Ed, Sajeev, and yours truly have all weighed in on the Chevrolet Volt. We all agreed that it drives surprisingly well, but that aspects of the interior need work. I hadn’t been planning to review the Volt again, but was asked if I’d like to have one for a week following the Cruze ECO. And so an intramural competition was born. If the $19,995 Cruze ECO is such a solid, comfortable, and efficient commuter, why spend twice as much for the $39,995 Volt?
With the Cruze, Chevrolet has pulled off a rare combination: segment-leading sales (up 31 percent from last year) at a higher transaction price (up 27 percent from two years ago to $20,465, according to TrueCar). But it hasn’t hurt that the Corolla, Civic, Focus, and Elantra have all been supply constrained. Once competitors get their factories running, does the Cruze have what it takes to maintain its current lead?
I’m not a big fan of changing a car model’s name in an attempt to evade a bad reputation. If the new car isn’t very good, then you’ll just have to change the name again with the next redesign. And if the car is excellent, it will seem even more so thanks to low expectations. In the case of the new B-segment Chevrolet, reviewers might proclaim, “We can’t believe this is an Aveo!” Instead we have, “What’s a Sonic?”
First, a disclaimer: The dealer-sourced Sonic you see here isn’t the one you’ll be reading about elsewhere. It’s not a top-shelf LTZ with a turbocharged 1.4-liter engine, six-speed manual transmission, and 17-inch low-profile tires. Instead, it’s a mid-level LT with the boost-free 1.8-liter base engine, a six-speed automatic, and 195/65R15 rubber optimized for something other than grip. It’s the one you’ll see most often on the road (especially if you’re near an airport). It’s probably not the Sonic you’d personally want. Read More >
If you have a pulse and a willful ignorance of the local speed limit, you’re probably not interested in the Chevrolet Spark. If you’re a media-savvy hipster who’s on Facebook sixteen hours a day, you’re probably not interested in the Spark, either. If you’re a techno-geek or an eco-geek, you’re probably still not interested in the Chevrolet Spark.
If you need something to get you from point Alpha to point Beta and aren’t willing to pay too much, you might be interested in the Spark. But only after all the alternatives have been removed from your short-list as being too sensible. And even then, a lobotomy might be required to help you make up your mind.
That’s a shame, because the Spark isn’t really that bad.
Truth seeking is difficult considering the controversy, misinformation and flat-out lies surrounding the Chevrolet Volt. But this is a product with set attributes, some are better or worse than our collective expectations. The performance reminds me of live music: everyone has an opinion as to how much it rocked. And the Chevrolet Volt is Jimi Hendrix on wheels: an American likely to influence popular culture for decades after leaving the limelight. But more importantly, like the influences of jazz and blues in Jimi’s work, the Volt combines Detroit’s future with memorable elements of the past. It’s true.
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We’ve been hearing about the Chevrolet Volt for so long that it’s hard to believe that it is finally here. Or almost here. Close enough for a preview drive. And?
For a vehicle named after a unit of measure, the Chevrolet Volt is a difficult car to pin down. From its drivetrain to its efficiency rating, the Volt defies categorization. From price point to performance, it defies comparison. It’s a rolling contradiction, this car, part electric car and part gas-burner, part high-concept moonshot and part workmanlike commuter. And yet for all its mysteries, contradictions and (yes) compromises, the Volt is also a deceptively simple car to use. Which makes it what exactly?
About once per decade since the 1960s, GM has introduced a compact car that was going to slaughter the imports, only to have it flop miserably: Corvair, Vega, Cavalier, Saturn (Chevrolet focused on trucks during the 1990s), Cobalt. Okay, including the last isn’t quite fair. It was introduced with much less hype, and ironically didn’t fare too badly. And now, the Chevrolet Cruze. Not too much hype—that’s for the Volt. But has GM finally figured out how to build a class-leading compact sedan? Read More >
The third-generation Camaro, so much swoopier than anything else on the road back in 1982, looked more like a concept car than a production car. The throaty V8, though pitifully weak by today’s standards, at the time was easily capable of getting a 14-year-old’s pulse racing. Some critics dinged the car for its impractical packaging, size, and weight, but I didn’t care. I wanted one, badly. Never did get one. By the time I could afford a Camaro, I agreed with the critics. From frenzied test drives in the Toyota Corolla GT-S and Honda CRX I learned the joys of high-revving multi-valve engines and agile handling. GM recently introduced a fifth-generation Camaro. What has it learned in the last 28 years?
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I was born in 1971 and started actively reading about cars in 1976, subscribing to Car and Driver and absorbing the work of men such as LJK Setright, Gordon Jennings, and Gordon Baxter. Those men were waiting for America to create a truly outstanding small car, one that could meet the Germans (and, later, the Japanese) on equal ground and beat them in a fair fight. More particularly, since General Motors was the acknowledged leader of the American automotive industry, they were waiting for GM to create the Great American Small Car.
Those men are gone now, as dead as Julius Caesar and not nearly as well-remembered. I am standing here, waiting in their stead, waiting patiently for the Great American Small Car, waiting for General Motors to fulfill the promise they’ve made to us for nearly fifty years now.
The 2011 Chevrolet Cruze is a good car, although at least part of its goodness comes from the fact that it isn’t really that small. It’s well-positioned against the Civic and Corolla. I believe that it beats both of those cars in significant, measurable ways. This is what it is: a good car, a bold car, a car for which no purchaser need make an excuse or feel any concern. This is what it might be: great. That’s for the buyer to decide. This is what it is not: American.
Context is everything. Because TTAC has never tried to operate as another entry in the press-car sweepstakes, our context for the industry tends to be based more on news from the business end of things than on a regular sampling of the latest vehicles to hit the market. This basic truth about our perspective goes a long way towards explaining our obsession with the travails of the domestic car industry, and the resulting accusations that we are institutionally biased against Detroit. If we do harbor such biases (and our commitment to the truth won’t let us pretend that true objectivity exists anywhere), it is because we are products of the steady flow of bad news that has bled out of Detroit for the past decades. But this is no excuse: we owe it to you, our readers, to be ever mindful of our own shortcomings. With this in mind, I set out on a quiet weekday afternoon in search of more real-world context about the automaker we are most often accused of harboring bias against.
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People buy cars they don’t need with money they don’t have to impress people they don’t like. That’s why hardly anybody in Europe is buying the Chevrolet Cruze, which has been on sale over here since last summer. It’s an affordable car that you might need but you won’t want, and which won’t impress anybody at all, because it’s just not that desirable. Allow me to explain…
When buying a car, it can matter a great deal which boxes you do check. And, sometimes, which ones you don’t. Comparisons between the GMC Terrain tested last month and a Chevrolet Equinox driven recently unearthed one do, and one don’t.
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With my previous Chevrolet Cobalt XFE encounter in mind, visiting three dealerships in search of an XFE tester came as no surprise. Ironically, the dealer formerly associated with “Mr. Big Volume” (a.k.a. Bill Heard) had one XFE-badged Cobalt that survived last month’s Cash For Clunkers shopping spree. Like the surprisingly respectful staff at this once-infamous storefront, the XFE was a refreshing breath of recirculated air. It’s still a Cobalt, but it’s the most fuel-efficient car, battery laden Hybrids notwithstanding. Which turns a rental car special into something…well, something more special.
For accountants, there are two certainties: golf and taxes. Together, both are tedious enough to make me want death. Unfortunately, I knew I’d be hearing a lot about both of these moribund subjects at our firm golf tournament. I was in the parking lot that morning, praying to the heavens for divine intervention when I heard my boss’ 1976 Corvette growling and lazily pulling up. As soon as I saw the ‘Vette, I decided to cash in the goodwill I’d earned by working 300 hours of overtime between November and March. “Fifteen minutes – no more,” he said. Score.