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2021 Volvo V60 Cross Country - Driven

2021 Volvo V60 Cross Country - Driven

Can a station wagon survive an SUV world?

It’s almost ancient history now, but the Volvo station wagon spent years as a staple of upscale families. Luxurious without being ostentatious, known for its safety, and able to carry plenty of cargo, it was a fixture at field hockey practice — at least until SUVs took over that mantle. Even in the Volvo lineup, the station wagon is an afterthought next to the XC40, XC60, and XC90 crossovers.

But is that because SUVs are better than station wagons? Or are wagons unfairly overlooked and deserving of more attention? Volvo does still sell two wagons: the compact V60 and the midsize V90. We spent a week with the Volvo V60 Cross Country to see what a Volvo station wagon has to offer in this decade.

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Volvo Cars and Trucks Will Gossip About Road Hazards

Volvo Cars and Trucks Will Gossip About Road Hazards

It’s a big step in connected car safety

Volvo is rolling out a new cloud-based service called “Connected Safety” that will let Volvo cars and trucks talk with one another to alert each other of hazardous traffic situations. Connected Safety will roll out this year in Sweden and Norway and builds upon the cloud service already available to Volvo cars that are connected to the cloud. That system allows 2016 and new Volvos to alert other connected Volvos when cars around them have their hazard lights switched on. When Volvo turns on this feature for its big trucks, it will allow the system cover a wider area, identify more hazards, and (assumingly, of course) improve overall safety traffic.

Volvo could eventually expand the system to include other safety-enhancing functions like warning of slippery roads, various road hazards, accidents, slower traffic, etc. It’s even possible that other automakers could opt into the service, allowing even a larger area and more vehicles to make use of the service. Of course, Volvo isn’t the only automaker that has made strides in this department and, as connected infrastructure continues to develop, we’ll see more and more of this to the point that’s we may very well know what’s around every curve or corner before we ever get there.

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2017 Volvo S90 Inscription – Driven

2017 Volvo S90 Inscription – Driven

Luxury from the land of Sweden

Volvo has been around for 90 years and made some pretty impressive vehicles. I’d dare to say the S90 Inscription has eclipsed them all. Let me back up. Volvo’s new quest for dominance in the luxury segment has yielded two very impressive results – the second-generation XC90 SUV that debuted for the 2015 model year and the new-for-2017 S90 sedan. They both share a number on components, from the T5 and T6 four-cylinder engines to the chassis architecture. Best of all, they both share a similar design style that exudes a sense of reserved affluence.

I recently spent a week with the 2017 Volvo S90 fitted with the range-topping Inscription package and several high-end options. Though the S90 carries a base price in the mid $40,000 range, my tester felt like it cost double that, though somehow it didn’t. A rich interior is key in this positive deception, with padded leather, open pour wood accents, and aluminum trim pieces covering every inch of touchable space inside the cabin. What little plastic remains is high-quality and coated in a piano black finish.

Technology also abounds in this machine. An impressive infotainment system and digital gauge cluster further perpetuate the feeling of luxury and its merger with technology. The T6 powertrain is a marvel of modern internal-combustion engine design. And of course, a slew of active and passive safety systems continue proving Volvo remains a leader in vehicle safety.

So what’s it like to live with the S90? Keep reading for the full details.

Continue reading for the full driven review.

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Technical Spotlight: Volvo's T6 Four-Cylinder

Technical Spotlight: Volvo’s T6 Four-Cylinder

It’s both supercharged and turbocharged

Volvo might be best known for safety, but its recent advancements in powertrain technology might compete for recognition. The new T6 four-cylinder is a technological marvel that combines both turbocharging and supercharging to provide a powerful yet fuel efficient engine that pulls like a strong V-6 or mild V-8 while still achieving an EPA-estimated 31 mpg on the highway in the 4,037-pound, AWD luxury sedan known as the S90.

The T6 builds off the foundation laid in the turbocharged T5 four-cylinder, but adds the belt-driven, roots-style supercharger. This is no ordinary blower, though. It uses an electromagnetic clutch within the supercharger’s nose cone that automatically and seamlessly disengages the compressor screws from the belt drive when the engine revs beyond 3,500 rpm. The reason being – superchargers deliver power best at lower engine seeds, but loose grunt higher in the power band. That’s why Volvo employs both a styles of forced induction.

Unlike the supercharger that supplies instant boost down low, the turbocharger works best at higher engine speeds and takes a few milliseconds to make boost. Volvo engineers eliminate any turbo lag by allowing the turbo to begin generating boost at the supercharger is taken offline. The transfer of boost is so seamless the 2.0-liter four-cylinder doesn’t even feel like it employs such whiz-bang witchcraft. It just supplies smooth power at nearly every rpm.

Volvo’s technical specifications say the all-aluminum, direct-injected engine generates 316 horsepower at 5,700 rpm and 295 pound-feet of torque at 2,200 rpm. Variable valve timing on both intake and exhaust ports further help the cause, while more efficiency is squeezed from the T6 thanks to a variable pressure oil pump and electrically driven water pump. Helping keep temperatures in check is a double water jacket design within the cylinder head, allowing more coolant to flow around the ports.

Volvo calls the T6 a “high-feature” engine, but we’d say that’s a gross understatement. Wards Auto thought so too, awarding the T6 with a 10-Best Engine Award for 2016. Volvo S90 customers should note the T6 does require premium fuel, but in the grand scheme, seems like a fair tradeoff for such smooth power in every inch of its 6,500 rpm range. My experience so far has netted a 26.1 mpg combined average, which is above the 25-mpg estimate from the EPA. My tester is estimated to get 22 mpg in town. Not bad; not bad at all.

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The Impeccable Interior of the 2017 Volvo S90

The Impeccable Interior of the 2017 Volvo S90

Volvo rivals the best in luxury car refinements

It might not come as a surprise, but Volvo has been producing some of the finest automotive interiors in the last couple of years. Both the new XC90 SUV and S90 sedan have astoundingly beautiful cabins with the impressive levels of craftsmanship and quality. Well, this week I’ve gotten to experience the S90 Inscription’s interior first hand.

My tester comes decked out with hoards of features and passenger comforts thanks to the optional Inscription package. The Blonde Perforated Nappa Leather seating with charcoal accents throughout the cabin, along with the Linear Walnut wood trim give the Volvo a highbrow, yet not ostentatious feel that’s not often replicated in the industry. What’s more, the impressive fit and finish of the cabin is impeccable. The detailing and tight panel gaps greatly further the feeling of futuristic artisanry. The metallic trim work covering the Bowers & Wilkins premium sound system’s speakers and following the curvature of the Walnut is purely tasteful. It perfectly fits within the dash and door panels as if the entire assembly was machined from a single piece. In reality, the metal piece that spans from the steering wheel to the passenger’s door is a single piece, bent to curve under the infotainment system.

Everything is covered in soft-touch leather, and what isn’t is Walnut or metal. Barely any plastics make it to the driver’s fingertips. The leather along the armrests is padded for extra comfort. And speaking of padding, the front seats are incredibly well designed with adjustable side bolsters, lumbar, and front leg support. Of course, the standard fore and aft, height, and backrest are power-adjustable, as well. All the leather bits are stitched together with the contrasting thread for a savory appearance.

Adding to the air of luxury and refinement are the in-dash electronics. The driver’s gauge cluster is fully digital and allows for personalization of visible information. It also features an analog and digital style speedometer. The head-up display also gives a speed reading. Then there is the center infotainment system. It appears that Volvo simply installed an Apple iPad into the dash. That’s not a bad thing, of course, as the screen boasts a high resolution and responds to all the usual fingertip commands – and with a familiar light touch of an iPad or iPhone. Normally I don’t like HVAC controls included within the infotainment system, but Volvo’s dedicated placement of the dual-zone climate controls across the bottom of the screen makes for a good user experience.

The rear seats aren’t quite Mercedes-Maybach in comfort, but they are close. More than ample legroom lets even NBA-sized folks get comfy. A center armrest provides a padded platform on par with those up front. Manual window shades help keep the sun and paparazzi away from those riding in back.

All told, the 2017 Volvo S90 is incredibly comfortable and outstandingly well put together. This new chapter in Volvo’s illustrious history is sure to be fondly remembered.

Stick around for more on the 2017 Volvo S90 in the days to come.

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The 2016 Truck Rodeo: The Full Results

The 2016 Truck Rodeo: The Full Results

The nitty-gritty on the 70-plus vehicles at TAWA’s Truck Rodeo

By now you’ve probably read how the 2017 Ford Super Duty was crowned the Truck of Texas and that the 2017 Nissan Armada won the SUV of Texas. But the Super Duty and Armada were far from the only winners at this year’s Truck Rodeo put on by the Texas Auto Writers Association.

More than 70 journalists and social media influencers descended upon the 1,623-acre Longhorn River Ranch in Dripping Springs, Texas to test approximately 71 pickup trucks, SUVs, crossovers, and commercial vehicles in TAWA’s annual event.

A total of 17 categories grouped the vehicles with their competition, ranging from compact crossovers and full-size SUVs to Off-Road pickups. Other categories included best connectivity, best technology, and best powertrain.

Keep reading for the full results.

Continue reading for more information.

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TopSpeed's Top 5 Premium Wagons – 2017 Edition

TopSpeed’s Top 5 Premium Wagons – 2017 Edition

Polished, practical, and maybe even a little sexy

At this point, it should be more than obvious that if you want a car with utility and space for at least five people, but don’t wanna join the crowd of crossovers you see crammed onto the roads, your best option is to get your hands on a wagon. Once a steadfast bastion of the practical, wagons have seen a sharp decline in popularity over the last few decades, the result of an all-out assault from the tall-bodied insanity of the current SUV craze. But fear not – the wagon hasn’t gone gently into that good night, at least not yet, and we’ve assembled five top-shelf options right here for your perusal and approval.

Rather than limiting ourselves to what’s currently available, we decided to look ahead in anticipation of what’ll be in dealers in the next year or so, including both existing offerings and those that have yet to be released. As it turns out, there are a few very strong entries barreling down the pipeline right now, which means buyers will have a nice selection of premium wagons when shopping in 2017.

So what’s topping the menu? Read on to find out.

Continue reading to learn more about TopSpeed’s Top 5 Premium Wagons for 2017.

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