2016 Volvo XC90: First Look

2016VolvoXC90

Competes with: Acura MDX, BMW X5, Infiniti QX60

Looks like: Sleeker elements meet the same upright profile

Drivetrain: 320-hp, supercharged and turbocharged four-cylinder or 400-hp (est.), supercharged and turbocharged four-cylinder with plug-in electric motor; available all-wheel drive

Hits dealerships: Early 2015

After a protracted rollout that included a reveal of the interior and details on powertrains, Volvo finally unveiled the next-generation XC90's exterior. It's all here, now, and much of it reads like a concept car. But so did the original XC90, which debuted gyroscopic rollover detection and was among the first SUVs with three-row side curtain airbags.

Related: Porsche, Hyundai Top New J.D. Power Study, Volvo and Mitsubishi Sink

That was more than 12 years ago.

This new XC90 gets some all-new tech in the safety arena like you'd expect from a Volvo but it may be the powertrain and interior opulence that woos luxury shoppers.

By Kelsey Mays | August 26, 2014 | Comments (9)

Redesigned 2016 Chevrolet Volt to Debut at 2015 Detroit Auto Show

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Plug-in fans, mark your calendars: The next-generation Chevrolet Volt will debut on Jan. 12 or 13, 2015. Those are the press days of the 2015 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, and GM said today it will unveil the 2016 Chevrolet Volt at the show. The automaker calls the 2016 Volt "the next generation" of the car, a term usually reserved for full redesigns and not just refreshes. GM also released a teaser image of the Volt's trunk, which retains the current car's lightning-bolt logo but appears to have an integrated trunk-lid rise that's similar to the Chevrolet Impala sedan.

Related: Cars.com Chevrolet Volt Hits 10,000 Miles: The Good and Bad

Does that mean the Volt will ditch its hatchback for a conventional sedan layout? It's doubtful; the Volt's profile — along with the Toyota Prius, Honda Insight and other jellybean shapes — is what happens when you put aerodynamics first. Still, we'd like to see GM improve visibility and braking on the next Volt. GM says current Volt owners are driving 63 percent of their miles in EV mode, but shoppers will expect improvements in EV range and charging times.

Will GM deliver? We'll have to wait until January to find out.

Manufacturer image

By Kelsey Mays | August 7, 2014 | Comments (4)

Reduced MPG in Six Ford Models Matches Cars.com's Results

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If Cars.com editors' observed mileage is any indication, more drivers should see real-world fuel economy figures that match the new EPA numbers on six Ford models.

Ford Lowers Fuel Economy Ratings on Six Cars, Will Reimburse Owners

Ford announced June 12 that it would reduce EPA mileage on six vehicles – the 2013-2014 C-Max Hybrid and C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid, the 2013-2014 Fusion Hybrid and Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid, the 2013-2014 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid and the 2014 Fiesta – because of an error in EPA mileage tests. The revisions, which downgrade EPA combined mileage as much as 7 mpg on the hybrids, will appear on new-car window stickers this week.

We've tracked mileage in four of those six cars, and our results fall a lot closer to the revised numbers than what they used to be. We haven't spent enough time behind the wheel of the Fusion Energi or MKZ Hybrid to report on mileage yet, but here are the rest:

By Kelsey Mays | June 16, 2014 | Comments (8)

Will an Electric Vehicle Work for Your Family?

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Electric vehicles have been a little too pricey to show up in most neighborhood driveways, but with the 2015 Kia Soul EV arriving at dealerships this summer, EVs and plug-in hybrids like the new-for-2014 Honda Accord Plug-In Hybrid are becoming increasingly more affordable and appealing to families.

More Plug-in and EV News

Of course the benefits from an environmental standpoint are motivating, as is information on fuel efficiency and range, but what does a family need to know when considering buying or leasing an EV or plug-in hybrid? This primer addresses a few things you may be wondering about.

By Carrie Kim | April 21, 2014 | Comments (0)

Cadillac Throws in Free EV Charger with 2014 ELR

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Cadillac announced Monday it will offer a free 240-volt charger — otherwise called Level 2 charging — on the new 2014 ELR, a pricey two-door coupe based on the Chevrolet Volt from parent automaker GM. The company says that depending on outside temperature, the ELR can get a full Level 2 charge in just 4.5 hours. That should enable 35 miles of all-electric range before a gasoline engine generator kicks in for another 300 or so miles.

2014 Cadillac ELR: First Drive

The ELR starts at $75,995 including the destination charge but before any tax credits. That's more than double the Volt's price of entry ($34,995, same conditions), on which the Level 2 charger is optional. (A household-outlet charger, called Level 1, comes standard.) How much does GM's charging freebie close the gap? It's hard to say. GM's supplier, Bosch, offers wired 240-volt (Level 2) charging stations from $490 to $1,195 plus installation — which can add hundreds or even thousands more, depending on complexity — but the federal Alternative Fuel Infrastructure Tax Credit refunds a chunk of that in tax credits. The AFITC for electric vehicle stations expired on Dec. 31, 2013, but additional incentives exist in certain states.

By Kelsey Mays | January 28, 2014 | Comments (1)

Report: Plug-in Sales Increased 84% in 2013

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In January 2013, Nissan cut the starting price of its Leaf EV by $6,400. Shoppers responded and Leaf sales more than doubled by year's end. For the segment, 2013 sales for plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles increased 84 percent, according to Ward's Automotive data reported by the Detroit News.

Shoppers bought more than 96,000 plug-in cars in 2013 — 47,600 EVs and nearly 49,000 plug-in hybrids, the Detroit News reports. Meanwhile, traditional non-plug-in hybrid sales increased by 15.3 percent, reaching nearly 490,000 new-car sales in 2013.

Automakers cut prices on "nearly all" plug-in hybrids and EVs to jump-start low demand, the newspaper said. Still, it didn't work for all players. In August, GM slashed $5,000 off the starting price of its Chevrolet Volt, but sales ended the year down 1.6 percent, which iswell below former GM CEO Dan Akerson's 2011 annual production goal of 60,000 Volts.

By Kelsey Mays | January 6, 2014 | Comments (0)

Ford C-Max Solar Energi Concept at the 2014 International Consumer Electronics Show

Front

Looks like: An accessorized C-Max Energi
Defining characteristics: Solar panels atop the roof
Ridiculous features: A solar-magnifying canopy the car has to sit under
Chances of being mass-produced: There's potential; Ford plans real-world feasibility testing

What's a petawatt? It's a unit of energy equivalent to 1 billion megawatts or 1 million gigawatts (yes, Doc Brown used real units). And Mike Tinskey, Ford's director of vehicle electrification, says 174 of them hit the Earth each day in the form of solar energy. Toward that end, Ford wants to collect some of that energy with 1.5 square meters of solar photovoltaic panels atop the C-Max Energi. Witness the solar-powered adaptation of the plug-in hybrid that went on sale in fall 2012: the C-Max Solar Energi Concept.

The concept's flexible, high-density silicone solar panels come courtesy of San Jose, Calif.-based SunPower Corp. — and those panels harvest 50 percent more density than conventional solar cells, Ford claims. Still, the cells alone won't charge the C-Max Energi to its full battery, which enables up to 21 miles of the electric vehicle's driving range.

By Kelsey Mays | January 2, 2014 | Comments (3)

2013 Toyota Prius v: Family Review Checklist

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There are four members of Toyota's Prius lineup, but the 2013 Toyota Prius v is the most utilitarian by far. This hybrid wagon is 5.3 inches longer than the Prius and more than an inch wider, making it a good fit for family duty.

While the smaller Prius embraces its funky, future-car status, the Prius v's monochromatic, minimalist interior paired with its under-the-radar exterior feels less distinctive. The Prius v is super functional when it comes to family life, but I missed having some ambiance.

The Prius v uses the same engine setup as the Prius: a 98-horsepower, 1.8-liter four-cylinder paired with an 80-hp electric motor. Gas mileage is what really counts with hybrids. The Prius v gets an EPA-estimated 44/40/42 mpg city/highway/combined. In my weeklong test drive, I averaged 40.9 mpg. The smaller Prius gets 51/48/50 mpg.

By Sara Lacey | November 13, 2013 | Comments (0)

What is Hyundai's Blue Link 'Community Average'?

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Like many telematics systems, Hyundai's Blue Link is chock-full of features. One of them, dubbed Eco Coach, is sure to interest efficiency-conscious drivers. It shows recent mileage and uses a point system dubbed Eco Rewards to incentivize efficient driving. Automakers from Ford to Toyota have similar systems (including Ford's dashboard shrubbery), but Blue Link also reports something called a Community Average of mpg.

We noticed it in an Equus sedan and Santa Fe SUV in the press fleet, so we asked Hyundai to explain. Is it some sort of average based on owners of the same Hyundai model? It's plausible, given the automaker could collect mileage data via telematics.

By Kelsey Mays | November 11, 2013 | Comments (0)

2013 Tesla Model S: More Photos

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It's been a few months since we've tested the Tesla Model S, but the electric car continues to grab headlines. Fires, recalls and controversy aside, Tesla's electric sedan is gorgeous, impressively quick and full of innovative features. However, a few big issues crept up during our test, causing Cars.com reviewer Joe Wiesenfelder to call the Model S a "work in progress."

Click here for the full review and continue below for the Cars.com photos by Evan Sears.

By Jennifer Geiger | October 17, 2013 | Comments (3)

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