XC40 is new, stylish, agile — and still Volvo-safe

March 1, 2018 by · Comments Off on XC40 is new, stylish, agile — and still Volvo-safe
Filed under: New car introductions, Autos 

Rain in Texas Hill Country caused the rivers to rise, and the Volvo XC40 never flinched.


  With snow up to our knees in Duluth, Minnesota, after a mid-February blizzard, I had two choices. I could (A) keep reviewing a half-dozen different SUVs, trucks, and AWD sedans that I have been driving to handle the snow and ice, or (B) I could escape to Austin, Texas, for the introductory media drive of the all-new Volvo XC40.

    I chose “B.”

    It was  not just to avoid the latest mid-February storm, because to go, I had to miss some really good sectional high school hockey playoff games. However, I have been waiting for about three years for Volvo to create the XC40 and to get my hands on one, and seeing it on display at the Detroit and Chicago Auto Shows, I couldn’t resist.

    Regular readers of my automotive reviews, in the Duluth Reader, or on the Newcarpicks.com website, know that my preference in SUVs is to go for the smallest one that’s big enough. Anything larger is wasted weight to haul around. Volvo has an exceptional XC90 SUV, which won Truck of the Year and outperforms larger SUVs. Volvo also has the XC60, which is a more compact midsize SUV with the same drivetrain — a sophisticated 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine either turbocharged or both supercharged and turbocharged for amazing power, while still delivering impressive fuel economy. Both also feature Volvo’s long-standing tradition of building the safest vehicles on the road.

Fresh design varies from Volvo tradition, inside and out, pushing the XC40 to the forefront of contemporary style.

   The XC40 comes along considerably more compact, and it shares in all those assets including the balanced handling and the vault-like safety structure, and the turbo 4, but it’s far from simply another downsizing exercise.

    “Usually a new vehicle is based on an existing one,” said Anders Gunnarson, Volvo’s senior design manager. “But the XC40 started fresh. It is a cousin of the XC90 andXC60, but we wanted to give it its own identity. You can see the similarities, but also the differences. The XC40 is based on our new CMA — Compact Modular Architecture.

   “Our objective was to give it three main things — expressive design, smart technology, and ingenious storage. It has true SUV proportions, with short, compact overhangs front and rear. As designers, we get inspired by things other than cars, and we chose the materials and colors for the interior carefully.

Thinner redesigned seats retain Volvo standard for support and comfort.

Clean R-Design interior adds dose of color.

We drove the “Momentum” and the “R Design” models around downtown Austin, then out west of the city into the famous Texas Hill Country, where challenging winding roads become more challenging because Texans apparently don’t think enough of shoulders to put them on the outside of their 2-lanes. Volvo also makes an upscale “Inscription” model.

    All of the XC40s can be bought with all-wheel drive, a $2,000 option on the front-wheel-drive base versions. All of the initial test cars had that impressive feature, which helps it snake around corners, and, presumably, would be an enormous benefit to those trying to scale the cliffs of Duluth in the snowstorms I left behind.

   The powertrain is another example of Volvo engineering, with a 4-cylinder engine measuring just under 2.0 liters (1.969 cubic centimeters, actually). The now-familiar aluminum Volvo 4 has direct injection and is boosted by a turbocharger in the XC40, and its power ratings are impressive: 248 horsepower at 5,500 RPMs, and 258 foot-pounds of torque with that peak ranging from 1,800-4,800 RPMs. Miraculous, what these engineers can do with a strong design, turbocharging, direct injection, and computers coordinating it all.

    An 8-speed automatic transmission is standard, and it does a very good job in the Momentum, which starts at $35,200 with all-wheel drive, although you simply put the gear lever into “D” for drive and let it go. In the sportier R Design, we had a separate sport-manual gate we could shift into for manual operation, plus it had steering wheel paddles, which convert the power and transmission from impressive SUV category to sport-sedan-like pep and fun.


The Momentum version of the XC40 comes with contrasting roof, which accentuates design.

The Momentum had 19-inch wheels, although 18-inch are the standard size on the base front-wheel-drive XC40. The R-Design my co-driver and I drove had 20-inch alloys. Designers love 20-inch wheels, because they like to draw their designs with large wheel openings, then they feel compelled to fill those openings with larger wheels than anyone needs.

    Without a doubt, larger wheels — which have thinner tire sidewalls to duplicate the smaller wheels with thicker sidewalls — make your vehicle corner shaper and have more sporty precision around curvy roads. However, they also offer less cushioning from the narrower sidewalls, and can translate into harsh feeling on rough roadways.

    I thought both XC40s we drove handled very well. MacPherson struts in front and a 4-link rear suspension with stabilizer bar kept us on the road no matter how we challenged it. And while we didn’t have anything resembling snow, we had steady rain threatening to turn into thunderstorms in, I hesitate to say, 72-degree temperature.

    Naturally, the engineering technology came from the XC90 by way of the XC60, but one thing that prevents the lighter, more agile, and sportier looking XC40 in the mid-$30,000-and-up range is that Volvo officials have deduced that while customers want SUVs, and have made the compact-crossover SUV segment the fastest growing in the industry, customers also want all the creature comforts they can find in the larger SUVs.


Enlarged navigation screen, clever stowage niches for computers and connectivity dominate the interior

Added to all those lane-departure and alerts to help you avoid accidents and physical intrusion if you still seem headed for one, the XC40 adds some specific interior tricks. Storage cubicles seem to be everywhere, and you could fit an iPad or a small laptop in form-fitted slots in the doors, and in storage drawers under the front bucket seats. There also is a build-in charge pad at the front of the console for your cellular phone.

   Open the hatch and there is a roomy storage area, and it also has ingenius features such as a rear floor that folds up to offer security for grocery bags, and there are special hooks designed to hold more bags in isolation. A hidden compartment under the rear floor panel also is standard.

R-Design adds sport features for 2.0 turbo 4, which is the perfect urban runabout, too

   Standard equipment includes LED lights, digital gauges, leather seats, lane departure warning, and off-road mitigation, which actually will do its best to prevent you from drifting off the highway.

   Those bucket seats, by the way, continue Volvo’s tradition of making simply the best, most comfortable, and most supportive seats in the industry. These are smaller and lighter, but just as comfortable.

   Optional also is a Harmon Kardon audio upgrade which has 13 speakers and enough power to light Austin and parts of Dallas. Sitting in the rear seat, the separation and clarity of this audio system is exceptional.

   After proving to myself that the XC40 lived up to the lofty standards I had set for it, all I could envision was the chance to get one for a week’s test drive in the Great White North of Minnesota. Preferably while there’s still snow to be churned through.


Chicago Show: Cars, stars…and deep-dish pizza

February 15, 2018 by · Comments Off on Chicago Show: Cars, stars…and deep-dish pizza
Filed under: New car introductions, Features, Autos 

Jim Belushi, Ford VP Mark LaNeve gave new Transit Connect the Blues Brothers treatment.


      There was a lot of talk about electric cars, hybrids, and autonomous (self-driving) vehicles, but the Chicago Auto Show best told the story of what car life in the U.S. is all about — trucks, SUVs…and more SUVs. One of the most impressive groups of new vehicles are the many midsize and compact crossovers.

    After Toyota got things going with a display of high-performing off-road “TRD” models of its Tacoma and Tundra pickups, and its 4Runner SUV, Ford introduced the new generation of its Transit Connect, a compact, work-oriented mini-truck that fits and maneuvers in tight spaces and can be outfitted however a company or individual may choose.

    To kick it off, Ford pulled a coup by having vice president Mark LaNeve call Jim Belushi to the stage, and Belushi walked out playing a harmonica and leading everyone in a spirited version of “Sweet Home, Chicago.” He intereviewed some in the audience, joked around with LaNeve, then enlisted him to join him in donning sunglasses to do a little Blues Brothers routine.

    The versatility of the Transit Connect is that it could be everything from a foot truck, to a construction workers van, to a mini fun wagon, and while it doesn’t come in all-wheel drive, it does have a couple of new engines, including a 2.0-liter direct-injected 4 and a 1.5 -liter EcoBlue diesel engine with a new 8-speed automatic.   

     The Chicago Auto Show is the largest and longest-running auto show in the country, and in the opinion of everyone who attends, it also is by far the most fun of the major domestice shows. The lively nightlife scene and legendary restaurants help that reputation. The 110th Chicago Auto Show opened with media days in a nasty blizzard that lasted a day and a half and cancelled 600 flights into and out of O’Hare Airport — and it was still fun. It opened to the public on February 10 and anyone looking for a new car can spend hours examining everything offered in showrooms across the country on the 1,000-square-foot halls in McCormick Place, as it runs through Monday, Feb. 19.

Ford never stopped building the Ranger, but this year will reintroduce it to the U.S.

   Because it is definitely a consumer-driven show, Chicago provides an ample number of vehicles that appeal to mainstream, grassroots buyers. Its media survey to pick the Family Car of the Year came in with the Honda Odyssey, the latest generation of the popular and feature-filled minivan, which beat out other valid contenders including the Volvo XC-60 SUV, a midsize version of its SUV-of-the-Year XC-90.

   There were not a lot of new introductions, after most of the debuts were spent on the Los Angeles show in November, and at Detroit in January. But there were definitely still some standouts, for the show, which got a rejuvenated restart in 1950 after the auto industry got rolling again following World War II.

   With special attractions virtually every day, the Chicago show undoubtedly will be the best-attended show, again.

   Consumers, of course, care less about the show-biz schemes than about sitting in and scrutinizing the cars.

Volkswagen is replacing its sleek CC sedan with a super-sleek new sedan called Arteon.

   Among the new vehicles being shown are the 2019 Volkswagen Arteon, a sleek sedan with coupe-like lines that VW helped popularize with the CC model, which will be replaced by the Arteon.

   A new Fiat 500 also was shown, amid an array of cars that leaned toward the exotic sports cars mostly. Hyundai was subtle, showing its just released Veloster sporty coupe, and a new Sonata, which looked a lot like the familiar Sonata, except that it cow comes with hybrid and plug-in hybrid powertrains that get improved fuel economy. The plug-in hybrid Sonata can go 27 miles on pure electric power, and Hyundai, working with fellow-South Korea electronics giant LG, offers a lifetime warranty on the electrical stuff.

   Polaris displayed its new Slingshot, an intriguing roadster that seems to be the offspring of snowmobiles, ATVs and motorcycles, all of which Polaris builds. It has two wheels up front and retains its low attitude to the narrowed single-wheel rear. As the storm outside was on its way to dropping a dozen inches of snow on the Chicago area, the Slingshot lost a little of its fair-weather appeal.

   Dazzling colors are another huge attraction at the show. Acura introduced its new-generation RDX painted a sultry dark metallic red, which allowed its many curvatures to catch every shred of light in the area. That color will be exclusive to the RDX, at least for the first year.


Unique paint is justs one feature of the redesigned Acura RDX.


Volvo’s stunning XC-90 and XC-60 SUVs are now joined by the compact XC-40.

The RDX was one of many midsize SUVs to capture the mood of what has become the largest single segment in the industry.

   Even smaller were a couple of others. At Hyundai, where the Santa Fe, Santa Fe Sport, and Tucson are stalwarts, the new Kona was displayed. It is smaller and could be a huge hit for the company once released.

   Nissan, which also has an array of SUVs big enough for its own show, had a climate-ready Snow Patrol concept of its largest Armada SUV. Moving around the display, you could find the Murano, the Pathfinder, and the Rogue, as well as the downsized Rogue Sport, which is a condensed version of the Rogue itself. Then there was something new — the Kicks, an interestingly named new compact SUV smaller than the Rogue Sport.


Hyundai offers the Kona, more compact than the Tucson.

Nissan wants compact SUV customers to get their “Kicks.”

The good news about such vehicles is that they can run easily at highway speeds and as a small-family hauler and still get outstanding fuel economy, while coming in somewhere between $20,000 and $30,000.

   Another highlight is the Volvo XC-40, the smaller model of the line that includes the larger XC-90 and midsize XC-60, both of which have met with great popularity since their recent introductions. Installing all the amazing creature features of the larger SUVs into the smaller XC-40 is no small task, you should pardon the expression, but makes the mid-$30,000 smallest model a sure hit.

   The Land Rover Discovery has matured from being the company’s entry-level vehicle to a sophisticated compact SUV that appears ready to fulfill the company’s reputation for going anywhere, on or off road.

   Subaru is celebrating its 50th anniversary of selling cars in the U.S. with special edition trim on almost everything in its line of predominately all-wheel-drive compacts. 

   Mercedes has an ever-expanding portfolio, too, with something for every price range and impressive utility vehicles that run from turbo 4-cylinder models to V6 and V8 machines, topped off by the ubiquitous AMG treatment to extract more speed and more power.

    Audi and BMW have maintained their spots in offering new sedans and also numerous utility vehicles to cover every price range and size need. Jaguar also is expanding its presence in the utility field, with several new vehicles that put Jaguar-built engines to good use, even if you don’t stay on the smooth highways.

   There also is some interesting technology, such as the new Nissan-Infiniti variable compression engines, which will be coming out in the new Infiniti Q50 first of all, but will expand as their performance tales become known. The engine doesn’t bother with varying the valve timing of its engines — something it’s already done on its other engines — but actually has the mechanical technique to alter the actual compression of the engine to control the engines. Across the display there also is the 370Zki concept sports car.

Lexus LF-1 Limitless attracted maximum attention as an SUV concept.

   Toyota had more than its TRD trucks, especially at the Lexus display, where it has a stunning blue sports coupe that is such a vibrant color the car has been named after it — the LC Structural Blue. It makes a high-tech partner to the LF-1 Limitless concept SUV-wagon, which is a major attraction. Actually, there are so many flashy Lexus vehicles on display, that a lot of people just seemed to walk by, past the Limitless.

    Battling the blizzard and cold temperature did restrict some of the partying after a long day or two at the show. We still found our way to Gino’s East, for the best deep-dish pizza I’ve ever eaten, as part of the Mazda connection with the gathered media. The crust, for the uninitiated, is made of corn meal, with a gritty, flavorful impact that made me realize I would order a pizza there — at the only place I eat deep-dish — even if they put no cheese, sauce, meats, veggies or other ingredients on it. Just me and the crust.

   Of course, I also mentioned that the Chicago show is so low-key and relaxed that if they ever decided to hold the show and didn’t fill McCormick Place with cars, the media probably would still come, just because it’s Chicago, with its good blues, good foods, and good times. And if you happen to get snowed in…well, you couldn’t pick a better city where you might get snowed in.

Cherokee altered for 2019 as mainstream winner

February 5, 2018 by · Comments Off on Cherokee altered for 2019 as mainstream winner
Filed under: New car introductions, Autos 

Completely new from the pillars forward, the 2018 Cherokee loses its unique front.


     When Jeep brought out its all-new Compass redesign a year ago, I thought Jeep might be wise to simply discontinue the Compass, because the stylishly larger Cherokee and the much larger Grand Cherokee covered the larger SUV end of the scale, the Wrangler had the rugged end blanketed, and the new, funky and popular Renegade was closing in from the smaller end.

   Shows what I know. The Compass came out for 2018 with a neat, contemporary front end, bypassing the more unique looking Cherokee to become more similar to the larger Grand Cherokee, with its seven-slot grille. While shorter, the Compass also had more interior room than the Cherokee.

   That sort of left the Cherokee hanging out to dry. When it was introduced in 2014, the Cherokee was striking in its departure from the signature look of its Jeep siblings, with a more horizontal grille topped by squinty-eyed headlights on the upper edge. My son, Jack, and I agreed it was the best-looking member of the Jeep family.

   With every imaginable nook of the SUV and CUV scope seeming to be covered, the Compass was surprising both because it is impressive even if it comes only with a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine, and for some reason, Jeep designers allowed it to have more interior room than the larger Cherokee. That’s like giving the little brother weight-training until he’s more capable than big brother.

Available in various models, including Trackhawk, for serious rock climbing.

Ah, but now we learn of Jeep’s long-range plan. With the Compass all new a a 2018 model, the next Cherokee has just been introduced as a 2019 vehicle, and invited auto media got a chance to drive it hard, on highways, bad roads, and off-road terrain a sane person might never consider driving a vehicle. In a word, the bigger and roomier Cherokee regains its rightful slot as being just under the Grand Cherokee, and more capable than the Renegade, Wrangler or Compass, if you count everyday highway driving and family duties as a prime consideration.

   The new Cherokee uses the 2.4, which is the only engine in the Compass, but it also gets the impressive 3.2-liter V6 for optimum towing capability. The prize of the litter, in my opinion, is the new-design 2.0-liter 4-cylinder, which is an amazingly potent little powerplant that already is enjoying a strong start to its heritage. It is the same engine used by the all-new Wrangler, which is still the company’s over-achieving all-terrain champ. But in the Cherokee, the 2.0 pushes it to the front of the class, even against the Grand Cherokee for real-world use.

   And all the Cherokee had to sacrifice to carve its new niche was its look of uniqueness. I’m sorry to see the squinty-eyed lights go away, and I’m a little disappointed to see Cherokee’s styling leave being unique behind for a return to the family focus of vertical seven-slot grille with nests of LED lights enclosed in a single pod on either side of the new grille.

   But I will give it this: No matter how much you like the current Cherokee styling, once you’re inside, driving or riding, you don’t even think of how the exterior of your vehicle looks. The inside of the Cherokee has grown up a bit, to reclaim the volume that puts it in its rightful place above the upstart Compass — even though I now think the Cherokee and Compass look remarkably similar. To be annoying, I asked various Jeep executives which they’re rather have now as a family utility, and most of them had trouble choosing.


Cherokee retains smooth on-road performance and offers three engine choices.

The official stance on the Cherokee was made by Scott Tallon, director of Jeep brand, who said, “In 2014, the Cherokee came out with a bold design, and the 2019 builds on that.”

   No, it departs from it. But that’s OK. Mainly because the new Cherokee’s heart and soul rises to new heights. It took a bit of probing conversations with chief engineer Paul Smith and Cherokee line engineer Mike Downey to get most of the information. FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) uses a very neat 2.4 engine designed by Hyundai in South Korea, and it uses some slick induction tricks from parent company Fiat’s Alfa Romeo branch.

   When they said the 2.0 was a clean-sheet design by Chrysler engineers in Auburn Hills, Mich., I pressed on. Reluctantly, they said this Cherokee/Wrangler 2.0 is basically the same engine as used by the amazing new Alfa Romeo Giulia sedan — Motor Trend’s Car of the Year, and also the choice of NewCarPicks.com. I suggested that the Jeep folks shouldn’t be shy about boasting that the engine is shared with such an illustrious car.

   Checking further on a discrepancy I found in the power output of the engine, I got a callback from Trevor Dorchies, communications manager for the Wrangler, as well as the Grand Cherokee, Dodge Durango and Journey. “The 2.0 was actually designed and built by us in Auburn Hills,” Dorchies explained. “The arrangement was that we would supply it to Alfa for the Giulia first, and then use it in the Wrangler and Cherokee.”

   Amazing! Alfa Romeo tinkers with the engine a bit, using its MultiAir system to activate the intake valves instead of an intake valve camshaft. On this side of the pond, Jeep uses dual overhead cams on the 2.0’s four valves per cylinder and direct injection. It puts out 270 horsepower at 5,250 RPMs and 295 foot-pounds of torque from 3,000-4,500 RPMs.


The gem is a new 2.0-liter turbocharged 4, with power, zip and fuel mileage best of the batch.

For easy everyday driving, the 2.4 supplies an adequate 180 horsepower and 171 foot-pounds of torque. For towing heavy things, the Cherokee can be fitted with the 3.2-liter derivative of the proven 3.6 Pentastar, and it has 271 horsepower and 239 foot-pounds of torque.

   Think about it. The V6 has 271 horses to the 2.0 turbo 4’s 270, and the 2.0 turbo actually out-torques the V6 295-239. It may not have as much outright towing capability, but it has to be quicker and, if you can keep your feet from getting too far into the turbo, you probably could get better fuel economy.

   On the road, the new Cherokee is refined and smooth, continuing the recent trend where Jeep upgrades every facet of its vehicles with each model change. We drove hard around the twisty turns of the mountains leading up from Westlake Village, missing the areas recently damaged so badly by the wildfires, until we got to Canyon Ranch, an expansive piece of ground up in the mountains. We know that California’s coastland can be hit by wildfires, mudslides, floods from rare but sudden rainstorms, and even earthquakes. This time, we learned a new one — the nav screen surprised us with a warning for a tsunami that could cause the Pacific Ocean to flood inland>

     We were safe up at the ranch, which Jeep has used numerous times in the past, and on which Jeep folks have traced some amazingly challenging off-road driving courses. We took our turns climbing aboard the Trailhawk versions of the new Cherokee, and they have spotters out there, to make sure we believe we’re supposed to climb those rocks and get past those deeply rutted, boulder-filled regions.

Overland model offers sumptuous leather seats in the redone Cherokee interior.

   You can pick your capability at order time, going with the basic Latitude, Latitude Plus, Limited, or Overland, with the heavy-duty-equipped Trailhawk at the top of the pecking order. All of those can be bought with either rear-wheel drive or 4×4, except for the Trailhawk, which comes only in 4×4 to complete its mountain-goat capabilities.

    You can choose engines, and with any of the three you get the 9-speed automatic tuned to handle all duties. The 2.0 turbo is not available in the base Latitude and is optional on all the other models. Typical of Jeep, you also can choose what off-road system you want, including System III with Active Drive I, Touring, which as Active Drive II, or rear-lock which is Active Drive III.

   Prices range from the Latitude 4×2 $24,990, to the Latitude Plus at $27,490, Limited at $31,370, Overland at $37,270, and the Trailhawk at $34,315. It costs another $1,500 to add 4×4 — and, frankly, what red-blooded Jeep customer would not want 4×4?

Trackhawk’s hill-descent control allows Cherokee to tiptoe down virtual cliffs with ease.

  All the latest connectivity stuff is either standard or available, and the headlight and tail lights are LED, as are the daytime running lights. The 2019 Cherokee is all new from the front pillars forward, with aluminum hood, new fenders, and the different nose. A capless fuel door, and a composite liftgate are standrad,, and either a 7 or 8.4 inch navigation screen. While the dashboard, console and instruments are a major step forward, there are also little touches, such as the tailgate, which swings up if you have the key fob on your person, and you wave your foot under the rear bumper. Others have had this, and if you’re approaching with four grocery bags in your arms, you appreciate the convenience of the “kick wave” device, for not having to set them down in 6 inches of snow while you grapple for your keys.

   The new Cherokee is 182 inches long (to 175.1 for the Compass), with a wheelbase of 107 inches (to 103.7), and it’s 73.2 inches wide (to 71.4), with a height of 65.7 (to 65). It also has a 4,000 pound towing capacity, or 4,500 with the V6. All of that should allow the new Cherokee to climb back ahead of the new Compass and regain its rightful place in the Jeep family.



Light on new cars, Detroit show features trucks

January 19, 2018 by · Comments Off on Light on new cars, Detroit show features trucks
Filed under: New car introductions, Features, Autos 

Unveiling of 2019 Ram 1500 with much more refined look earned Best in Show from Cars.com.

By John Gilbert

DETROIT, Michigan

    Call it “Auto Show Light,” but the North American International Auto Show, formerly known simply as the Detroit Auto Show, seems to have gone on a diet, as the latest example of how the automotive world is changing. Swamped by the consumer tide of sports-utility vehicles rising above and beyond mere cars, much in the way the nation’s most prestigious auto show has added words in hopes of adding prestige to its name.

   While spectacular new cars were fewer, there certainly were still some compelling introductions during the annual press previews on Monday and Tuesday, January 15-16, with the public show following through the following two weekends. But trucks had the upper hand.


Ram trades its all-out macho look for refinement for 2019.

Completely redone Ram interior features huge center info screen.

Ram rolled out an impressive new 1500 pickup truck, with the massive, macho facade replaced by a far more refined grille and completely redone interior, with a giant vertical navigation/information screen about the size of a full-size iPad.

    The new rounded-off look is a departure, and it was interesting that the new Ram won “Best in Show” from the respected auto website cars.com, and perhaps it was verification of how few new cars there were, since the Los Angeles Show in November, that pickups won several awards.


Reintroduction of the Ford Ranger midsize pickup was a Detroit feature.

Ford offered a hybrid version of its new F150 pickup and made big news affirming the much-rumored return of the midsize Ranger pickup, which not only was a highlight of the show, but was a co-dominating model alongside a couple of new Mustang versions.

   Honda’s Acura luxury division called it a concept, but the new generation of the RDX compact SUV made a strong impression, as trucks and trucklings dominated. Also, there were a number of concept vehicles — including one each from Nissan and its upscale Infiniti brand — and Toyota’s Lexus also showed a concept sporty SUV. Read more

Always-safe Volvos add style, technology for 2018

September 21, 2017 by · Comments Off on Always-safe Volvos add style, technology for 2018
Filed under: New car introductions, Features, Autos 

Thor’s Hammer light design, familiar grille denote new-breed Volvos.

By John Gilbert


   As members of the car-buying public, we’ve spent our lifetimes compromising when it comes to car-buying. We might want something sporty, great looking, and quick, but we also have families who require that our first choice becomes solid, roomy and safe. We’ve also watched as most companies tried to make their cars as attractive as possible, then added stuff on in hopes of making them safer.

   Because of all that, and what we’ve observed, and the small portions that we’ve learned, you’ve got to hand it to Volvo, which seems to have gotten to the sweet spot in the compromise by sticking to safety and letting stuff like luxury, attractiveness and performance come along at its own, leisurely pace. From my vantage point, it appears Volvo has found the hot button. My favorite, for now, is the new 2018 QX60, a compact, midsize SUV that does everything I could ever want in a vehicle.

   The 2018 array of models coming out with Volvo’s vehicles, with their slashed bar over the grille and “Thor’s Hammer” headlight design, come as close as it gets to being all things to all people. For a price, of course. Such quality and built-in safety and technology don’t come cheap. The S90 runs from $49,195 in base T5 Momentum form up to nearly $70,000 in loaded T8 all-wheel-drive top trim. The V90 ranges from $50,000 to $53,000 coming only with front-wheel drive. And the XC60 starts at $42,495 for the Momentum, $45,900 for the R-Design, and $46,300 for the Inscription, and all XC60s come with all-wheel drive.


Lighter and more agile than the larger XC90, Volvo’s new XC60 gets the same drivetrain.

  Once a Swedish company that made rock-solid safe cars, then a Ford affiliate that made safer cars for different reasons, and now a Swedish company owned by a Chinese conglomerate that is making cars that fulfill every angle of every car compromise, Volvo has kept its eye on its own, stubborn target. Under the financial umbrella of Geely, Volvo is still headquartered in Gothenberg, Sweden, but it now makes some vehicles in China — where it is sure to be a huge seller — and is also building a state-of-the-art factory in the U.S. Read more

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