Right Time, Right Place - 2011 Chevrolet Volt Long-Term Road Test
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2011 Chevrolet Volt Long Term Road Test

2011 Chevrolet Volt: Right Time, Right Place

August 17, 2011

Volt and Challenger.jpg I recently got to spend some significant seat time in the Chevy Volt. Like other editors, I found positive and negative (no pun intended) aspects about GM's much-hyped plug-in hybrid. More about those in other posts, but I had a very positive experience while driving the Volt on the interstate one day.

I saw a brand-new Dodge Challenger with dealer plates barreling down a freeway onramp. As the driver merged onto the highway behind me, he had huge a grin on his face. My guess is he'd just bought the car and was taking it out for a sunset shakedown cruise. His grin grew a bit bigger when he sidled up next to the Volt and I gave him a thumbs-up. But sorry about that Bright White color, bro ...

Watching him pull away made me think what a great time it is to be a car enthusiast. And a fan of American cars.

I missed the classic muscle car era, although the first vehicle I bought was a '71 Chevelle Malibu and spent most weekends pulling parts at junkyards with like-minded friends. (Collectively we owned a '65 Pontiac Catalina, '64 Pontiac Tempest, a '71 Plymouth Barracuda 340, a '74 Dodge Duster 360 and a '71 El Camino SS 454.) And I came of age in the middle of the domestic auto industry's Malaise Era. Except for the occasional Buick Grand National and the Camaro IROC-Z, these were lean times for fans of American cars.

When the Volt crossed paths with the Challenger, it made me realize and appreciate the times we're living and driving in now. And it made me consider how Detroit -- and especially left-for-dead GM and Chrysler -- can still make cool, innovative and competitive cars.

I've never been the nationalistic, flag-waving type, although I have a soft spot for muscle cars and have always been a Chevy fan. Maybe listening to Neil Young's Rust Never Sleeps made me nostalgic. And his song "Motor City" has been on my mind a lot lately.

Regardless, the present sure beats driving a 1981 Chevy Chevette in the past. Or seeing a 1981 Dodge Challenger pass you on the road.

Doug Newcomb, Senior Editor, Technology

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