2018 Chevrolet Volt Electric Hybrid Hatchback (Review)

As gas prices have continued to climb in recent years, more consumers are seeking fuel efficient vehicles that not only have a stylish exterior, comfortable interior, and technologically advanced features, but fuel efficiency that can be felt with fewer trips to the gas station. The new 2018 Chevrolet Volt embodies all of those characteristics and so much more. Chevrolet has introduced a hybrid sedan that saves gas, money, time, and provides one of the best hybrid driving experiences available today.

The Volt is a mid-size, plug-in electric hybrid vehicle that comes in two trim levels- LT and Premier, and has become one of the most popular hybrids in North America. It is powered by an electric motor that delivers 149 horsepower and 273 lb. ft. of torque. The electric motor receives power from a 18.4 kilowatt lithium-ion battery pack until the charge is 70% used up, at this point the vehicle’s 1.5 liter, 4-cylinder gas engine kicks in and powers the electric motor.

There are various driving modes, such as normal, sport, a mountain mode for rougher terrain conditions, and a hold mode, which turns of the all-electric propulsion mode until the best driving conditions are met, permitting the vehicle to achieve optimal efficiency.

Standard features for the LT trim include- keyless ignition/entry, heated mirrors, 17-inch alloy wheels, remote ignition, automatic climate control, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, LED running lamps, 60/40-split folding rear seatbacks, cruise control, an auxiliary audio jack, automatic headlights, a height-adjustable driver seat, satellite radio, an iPod/USB interface, Bluetooth and phone connectivity, OnStar communication with 4G LTE and Wi-Fi connectivity, 8-inch touch screen display, a 6-speaker audio system with CD player, and Chevrolet’s MyLink system, which offers Smartphone integration and voice controlled audio functions. For 2018, the leather-wrapped steering wheel is not a standard feature; instead it is available with certain packages.

The Premier Trim adds leather upholstery, heated rear outboard seats, a wireless charging pad for smartphones and other devices, a center armrest, heated front seats, a removable rear seat, better 17-inch wheels, an automated parking system, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.

A Driver Confidence package is available for both the Premier and LT trims and offers rear parking sensors, blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alerts.

For the Premier trim, a Driver Confidence 2 package can be added to the Driver Confidence package, which offers adaptive headlights, forward collision warning with automatic low-speed emergency braking, lane departure warning and intervention, adaptive cruise control and an upgraded automatic emergency braking system. A navigation system is optional for the Premier trim.

Increased safety packages are also available for the Volt and include a rearview camera, forward collision and lane departure warning functions, front parking sensors, and rear parking sensor. A 7-speaker Bose Audio System, heated front seats, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, and a navigation system with digital music storage and voice controls are optional.

Unlike an all-electric vehicle, such as the Nissan Leaf, the Chevy Volt is a hybrid, in which the vehicle operates in electric mode for about 38 miles and then the 1.5-liter, 4 cylinder gas engine switches on to generate electricity to help prolong the Volt’s mpg by an estimated 300 miles. Between the battery and an 8.9-gallon fuel tank, the Volt delivers an impressive 420-mile range, which makes it the perfect choice for long distance trips.

Compared to many hybrid competitors, the Volt definitely has a longer electric range. Many of the Volt’s plug-in competitors can only operate in electric mode for  about 10-20 miles before switching over to hybrid mode, whereas the Volt can achieve in electric mode more than 35 miles. This makes the Volt the best choice for commuters who typically drive shorter distances to school, work, or in the city, eliminating the need to visit a gas station for a very long time with the Volt’s Hybrid System yielding an astounding 101 in the city and 93 on the highway.

It is necessary to plug the car into either a 120 or 240 volt outlet to recharge the battery. I recommend using a 240 outlet, because it greatly reduces the charging time to only about 4.5 hours, whereas the 120 outlet takes about 10 hours to charge completely.

Unlike many other hybrids, the Volt has an attractive and sleek exterior that looks very much like the Chevy Cruze Hatchback. In fact, from certain angles, it is nearly impossible to tell them apart, aside from the Volt’s distinctive badge and rear/tail that sits higher to better repel air in the best way possible.

The interior of the Chevy Volt is stylish, modern, with a quiet cabin, comfortable seats, and high-end materials. The front cabin feels spacious and there is plenty of head/leg room for taller passengers. The Volt’s interior has a twin-cockpit design with elegant black and silver accents. I like the layout of the dashboard with the big 8.0-inch touch screen display and I noticed that the soft “touch” controls that were in the first generation of the Volt have been replaced with easier to use traditional buttons, which work much better. Cargo space is somewhat limited with no cover to hide items in the trunk, and the bottom of the front of the vehicle seems to scrape the ground when entering or exiting some driveways.

On the road the Chevy Volt provides a smooth, comfortable ride, navigating curves and tight corners extremely well, without any roll feel, and handles bumpy road conditions with ease. The Volt has a refined demeanor and feels composed even on rougher terrain. The hybrid engine is quiet and there is only a small amount of noise heard from the tires when driving over rougher surfaces.

Currently, for the 2018 Volt, a 7,500 federal tax credit is available and many states in the U.S. are offering generous incentives, which make it one of the most affordable hybrid vehicles available and with a starting MSRP of only $33,220, it is definitely worth taking a look at.

To find out more about the 2018 Chevrolet Volt, please visit- www.chevrolet.com

 

2016 Kia Soul EV Hatchback (Review)

Without a doubt, the 2016 Kia Soul EV with an all-electric powertrain is the best looking all electric vehicle around with smooth on the road performance, a stylish interior and exterior, excellent handling,  incredible hatchback versatility, advanced technology, unique features, and an impressive estimated 93-mile driving range on a full charge. This remarkable range is mainly due to its 27 kWh lithium-ion polymer battery, which gets its power from one of the two charging ports that are hidden behind a concealed panel in the front grille.

The Soul EV can be charged with either a 120-volt current, which takes a full day or 24 hours to fully charge/recharge the battery or a 240-volt current that fully charges the battery in about 5 hours. There is also a supercharge option available- a DC port 480-volt current that delivers an 80% charge from empty in only 33 minutes. The latter charging option is very hard to find, but Kia has equipped many of their EV dealership locations in the state of California with the more powerful DC charging ports, however, during my time in the Soul EV, I was unable to find any of the supercharged ports in my area. Kia has also partnered with companies such as Greenlots and Plugshare, which help Soul EV drivers find nearby charging stations.

Currently the Kia Soul EV is only available in about 10 states with California being the focal point and is offered in three trim levels- EV (base), EV-e (California only), and + (plus).

Standard features for the EV-e trim include- automatic climate control, a 6.6-kilowatt onboard charger, 16-inch alloy wheels, a 120-volt charge cable, automatic headlights, heated side mirrors, a DC fast-charge port, rear privacy glass, keyless ignition and entry, cloth upholstery, 60/40-split folding rear seatbacks, a height-adjustable driver seat, a heated tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, satellite radio, Bluetooth connectivity, a USB port, and a 6-speaker sound system with a CD player.

The base EV trim is similar to the EV-e, but has some additional features, such as a navigation system, an 8-inch touchscreen with rearview camera, climate control, and an innovative UVO Infotainment System.

The Soul EV+ adds leather upholstery, fog lights, heated rear seats, aerodynamic windshield wipers, front and rear parking sensors, power-folding mirrors, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, heated and ventilated front seats, leatherette dashboard and console trim, a luggage net, a cargo cover, and a 12-volt cargo area power outlet. A Sun & Fun package that adds a panoramic sunroof and LED interior lighting is optional.

The front-wheel-drive 2016 Kia Soul EV is motivated by a 90-kW electric motor (109 horsepower and 210 lb-ft of torque). Energy comes from a 27-kWh lithium-ion battery pack. There are two basic drive modes- Drive and Brake; the latter provides more aggressive regenerative braking when lifting off the accelerator, maximizing range by converting the car’s forward momentum into energy for the battery. A separate Eco mode further promotes energy conservation.

Standard safety features for the 2016 Kia Soul EV include-stability and traction control, hill-start assist, side curtain airbags, 4-wheel antilock disc brakes, a pedestrian warning system, brake assist, and front seat side airbags. The interior of the Kia Soul EV is modern with impeccable styling, high quality materials, plush seats, and a spacious front and rear cabin to accommodate five people comfortably, however compared to the regular gas powered Soul, there is slightly less interior head/legroom for taller passengers. Cargo space seems to be just as plentiful as it is with the regular Soul with 18.8 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats that can be expanded to 49.5 cubic feet when the 60/40-split rear seatbacks are folded down and an impressive 61 cubic feet when the undertray and cargo flooring is removed.

The all electric Soul EV actually feels more agile on the road than its gas powered counterpart due to the electric engine’s 210 lb. ft. of torque and lightweight materials.

Exclusive features that are only available for the Soul EV include a specially designed gauge cluster with an attractive display and an 8-inch touch screen that shows in perfect detail the status of the battery and power levels.

Those who are used to the features of the gas powered Soul might be a little disappointed that the Soul EV does not come with all the regular Soul’s extras, such as an upgraded Infinity sound system, a 10-way power driver seat, or xenon headlights, but if they were added to the Soul EV, the driving range would be compromised by the weight and energy use of these features.

The 2016 Kia Soul EV is a very easy car to drive with smooth on the road performance, quick maneuvering, and remains completely unperturbed at highway speeds, except for a little wind noise. Although the Soul EV does not have sporty handling, the stylish hatchback feels nimble when navigating around sharp corners and on curvy roadways.

In my opinion, I think that the Soul EV is better suited for drivers who live in a house with a garage rather than an apartment because it does take 24 hours to charge the Soul EV from a standard 120-volt household outlet and 5 hours to charge the vehicle from a 240-volt outlet that requires a special charger to be installed in a home. It is also difficult and time consuming to drive to another city or town to use a DC Fast Charger at a public charging station, which charges the battery to 80% in just 33 minutes.

If you have been looking for an all electric vehicle with a stylish exterior and interior, hatchback versatility, a roomy cargo area, advanced technology, and excellent handling with zero emissions, then the 2016 Kia Soul EV is the perfect choice.

 

 

To find out more about the Kia Soul EV, please visit- www.kia.com

 

 

 

 

Philippa Lane is an automotive writer, expert author for Ezine Articles, Reddit Contributor, and staff writer for Cable Muse Network.