It’s good to know that automotive paint has come a long way since the early days of water-based finishes, which were just a few short years ago. The finish on my wife’s 2006 Acura TSX is closer to hardened cheese rind than paint; if you stare at it long enough, it will chip, let alone if you drive it in real world conditions. I like the concept behind Chevy’s durability testing, but I’m not sure I buy into their methodology.
If you want to know how chip resistant a finish is, there are two places you can test it. The first is on Interstate 287 between the New Jersey border and White Plains, New York. This gets my vote for the worst stretch of interstate highway in the U.S; it combines perpetual road construction (with lots of paint-destroying gravel), car eating potholes and garbage hauling semis that drop everything from dangerous chemicals to large chunks of metal. Have I mentioned that the average speed at rush hour, when traffic is moving at all, approaches 100 miles per hour? If your paint can survive here, it can survive anywhere.
If that’s too much of a test for you, try spending a winter and spring in Boulder, CO. Boulder doesn’t use salt on winter roads, they use gravel. Boulder also gets 100 MPH chinook winds in the spring time, so motorists get to experience their own, real-life gravel cannon. I’ve seen cars stripped of paint and windshields obliterated in a matter of seconds, and that’s even if the driver pulled to the shoulder to avoid driving through the car-eating-cloud-of-death.
Sure, it’s impressive that Chevy goes to this much trouble on an entry level car, but I’ll bet you I can do better for less money. If the finish can survive my torture tests, it can survive anything.