Conspiracy theorists won’t believe it, but the Volt was started by a pre-bankrupt General Motors under the Bush administration and was an attempt to leapfrog the Toyota Prius. Of course, cars like the Prius and Volt exist for one reason: the corporate average fuel economy standards that require automakers to achieve a 54.5-mpg fleet average by 2025.

Given that the 2016 Volt’s electric driveline travels 53 miles before a fossil fuel-powered engine steps in to extend the vehicle’s range to a maximum of 420 miles, it’s a product that fits in perfectly with the average American’s daily commute.

In theory, you can run the Volt, take it home and plug it in, recharge it, and not use the gas engine for weeks. And even if you need to go the distance, a recharge is as close as your gas station.

This is where the Volt holds an edge over other electrified vehicles. After all, pure electric vehicles still take some time to recharge; the Volt takes a couple minutes.

While the Volt’s system storage capacity has increased to 18.4 kilowatts, the number of cells has decreased from 288 to 192.

In turn, the battery pack is 21 pounds lighter in a driveline that’s 100 pounds lighter. This gives the car strong acceleration; 0-30 mph takes 2.6 seconds. Reaching 60 mph takes a bit longer: 8.4 seconds.

Powering the Volt is a new aluminum-block, direct-injected 1.5-liter double-overhead-cam four-cylinder engine. It’s rated at 101 horsepower, up from the 84 horsepower generated by the previous model’s iron-block, port-injected 1.4-liter four.

This leads to sparkling acceleration at lower speeds, and a combined fuel economy of 106 mpg equivalent in electric mode or 42 mpg in gas mode.

In a more than 200 miles of driving, I averaged 117 mpg-e, 40 mpg in gas mode, and 50.3 combined gas and electric. Unlike the previous model, the Volt takes regular unleaded.

If the Volt’s efficiency and range has been improved, so has its refinement. Unlike the first generation Volt, it’s hard to tell when the gas engine comes on; it’s that smooth and silent.

There is some road and tire noise. Notably, the regenerative brakes, which capture energy generated by braking, have a more natural feel than most hybrids’ systems.

The new Volt is built using GM’s Delta II architecture. The interior can conceivably hold five; four is the more practical limit, however.

The instrument panel is much more conventional in appearance than the model it replaces and is dominated by dual digital 8-inch color displays, one in front of the driver, the other atop the center console. Beneath the console screen are conventional climate controls,  a welcome change from the old plastic capacitive switches.

Interior material quality is impressive; the car has a solid, well-assembled feel.

The test car boasted two items every buyer should consider: heated seats and heated steering wheel. Given that blasting the heat can affect range, these items can help keep you warm while maintaining optimal fuel efficiency.

Spending time with the Volt lends insight into how great a solution the Volt is. Unlike with the Prius,  you won’t often use gasoline. When you do, you won’t use much.

Most folks have never given GM deserved credit for producing such a car. But GM has advanced the state of the art.

And while the Volt is simply a bridge technology to pure electric driving, e.g. the forthcoming all-electric Chevrolet Bolt, the 2016 Volt gives peace of mind that a pure electric car never will.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.