The plug-in hybrid shows that safety can come with efficiency.
The 2017 Chevrolet Volt scored a Top Safety Pick+ award for its crash performance from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Chevy introduced the second-generation Volt for the 2016 model year, but the IIHS just tested it for the first time as part of an evaluation of several electric vehicles. The agency will release the rest of the results soon.
The 2017 Volt earned the IIHS’ top Good score in the small-overlap front crash test, whereas the previous generation had an Acceptable rating. Sensors showed a low risk of injury to the legs and feet. The agency's only concern was “the dummy's head contacted the frontal airbag but slid partway off the left side, allowing the head to move toward the gap in coverage between the frontal and side curtain airbags.”
The Volt also scored the top Superior rating in front crash prevention for models with the optional Front Automatic Braking and Low-Speed Front Automatic Braking systems. They allowed the sedan to avoid collisions from 12 miles per hour (19.3 kilometers per hour) and 25 mph (40.23 kph).
Earning the TSP+ rating is a little harder for the 2017 model year because there’s a new headlight test where vehicles must score an Acceptable or Good rating. IIHS engineers check how far the light reaches when traveling straight, making sharp turns, and during gradual cornering. They also take into account glare for oncoming drivers. The Volt’s stock units are Acceptable but improve to Good with the optional high beam assist, which automatically activates the low beams when another vehicle approaches.
The latest Volt looks more like a conventional sedan than its futuristic predecessor, and there are major technology improvements underneath the skin. The plug-in hybrid can now travel 53 miles (85.3 kilometers) on electric power. With the internal combustion engine keeping the 18.4 kilowatt-hour battery charged, the model has a maximum range of 420 miles (676 km).