2011 Chevy Volt > 2012 Ford Explorer EcoBoost
October 29, 2011
Our 2011 Chevy Volt and 2011 Ford Explorer don't have a ton in common. They're both domestics, they both have four cylinder engines and, importantly to this blog, they both have stupid, near-buttonless touch-panel control centers.
It's that near buttonlessness that propels the Volt to victory here because if I'd been driving the Volt instead of the explorer last week, I wouldn't have been pulled over...
Picture this: I'm driving west on LA's Olympic boulevard somewhere on the West Side. The speed limit is something like 30 or 35 despite being six-lanes of dead-straight roadway. I don't know the exact speed limit because when I'm on it, there's too much traffic to go 25. The limit might as well be 88.
So I'm driving something like 20 in our Explorer with an LAPD officer on my tail. The car had brand new plates, I wasn't speeding, I didn't care. I did, however, want to change the radio station. I turned up the radio via the little dial and then reached up to the screen to try and figure out how to do a direct input for station navigation. Well, between the volume and the screen is a red triangular danger zone. It's the button for the hazards, but it's not a button, unlike our Volt, and every time I get near it, I set the damn things off. You'll remember Riswick had a similar experience with MyLincoln Touch. I forgot. I hit it.
So then there I am driving down the road in front of a cop with my flashers on.
And then he puts his flashers on.
I pulled over in the closest, safest location and he hopped immediately out of the car and jogged to my window to see if I was okay. I told him I was. He asked if I'd lost control of the vehicle. I told him that I only lost control of the stupid button. He then told me, essentially, to RTFM and to have a good day.
Call me crazy, but emergency buttons should be reliable. If you need to turn them on it should be easy and obvious. If you need to turn them off it should be easy and obvious.
The Volt is, the Explorer isn't.
Mike Magrath, Features Editor, Inside Line