In more than 200 miles of driving with the 2011 Chevrolet Volt, we came to appreciate the car's quiet cabin, surprisingly stable handling, and simple, high-quality graphic displays.
The Volt's seats are comfortable, with optional leather seating surfaces and some remarkable accent colors. One model had lime green piping and green abstract-patterned plastic door trims, both of which worked far better than we could have guessed.
The interior is well put together, without a single rattle or squeak, and body quality and interior trim appeared to be good on the pre-production but saleable vehicles we drove.
A shiny white plastic finish for the console remains an option, one we fear may date quickly. Our car's console came in a handsome glossy charcoal, which also avoided the soon-to-be-cliche shiny piano black motif.
Put your mother in the 2011 Chevrolet Volt and—except for the neat humming tone as the car boots up and the lack of engine noise—she might never know it had anything different under the hood.
Electric cars pose an interesting new challenge to automotive engineers. Minus the noises of a piston engine and its transmission, other sounds—tire roar, wind whistle, even ventilation fans—appear much louder.
And the Volt engineers have done a remarkable job in rising to this challenge. Despite their low rolling resistance, tire noise is tolerable (and sometimes the loudest thing you'll hear).
As the car accelerates and brakes, the varying power demands are buffered by the battery pack, so the engine can run at a reduced range of speeds, making it quieter. Only occasionally, under high power demand, did the engine rev up and make itself noticeable.