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Those of a certain generation will relate to growing up in a Chevy- or Ford- family. You either bought one or the other. I think the closest parallel today might be iPhone or Droid. (Blackberry? -Ed.) Once on my own, I went Japanese, when U.S. performance and build quality came into question.
That was then. I’ve been spending seat time in a number of new domestics recently, and am genuinely impressed at what Detroit’s spitting out; starting with General Motors. (If I wrote about Ford, too, right here, we’d be here all day.)
For now, Chevy’s Volt is still getting all the headlines, and why not? Of all the hybrids and electrics I’ve driven, it seems the most like a real car. It’s got a solid presence on the road: it doesn’t feel like a toy, and it looks stylish. The interior is kinda Jetson-y (the touch buttons are my least favorite point, but they may just take time to get used to). And as I drove it back and forth about 40 miles each day for a few days, the gauge tells me I used 2/10ths of a gallon of gas, total. Seriously. This is an ideal commuter car. Especially, if you can charge it at work, and let your boss pay for the juice. (2011 Volt: $40,280.)
I didn’t get as much mileage out of the world’s hottest station wagon, Cadillac’s CTS-V Wagon. ‘V’ signifies Cadillac’s performance group, like ‘M’ for BMW. The trip computer tells me, my heavy foot resulted in a return of 15.2 MPG. But you know what? I was doing it, in a car with 556 horsepower. Let me repeat: 556 horsepower. An off-the-shelf Corvette comes in at about 430. It was amazing pushing the go pedal, and being able to squirt ahead of anything else on the road. And, oh yes, take home groceries in the back. (2011 CTS-V Wagon: $62,145.)
Cadillac is hitting a lot of long-balls these days with its CTS series. The CTS Coupe is a stunningly effective car, with our without the ‘V’ designation. It’s kinda like Jason Statham: wearing a tux doesn’t hide the muscle. In terms of fit and finish, the interiors of these cars are light-years beyond what was coming out the factories just 20 years ago. (CTS Coupe: $43,365.)
Chevy family or Ford family, or none-of-the-above; it’s good to see American cars live up to their reputations of a long, long time ago. It leads to things like reborn competitions of Camaro versus Mustang (Hey! A Ford! That gives me an idea! — Stay tuned.)