2011 Chevy Volt: Redefines Driver Involvement
July 21, 2011
I drove our Chevy Volt A LOT last week. To be precise, 420.5 miles over the course of 12 hours through the Mojave Desert and Death Valley. That's a long time to be in any car and given my proclivities for more sporting, involving cars, you'd think that would be more than enough eco car for me. Yet here I am this week driving the Volt every single night.
Why? Because although it's definitely not sporting, I've discovered that the Volt is redefining what I consider an "involving" car.
Yesterday, one of our commenters asked what the little green dot does in the instrument screen. It essentially tells you when you are maximizing the battery's range and regeneration. In fact, while I make my daily slogs through traffic, that little green dot helps me to be an intricate and involved part of the Volt's efficiency. I find myself looking even further ahead and gently applying the brakes to gradually bring the car to a stop using regenerative braking rather than the traditional clampers. I take great concentration in accelerating in a smooth, efficient manner. In other words, it gives me something to do.
It's not the same as perfectly executing a downshift or feeling the road through especially good steering, but in a high-congested urban environment, the Volt keeps me involved like few other cars can. And in that way, it's made me realize that it's not just performance that makes me connect with a car, it's that amount of involvement. I want to feel like a part of the machine, not just a passive operator along for the ride.
True, the Prius and other hybrids have similar high-tech read-outs and the ability to maximize battery life. However, they don't share or match the Volt's many other car benefits that go beyond its powertrain (not to mention its ability to go further under electric power when in gasoline/hybrid mode). There's just no way in hell I'd be driving a Prius this week after 420.5 miles through the desert. Actually, there's a good chance I would've pulled off the road and just taken my chances walking through Death Valley.
James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 8,296 miles