The first-phase of the ground up revamp of the entire Volvo product portfolio is nearing completion. Like most brands, Volvo has shifted heavily toward utility vehicles such as the midsize and large XC60 and XC90 as well as the slightly higher riding car variants like the V90 Cross-country. This year Volvo finally has an entry in the fast growing compact utility segment as well with the new XC40 and it has a lot to recommend it.
Over the history of the automobile, we’ve come up with a wide variety of descriptors that immediately give us a pretty solid idea of the type of vehicle being discussed. When we here pickup, station wagon or minivan, we largely know what to expect. But ever since marketers coined the term crossover utility vehicle sometime probably in the early 1990s, it has come to encompass such a broad array of designs so as to become essentially meaningless. A current prime example of that is the 2018 Toyota C-HR.
Twelve years ago when I first started writing professionally about cars, the very first review I ever wrote for AutoblogGreen was a fuel cell electric car, the Ford Focus FCV. In the years since I’ve had the opportunity to drive a number of different concept, prototype and production fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV) from Ford, GM, Honda and Toyota. While the technology has absolutely advanced over that time, all of them have had some compromises. Until now that is. Aside from the obviously limited network of hydrogen filling stations, the 2019 Hyundai Nexo felt like the most finished fuel cell vehicle yet.
From time to time, certain vehicles come along that attain an iconic status to such a degree that not only does the model stay in production for decades, but even the fundamentals of the basic design are retained even as the mechanicals evolve. The Porsche 911, the Volkswagen Beetle, the Mini and of course the Jeep Wrangler. For 2018, the Wrangler with its updated internal code of JL is all-new and yet it remains as ever a direct descendent of the utility vehicles utilized by the U.S. Army beginning in 1941.
Last Sunday I got to hang out with Leo Laporte as we checked out the redesigned 2018 Nissan Leaf for episode 134 of The New Screen Savers
Technological innovation is nothing new to the brand with the three-pointed star. Ever since Karl Benz drove his Patent Motorwagen for the first time more than 130 years ago, Mercedes-Benz has been a technological pioneer. Along with pioneering engine technologies like diesel and direct injection, active safety has been at the heart of the brand. From the debut of the first electronic anti-lock brakes in 1978, the Mercedes-Benz S-class has consistently been the launch platform for these technologies and the 2018 edition takes another step closer to automated driving. After a week in the refreshed S560, I have to ask, is this a step in the right direction?
Ok, let’s immediately deal with the elephant in the room. The Toyota Prius Prime is not an attractive vehicle. In fact, to my eyes, it’s quite homely. Now that we have that out of the way, I’ll leave the aesthetic judgements to your own tastes and move on to how Toyota’s sophomore effort at a plug-in version of its icon works. While the first-generation Prius PHV was a bit of a swing and a miss, the functionality this time is in most respects a home run.
Sam was lucky enough to get an offer to spend a weekend with the Acura NSX. A full review is coming soon, but here’s a few pics.
It’s been just over four decades since the modern hot hatch was born with debut of the original Volkswagen Golf GTI. In the intervening years, most other automakers have produced higher performance versions of their compact cars but since the turn of the century a new class of even quicker machines has evolved. Until recently, with the exception of the Volkswagen Golf R, these machines have been forbidden fruit on American shores. Fortunately for enthusiasts, Ford finally homologated its legendary Focus RS and American Honda dealers will soon start delivering the latest edition of the Civic Type-R.
Cadillac -The Standard of the World. Built Ford Tough. Mercedes-Benz -The Best or Nothing. BMW – The Ultimate Driving Machine. Audi – Truth in Engineering. Well maybe not so much on that last one, but you get my point. Successful automotive brands have an image associated with them that may or may not be entirely accurate, but that’s what marketing is all about. Honda’s premium Acura brand has always struggled with trying to determine what it’s image should be, no matter how good its products have been and they have typically been very good. The latest stab at remaking the brand image image is the 2017 MDX SUV which I just spent a week with.