and convenience are plentiful at the standard level. Though not as practical as many of its rivals, in-cabin storage and trunk capacity is still reasonable. Setting the Volt back, however, is its low-mid quality cabin materials and severely cramped rear cabin. Nevertheless, the 2019 Volt is a suitable daily small-family commuter that offers hybrid capability beyond that of many of its rivals. It may be nearly dead, but it's still a solid buy for those in the compact plug-in market.
The 2019 Chevrolet Volt is priced relatively high in comparison to its rivals. For the base Volt LT, car shoppers can expect an MSRP of $33,520, while moving up to the top-tier Volt Premier sees an MSRP of $38,120. That's excluding tax, licensing, and registration as well as Chevrolet's destination charge of $875. As an eco-friendly hybrid vehicle, the Volt is subject to a $3,750 federal tax credit, $1,875 for deliveries taking place as of October 2019. Other green vehicle incentives are also available depending on the state.
Comprising the 2019 Chevrolet Volt lineup are two trim options; the base Volt LT and the well-equipped Volt Premier. Both trims are fitted with a hybridized 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine coupled to two electric motors and an 18.4-kWh lithium-ion battery pack for total outputs of 149 hp and 294 lb-ft. A CVT services both trims, forwarding outputs to the front wheels.
As standard, the LT comes with keyless entry and ignition, power doors and windows, a vinyl steering wheel and shift knob, a manually tilt and telescoping steering column, six-way manually-adjustable front bucket seats, and 60/40 split-folding rear seats. Also standard is single-zone automatic climate control, cruise control, teen driver controls, ambient interior lighting, and a pedestrian safety signal. It is equipped with a 3.6 kWh onboard charging module.
The Volt Premier is the well-equipped trim option of the lineup, coming comprehensively outfitted with leather-wrapped interior appointments, a six-way power-adjustable driver's seat, and a heated steering wheel as well as front and rear outboard seats. The Premier is equipped with the new 7.2 kWh onboard charging module.
Standard active and advanced safety and driver-assists in the LT include an HD rearview camera; the Premier also gets automatic parking assist.
Available for the LT is a $460 Comfort Package which comprises a heated and leather-wrapped steering wheel, heated front seats, and body-color heated power exterior mirrors. Also available is a $1,660 Power Convenience Package which equips the LT with the Comfort Package, plus a six-way power-adjustable driver's seat, leather upholstery, and a leather-wrapped shift knob. The $790 LT Driver Confidence Package installs rear parking sensors, rear cross-traffic alert, and lane change alert with blind-spot monitoring.
The $990 Driver Confidence II Package for the Premier includes low speed forward automatic braking, forward collision alert, lane-keep assist with lane departure warning, following distance indicator, IntelliBeam automatic high beam headlamps, rear cross-traffic alert, and lane change alert with blind-spot monitoring.
From an aesthetic perspective, both trims can be equipped with the $1,995 Blackout Package, which equips the Volt with 17-inch split-five-spoke machined-face gloss black wheels, front and rear black bowtie emblems, and the Sport Pedal Kit.
We recommend opting for the Volt Premier; along with the vast array of features it has as standard, it is also equipped with the new 7.3 kWh onboard charging module that delivers a 2.3-hour full-charge time. To take full advantage of that capability, you'll need to add in the optional electric vehicle charging equipment, which includes a 240 volt/32 Amp Wall Charger with a 25-foot cord. We suggest optioning in the available Driver Confidence II Package as well, for the decent selection of favorable active safety features and advanced driver assists. The available Blackout Package is an appealing way to give the Volt more of a unique exterior aesthetic while also upgrading the standard pedals to sportier, more attractive variations too.
The Chevrolet Bolt is an all-electric alternative and is around $3,000 more than the already pricey Volt. It is, however, one of only a few EVs in the US market that offers an all-electric range of over 200 miles, making it a great option if you're looking to go 100% green. In terms of acceleration, the Bolt is faster, shooting to 60 mph in a full second faster than the Volt. It's also a really enjoyable commuter vehicle to drive, with surprisingly nimble handling traits and easy-to-drive dynamics. The Bolt's simplistic rear suspension and only semi-comfortable seats detriment its ride comfort, however, making the Volt a more suitable option if many extended trips are on your agenda. With that said, however, the Bolt's cabin is a lot more spacious, meaning more passenger room overall. And with a trunk capacity of 16.9 cubic feet, it's a whole lot more practical as well. The Bolt is friendlier to the world as an all-electric vehicle, and more importantly, to its passengers too, considerably more so than the Volt is; it offers more space, practicality, and features, all aimed at pleasing the passengers. Despite being smaller, it's better in general, and at a comparable price, we'd recommend committing fully to the EV lifestyle.
The Toyota Prius Prime is around $6,000 cheaper than the Volt; it's equipped with a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine paired to a plug-in hybrid system for a total output of 121 hp. Its slower than the Volt from 0-60 mph by two full seconds and offers less than half the all-electric range of the Volt, with only 25 miles attainable on a full charge. The Prime's battery takes only a little more than two hours to complete a full charge on a 240V outlet, but with the Volt's upgraded charging module, its larger, more efficient battery completes a full charge in only slightly longer than that. The Prime does come standard with Toyota's Safety Sense P suite which comprises a whole lot more safety features and assists than the Volt at its base point. It was also chosen as a Top Safety Pick by the IIHS. Its technology and in-cabin materials elicit a far more premium impression than the Volt, too. The Prime is, however, not as fun to drive as the Volt, with sluggish acceleration and sedate handling traits. The Volt is a better hybrid vehicle than the Prime in many aspects, the Prime may be a lot more affordable and with a more premium feel at that, but when it comes to a hybrid vehicle, efficiency and range is the name of the game.