We know many of you have been clamoring to know how the voting would turn out. Now the envelope can be opened: The Volt is my pick for Car of the Year.
It was an easy one. Yeah, I know the car got similar awards from Motor Trend and Automobile and others. We aren’t influenced by such puffery, but the reviews everywhere are more than positive, the specs impress, it’s fun to drive, and the car should sell.
The Volt has delivered pretty much what GM had promised. Where the company really screwed up was in its first attempts to explain how the propulsion system worked and in its subsequent attempts to explain its fuel economy.
However, the Volt is a genuine breakthrough, and there is no car like it. GM created a mainstream car that is a joy to drive, seamless in its gas-electric operation, and one which uses “less fuel than any gas- or diesel-powered car sold in America.”
The best thing about it, of course, is that you’re not limited by battery power alone. You’ll get around 50 miles on the battery, then another 300 on gas assistance. The transitions are seamless, and the combined mileage one driver got is 64 mpge (120 miles, 60 driving on electric, 60 on gas assistance).
The recent computation by the EPA was complicated enough to encourage GM to make a video explaining it all. The company’s next step ought to be putting to rest the controversy over what to call the propulsion system. Actually, it’s a plug-in series hybrid, if that makes any difference to you.
The Volt differs from the Prius, for example, in the sophistication of its powertrain and the fact that it operates, from the driver’s point of view, basically as an electric car—smooth, silent, and torquey. It’s neither the best-looking nor best-handling car; the design is clunky and the interior is plasticy.
But Jeez, guys, they had to save money somewhere, with the battery pack reputedly costing some $10,000. There will continue to be nitpicking about aspects of the Volt, including its $41,000 (before incentives) cost.
The people who buy this car will not be those who are tempted by the Prius or the Chevy Cruze for $20,000 less. They will buy the Volt for its successful blend of truly innovative technology, its driving experience, and the chance to thumb their noses at Big Oil.
Automobile called the Volt “the most sophisticated, most important vehicle on the road today.” Do you agree?