The 2018 Chevrolet Volt is a dual-personality compact five-door hatchback that can be driven solely on electric power for typical day-to-day driving—but it also offers the backup of a gasoline motor for long-distance trips.
It was the pioneer extended-range electric car, a vehicle that eliminates range anxiety associated with, say, the Nissan Leaf while still providing tailpipe emissions-free driving in almost every situation. Based on its combination of eco-friendliness, crash-test scores, and a surprisingly upscale feel, we’ve rated it a 7.7 out of 10 on our scale. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
For 2018, the Volt remains available in LT and Premier trim levels. Aside from some new paint colors and a few shuffles in its optional and standard equipment, it remains unchanged. The latest Volt represents the second generation and it is now complemented in Chevy’s lineup by the electric-only Bolt EV.
For this second generation, Chevy went for a much more conventional look when it came to styling the 2018 Volt. At first glance, it’s almost indistinguishable from the hatchback version of the Chevrolet Cruze, although the two share little. Inside, it’s much the same, with a dashboard that doesn’t look as wildly futuristic as, say, the Toyota Prius. That’s a good thing in our eyes; the Volt doesn’t project its eco-friendliness as vocally.
The downside, however, is that its interior can feel cramped. A high belt line and thick roof pillars exacerbate this feel.
Don’t focus too much on the Volt’s style and comfort; it’s not bad looking and it’s a little cramped inside. Instead, the draw here is certainly what’s not visible. It delivers an EPA-estimate 53 mile range using only electricity supplied by an 18.4 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack. When the battery is depleted, a 1.5-liter gas engine turns on and transforms the Volt into a conventional hybrid car capable of 42 mpg combined, according to the EPA. Between an 8.9-gallon fuel tank and the battery, the Volt boasts a 420-mile range between fill-ups, meaning it can easily be driven across the country.
Moreover, it drives like a comfortable, smooth, and vibration-free small car with adequate power and a refined demeanor. It’s not inherently sporty, but the battery’s central location means it has terrific balance on a twisty road.
The Chevrolet Volt LT is well-equipped from the start, although Chevy dropped its leather-wrapped steering wheel in favor of a chintzier urethane unit this year. Then again, that may work well for vegans, so there’s an upside for some buyers. The Volt Premier can approach luxury grade with a few options that easily push it past $40,000—but there’s a $7,500 federal income-tax credit and many states offer their own rebates or credits.