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?
Read More >
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.
Read More >
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.
Read More >
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.
One of the least publicized aspects of the “New” GM is how much of the old company remains on the books. More to the point, bad ideas with new window dressings still reign (Cutlass) supreme. But not the new 2006—sorry, 2010—Chevrolet Camaro: this idea had the right stuff. On paper. In the real world?
Review: 2010 Chevrolet Camaro SS/RS Car Review Rating
Overall Rating: 3/5 Stars
“But, but,” I sputtered, gesticulating in a fashion I hoped was somewhere between acceptably friendly and usefully threatening, “when I reserved online, I specifically chose a Chevrolet Cobalt or similar.” “This is similar,” the smiling woman behind the counter assured me. “It’s very similar. It is also a Chevrolet, and it is the only intermediate we have left.” “Listen, lady,” I said, trying desperately to not sound like a crazy person, “the 1977 Cutlass Supreme Brougham was an intermediate. This is a tin box from Korea.” Despite its obvious absurdity, it was the last even vaguely rational thing I said. Bottom line: they were out of cars here at the Asheville airport. This was what they had left. Although I eventually received a four dollar and twenty-one cent credit to my account, there was no changing the fact that I would have to drive an automatic-transmission Aveo through the Great Smoky Mountains. Oh well. At least I could perform a top-speed test.
Review: 2009 Chevrolet Aveo Sedan 1LT Car Review Rating
Overall Rating: 1/5 Stars
Though the Mustang and Camaro will forever be linked in the public imagination as “ponycars”, the truth is that only twice in history has the Camaro been explicitly aimed at the Mustang. The first time, of course, was at its introduction; the Mustang had caught the General napping and the first-gen Camaro was a simple “me-too” response to that success, as craven in its copying as the Russian faux-Concorde that would debut two years later.
Driving the Chevrolet HHR sent your humble author into a massive 1980s flashback; no drugs required. The Japanese car supply/demand imbalance during Paula Abdul’s Laker Girl days meant any Japanese model could find a market, regardless of merit. One of the least meretricious was the Isuzu I-Mark; a car so relentlessly non-descript that boredom was primary safety hazard while driving one. Twenty years later, that particular strain of car flu, automobilis mediocritas, has mutated and infected the Chevrolet HHR, turning it into one of the dullest transportation appliances of the twenty-first century.
Review: 2009 Chevrolet HHR 2LT Car Review Rating
Overall Rating: 2/5 Stars
Ten. My local Chevy dealer has ten Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrids on his lot. At $56K. Each. That ain’t right. GM was going bankrupt when they unleashed this beast. They should have said screw it; let’s show those sanctimonious greenies who’s King of the World (Ma). Let’s peg the price of the Tahoe Hybrid to the Toyota Prius and run ads saying Yippie Ki Yay, Motherfucker. Have one last line of four-wheeled blow before everything goes to Hell. Instead, once again, GM walked away from a terrific vehicle in pursuit of the Next Big Thing. You heard me: the Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid is a technological marvel that rocks. Deal.
Review: 2008 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid Car Review Rating
Overall Rating: 4/5 Stars