Tag Archives: hybrid

2013 Chevrolet Volt (plug-in electric)

Smooth, quiet, but Volt  packs power too

Chevrolet’s Volt is the leader of the hybrid pack when it comes to performance.1volt

It’s quick and handles almost like a sports sedan. I know what you’re thinking, “No Way it’s quick!” Ah, but you’d be wrong.

The difference between the plug-in electric hybrid Volt and a gas-powered sedan is that there’s no engine grumble to give you a sense of speed. With Volt, you simply press a button on the center stack and change from Normal to Sport mode.

Next time you press the accelerator (not a gas pedal, right?) this 3,781-lb. car rips away from a stoplight, quietly, but with smooth seamless acceleration. Most cars are still slipping from second to third gear as you streak away.

Handling is borderline sporty too. No, it’s not a BMW, but steering is pretty darned precise and quick, so you can zip around corners with authority. Plus, its low-slung battery packs keep the Volt well balanced, aiding its cornering.

Ride is on the sporty side too, but still is pleasant and well controlled, the Volt’s 105.7-inch wheelbase making this ride like a mid-size sport sedan. But, since it’s a hatch, it’s more useful for carrying things than a standard sedan.

Now let’s face it, if you’re a prospective Volt buyer, the last thing you probably were even thinking about was performance. But the cool thing here is that you get performance along with all those great hybrid characteristics you’re likely aiming for. Continue reading 2013 Chevrolet Volt (plug-in electric)

2013 Lexus LS 600h L

Hybrid Lexus LS delivers high-end luxury with a price to match

Where to begin?

Let’s just put the price tag out there to clear the air. My silver Lexus LS 600h L listed for $119,910 and settled at $135,029 after adding copious high-end options.lexus1

As way of background, the LS is THE Lexus flagship, its full-size sedan and an absolute dreamboat of a car to drive and ride in. Its ride is air-suspension smooth, its interior a mansion library’s leathery quiet, its V8 powerful yet quiet, its adaptive 8-speed automatic transmission as creamery smooth through the gears as any car I’ve ever driven.

Oh, and this handsome sedan is a big boy too. That L means it has a longer wheelbase than the standard LS. That translates into a roomy interior, but just for four adults as the back seat’s middle section houses a Starship Enterprise sized console of buttons and knobs that could confuse even Captain Kirk. Where’s Spock when you need him?

But beyond the car’s exquisite drive and ride abilities the star here is the price tag. That’s all ANYONE wants to talk about once they get their sticker shock. Or maybe we should call it sticker Envy!

Their question was always the same, or similar – What do you get for $135 grand, AND is it worth that much? Continue reading 2013 Lexus LS 600h L

2013 Lexus GS450h

Luxurious GS450h gives hybrids a good name

Lexus is synonymous with luxury, which is currently being driven home via the smooth quiet operation of its GS450h, a midsize luxury hybrid.Lexus GS450h

There isn’t much more anyone would need in a luxury car than what the GS450h delivers.

Ride is smooth and controlled, the engine gives it plenty of power when needed and handling is responsive too, if not sports car precise. The interior is swathed in leather and luxury and styled to impress any of your non-luxury-car owning friends. The exterior is upscale, without being showy.

Then there’s the hybrid feature with an electric motor that generates 180 horsepower from the batteries that get much of their oomph from regenerative braking. This naturally aids the car’s quiet running, almost stealth-like as it powers down at stoplights and then kicks into electric mode as you accelerate away from a stop. If you need more power, there’s a plenty from the gas-powered 3.5-liter V6 that pumps a generous 338 horses.

Smoothing that acceleration, even when you want to blast away from the riff-raff, is an electronic variable speed automatic transmission, which like most CVTs aids gas mileage and eliminates the feel of gears shifting. This is a fine one. Continue reading 2013 Lexus GS450h

2012 Toyota Prius C Two

Smaller hybrid easy on gas, hard to get out of its own way

The new Toyota Prius C is what most folks think of when they imagine a hybrid car.

Toyota Prius CThey think of an extremely small car that gets great gas mileage, but has a hard time getting out of its own way. But unlike many hybrids, the original Prius’s smaller cousin also comes with a smaller, more entry-level price, the base C One starting at $18,950 and the tested C Two starting at $19,900. That’s about $4,000 less than many hybrids, including the Prius II that is about 19 inches longer too.

The C looks more like a Honda Fit, which is to say it’s sort of pointy-nosed cute with a lot of glass and bathed in a bright red paint job, the test car looked fun and spritely. Certainly its handling is light and accurate enough to be rated spritely, but its power, its acceleration skews toward methodical. And that’s after Prius C dropped about 500 lbs. from that of the original hybrid. Continue reading 2012 Toyota Prius C Two