The Best and Worst GM Cars We've Ever Driven
- Well, it's safe to say we've probably driven more cars than the average person. Do you guys have favorite and least favorite GM cars that you've driven to date?
- Well, I guess unlike Byron I believe, most of almost the entirety of my GM driving experience has been in a professional capacity. I've driven cars, though, since like 2006. And so within that time frame, I'm going to keep it to there. And I was tempted by the Pontiac G8. That was a really cool car. It had a lot of-- it was from Australia. So it had a lot of wacky pants interior stuff, which made it kind of interesting, and charming, yet also bad.
But it looked fantastic. It was fantastic to drive too. C7 Vette, again, you mentioned that the CS-- or actually no. The last CTS-V, that thing was great. But I'm going to say the original Chevy Volt is the best that I've driven because of just how significant it was, not unlike the Bolt. But how much of a technical achievement it was. It was a plug in hybrid. They called it any number of marketing things. But that's what it was. It was a plug in hybrid way ahead of everything else. And it was such a solid concept.
It was revolutionary just not just for GM, but for the entire industry. And yeah, it only had two back seats. And the ones that there were cramped. And the aero dam on the front scraped on everything. Everything. It's molehill-- everything. It scraped on everything. But and yeah, it wasn't as cool as the concept car. But it was a terrific city car.
I drove that-- back in the old days, we had one that was a long termer. And I drove it constantly in LA traffic. And it was fantastic. It had one pedal driving, it was pretty quick with that electric motor, it had that low center of gravity that the battery ran down the center of the car in a T fashion. So you had it literally glowing in the center of the car. Really grounded. It was surprisingly fun to drive.
Really kind of cool interior controls, touch capacitive, which were eh. But at the time, pretty neat. Had the white kind of iMac center console.
- Oh man. Yeah.
- And I drove it a lot. I love that car. And because it was a plug in hybrid, you could actually take it on a road trip. It was pretty comfortable. And decent trunk space. It's a really cool car. I think it does-- I hope it gets remembered for being-- maybe it didn't end up being a big seller, maybe it wasn't as important in the long run. But at the time, it was a big deal. And I think it was a pretty big achievement and GM at its best.
- Did you ever drive the Cadillac version? I can't remember what the Cadillac version of the Volt was--
- ELR? I did. I did.
- What did you think of that one?
- Well, interesting. Because that thing was actually really good too. It is mechanically the same thing. It had this lovely interior, it looked pretty cool. But the price was hilarious.
- It was announced and we all laughed. This is-- we laughed because it was so outrageously insanely expensive that we thought they were kidding.
- Well, that was the one that actually-- Cadillac offered like a, I don't know if they called it a performance package, but a sport package for that one that actually had a sport tuned suspension and stuff too if I remember right, I think it was maybe later in life, near when they canceled it. But I think that happened. Oh, and they actually-- so yeah, they actually retuned the powertrain too. So it wasn't just that it handled better, but it actually got more punch, which did reduce its total range.
- All right, Byron. What do you got for your favorite?
- So this is-- just throwing another wrench this time. Of the ones I've actually driven, I'm actually doing I'm coming with the CT5-V Blackwing. And again, this is getting weird because I have driven the C8 and obviously I've driven the CT5-V too. And the CT5-V Blackwing, the supercharged V8, that thing, there was such a sense of occasion with that car. And honestly, the only reason-- OK, there were two reasons why I chose the CT4-V over CT5-V.
First of all, it's cheaper. Openly acknowledging that it is about-- you're talking about $20,000 to $25,000 difference once you actually load them up and start playing around with stuff. Also, I come from basically having two big V8 American cars almost in a row over the past few years. And so I was just ready for small again. But the CT5-V Blackwing is not really that big. It's not really that heavy. It's only like 200 pounds more than the CT4-V.
And it sounds amazing. Everything about it is just so much. But it's just like, it's impressive, it's a show. But where would I ever use it? I mean, it's not like the four is so underpowered that I can-- it's not like a Miata. But at the same time, what makes the five so much better than the four doesn't make it any better for what I'm going to do with it. I'm going to track it. I'm going to autocross it. But the V8 doesn't necessarily make it any better at either of those things. It just makes it more fun the rest of the time when it's making noise.
And I've done the V8 noise thing. So I'm moving on. But I just still-- I appreciate it for what it is. It is one of the most impressive products GM has ever put together. And certainly top three for the ones I've driven of theirs all time with the C8 and the four being the others that I would throw in there.
- How about worst?
- So, OK. A couple years back, when the pandemic started, I decided I was going to go stay with my parents in New Mexico for a couple months. And I did a one way rental. So I rented a then new-ish, it was a 2020 I believe, Chevy Malibu from Enterprise. And while it was an incredibly competent car, it was still a enterprise rental car in the middle of the pandemic, which meant it had-- I don't even remember how many miles were on it. I don't think I've driven a rental car that's ever had more than about 7,500 miles on it before in my life.
This one had well in excess of 10,000. It had had by rental standards one of the longest lives of a car you would find for rent in the domestic fleets from a real rental company, not just Jacks down the road, but a national chain. It smelled. It made me sick driving it. I actually had-- I was-- my sinuses were getting inflamed by whatever was traveling through the vents and the HVAC in that car. It was terrible.
But it got me there. Mechanically, everything about it was great. But it just reminded me how poorly those cars wear when they're not taken care of. Because that's what-- any car is going to suffer from neglect. But not all cars are equally hardwearing. And I'll tell you. A 2020 Chevy Malibu is not a hardwearing vehicle.
- Your worst was not just a general gear make model. It was literally a car.
- That one. That particular car.
- The full member, associated with this one.
- The license plate was--
- Yeah, that one actually, it did legitimately have some problems with it though. The electrical system just quit on me at one point when I was cruising through a small town in New Mexico. 30 mile an hour speed limit. It wasn't a big deal. But literally, just everything in the car just turned off. The engine was still running, but the transmission stopped responding to anything. So I just had to ease it off the side of the road, shut it off, shut it-- turn it back on, and yeah, like any good router, it was back and ready to roll. But that was an interesting experience.
- I have a deep well of turd sandwiches over the years entirely from the 2000s. That was not a good era. And but ultimately, I am going with the Hummer H2 SUT, the truck.
- Oh yeah.
- Now yes, it was appallingly fuel inefficient. How inefficient? We don't know. It was a heavy duty truck. So they didn't actually have to report fuel economy. Yes, it was offensively enormous and clogged parking lots, and the views of mountains, et cetera. But here's the other thing. It was not good. It was just objectively not a very good or useful vehicle. It was the size of a house on the outside. But inside, it wasn't big at all.
- I sat in the back seat of one and I was like this in the back seat. It had no space to speak of. The truck. I'm talking about the SUT. Because the regular one was also all of what I'm saying. But the SUT in particular, the bed on that was wider than it was long. Think about that for a sec. It wasn't even 3 feet long and yet had the avalanche mid gate thing. But I mean, really. So it was as a truck kind of useless.
It was also slow. We're talking about zero to 60 in the tens. Visibility, terrible visibility. Interior quality, because it was a 2000 GM product, was not good for the money, or period. So yeah, it could have gotten 50 miles per gallon and it still would have been just bad.