The 2016 Chevrolet Volt gets top Green Car of Year honors

2016 Chevrolet Volt

The 2016 Chevrolet Volt has won the Green Car Journal Green Car of the Year award. The honor venue was the 2015 Los Angeles Auto Show.

Sean Szymkowski, staff writer for GM Authority, reported Thursday that contenders which the Volt topped included Audi A3 e-tron, Honda Civic, Hyundai Sonata and Toyota Prius.

Among the factors that won the vote: Szymkowski said it was recognized for "improvement in virtually every corner, including an increased all-electric range, quicker acceleration and its weight loss."

The nomination is selected by a panel of judges, including a celebrity guest. Chris Isidore and Peter Valdes-Dapena of CNN Money said "The contest is judged by a group of environmental activists rather than car critics, who give out most other major car awards. Availability to the mass market is one of the factors considered by the judges."

Autoblog's Sebastian Blanco described the winner as a plug-in hybrid with a 53-mile electric range (vs. 38 in the first generation) and 106 MPGe.

This is a second-generation flavor; the first-generation five years ago won an award too, giving the Volt that added distinction: This is the first model to be crowned Green Car of the Year more than once, after its debut in 2010.

Blanco found the second-gen looking better than the first. For numerous reasons.

Blanco got in the driver's seat of the 2016 in Sausolito and while behind the wheel told readers it was "incredibly nice." His comments: It had the pickup that he wanted, it was able to hug the corners, and it didn't toss you around at all—very stable going around curves.

2016 Chevrolet Volt

He said you have more miles on the battery, higher fuel efficiency, and more passengers can fit, and more comfort along with a better infotainment system, smaller than the previous one.

In his written review he said that the range-extending gas engine was bigger (1.5 liters vs. 1.4) but also more efficient and can burn regular gasoline instead of just premium.

Once you've spent your battery, he said, the new Volt performs mostly the same, "unless you really step on the gas. That's when the loud-ish makes its presence known." In normal driving, though, which he translated as going 60 or 70 miles per hour on a highway, "you most likely won't notice the engine or hear much wind or tire noise."

Blanco did the numbers on his time inside the car: "My drive was comprised of two routes, totaling 77 miles. The first leg started off with a full battery, so all 33.2 curvy, hilly miles were completed with 21 miles of EV range left in the pack. The second trip, of 34.6 mostly highway miles, was done using only gas (we didn't have time to recharge) and the display said I managed 39.4 mpg. Combined with my drive partner's time behind the wheel, we put 107.4 miles on the Volt, averaging 77.2 mpg and using up 14.2 kWh of battery for 50.8 miles and 1.39 gallons for 56.7 miles."

CNN Money's report said "The new version of the sedan that won the 2016 award goes about 40 percent farther on a single electric charge than the original model, according to EPA tests—about 53 miles after a full charge, compared to 38 miles for the previous model. The fuel economy of the gasoline engine also been improved to about 42 miles per gallon in combined city and highway driving."

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