The Volt overdoes it with the gimmicks. As soon as I slipped behind the wheel and attempted to do anything involving the infotainment system, I understood exactly what Eric Tingwall was griping about. While the center stack looks clean and cool, the buttons on it are not very well organized. The brakes are non-linear, making it hard to come to a smooth stop. The point between regenerative and friction braking is a bit jarring, and I was never fully able to finesse it without feeling like I was going from lightly applying the brakes to hitting them hard. This was a common problem with many of the early regenerative-braking systems, but I wouldn't consider this technology so new anymore.
Otherwise, the Volt is a completely competent car. Just as with many of the other high-beltline cars that have been in vogue in the past decade or so, visibility is only okay and getting a clear sense of the car's size is not something quickly done. On the other hand, the Volt's steering is very well-weighted.
The thing is, the Volt is not a normal car; it is a car that makes us rethink how we drive. The fact that my gripes with the Volt are reasonably minor proves just how good the Volt is. It's not a normal car, but it drives like one; that is a mark of the car's success in introducing new technology to the masses.
Donny Nordlicht, Associate Web Editor
I didn't vote for the Chevrolet Volt as our Automobile of the Year, but after getting into this car several more times in the past six months, I'd like to change my ballot. At the time, I was caught up on the Volt's many shortcomings: the center stack is a confusing mess, the interior is pretty cheap, and the ride quality is good but not great. But with more seat time, those niggling quirks have faded while the Volt's clever powertrain remains brilliant. The concept of 35 miles of electric range backed by a gas engine is perfect for weaning drivers off petroleum while remaining a practical only car. On top of that, the Volt is smooth, quiet, and spirited. This is a car that's about changing lifestyles, daily routines, and firmly established beliefs, and it makes this experience exciting, fun, and interesting with every mile driven. It's a car that's so important and so novel, that you can't help but feel a bit smug.
Eric Tingwall, Associate Editor