2011 Chevy Volt: And You Thought Honda Was Bad...
January 25, 2011
And you thought Honda was bad when it came to buttons. Just look at this. Not only does the Chevy Volt have a billion buttons on its center stack, they aren't even buttons. They are touch-sensitive with little nubs like your telephone's 5 digit that gives your fingers something to work with. The picture above is pretty much what I saw from the driver seat this weekend and it took a good 1-onethousand-2-onethousand-3-onethousand before I went "ah ha!" and found the right button.
In the end, though, I have to admit it's way cool. It's futuristic and I'm all for anything that makes me feel like I'm on the bridge of the Enterprise. I'm also OK with buttons. Like Honda, I'd much rather have a button for selecting something than working my way through 8 different iDrive or MMI menus.
So my real problem is that like Honda (A. SEL, SCAN, XM Categories), there are buttons that just don't need to be there. Do REC and DEL really need real estate? I'm not even sure what the TP button does. My best guess is that it provides Charmin. This isn't a Volt-exclusive problem, our Terrain has them as well. Are people really utilizing the radio TiVo function so much that a touchscreen icon wouldn't be sufficient? And also note that the Volt has these in lieu of an HVAC recirc "button," which is in the touchscreen's climate menu.
Another problem with the Volt's touch "buttons" is that they don't really work while wearing gloves (I know I'm in California, but it's chilly in the morning and my hands have poor circulation, so back off Mister I Live in Pennsylvania and it was 3 degrees this morning and my dog froze to the sidewalk).
The touchscreen works just fine with gloves (as is the case with most cars), but the Volt's center stack "buttons" work only 40 percent of the time after the firm press of a knuckle. That's a fail.
So basically I'm OK with a billion touch buttons in theory, but they need some work.
James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 1,308 miles