The infotainment with smartphone integration system is called Chevrolet MyLink, in the Chevy Volt ( similar systems are in other GM cars listed below) with the addition of green functions for charging and energy efficiency. Our goal was to see how well everything worked,the electric car features, entertainment/audio, OnStar/Navigation and smartphone connectivity. We tested the OnStar Wi-Fi hotspots to the limit as well as the OnStar RemoteLink app in previous articles. A great feature is that 2015 Chevy Volt comes with a 7″ touchcreen and does not require an additional navigation upgrade package.
Standard interior audio features on the Chevy Volt are:
- Color touch screen AM/FM stereo with CD player and MP3 playback, includes seven-inch-diagonal color touch-screen display.
- USB audio interface port.
- SiriusXM Satellite Radio and Travel Link with a three-month trial.
- Bluetooth phone connectivity.
- MyVolt.com vehicle connectivity.
- 3 months 3GB of 4G LTE Wi-Fi Hotspots.
There are many ways to control car features, entertainment, Bluetooth and more on the Chevy Volt–through steering wheel buttons, the center touchscreen or the center console (center stack/head unit) with console touch buttons called “touch sensitive switches”. The center stack vehicle controls look like something from an early Star Trek TV episode with a myriad of buttons. These buttons work by pushing near tactile ridges where the name or symbol for the function is. There are also more traditional rotation knobs.
Until I learned the locations of the Back and Source buttons, when I was trying to change Pandora stations, I wound up in the hot seat. I turned on the seat warmer by mistake. After a while, I got used to the settings keys and was able to access them without looking. It’s similar to feeling the home keys on a typewriter. The plastic material did show finger smudge marks that could be easily wiped off.
The 7″ touchsreen has three home screens with different sorts of information with 8 icons per screen and the most important information on the first screen there are corresponding push areas for most of the same functions.
Smartphone Connectivity and Apps
Probably the most used feature for drivers is the Bluetooth function. We were able to pair an old Android Phone, an iPhone 5S (running iOS 8.1.3) and Samsung Galaxy S4 to the system with no problems. We listened to an incoming phone call from the Bluetooth system and the sound was very clear and better than most Bluetooth car calls because the Volt engine is quiet. Phone calls do have a slight distant sound for call recipients. While talking on phone calls via the OnStar calling minutes or any of the phones we connected, inside the car, it sounded great, almost as good as talking in person. The Bluetooth pairing worked just as well as the demonstration by Stefan Cross at the LA Auto Show.
You should be aware that you can only pair Bluetooth with the phone while the Volt is in park, which is good idea because, it can require entering codes or accepting pairing on the phone. Bluetooth sound quality is not as good as CD or HD Radio. The FM and XM Sirius radio played and sounded fine.
For entertainment, we were able to play music in many ways, streaming on Bluetooth, an iPod or Android Phone connected via the USB outlet in the console underneath the center arm rest and with a USB drive in the USB port and AUX audio connection. To change entertainment sources, the most important function was the “Source” function that is located on the dash controls, touchscreen and on the steering wheel.
After a while, it became apparent the easiest way to control music or phone functions is through the steering wheel buttons on the right side of the steering wheel. It you tap on the call button you get OnStar voice control functions such call “Mary”. We were able to ask Siri on the iPhone 5S to do her usual answers.
Both Pandora and Stitcher radio apps worked using different Android smartphones through Bluetooth streaming. For Pandora to work on an iPhone, iPod or iPad it must be connected via the USB port.
The only problem we had is that the Bluetooth is not as loud as the radio settings, therefore you have to either dial the volume control way up when Bluetooth is on or keep your smartphone or iPhone at a higher volume.
The USB port also worked to charge the smartphones with cables.
The MyLink systems does everything the average driver needs for now. iPhone users who must use the iPhone functions can use Siri EyesFree can access any iPhone function.
OnStar and Navigation
The on-screen maps were accurate and easy to see with MyLink navigation. My techie software engineer thought that the destination typing on the screen was cumbersome and preferred to use Siri from his iPhone. You can however send a destination to the unit from the OnStar RemoteLink app.
A neat function of the navigation the system is that its shows a list of nearby gas stations and the price with of gas. In the future, it would be nice to also see where local charging stations are located.
OnStar is a concierge service in which you talk to live advisors who are more than willing to help you out. We found that even with all our connections to smartphones, computers and tablets, while driving it is much easier to press The OnStar button on the ceiling talk to a person who is pleasantly willing to help and do the work for you. For example, I was driving in an area that I don’t know very well. I wanted to stop at the nearest Petco. I called the OnStar advisor who told me the address of the nearest Petco and also sent the address to the navigation system as well as told me how to access the navigation system. OnStar is like having a personal secretary, loving mother, Ensign Chekov or Scotty, look out for you. This feature should allay the fears of those who are not sure of the reliability of extended range electric vehicles. it may also get you addicted to the service so that you choose to buy it in the future.
Every time, we called OnStar we were help with grace and politeness from the advisor. When we had questions about the operation of Chevy Volt features we were transferred to someone specifically trained to help with the Chevy Volt.
If we were to rate the OnStar feature only, it would be five stars. In the industry nothing compares to the quality of OnStar service. OnStar is the most recognized name in the connected car services business. It will be offering hotel reservations and coupons/offers in the future and insurance discounts for better driving..
OnStar features are included for free three years on the Chevy Volt (Note: new GM cars get a six month trial OnStar Membership).
- OnStar directions and connections with auto crash response.
- Turn by Turn navigation.
- Emergency Services.
- Roadside Assistance.
- OnStar RemoteLink app.
- Hands-Free Calling Minutes with purchase.
- Vehicle Diagnostics.
- Dealer Maintenance Notifications.
Electric Car Functions
In the two touchscreens either in the instrument cluster in front of the steering wheel or in the center stack, show all the information you need to know about how efficiently you are driving the Chevy Volt.
The Leaf button in the centerstack lets you see your fuel economy and battery on the Charging or Energy Info screens. The Power Flow screen the center has an animated illustration of if the Volt is generating powering, using power and where the power is coming from.
We found that calling OnStar, reading the MyLink manual watching how-to videos provided by Chevy helped when we couldn’t figure out how to do something, however we were able to figure out one of the ways to make things work about 95% of the time.
Final Thoughts – Review MyLink, OnStar and Electric Features of the Chevy Volt
The bottom line is that whatever device we tried to connect, it worked as advertised, there were no glitches even with a truckload of different devices. We could tell the entire system was designed with safety as the top priority. Some previous reviewers did not like the tactile buttons, which we did not mind. The system may offer too many ways to do functions for some people. But you see, Chevy Volt people are like the crew of Star Trek Enterprise, they are on the forefront of new technology frontier and will boldly go where no man (or woman) has gone before— into a new age of connected electric cars.
AUTO Connected Car News’ Rating 4.25 out of 5 stars.
Just like Star Trek had “Star Trek the Next Generation”, there is a new Chevy Volt sequel coming in 2016. In videos and photos of the 2016 Chevy Volt it looks like GM has switched to a larger screen and different buttons on the steering wheel and center stack. It has been reported that the 2016 Chevy Volt will have Apple CarPlay. If those functions work as well as they do on the 2015 Chevy Volt, Volt drivers should be very satisfied.
Pricing has not been announced yet on the 2016 Chevy Volt that has an extended range of 50 miles. It has been reported that has stopped production of the 2015 Chevy Volt. Should you wait for the next model? It would depend on how long you will to wait and if what kind of Trekie Techie you are, all the basic functions are covered.
Other Chevy Entertainment options available:
Navigation and Bose Premium Audio Package (requires Premium Trim package) includes color touch AM/FM stereo with CD player and MP3 playback capability, GPS navigation, seven-inch diagonal touch screen display, Radio Data System and Bose energy-efficient, seven-speaker sound system for an additional $995.00.
Chevrolet MyLink can be found with similar software features in the following vehicles:
2015 Silverado 3500HD
2015 Silverado 2500HD
2015 Spark EV