Having the opportunity to drive a variety of new cars with the best in comfort, safety, technology, style and upgrades can cause one to become spoiled and jaded. Seeing a new car through the eyes of my grandchildren really gave me an appreciation for the wonderful job all manufacturers do in bringing together the multitude of details that combine to make a vehicle that is just right for a certain buyer.
My stepson and his wife were going out of town for the week and I was staying with the four children: girls aged 15 and 13, boys aged 11 and 9. I was driving a 2015 Bi-Fuel Chevrolet Impala. Their first ride in my car was to a Fall Festival at an area church. I could tell they were not pleased to be crowded three into the back seat instead of riding in their van with each having their own captains chair. Their impressed surprise was evident when they discovered how comfortably they fit! The rear view camera got rave reviews as I backed out of the driveway. The weather was not cold, but just for fun I let the front seat passenger experience the heated seat, eliciting another enthusiastic reaction…and some resentful pouts from the back seat. The navigation map was another pleaser, as was the multiple plug options for charging their ever-present devices. Today’s kids are all connected! The next day featured a discussion about fitting their music equipment in the trunk. “It wont fit!” they insisted. But surprise again! Room to spare!
There was so much more to the Bi-Fuel Impala that was not visible to these children. Designed to run on gasoline or CNG (compressed natural gas), this Impala drives and handles just like a typical gas powered vehicle. Changing from gasoline to CNG and back requires only the push of a button. The range using gasoline is about 350 miles; using CNG adds another 150 miles. Between Elkhart, Texas and Johnson City, Texas there were not many, or any, places to fill up with CNG, so I was happy that regular gasoline was an option. With most manufacturers planning to include CNG powered vehicles in their line-up in the future, it will definitely become more commonly available.
CNG is a blend of Biogas, like what is produced from composting garbage scraps, and methane gas. It is among the cleanest burning fuels available, and may save up to $1.00 per gallon in cost. I have not yet learned how to capture this product from my compost, which is largely made up of horse and cow manure, but maybe some day someone will figure out a way, and I will be in business! Who knows if there will be issues with the fragrance of the exhaust!?
At $38,210 the Bi-Fuel Impala is about $10,000 more than the standard version, but the benefits may make it well worth it. For me, that included being the smart, cool Grandma! It is easy to imagine and expect many advances and improvements to the technology in the very near future, one of the things that makes the automobile industry continually fascinating.