*Chevrolet vehicles are BIG and sexy these days. I recently test drove the 2012 Chevrolet Volt, the 2011 Traverse AWD LTZ, Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid and the 2012 Versa 1.6 S Sedan.  All four are impressive, surprisingly sleek and display various degrees of  power under my feet.

THE CAR: 2012 CHEVROLET VOLT

chevy volt
Now this is a car to write home to momma about. Everything about it screams – fabulous. This is not only a good-looking vehicle, it backs up its beauty with a ride that is as smooth as butter. This particular car has a black exterior, coupled with a jet black/spice red interior. Yeah, baby, we’re rolling now!  And, we’re looking good while we do it.  Now I know why it was 2011 North American Car of the Year and Motor Trend 2011 Car of the Year.

VEHICLE AT A GLANCE:
Engine, range extender, 1.4L internal combustion engine, tire sealant and inflator kit in place of spare tire, battery, propulsion, lithium ion, electric drive unit, voltec, remote keyless entry with remote start, color touch radio with 7” screen, six speakers, charge cord, 120 V portable. Electric, two-wheel, front-drive. The long-life battery consists of a 5.5 foot, 435-pound (198.1kg) T-shaped, 16-kWh lithium-ion battery pack. It supplies energy to an advanced, 111-kW (149-hp) electric drive unit to propel the vehicle.

MSRP: $43, 880
FUEL ECONOMY: Electricity – charge time: 4 hours (240V) 94 MPGe 36 kW-hrs per 100 miles
Gasoline only – 37 MPG – 2.7 gallons per 100 miles
THE DRIVE: Spectacular!

THE CAR: 2012 TRAVERSE FWD LTZ

chevy traverse
With its red jewel tintcoat exterior and light cashmere/ebony interior, this 6-speed auto is an appealing and cool looking SUV. Although it is BIG, it handles surprisingly well. Maneuverability is E-Z!  The interior is not only roomy, the seats are comfortable and the dash is convenient. Syncing the phone into the vehicle’s Bluetooth is simple. There is lots of room in the back and in the trunk area.  Great choice!

VEHICLE AT A GLANCE: engine, 3.6L SIDI V6, transmission 6-speed auto AWD, antilock brake system, remote vehicle start, leather appointed seats, heated and cooled front seats, theft deterrent system, Bluetooth for pone, universal home remote, tri-zone climate control

MSRP: $43, 895
FUEL ECONOMY: 17/24
THE DRIVE: Amazing!

THE CAR: CHEVROLET TAHOE HYBRID

chevy tahoe hybrid
Now this is an impressive vehicle. Although it’s big, it’s not shy about its size. There’s not need to be. It can maneuver with the best of them. Although it has some competitors – namely Ford Expedition, Toyota Sequoia and the Chrysler Aspen, none of them are hybrids.  This car has 50% improvement in city fuel economy (2WD), giving it the same city fuel economy as a Toyota Camry midsize car – but still providing all the utility customers expect in a full-size SUV.

VEHICLE AT A GLANCE:  For 2010, USB port for iPod/mp3 compatibility with audio system, horsepower – 332/248 @5100 rpm, all leather seats, front heated seats, premium Bose stereo w/navigation system, rear camera, Bluetooth capability, 18-inch aluminum wheels
MSRP: $50, 720
FUEL ECONOMY: 21/22
THE DRIVE: Power-filled!

THE CAR: 2012 VERSA 1.6 S SEDAN

nissan versa
OK, to be honest, this car doesn’t have any bells and whistles. But, it will get you from Point A to Point B. Still, it’s clear, Nissan makes something for every wallet. The Versa is Nissan’s entry-level car with the intention of attracting economy-minded buyers with its mileage, price and larger size than most other vehicles in its class.

The Versa is available as a hatchback or sedan, the sedan is powered by a 107-hp 1.6-liter four cylinder engine, while the hatchback gets a 122-hp 1.8-liter. The sedan can be equipped with either a five-speed manual or optional Xtronic CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission), the hatchback buyer has a choice between a six-speed manual, a four-speed automatic or the Xtronic CVT. Safety comes from six standard airbags, tire pressure monitoring, anti-lock brakes with panic assist, front seat belt pretensioners, side impact beams in all doors and electronic stability/traction control.

VEHICLE AT A GLANCE: Engine 1.6L I-4, [email protected] 6,000 rpm, transmission: 5-spd man w/OD, 0-10 in 9.7 seconds, drivetrain: front-wheel. The SL has 16-inch alloy wheels, Bluetooth, intelligent key, auto-dimming mirror and a leather steering wheel with audio controls

MSRP:  $13,690
FUEL ECONOMY: 30/38
THE DRIVE: Standard!

Darlene Donloe is a writer living in Los Angeles. She also writes about entertainment and travel. She can be reached at [email protected].