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2011 Chevrolet Volt

Photo Courtesy of Chevrolet
Photo Courtesy of Chevrolet

The car sits outside for two hours in dropping winter temperatures while we shop. When we return to the Volt and push its blue, center-console-mounted electric start button, the battery-range monitor still shows one mile left.

That mile passes quickly; it would have passed unnoticed had we not been watching closely for the moment of its expiration - at 38.3 miles on the odometer for this trip. The 1.4-liter gasoline engine seamlessly assumes its power-generating duties. We are impressed. We arrive home. I choose not to plug in the Volt.

Feb. 6: We are parishioners at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Georgetown. We love the church. We hate the parking and the sometimes unwelcome attention drawn by unusual cars. The Volt is unusual. We leave it at home charging.

The Packers beat the Steelers in the Super Bowl. Disappointed, we go to bed.

Feb. 7: Mary Anne has figured out that she could drive the Volt all year commuting to Glebe Elementary School, where she teaches third grade, without buying an ounce of gasoline. That beats any hybrid. At a fully optioned cost of $44,680 (reduced by a possible $7,500 federal tax break), the Volt offers more features, including a high-definition backup camera, than those available on the recently driven $93,000 Porsche Cayenne S sport-utility vehicle.

"Can we buy one?" Mary Anne says. I point to the remodeling job underway at our house. "Maybe, next year," I say.

Feb. 8: It's official. We love this car. We normally do a daily round-trip commute of less than 40 miles, well within the Volt's battery-drive range. We can take longer trips without worry, such as our 300-mile drive to our eldest daughter's home in Cornwall, N.Y., thanks to the Volt's 1.4-liter, gasoline-powered generator engine.

The car is a work of premium craftsmanship, easily among best in class. Electric-to-gas-to-electric operation is seamless. We don't need a gasoline-powered "regular" car and an all-electric environmental-statement car. With the Volt, we would have both.

Feb. 9: I stop at a filling station. That brings laughter and chiding from other customers. Typical question/ridicule: "That's supposed to be an electric car. Why the [expletive] are you filling it with premium gasoline?"

I point to the total cost of my gas fill - $1.86 for premium. I point to one of their refilling prices: $53.35 for regular.

There's no need to say anything else.

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