Washington Post humor columnist and professional skeptic Gene Weingarten test-drives the electric Chevy Volt.
American cars suck. With me, it's a mantra. I passed it along to my children in lieu of religion.
It is true that with globalization, there is less of a meaningful distinction these days between foreign cars and domestic. And yes, Detroit has been incrementally improving its products for some time. This is a splendid achievement that I've been content to applaud from a safe distance, behind the wheel of a succession of Mazdas and Toyotas and Hondas that have never once betrayed me.
But the Volt, it is said, is different. There's nothing incremental about it. It's being heralded as an overnight game-changer -- a car with an original concept and a compelling, heroic narrative: It was designed by a fanatic team of GM engineers who held fast to their vision while hounded by naysayers, even as their company was economically collapsing around them.
Some professional car reviewers have gone gaga. Dan Neil of the Wall Street Journal, the Pulitzer Prize-winning critic renowned for his jaundiced eye, unabashedly called the Volt "a spark of genius..."
Not good, not good at all for my worldview. But also not an insurmountable obstacle. Mr. Neil had one handicap I don't have: a starting point of impartiality.
About the time I read his review, The Post asked me if I'd like to do one of my own. Why, yes, I said. Yes, I would be delighted to.
From the Washington Post Magazine.
Also: Editorial writer Charles Lane, a skeptic of General Motors' new electric car, goes for a test drive in the Volt
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