Chevrolet Volt named Motor Trend's 2011 Car of the Year
The Chevrolet Volt was named the 2011 Motor Trend Car of the Year on Tuesday. The plug-in electric vehicle with a range-extending internal-combustion engine beat the Hyundai Sonata, Jaguar XJ, Volkswagen Jetta, Volvo S60 and other finalists to win the coveted award from the El Segundo-based automotive magazine.
"It's a serious engineering feat," said Motor Trend senior editor Johnny Lieberman, one of 11 judges who test drove 21 models in contention for the award. "A couple years ago, GM said it was going to make a car. It was going to go about 40 miles on an electric charge. A gasoline engine would kick on and recharge the battery and move the car around until you could get it to a charging station. At the time, I didn't believe them, but it does what they say. It drives around just like any other car on the road. I'm just impressed they pulled it off."
Motor Trend's test consisted of two days at the Hyundai proving grounds in California City, where each of the contending models were driven in various situations -- at high speeds, on broken pavement, along a closed course. The 10 finalist cars then advanced to another two days of tests on a 30-mile course of city streets, freeway and back roads, Lieberman said.
Each car was judged using six criteria: advancement in design, engineering excellence, efficiency, safety, value and performance of intended function.
"Maybe a bit of flag waving is warranted," Lieberman said. "Toyota was the massive head starter of hybrid technology. They couldn't figure it out. Volkswagen has more engineering influence. They have no technology like this. Mercedes doesn't have it. It was only a bankrupt American company that did it."
-- Susan Carpenter
Photo: General Motors