Volvo Is in the Sweet Spot Volvo’s XC60 is just the right car for the times—if you can afford it. With fresh, attractive looks, a premium interior and available plug-in hybrid powertrain, it does everything right. While Volvo is known for its sturdy sedans and wagons, the Swedish brand—now Chinese owned—has done very well with its crossovers. The midsize 2018 Volvo XC60 sits between the larger XC90 and brand-new XC40 compact. That makes it ideal for a family of five. The 2018 Volvo XC60 is the middle child among Volvo’s crossovers Pick from three levels—the “base” Momentum, the performance-oriented R-Design, and the top-level Inscription. Each level comes well equipped, but you get more as you move up. The Top Level Model My Crystal White Metallic 2018 Volvo XC60 tester had the Inscription package ($3,800). It adds chrome on the grille, side trim and tailpipes. Inside, driftwood accents enhance the “tailored” dashboard. You … [Read more...] about Road Test: 2018 Volvo XC60 T8 E-AWD
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A Primer on Hybrid Battery Care When the first gasoline-electric hybrids vehicles began arriving in 1999 and 2000, early adopters did their research and were quite knowledgeable about the then-new and revolutionary transportation mode. But the mass market was confused; these new cars had an additional battery to provide electricity to an electric motor. For the uninformed, the question was: Does the battery need to be plugged in to be charged? When hybrids appeared most used nickel-metal-hydride batteries This question was such a big roadblock for increasing sales that Toyota began an advertising campaign for the Prius that clearly emphasized that plugging in was not necessary. Just occasionally fill up the gas tank and drive away. Fast-forward about 10 years and a new type of hybrid came on the scene—the plug-in hybrid, and it does require plugging in to charge the onboard battery to maximize efficiency (without plugging in it functions like a normal hybrid). So, what’s … [Read more...] about Tech: How Do Hybrid Batteries Recharge?
The C30 Polestar concept was everything Volvo’s little fun-hatch should have been, with all-wheel-drive and 405 horsepower. But the car buying public only ever got the front-wheel-drive C30, even when Polestar tuned it up. That is, unless you took matters into your own hands and Frankenstein’d an all-wheel-drive C30 from the Volvo parts bin. Polestar Performance’s concept C30 was the starting-off point for Travis Morgan’s epic C30 build. The concept car made a big splash when it first came out, with a K26 turbo, Haldex all-wheel-drive system and a more aggressive bodykit that took it from “that one car from the butt-awful Twilight movie” to ultra-hot-hatch territory. In 2013, Morgan asked the C30 Crew forums—a forum he started—if an all-wheel-drive swap was even possible. The biggest problem everyone brought up is that what Polestar did to fool the ECU into working with the all-wheel-drive system would never be road-legal, as Morgan … [Read more...] about These Crazy Volvo Fans Built The AWD Polestar C30 We Always Deserved
A Compact Go-Anywhere Package The 2017 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen is a bit of what one cartoon character used to call a “way-back” machine. While a completely contemporary automobile, the SportWagen has the capability of taking me back in time to another era. Compact outside, spacious inside, ready to hit the road Station wagons are a bit of a time warp for a reviewer my age (i.e., baby boomer). We grew up with them in the day before minivans, SUVs and crossovers. They were the multi-purpose vehicle capable of hauling the family, a week’s worth of groceries and all of the camping gear and luggage needed for two vacation weeks on the road. The same characteristics continue to drive the popularly of Swiss Army knife-type vehicles like the station wagon. It’s differentiated from its more “modern” successors by one main attribute—sedan-like ride height. In turn, that brings more sedan-like handling, driving characteristics and fuel economy with … [Read more...] about Road Test: 2017 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen TSI S 4Motion
The challenges of bringing self-driving cars to market have been a topic de rigueur at automotive conferences in recent years, but panelists at this year's 2018 Automotive Forum wrestled with a different challenge in the wake of a self-driving Uber hitting and killing a pedestrian. Experts spoke at the forum — an event hosted by J.D. Power and Associates and the National Automobile Dealers Association on the eve of the 2018 New York International Auto Show — after federal regulators spent a week combing the crash site in Tempe, Ariz. Related: Uber Self-Driving Death Could Have Long-Term Impact on Autonomous Cars As panelists grappled with self-driving advancements and the loss of human life, two themes became clear: We need to learn more about the full circumstances of the Uber crash and the tragedy underscores the need for technology companies to move with caution. More Details Needed Bill Fay, executive vice president at Toyota's North American arm, called the … [Read more...] about Industry Cautiously Pushing Ahead After Uber Self-Driving Crash