Chevy Shocker: Volt Lives Up to Its Hype

Steven Cole Smith tests the Chevrolet Volt and found the it 'proved to be a far better vehicle than I was expecting.'

Published: 06-Oct-2010

Months before it comes to market, the Chevrolet Volt -- GM's plug-in hybrid with a backup gasoline engine -- has already been slammed by many in the media. Radio's Rush Limbaugh labeled it a government-backed boondoggle. The Dallas Morning News published two very negative stories about the Volt under the headline, "GM's Electric LEMON."

Neither Limbaugh nor the two authors of those newspaper stories had driven the Chevrolet Volt. If they had, their opinion might be different. I drove a pre-production Volt, and while my experience wasn't sufficient for a full-scale road test, the Volt proved to be a far better vehicle than I was expecting, an undeniable engineering coup for GM.

While GM calls the Volt an "extended-range electric vehicle," it splits the category of electric and hybrid. Most hybrids available are powered by a small gasoline engine, helped out by an electric motor. On pure electric vehicles, like the upcoming Nissan Leaf, there is no gasoline engine. The car is powered by the batteries, and when they run out of juice -- in the Leaf's case, probably after 70-100 miles, you have to find a place to plug it in.

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