The Chevrolet Volt is an impressive and significant car, but there’s still room for improvement. Personally, I’m amazed at how hard GM muffed the center stack. The jumbled heap of icons and abbreviations reads like a sequel to the children’s book Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.
Just a little bit of restraint would have gone a long way in making the Volt’s infotainment system more intuitive. As proof, I’ve created a better solution in five minutes with Photoshop.
We start by cutting the clutter. Chevy makes it pretty easy to sort the worthless buttons from the stuff you’ll actually use. The “TP” button, which is a cryptic and clumsy way of writing “TIME,” is first to go. The owner’s manual says TP stands for “Time Program” and you use it to set the clock, which you’ll do twice a year. So why not bury that function in the “MENU” button? The other five buttons that I’d eliminate either belong in that same menu, or elsewhere. Here’s what went in my digital trash bin:
REC: The Record button is used to load the on-board hard drive with music from a CD or USB thumb drive.
DEL: Similarly, Delete removes items from the Volt’s hard drive.
TONE: Admittedly, I was reluctant to trash the audio tone button. Still, it’s low-hanging fruit when you’re thinking about which buttons you need most often.
AS 1-2: This stranger automatically creates twelve radio presets for both AM and FM radio based on the strength of the station signal. Good for traveling in new places, I guess, but so is satellite radio and an iPod, leading me to wonder has anyone ever used this button?
RPT: This button repeats the previous navigation instruction. It’s a useful function, but could be served just as well with an icon on the touch screen.
Having eliminated 27 percent of the buttons controlling the climate and infotainment systems, we can move on to organization. Below, I’ve highlighted the climate controls in red, audio controls in green, and navigation/phone/auxiliary controls in yellow. In my driver-friendly version, I’d leave the climate controls untouched, but move the audio controls to the left and everything else to the right.
Here are some larger views. Old staleness: