Look out, Prius, your reign atop the hybrid market appears to be challenged or even coming to an end. The 2011 Chevrolet Volt makes its debut as General Motors’ first plug-in gas/electric vehicle. This four-passenger, four-door hatchback is something special. It has, in effect, two different drive trains: an all-electric one (battery and gasoline powered) that drive the car for the first 40 or so miles after a full plug-in recharge, then a gas-powered hybrid system automatically kicks in and can give you about another 250 to 300 miles of range.

The cool thing about the Volt is being able to be plugged into a wall outlet, the battery can be fully recharged in about 10 hours on normal 120-volt household current, or four hours with a special 240-volt charging station, which are becoming much more accessible throughout Southern California. Whether the electric motors are running by themselves or in combination with the gas engine, the combined total is 149 horsepower. While the Volt does not have racecar speed it makes you feel you are actually driving a car with some kind of power compared to the other electric or hybrid vehicles.

The Volt is actually what the doctor ordered, as it is the best of both worlds and gives you options compared to the Toyota Prius, which does not have the electric charge option, or the Nissan LEAF, which is completely electric. The Volt can take you further and faster then any car like it on the road. If you want an intriguing yet practical taste of a greener automotive future, the 2011 Chevy Volt is a choice that you won’t regret.

Exterior: The Volt’s exterior is sleeker than many midsize sedans, although at first glimpse I was disappointed, as Chevy did not keep the futuristic body style unveiled in the 2009 auto shows, but was altered for a more practical version. Although, as you continue to look at the Volt you can’t help but to start to admire the simplistic and trim body style. The Chevy Volt home charger kit is pretty cool and gives you the feeling as if you are plugging in a household appliance. This is what I think puts the car over the top and signals it as the car of the future. Other standard features include 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights and heated mirrors.

Interior: The distinctive center console appears to have been modeled for the future. It looks like and iPad or an appliance from the film Minority Report. The Volt also manages to take a big step into the 21st century with plenty of standard color display with a built-in hard drive.

The Volt’s space and comfort are nothing overtly special. There is no power driver seat option, which was a little contradicting as it has such a futuristic console but yet suffers from the lack of such a last century feature. However, the Volt has a remote-charging and vehicle-control program that owners can download and run from Blackberry and Apple iPhone cell phones. The temperature feature made me gasp when I heard how the owner can pre-heat or pre-cool the vehicle before getting in. A navigation system is standard, as is a hard drive for storing digital music files.

The Volt's hatchback design is convenient for loading but limits maximum luggage capacity to just 10.6 cubic feet with the back seats up. The rear seats fold down to expand cargo capacity, which is an added plus, but overall utility is close to that of a Prius.

The Premium Trim package adds leather upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and heated front seats. The Rear Camera and Park Assist package adds a rearview camera and front and rear parking sensors.

Performance: The 2011 Volt is primarily powered by an electric motor, which pumps about 149 hp (111 kilowatts) and 273 pound-feet of torque. This motor then draws power from an ultra cool lithium-ion battery pack until the battery charge is about 70 percent depleted. At that point, the Volt's 1.4-liter four-cylinder internal combustion engine, which requires premium fuel, comes in to power the car and gives another 32 miles/plus per gallon

The Volt is not a power speedster or the fastest car on the road it’s the right vehicle to get you where you need to go, while other drivers spend time at the pump refueling their cars.

Safety & Security: The Chevy Volt sticks to high safety standards of General Motors. Available safety features include ABS, traction control, antiskid system, curtain-side airbags, front-side airbags and driver and passenger knee airbags.

The Volt, at around $40,000, gives more comfort ability than many higher priced cars available and one that you will love and appreciate to drive every day.