This is a big year for electrified vehicles, with the 2016 Chevrolet Volt's arrival, the 2016 Toyota Prius we've just driven and gas being less than $2 per gallon in most parts of the U.S.
I'm driving a Chevrolet Volt this week in the great state of California, where a gallon of fuel is still firmly over the $2 mark. But the last Volt has been warmly embraced by the Golden State drivers who want to remove themselves from the gas pump as much as possible.
The challenge of the new Volt is that it needs to be more like a car and less like a science experiment – something the Prius has been successful with for the last decade or so.
While I find out whether the 2016 Volt works in everyday situations, here are five takeaways from my first drive with it:
1- It's most definitely a compact car
While the Volt still generally resembles an older Prius, it cuts a shorter and lower stance up close. But it's also reflected in the interior, where the adults up front will be comfortable, but those in the back less so. Again, the 2016 Prius will be the much better UberX if faced with the choice one night.
2- The technology appears to be figured out
Things are much improved up front from the previous Volt. Aside from gauges that are intimidating at first, the controls fall readily to hand. Apple CarPlay is a nice touch, too, although it – like the setup in many other cars – cancels out the outside temperature gauge as far as I can tell.
3- It's quick. Like, surprisingly quick
The Volt has a lot of torque and at this point I'm very happy this loaded Premier model is equipped with traffic sign recognition.
4- It doesn't scrape on every driveway like the old one
But if you're not a fan of that noise as you approach dips and speed bumps a little too hot, maybe the Volt isn't the car for you. My neighbors now take pleasure seeing how slowly I can creep out of my driveway.
5- There's always another EV in the public charging station
A win with an EV is showing up to the public charging station where there's one spot left next to the BMW i3 and the Fiat 500e and the Smart Electric Drive and, of course, the inevitable Tesla Model S. EV popularity here has created much more demand for charging in parking garages and other places. Therefore, my routes now revolve around where I can plug the car in.
Yes, the Volt has a way to get around range anxiety, in the form of a 1.5-liter four. But the whole point of it is to drive around on electricity, so planning where to charge is key. The next few days will be a test of California's public charging infrastructure, too.
Now that those thoughts have been established, what else would you like to know about the new Volt? Sound off in the comments below and look for a full review in the near future.
Photos: Zac Estrada/Carscoops