Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

First Drive: 2019 Volvo V60

New midsize wagon offers luxury and comfort with Volvo safety.

by on Oct.16, 2018

The new Volvo V60 offers stereotypical Volvo safety with plenty of performance and luxury.

Selling station wagons to American motorists has been an uphill battle, maybe even tougher than selling ice in Alaska given the pace of climate change.

But Volvo, which throughout the years has made its share of iconic station wagons, is launching a new one, the V60, into the teeth of the onslaught of utility vehicles that has nearly wiped out the entire segment.

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The second-generation Volvo V60 is an impressive vehicle that demands attention even in face of the tsunami of new SUVs that boosted motorists of all backgrounds into the command seating positions. The V60 is handsome, nicely balanced and very well-equipped with some of the latest technology and safety features, such as a new system that can mitigate the force of a head-on collision.  (more…)

First Drive: 2019 Volvo S60

Stylish, sporty and, of course, loaded with the latest safety features.

by on Oct.15, 2018

The 2019 Volvo S60 R-Design features a 400-hp plug-in hybrid drivetrain.

It wasn’t all that long ago that we began to wonder if the Swedish auto industry was headed for Valhalla. After all, the long-troubled Saab brand collapsed during the global economic downturn at the beginning of the decade, despite several rescue attempts.

And, after struggling to turn things around at Volvo, Ford decided to sell that brand off to the Chinese. What seemed like a questionable move turned into salvation as Volvo’s new owner, Zhejiang Geely, decided to pump billions of dollars into the development of an all-new product design and a radical shift in direction on the powertrain front.

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With Geely’s support, in fact, few brands have done more to transform their image than Volvo. Long known for safe but boring wagons and sedans, the Swedish automaker now offers one of the freshest and sexiest line-ups in the near and mid-luxury market, and the all-new 2019 Volvo S60 is the latest, welcome addition to the model mix. (more…)

New Chevy Silverado Turbo-Four Nabs Top Mileage Rating

For many truck buyers, mileage matters as much as payload, towing.

by on Oct.10, 2018

The 2019 Chevrolet Silverado will get up to 20 mpg in the city with the new turbo-four engine.

Who says pickup buyers only focus on power, payload and towing capacity? Operating costs are, for many customers – and especially those operating truck fleets – one of the most important factors they consider when choosing what model to buy.

That includes service and repairs, of course, but fuel costs are one of the biggest concerns, which is a key reason why automakers have been offering buyers a growing range of alternatives to the classic, big displacement V-8s that long dominated the full-size pickup segment.

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Chevrolet is hoping it will score a hit with potential buyers with the new, 2.7-liter turbocharged engine it is adding to its powertrain option list for the all-new 2019 Silverado. While not quite up to the numbers delivered by some of the diesel engines now available in the full-size segment, Chevy’s turbo-four nabs a tie as the most fuel-efficient gas engine available for U.S. buyers.

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First Drive: 2019 Ford Edge ST

Automaker creates its fastest SUV ever.

by on Oct.09, 2018

Ford is looking to pump some excitement into its midsize SUV with an ST performance package.

Ford Motor Co. has offered, sometimes with minimal fanfare, a wide variety of very impressive performance vehicles that have turned some relatively sedate vehicles into something else for enthusiastic fans in Europe, North America and China.

Now Ford is offering the first SUV from its performance team — the 2019 Ford Edge ST, which is powered by a 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6 engine that has been calibrated to produce 335 horsepower and 380 foot-pounds of torque with the help of an all-new 8-speed transmission. Ford also says it is capable of going from zero to 60 in less than six seconds making it the quickest SUV ever put on the road by Ford.

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The 2019 Edge ST is also equipped with all-wheel drive disconnect. The technology, a first for Ford, uses information received from dozens of sensors and artificial intelligence to determine within milliseconds whether all-wheel drive is needed, and then seamlessly shift between FWD and AWD without the need for driver input to save fuel. (more…)

First Drive: 2019 Ford Edge

New model gets an exterior update and new safety tech.

by on Oct.05, 2018

The 2019 Ford Edge looks to keep the automaker at the forefront of the sport-utility segment.

The Ford Motor Co. has long been at the forefront of transforming the United States into a nation of SUV drivers, going all the way back to the introduction of the Ford Explorer in 1990.

I suspect Ford is already preparing to party like it’s the 1990s by launching a 30th Anniversary version of Explorer in 2020. But it is also steadily upgrading the rest of its growing portfolio of SUVs and crossovers with the launch of the 2019 Ford Edge, which gets an impressive list of updates to driveline, suspension and safety equipment for the new model year.

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Sandwiched as it is between the popular Ford Escape and the Explorer, the two-row Edge sells reasonably well – roughly 140,000 units last year – and Ford is betting new features will make it standout more in a crowded corner of the new vehicle market. (more…)

First Drive: 2019 Nissan Altima

One very good reason why the sedan isn’t ready to die.

by on Sep.28, 2018

For 2019, the new Nissan Altima will be offered in a heavily equipped First Edition trim.

The sedan is dead. Long live the sedan. Or so goes what currently passes for conventional wisdom, backed by the decision to slash the number of four-door models, indeed, eliminate them entirely at Ford Motor Co.

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But I have seen the future and it is not an entirely SUV and CUV-driven world. If the complete makeover that is the 2019 Nissan Altima is any indication, there’s a clear place for sedans for the foreseeable future. And among the many new features that would seem to make the Altima a natural alternative for Snowbelt buyers who might really want a more conventional set of wheels: Altima marks the first time Nissan is offering all-wheel-drive in one of its sedans. That is, in fact, a relatively rare feature among mainstream four-doors, and not available on segment leaders Toyota Camry and Honda Accord.

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First Drive: 2019 BMW X5

A crossover by any other name: a worthy successor to mark the X5's 20th anniversary.

by on Sep.27, 2018

BMW will offer three versions of the 2019 X5, including a plug-in hybrid to come later in the year.

Few new models have done more to redefine a brand – indeed, to help transform the auto business overall – like the BMW X5. But there were plenty of doubters when the Bavarian automaker first announced plans to add a sport-utility vehicle to its line-up back in the late 1990s.

Even BMW seemed to have some doubts, deciding to call the new line a “Sport-Activity Vehicle,” rather than an SUV. But those concerns were quickly forgotten, demand for the midsize ute taking off from almost the moment the first X5 rolled out of BMW’s then-new assembly plant in Spartanburg South Carolina in 1999. The first generation alone generated more than 600,000 sales and, with production of the third-gen X5 now winding down, that’s jumped to more than 2.1 million.

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These days, BMW offers a full range of Sport-Activity Vehicles, from the little X1 all the way up to the new X7 set to launch next year as a crossover alternative to the brand’s traditional flagship, the 7-Series. But much like the 5-Series sedan, the X5 remains a lynchpin of that line-up, meant to combine both the utility of a crossover and the performance of a classic BMW sedan.

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First Drive: 2019 Subaru Forester

Automaker continues to better this quirky classic crossover.

by on Sep.26, 2018

The 2019 Subaru Forester continues the brand's leadership in the can-do crossover segment.

The variety of utility vehicles has exploded in recent years and appears certain to grow exponentially for foreseeable future.

Manufacturers are moving quickly to cash in on the consumer interest in vehicles that might not have a lot of charm or sex appeal but are practical for life in a world that has become much more complex.

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One of the automakers that has deftly capitalized on the trend, of course, is Subaru. Subaru sells interesting passenger cars and has built a strong reputation for building safe vehicles. But it is the strength of utility vehicle line that has helped the brand record, as of the end of August, 81 consecutive months of year-over-year sales increases. (more…)

First Drive: 2019 Kia Forte

Ready to compete with small-car standbys: Civic, Corolla, Cruze

by on Sep.18, 2018

Despite the segment shrinking, Kia is plowing ahead with small cars with an all-new 2019 Forte sedan.

Given, the popularity of sport-utility vehicles, crossovers and pickup trucks, selling the traditional small car in the U.S. has become a very tough gig as evidenced by Ford giving up on cars and the Volkswagen Beetle is going away.

Meanwhile, cars such as the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla and Chevrolet Cruze have gotten better and offer an increasing number of features that shoppers in this segment could only dream about as recently as five years ago

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But that hasn’t discouraged Kia, which is launching an updated version of the compact third-generation Kia Forte this fall. Kia has built its reputation by building smart, stylish small vehicles and now has great ratings from J.D. Power’s critical initial quality survey to assure first-time buyers. (more…)

First Drive: 2019 Cadillac XT4

This "tweener" has a lot going for it.

by on Sep.17, 2018

The 2019 Cadillac XT4 gets is own platform as well as unique 2.0-liter turbo engine and 9-speed auto.

Its been more than a decade since Cadillac introduced its CTS sedan and Art & Science design language, setting into motion what was supposed to be the revival of a brand long known as “the standard of the world.” Things haven’t gone quite as expected, however.

On the side, Caddy is expecting to rack up record sales this year, largely the result of the booming Chinese market. But, back home, the turnaround has been dragging, in large part because the brand has been significantly out of sync with the market. Even as it rolled out a procession of new sedans and coupes, American buyers by the millions have migrated to SUVs and CUVs. That’s been all the more apparent in the luxury segment where BMW, for one, has filled in practically every gap with crossovers ranging from the X1 to X7, and even more to follow.

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Caddy has been struggling to shift directions. It’s largely gotten out of the coupe market and will soon drop the compact ATS, consolidating its sedan family. More importantly, it is finally beginning to flesh out its crossover line-up with the launch of the new 2019 Cadillac XT4. The compact CUV joins the bigger XT5 model introduced in 2016, as well as the Caddy’s utility vehicle flagship, the full-size Escalade. (more…)