2019 Chevrolet Volt vs. 2019 BMW i3

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety tests front crash prevention systems. With a score of 6 points, IIHS rates the Forward Automatic Braking optional in the Volt as “Superior.” The i3 scores only 3 points and is rated only “Advanced.”

For its top level performance in all IIHS frontal, side, rear impact and roof-crush tests, with its optional front crash prevention system, and its headlight’s “Good” to “Acceptable” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the Volt the rating of “Top Pick” for 2018, a rating granted to only 100 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The i3 was not even a standard “Top Pick” for 2018.

Warranty

Chevrolet’s powertrain warranty covers the Volt 1 year and 10,000 miles longer than BMW covers the i3. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 5 years or 60,000 miles. Coverage on the i3 ends after only 4 years or 50,000 miles.

There are almost 9 times as many Chevrolet dealers as there are BMW dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Volt’s warranty.

The Volt has 6.6 gallons more fuel capacity than the i3 Range Extender (8.9 vs. 2.3 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the Volt running on electricity gets better fuel mileage than the i3 REx running on electricity (113 city/99 hwy vs. 107 city/93 hwy MPGe).

On the EPA test cycle the Volt running its gasoline engine gets better fuel mileage than the i3 REx running its gasoline engine (43 city/42 hwy vs. 30 city/31 hwy).

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Volt has larger tires than the i3 (215/50R17 vs. 155/70R19). The Volt’s tires are larger than the largest tires available on the i3 (215/50R17 vs. 175/55R20).

The Volt’s tires provide better handling because they have a lower 50 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the i3’s standard 70 series tires. The Volt’s tires are lower profile than the i3s’ 55 series front tires.

The Volt has a standard easy tire fill system. When inflating the tires, the vehicle’s integrated tire pressure sensors keep track of the pressure as the tires fill and tell the driver when the tires are inflated to the proper pressure. The i3 doesn’t offer vehicle monitored tire inflation.

Suspension and Handling

The Volt has a standard front stabilizer bar, which help keep the Volt flat and controlled during cornering. The i3’s suspension doesn’t offer a stabilizer bar

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Volt’s wheelbase is 4.9 inches longer than on the i3 (106.1 inches vs. 101.2 inches).

The Volt Premier handles at .86 G’s, while the i3 pulls only .80 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

Passenger Space

Because it has more passenger and cargo room, the EPA rates the Volt a Compact car, while the i3 is rated a Subcompact.

The Volt has standard seating for 5 passengers; the i3 can only carry 4.

The Volt has 6.7 cubic feet more passenger volume than the i3 (90.3 vs. 83.6).

The Volt has 1.6 inches more front legroom, 2.9 inches more front shoulder room, 2.8 inches more rear legroom and 4 inches more rear shoulder room than the i3.

Ergonomics

The Volt has a standard remote vehicle starting system, so the vehicle can be started from inside the driver's house. This allows the driver to comfortably warm up the engine before going out to the vehicle. The climate system will also automatically heat or cool the interior. The i3 doesn’t offer a remote starting system.

The Volt’s standard power windows have a locking feature to keep children in the rear seat from operating them. BMW does not offer a locking feature on the i3’s standard power windows.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) conducts detailed tests on headlights for their range both straight ahead and in curves and to be certain they don’t exceed acceptable amounts of glare to oncoming drivers. The Volt’s headlights were rated “Good” to “Acceptable” by the IIHS, while the i3’s headlights are rated “Acceptable.”

While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors available for the Volt Premier detect other vehicles which could be blinded and automatically switch to low beams. The i3 doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.

To shield the driver and front passenger’s vision over a larger portion of the windshield and side windows, the Volt has standard extendable sun visors. The i3 doesn’t offer extendable visors.

Both the Volt and the i3 offer available heated front seats. The Volt Premier also has standard heated rear seats to keep those passengers extremely comfortable in the winter. Heated rear seats aren’t available in the i3.

On extremely cold winter days, the Volt’s optional heated steering wheel provides comfort, allowing the driver to steer safely and comfortably before the car heater warms up. The i3 doesn’t offer a heated steering wheel.

The Volt has a standard center folding armrest for the rear passengers. A center armrest helps make rear passengers more comfortable. The i3 doesn’t offer a rear seat center armrest.

Economic Advantages

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Volt is less expensive to operate than the i3 because typical repairs cost much less on the Volt than the i3, including $428 less for a water pump, $77 less for front struts and $471 less for a power steering pump.

Recommendations

The Chevrolet Volt outsold the BMW i3 by almost three to one during 2018.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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