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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
My personal opinions only, not speaking for anyone other than myself:
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So, having followed the Volt program closely since around 2009-2010, I finally decided to go for one. Initial impressions.

powertrain - A+. "Professional Grade", indeed. It's not just the ability it gives me to get back to driving in quiet EV mode for 30+ miles at a time. It is harder-to-engineer things like the seemless transition to using gasoline if it is needed. As well, maybe my initial impression is off, but it feels like the car operates better than other cars I have driven even when the gasoline engine is engaged. Is this due to a difference in transmission method? I don't know.

Steering wheel - A. a minor thing, but it just feels right.

Leather interior - glad I went for this I think.

Overall driving experience - B + so far.

Looks: A

Initial foray for me into driving a car with some sensing features and warnings (stay in lane, stay at prudent distance behind cars in front of me, careful of possible parking lot collissions): Overall I am liking this so far, but it is taking some time. (Not great with disorienting beeping when it is hard to tell sometimes what it is about, but I guess I'll get used to it, and yes I know I can turn off some or all of it.). Love the rear camera. Also, the inclusion of what for the time was relatively advanced technology makes me feel good that GM was trying to put something extra special into the vehicle.

Some negatives (my overall grade is high, but I want to list some)

Car beeping at me a lot: C: Disorienting and a negative safety issue. Yes, eventually I'll figure out more of the beeps and it enhances safety, but generally driving unfamiliar cars is a less safe experience until one knows them, and that seems clear in this case.

Low height of car scrapes ground, including on streets and in parking lots that may not be well designed or maintained - C (A tradeoff I guess between looks and practicality. I assume that I'll have to pay to replace the skirts or whatever they are).

Rear seat legroom: F.

Lack of renewable fuel flex-fuel capability: Unless there is a clear reason for this (such as if the fuel sitting for a long time might become a problem?) then F.

OnStar data issues for me and some other drivers for many weeks now if not longer. F. Not a "Professional Grade" handling of the situation. Maybe not a major matter, but a blown opportunity to enhance an already very good customer experience.

L Mode - interesting but my initial impression is that it is a safety issue - I am not ok with failure to communicate to the person following me that I am slowing down.

Overall grade so far: B+. It would be an A, and to the powertrain I say yes indeed, this is fantastic so far, but I will not overlook GM's decision to put this great powertrain into a vehicle with such poor rear legroom. Why not put this great engineering into a vehicle with extraordinarily generous legroom? Even when they do this in a new vehicle, I will need to wait another 5 + years for the used pricing to come down. Still, for purposes of one-
or two-passenger transportation, quite happy so far.

An observation: the car can actually accidentally be turned off sitting at a stoplight.

A suggestion: I suggest some more automation around hypermiling types of tricks. For example, if an upward hill is coming up, and this can be used to bleed some speed off, then it may not be needed to engage regen brakes. If a downward hill is coming up, then it may save energy to avoid accelerating. I think Daimler and perhaps others are doing work in this area. Maybe the Volt already has something like this and I don't know it.

[Addendum - edit]: additional observation: some refreshed perspective on public charging issues also are part of the experience.
 

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An observation: the car can actually accidentally be turned off sitting at a stoplight.
Translation: the driver can turn off the car. :)
 

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Warning sounds: a fair complaint and one which you will learn to differentiate over time.

The air dam is made of plastic that can withstand the scraping without undue wear. The only disconcerting thing - which you will get over with time and attitude - is the sound it makes when it scrapes. I've watched mine be literally crushed, only to come rebounding back to shape without damage, when the car was pulled backwards onto a flatbed truck. The 2012 I had wouldn't shift out of Park and was nosed into a spot.

Rear leg room (more exactly foot room) is valid. I spent time in the back while on a road trip and found that not being able to shift my feet around was very annoying after a bit. But that is in keeping with the size of the car: compact car.

The car is designed to meet most of your needs in the electric mode. If your commute is long enough to deplete the battery and cause the car to go into CS mode, you are better off from an efficiency position to extracting energy from a gallon of 91 octane than from a gallon of E15 or E85, because you will use less gasoline per mile driven.

I agree with you about OnStar. As a consequence, I don't have a subscription to the "service".

Deceleration in L meets the Federal safety requirements (rate of deceleration) regarding turning on the brake lights. If you want to turn them on when you use L, then lightly, very lightly, depress the brake pedal. Doing so will turn on the brake lights without engaging regen via the pedal.

With regard to you turning off your car accidentally, you might find reading this of interest.

http://gm-volt.com/forum/showthread.php?84090-My-Letter-to-the-NHTSA-about-pushbutton-ignitions...

Bottom line: pay attention to what you are doing (as Steverino is inferring).

I personally do not public charge, preferring to do so only in the confines of my garage. It works for me 8^)
 

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The air dam takes a lot of abuse.
Mine scrapes a bit every day and after nearly 4 years has no sign of wear.
I wouldn't worry about it.

No brake lights in L is no different than any other ICE vehicle on the road using L to downshift and engine brake. This is not new to the volt, so I don't know why it comes up so often. And it is following the specs for brake light to the T. You will find the measured deceleration maxes out at exactly the amount allowable by law without brake lights. If you want more braking, your foot must be on the pedal, which activates the lights.
Simple solution - don't use it. It's not required at all for operation of the volt. Ride the brake pedal downhill if you wish, the net result is the same.

Onstar data used to be good, and it seems to be getting worse over time, not better.
They've also recently crippled my basic plan, so it's dead to me. Already mostly ignored it, now I'll ignore it entirely and pretend I don't have access at all.
 

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Congrats on the '13 -- remains my favorite Volt.

You might have the original air dam, which was rather low. After mine took much abuse, I swapped it out for the shorter air dam, which rarely scraped and I didn't notice any difference in range.

Regarding the beeps, I had the same observation in the '13. But now I have the opposite problem in my '17. It NEVER beeps until the absolute last second, which I find infuriating (expect for the cross-traffic alert). In fact, it seems the front sensors don't even pop up visually half the time. GM went way too far in the opposite direction now. Ridiculous. You just can't win.

The legroom in back is better in the '17, but the compromise is that the headroom is worse. One of my 6'4" friends could sit in the back of my '13 (scrunched up), but he can't even sit in the back of my Gen 2 without craning his neck--impossible for any long drive.

Minus the range and safety package differences (no small items), I preferred the '13 overall. You done well.
 

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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
[...]
Rear leg room (more exactly foot room) is valid. I spent time in the back while on a road trip and found that not being able to shift my feet around was very annoying after a bit. But that is in keeping with the size of the car: compact car.
[...]
Thanks. I do know it's a compact car, but in my fallible view, my point remains. GM should (IMO) have chosen to put this extraordinary powertrain technology into a larger class of vehicle, and would I think then have been rewarded with the sort of sales figures they claimed at the time they were looking forward to.

In conjunction with this, I have sometimes wondered if the disappointing GSA PEV purchase figures during the Volt years may have in part been related to limitations (or are there such things?) on the class of vehicle that could be considered for any given government purchase. (Such as: someone within government filling out a form and if the vehicle must be of a class that is able to seat four or five adults comfortably for more than a few minutes, then the Volt might be excluded from consideration... I have never filled out such a form, .... is this scenario plausible?).

The car is designed to meet most of your needs in the electric mode. If your commute is long enough to deplete the battery and cause the car to go into CS mode, you are better off from an efficiency position to extracting energy from a gallon of 91 octane than from a gallon of E15 or E85, because you will use less gasoline per mile driven.
Thanks, but my concern is not about achieving relatively small improvements in miles per BTU of liquid fuel, but instead keeping the focus on miles per CO2. I know that there are strong concerns about whether E85 is low-carbon or not, but C2H5OH (ethanol) ultimately can be made from improved-renewability sources, just as electricity ultimately can be made from improved-renewability sources.

I haven't studied GM on this point specifically, but the Detroit automakers taken as a whole seemed ok to create flex-fuel vehicles (basically to satisfy government regs as far as I could tell) even where they knew the E85 part might not be used. Why not offer the same flex-fuel capability in the Volt where it would have allowed for lower carbon travel even when the charge is depleted?

Deceleration in L meets the Federal safety requirements (rate of deceleration) regarding turning on the brake lights. If you want to turn them on when you use L, then lightly, very lightly, depress the brake pedal. Doing so will turn on the brake lights without engaging regen via the pedal.
Thanks, these points are good to know. Still, meeting regs is one thing, but it is not the equivalent in all cases of safe communication. Sometimes regs have not caught up to technology. I have a particular issue with tailgaters. The act of tailgating is an incredibly disrespectful and unsafe choice by one's fellow driver. So, essentially to forestall such situations, rather than to encourage more of those instances, I like to err on the side of more brake light communication rather than less (and no, in general, I don't drive particularly slowly). However, knowing that the Volt in L mode satisfies regs, and reading the tip you mention, does allow me to think maybe I'll give another try to this mode.

With regard to you turning off your car accidentally, you might find reading this of interest.

http://gm-volt.com/forum/showthread.php?84090-My-Letter-to-the-NHTSA-about-pushbutton-ignitions...
Thanks, yes, too much for me to absorb right now, but I skimmed it and interesting.

Bottom line: pay attention to what you are doing (as Steverino is inferring).
To clarify: I turned my car off accidentally once, 10 minutes after leaving the dealership, on the first day, at a stoplight. I was absentmindedly trying different buttons (shouldn't have been but was) and I accidentally pushed the wrong button. I wasn't paying sufficient-attention to what I was doing, and yes, that's not good, I agree, but it hasn't happened again. The additional problem at that moment then was to get the vehicle restarted in a timely way.

There are, I believe, two factors at work. There is always the need at all times, with no exceptions, for drivers to pay attention to what they're doing. There is also a need for creators of human-operated devices to meet drivers partway as to foolproofing. Even though it is embarrassing for me to mention that there was a moment when my focus was less than good, I think it can helpful to an automaker's foolproofing efforts to hear that, yes, people will sometimes screw up in that way. It doesn't mean it should lead to a change, but it might be helpful in some way.
Again, not proud of it, but that's my reason for mentioning.

Anyway, thanks jbakerjonathan for the various responses. I don't want to come across as too argumentative. Please take my own responses as coming from someone who literally waited for six years to buy a Volt, when it came down in price to my level. So, I've been saving up some thoughts for awhile, and have been waiting to get to discussing it.
 

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To clarify: I turned my car off accidentally once, 10 minutes after leaving the dealership, on the first day, at a stoplight.
Sure, I did the same thing. To make sure I never did it again I added a clear silcone self stick dot to the button so it feels different. Others have implemented other techniques.

Power Braille.jpg Power Button plastic scoop.jpg Power Button 'mode hand'.jpg Power Button Flip Cover.jpg
 

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Discussion Starter #8

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
Having read some additional responses here:

- it's good to know I'm not the only one who is struggling with all the beeps.
- With respect to OnStar issues, I'd say I'm disappointed and somewhat surprised. Why would GM not do more to value goodwill they earned with their excellent execution on this historic vehicle? Another improbable thought - is it possible that it's a cybersecurity issue?
- I'm just super-impressed, and not surprised, by the powertrain excellence and execution in other areas.
 

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Car beeping at me a lot: C: Disorienting and a negative safety issue. Yes, eventually I'll figure out more of the beeps and it enhances safety, but generally driving unfamiliar cars is a less safe experience until one knows them, and that seems clear in this case.
American cars beep a lot. Blame America's litigious culture if you want, but they all do and increasingly.

Low height of car scrapes ground, including on streets and in parking lots that may not be well designed or maintained - C (A tradeoff I guess between looks and practicality. I assume that I'll have to pay to replace the skirts or whatever they are).
They're pretty tough for what they are. You can scrape 'em forever and they'll be fine. What they do do is remind me to avoid things like the concrete bollards at the ends of parking spaces, though. Which are a real hazard. I remember to pay attention to the front because i think about it ten seconds earlier pulling up the drive apron when it goes "skkrrch" at me. But no, you'll never have to replace it unless you're risking ripping off a radiator in the first place.

Rear seat legroom: F.
Legit. Fortunately, I don't carry more than one passenger most of the time, and what does ride behind my seat doesn't care.

Lack of renewable fuel flex-fuel capability: Unless there is a clear reason for this (such as if the fuel sitting for a long time might become a problem?) then F.
Eh. Chevy's said it's for the storage life, and considering how many people here brag about getting through about two gallons of fuel a year, it's either true that premium gas lasts longer than E85 in a sealed tank, or it isn't. So far, I've found lots of contradictory answers. For my particular situation, it doesn't matter THAT much. I get about a thousand miles out of a tanks, so storage isn't REALLY a big issue, but on the other hand, that's about a penny a mile more in gas cost, and I spend way more than that on getting the fancy car wash, so it seems petty for me to complain about that little actual expense. 70% of my driving comes out of a wall and THAT is upgradable miles. The car doesn't care what generated the electricity.

OnStar data issues for me and some other drivers for many weeks now if not longer. F. Not a "Professional Grade" handling of the situation. Maybe not a major matter, but a blown opportunity to enhance an already very good customer experience.
It's 99% working for me. So it's not a problem with design, or probably even implementation. Grade F for tires if yours gets a nail in it too?

L Mode - interesting but my initial impression is that it is a safety issue - I am not ok with failure to communicate to the person following me that I am slowing down.
There's actual rules about how fast a car needs to be slowing down to show brake lamps, a range of optional show brake lamps, a point beyond which regen must show brake lamps. Gen 1 only enters the "must" range when you step on the wide pedal.

Overall grade so far: B+. It would be an A, and to the powertrain I say yes indeed, this is fantastic so far, but I will not overlook GM's decision to put this great powertrain into a vehicle with such poor rear legroom. Why not put this great engineering into a vehicle with extraordinarily generous legroom?
Basically the same drivetrain is in the Malibu Hybrid, Cadillac CT6 PHEV, and a Chrysler minivan. There will be more soon, I'm sure.

An observation: the car can actually accidentally be turned off sitting at a stoplight.
So can any car, with varying levels of likelihood of "accidental". Don't push the glowing blue button twice.
 

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I feel like the steering is a little over boosted over 30 mph. They could turn down the assist for better road feel.
 

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Congratulations on your "new" Volt, from a 2012 Volt owner who has been enjoying the experience for over five years now!

I seem to recall that when the 2011 Volts came out with their window sticker 35 ev mile rating, the Nissan Leaf advertisements were touting their car had far greater range than the 35 miles per day achieved by the average driver. Since the Volt was intended to be an electric car (with extended range), the limited backseat legroom decision was perhaps intended to keep the electric range at that target range at a reasonable price. Incorporating the drivetrain into a larger vehicle might well have resulted in a vehicle with less electric range and/or far greater purchase price.

The scraping sound is likely coming from the front air dam... it makes the car more aerodynamic at higher speeds, adding just a bit more electric distance on the freeways. If you don’t spend that much time at higher speeds, it doesn’t do much for fuel efficiency (electric range). Some time ago, GM made a "customer service" option available to exchange the longer air dam for a shorter one (which I had done, and it did cut down the number of scraping episodes), but I suspect that offer is no longer available. Some owners perhaps have simply removed the air dam.

Driving in L can be handy in stop and go traffic, but it shines as a method of keeping the car’s speed at the set cruise control level when descending hills.

When a car is coasting, its momentum keeps the wheels turning. In an electric car, the turning of the wheels can be used to turn the shaft of the motor, transforming it into a generator. Cranking the generator uses up the momentum, slowing down the car (i.e., regenerative braking). Varying the rate of generation varies the rate of slowing. Coasting in L produces more regen than coasting in D, slowing the car faster, and the choice is a personal preference (especially as the brake pedal will also vary the rate of regen, blending in friction braking as you approach a stop, or in emergency braking situations).

The reason the transition to gas is so seamless in a Generation 1 Volt is because the transition is from an electric motor powered by grid electricity (stored in the battery) to the same electric motor powered by gas-generated electricity. When the battery is depleted (or you switch to Hold Mode), the smaller electric motor is clutched to the gas engine, and acts as a starter motor to get it running. The engine then remains clutched to the motor, using it as a generator to create fuel for the primary motor.

The Gen 2 Volt’s powertrain, which adds a second planetary gear, is a significant departure from the Gen 1 model, transforming it in a sense into a gas hybrid car with a ~53 all electric mile range capability. The power/mode button arrangement has been reconfigured to reduce the chances of turning the car off unintentionally.

GM speaks of the Gen 1's Extended Range Mode driving as an "electric-like" driving experience. The car is capable of full performance using the single primary motor alone in both Electric Mode and Extended Range Mode. Two-motor configuration enables the Volt to operate more efficiently.

For more on this, a clarification of Gen 1 Volt drivetrain operations was given by Pamela Fletcher, who was then Chief Engineer, Volt Powertrain, explaining how the 2011 Volt works in one of the earlier videos on the topic. This addresses the topic of how the gas engine extends the range of the Volt, rather than how the gas engine powers the car after the battery is depleted:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d9-9atMw6Zs
 

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Discussion Starter #13 (Edited)
[re: flex-fuel]
...
Eh. Chevy's said it's for the storage life, and considering how many people here brag about getting through about two gallons of fuel a year, it's either true that premium gas lasts longer than E85 in a sealed tank, or it isn't. So far, I've found lots of contradictory answers. For my particular situation, it doesn't matter THAT much. I get about a thousand miles out of a tanks, so storage isn't REALLY a big issue, but on the other hand, that's about a penny a mile more in gas cost, and I spend way more than that on getting the fancy car wash, so it seems petty for me to complain about that little actual expense. 70% of my driving comes out of a wall and THAT is upgradable miles. The car doesn't care what generated the electricity.
...
Thanks, good to get a researched response on this. Basically, the reason I couched my grade is due to vaguely remembering some claim of storage difficulties with renewable fuel. If that's really legit, then I have to partially rescind the F, but at least replace it with "they need to try harder on this". While some don't care about carbon and renewable fuels, others do.

Side-note that years ago I remember discussing with a BMW person a liquid-H2-fueled 7 series. That vehicle burned H2 in a combustion engine, but if I recall correctly, they had a fuel cell in the car to help bleed off pressure if the fuel and vehicle sat too long. Something odd like that. Come to think of it, I've also owned a gasoline nat-gas hybrid (not OEM, but a good aftermarket conversion?) that was labeled as needing to use the gasoline at least once per month. So, there is some evidence that if there is a need to use a certain type of fuel once in awhile, in a dual-fuel vehicle, then it can be done. However, I'm not saying necessarily that it applies here.
re: OnStar

It's 99% working for me. So it's not a problem with design, or probably even implementation. Grade F for tires if yours gets a nail in it too?
It's nice for you that it's mostly or entirely working for you. I think enough people have made it clear that it's substantially not working for them that it's clear (at least to me) that your response is just not really on point here.

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re: more interior volume

I wrote:

Overall grade so far: B+. It would be an A, and to the powertrain I say yes indeed, this is fantastic so far, but I will not overlook GM's decision to put this great powertrain into a vehicle with such poor rear legroom. Why not put this great engineering into a vehicle with extraordinarily generous legroom?

to which the response was:
[...]
Basically the same drivetrain is in the Malibu Hybrid, Cadillac CT6 PHEV, and a Chrysler minivan. There will be more soon, I'm sure.
This response seemed kind of not to the point. The Malibu, as far as I know, does not have a PHEV variant (it would be GREAT to see one, IMO... .please please Chevy, please do this). The Cadilllac CT6 is a recent offering and will become affordable to me as a used vehicle in 5-10 years (though by that time I'll possibly be back in a used BEV, such as a Bolt, if its battery holds up). The Chrysler PHEV you mention is not even a GM product and (AFAIK), while it may be a good product, does not use the really excellent Chevy Volt PHEV Powertrain that I was extolling.

It's great that here now in 2017 there is more competition and PHEVs with improved interior volume are being offered, .... including a few that will be more affordable on the used market in a few years, but I think Chevy has taken a long time on this issue of offering their excellent PHEV technology in other larger classes of vehicle. Also, while I am at it, just to get the wish list out there, I (and at least one of my friends) would like to be able to consider buying this sort of powertrain in a pickup.
 

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Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
Congratulations on your "new" Volt, from a 2012 Volt owner who has been enjoying the experience for over five years now!

[...]
Thanks, several cool points here, and yes, very excited to be driving it. I'm only sorry in 2012 I opted for a leased Leaf than for the Volt, at that time.

Good to have the information from you and others about the air dam. My mind is more at ease on that point.

I hadn't realized that changes to the Volts in the later years had been so substantial. Do the later Volts feel less excellent, when the gasoline engine is operating? I really just noticed yesterday that it's not just the all-electric operation that I like, but as well the feel of the vehicle even when the gasoline engine is operating, as compared to a conventional gasoline non-hybrid vehicle. I'm not sure how I would compare it to a non-pluggable hybrid..... I guess it would depend on which one... I've liked the few Priuses I've driven.

edit, ps, you wrote:

[...] The power/mode button arrangement has been reconfigured to reduce the chances of turning the car off unintentionally.
Good to have this information and further confirm it wasn't just me.
 

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I have owned two Gen I Volt's a 2012 and 2013 both bought new and driven over 45K miles. Re the RUBBER air dam, I finally just removed it from my 13, since I seldom travel at highway speeds I didn't notice any loss of range. And to be honest it cleaned up the looks of the front end.
 

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Discussion Starter #16 (Edited)
I have owned two Gen I Volt's a 2012 and 2013 both bought new and driven over 45K miles. Re the RUBBER air dam, I finally just removed it from my 13, since I seldom travel at highway speeds I didn't notice any loss of range. And to be honest it cleaned up the looks of the front end.
Thanks, good to know. The area I'm in is somewhat rural. I avoid dirt and gravel roads, but the town roads, potholes, parking lots, etc. can sometimes be neglected. Well, I suppose that goes for most anywhere.

Some of the posts have encouraged me to realize that dam can take a lot of punishment, but it seems possible that the road itself will remove it for me at some point. I guess we'll see.
 

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Congrats on your new car. I generally agree with your impressions, with the rear seat room being really the only one that does not have a relatively simple solution (or logical rationalization). I guess the rear seat issue boils down to what do you need the car for, and if it doesn't work for that, then don't buy this car. But that could be said for any vehicle. Hopefully you either don't need the rear seat for adults, or all the occupants are short, or you have a second vehicle that will meet that need. That probably describes most Volt owners. If that describes you, then I think you will be very happy with the car. The drive train is great, unique, and not really available in any other form factors yet. The upcoming Honda Clarity plug in hybrid looks like it will rival the Volt's specs while providing improved rear seat room.
 

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Steering wheel - A. a minor thing, but it just feels right.
I actually do not like the steering wheel spokes. I am used to four spoke wheels in all my previous cars and use the space between the two lower spokes. That spot on the Volt (gen1 at least) is unusable.

The power off button was poorly implemented. The button should be further from another button that takes multiple hits to operate normally (the mode button) that I want to use a few times a week with either two or three quick hits to change modes. A different texture or a raised surround would be enough to tell you your thumb is on which button when your eyes are on the road where they should be. Or just be far enough away from each other. I have already stopped the car in traffic trying to go into sport mode. I probably won't do that again, but it was embarrassing.

I give the ride and handling an A on Conti PureContact Eco plus.
I give the tan leather interior an A for looks A- for comfort. A coworker got in and literally said "wow."
Screen menus could be better B/B+
Dead pedal could be better with more toe room. Very minor point.
Even a manual lower seat cushion angle adjustment would be appreciated.
Rear seat legroom is OK for my 6 year old, may not be when she is twelve. Who knows.
I wish it had a few more miles electric in the winter since I have to drive about five miles on gas every day on the way home from work, but if I can get charging going at work, that will be solved.

Overall I love it. It should save me $700 per year in gas based on the miles I drive and current gas and electric prices.
 
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