Chevrolet is in the middle of a product revolution, and what that means for new car buyers is a fresh range of automobiles that fill a number of different roles for the company. Chevrolet offers vehicles designed for every day driving, affordable entry-level options, retro-styled muscle machines, world-class sports cars and even groundbreaking hybrid designs – all under the same roof. Each and every Chevrolet showroom now has a little something for everyone, and the new models keep on rolling out of the company’s design studio.
Let’s take a look at a few important things that you need to know about 10 of Chevrolet’s hottest cars.
A lot of hype has been built up around the 2011 Chevrolet Volt, which is the first production plug-in electric hybrid to hit the market on a grand scale. Perhaps the most impressive engineering achievement when it comes to the Volt, however, is just how much it feels like a “normal” car from behind the wheel.
The Volt’s gasoline engine never directly powers the wheels – it’s only there to charge the battery – which means that its electric motor handles all of the motivational duties. Despite this fact, the Volt’s entire driving experience is as smooth and drama-free as any other compact sedan, which illustrates how far hybrid technology has come in just the past few years. The Volt’s power management system is entirely transparent, making it almost impossible to tell whether the vehicle is operating in electric-only mode or whether the gasoline engine is at work charging up the battery.
“Range anxiety” has become the catchphrase with plug-in electric automobiles, but the 2011 Chevrolet Volt solves this issue quite neatly by pairing its battery-powered drivetrain with a backup gasoline engine that can extend road trips well past what most other electric cars can offer.
Chevrolet claims that the 35-mile battery-only range on the Volt translates into an operating cost of about $1.50 of electricity a day for most drivers, given the average American commute. For longer trips, the gas engine kicks in and adds another 340 miles of range, totaling 375 miles of worry-free driving with a full tank of gas.
The 2011 Chevrolet Camaro offers throwback muscle car styling along with a serious dose of modern performance. The Chevrolet Camaro SS is outfitted with a 426 horsepower, 6.2-liter V-8 engine that is also good for 420 lb-ft of torque when matched with the standard six-speed manual transmission. With all that horsepower available under the hood, the Camaro SS can sprint to 60 miles per hour in just five seconds and run the quarter mile in a blazing 13.1 seconds according to some independent tests. Throw some stickier tires underneath the Camaro SS and it becomes clear that this is one muscle coupe that was designed to dominate at the drag strip.
Not only does the Camaro SS offer straight-line speed, but it also features an independent rear suspension setup that allows it to carve through the corners with authority, adding an extra dimension to the vehicle that simply wasn’t present on the original 60’s model whose styling it borrows from liberally.
Unlike in years past, the 2011 Chevrolet Camaro doesn’t offer its V-6 drivetrain as a consolation prize for those who don’t want to shell out for the pricier SS model. The 3.6-liter, six-cylinder engine found in the entry-level Chevrolet Camaro is a legitimate performance contender in its own right, thanks to its ability to put out 312 horses and 278 lb-ft of torque.
Buyers can choose between either a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic transmission, and the charge to 60 miles per hour from a standing start takes only 1.1 seconds longer for the V-6 model compared to the Camaro SS. The base Camaro also takes advantage of the same independent suspension design as found in the more powerful edition of the car.
The 2011 Chevrolet Corvette is known for its high performance coupe edition, but the drop top version of the sports car is equally potent when it comes to power and handling. Unlike other convertibles, the Chevrolet Corvette was designed with a rag top in mind when the platform was put together, which means that the vehicle enjoys almost as much chassis stiffness as the slick top edition. A tight chassis translates into more nimble handling and better steering feel, giving the Chevrolet Corvette convertible a performance advantage compared to many competitors.
Corvette convertible buyers also have the option of selecting the GS edition of the vehicle, which adds in a sportier suspension system, an aggressive exterior appearance package, special aerodynamic improvements and more performance-oriented gearing.
The 2011 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 supercar has gained a well-deserved reputation for being one of the quickest product vehicles in the world, but there are several other less expensive options in the Corvette lineup that offer very close to the same level of performance on the track.
2011 Chevrolet Corvette buyers can start out with the previously mentioned GS performance package, which adds a number of track-related goodies to the sports car’s equipment list over and above its standard 430 horsepower, 6.2-liter V-8. The next step up is the Z06 edition of the coupe, which installs a larger 7.0-liter engine that is good for 505 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque, dropping the 0-60 mph time of the ‘Vette down to 3.9 seconds. The Z06 also benefits from a lightweight chassis and bigger brakes. For those who require even more cutting edge performance, the Z06-only Carbon Fiber package introduces lightweight bodywork cribbed from the ZR1, while the Ultimate Performance package borrows the ZR1’s adaptive suspension, upgraded brakes, its wheels and its tires.
Take one step past the 2011 Chevrolet Cruze’s base trim level and suddenly the vehicle gains a very efficient and very high tech turbocharged Ecotec engine. The Chevrolet Cruze 1LT and up offer a 1.4-liter, four-cylinder engine that generates 138 horsepower and 148 lb-ft of torque. Sent to the front wheels through either a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic transmission, the Cruze returns fuel mileage that is rated at 24 mpg around town and 36 mpg on the highway.
These numbers are a significant improvement when compared against the Chevrolet Cobalt model that the Cruze replaces, without giving up any of the power that compact car buyers expect.
The 2011 Chevrolet Cruze might be marketed as a compact car, but Chevrolet has gone out of its way to pump up the volume when it comes to passenger and cargo space for the sedan. Chevrolet advertises the vehicle’s cargo capacity of 15.4 cubic feet and its overall interior space as being better than that of either the Toyota Corolla or the Honda Civic. The 2011 Chevrolet Cruze provides leg room of 42.3-inches up front and 35.4-inches in the back, along with rear shoulder room that is listed at 53.9-inches and rear hip room that comes in at 52.4-inches.
The 2011 Chevrolet Aveo is not only the least expensive model in the company’s lineup, but it also offers some of the best fuel economy in its class. The Chevrolet Aveo is motivated by a 1.6-liter, four-cylinder engine that generates 108 horsepower and 104 lb-ft of torque. Fuel mileage for the thrifty motor is rated at 27 mpg in stop and go driving and 35 mpg on the highway when equipped with the standard five-speed manual transmission. Even with the vehicle’s four-speed optional automatic transmission selected the Aveo still turns in fuel mileage numbers of 25-mpg city and 34-mpg highway.
The 2011 Chevrolet Aveo comes in two distinct body styles. The more affordable of the two is the Chevrolet Aveo sedan, which provides seating for as many as five occupants along with 12.4 cubic feet of trunk space. The Chevrolet Aveo5 is priced just a bit higher, but offers the practicality of a five-door hatchback. The Aveo5 maintains the sedan’s five-passenger seating but its fold-forward rear row of accommodations can open up the vehicle’s cargo bay to accommodate as much as 37.2 cubic feet of gear, giving it the ability to handle oversized items that just don’t fit inside a standard compact sedan.