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Chevrolet Volt completely redone for 2016

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It's a new car, but it has a familiar name: the completely redone 2016 Chevrolet Volt. (KABC)

It's a new car, but it has a familiar name: the completely redone 2016 Chevrolet Volt.

"Everything about the new Volt is better than the Volt it replaces," said Shad Balch, a spokesman for Chevrolet.

The first volt came around in 2011 and stumbled a bit out of the blocks, mainly due to its rather expensive price tag - over $40,000 before incentives. Chevrolet eventually chopped the price, and got it qualified for carpool lane access in California, so sales did improve somewhat.

The new version is looking to boost sales even more with improvements in its design.

It's still a plug-in electric vehicle, but has an engine-generator to keep the juice flowing when the battery runs down, just like the earlier Volt. But the 2016 model steps things up in just about every way.

Estimated driving range on electricity goes from 38 miles to 53. Seating capacity increases from four to five people, and the gas engine now runs on regular instead of premium.

And, it's looks are not to be ignored. The earlier Volt wasn't everyone's cup of tea in that regard.

"It's updated, it's much more mainstream, and it's something that a lot of people could see themselves driving," Balch said. "That's important when you try to market these kinds of cars."

Technology has also been improved since those first Volts hit the streets too. Initially, you weren't able to save your battery power for use later. Now, a "hold" mode lets you do just that. You can put the gas generator to work when you want to then use stored power later.

Like the first Volt, this one's actually pretty practical as an everyday car. The hatchback design at the rear means there's a good amount of cargo capacity.

But it's not quite as advertised when it comes to seating capacity. Yes, there's a middle seat belt in the rear. But since the battery pack runs up the middle of the car, the center passenger has to straddle it, along with the console sitting on top of it. Due to the design of the battery, there's really no way to get around this, unfortunately.

With federal and state incentives you can get into a Volt for well below $30,000. Given its relatively low operating costs on electricity, this new Volt could be a money saver on the road. And, much better looking on the road, too.
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