By on October 9, 2012

Volvo’s target is the lower end of the Lexus, BMW, Audi and Mercedes lines… Most experts consider the cars made by these companies engineering marvels. And Volvo, a Swedish marque with Chinese ownership, is another manufacturer that does not have the model line, marketing budget or dealer network to hope to compete.

Doesn’t sound like a vote of confidence, does it?

It’s rare for the Wall Street Journal to argue that a company should just give up. Not a very capitalist mindset, really. In a rather Death-Watch-esque article posted this past Friday, however, the voice of the one percent called for some timely market seppuku from underperforming competitors in the North American auto market.

In addition to the no-confidence vote given to Volvo above, the Journal called out Mitsusbishi and Suzuki (“It is a wonder that their parent corporations continue to grapple for market share they can never win. If they had a chance to do well, it was when there was a tidal wave of Japanese imports three decades ago. Now it is much too late”) as players who should cash in their remaining chips before they are forced to quit. Although the paper readily acknowledges the fact that sales are improving for some manufacturers here, “…that growth does not lift all ships.”

Here at TTAC, we’d be sad to see the lively Kizashi, the still-desirable Lancer Evolution, or the surprisingly usable Grand Vitara disappear from dealerships just to satisfy someone else’s notion of fiscal responsibility. As for Volvo… well, as the photo above hints, we will be following Alex Dykes’ review of the 2013 S60 with a final, Corvette-chasing goodbye to the “naughty” 2012 S60 T5 later on this week.

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106 Comments on “WSJ: Volvo “Might As Well Back Out Of” The United States...”


  • avatar
    jthorner

    The WSJ got it right. None of those companies have the chops to compete in the US going forward. I would add Mazda to the list.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      Mazda isn’t going anywhere. If you need credible evidence as to why, look up what keiretsu Mazda is part and parcel of. Sumitomo Corporation (SC) is one clue.

      Mitsubishi has strong financial backing also, but in spite of this, it still may fold U.S. operations (it’s doing far better in emerging markets as is Suzuki) at some point in time because it has nowhere near the engineering talent and portfolio of U.S.-tailored new product that’s already been readied for market after much R&D.

      I don’t know what will become of Volvo, but it does seem to be trending the way of irrelevancy in what’s an increasingly competitive global automotive marketplace. I don’t want to claim Volvo is becoming Saab-esque in terms of how they’ve positioned themselves in terms of price point and their niche, but then again…

      • 0 avatar

        Once they stood for safety – no longer can they say they are the best. Or the icon of tree huggers and hairy legged women – now that goes to Suburu. Seems here in Charleston their sole remaining fans are overindulged rich girls at prep schools.

    • 0 avatar
      Synchromesh

      Mazda should stay. The amount of Mazda3s I’ve seen in Montreal a couple of years ago was overwhelming and I still see quite a few around New England. New Mazda6 is absolutely gorgeous. Not to mention the Miata which is awesome.

      But there are a few companies I would really like to see out of here. That would be BMW, Mercedes and Audi. Their overpriced, overweight, overengineered crapmobiles are just that. The only thing marvelous about them is that some of them can last for duration of warranty until things start to fall apart. Try buying a newish one with 100K on it and no warranty and you’ll be sorry for sure. If they went I’d be the first one to dance on their graves.

      • 0 avatar
        th009

        Just because you personally don’t like Brand X doesn’t mean they should exit the market. Unless, of course you will be making the buying decisions for the entire market. There are many cars I personally dislike but I’m not calling for them to drop off the US market.

        This is question of business, not of personal preference. And at the moment, the BMW, Mercedes and Audi crapmobiles seem to be doing a whole lot better business in the US than Mitsubishi, Suzuki and Volvo.

      • 0 avatar
        MrWhopee

        I think it depends whether they’re losing money on their US operations or not. If not, why not just stay? Even if you hardly selling any products. Suzuki seem to already did (or is doing) the belt tightening, preparing for a long bare existence in the US market, with hardly any products and even fewer volume.

      • 0 avatar
        CPTG

        Absolutely Agree. A collegue of mine bought a used 1999 Mercedes from the dealership with 56K miles on it, out of warrantee. I begged her not to do it. “Let me spray paint a Peace Symble on the radiator of a 1999 Chrysler Sebring—the build quality is EXACTUALLY THE SAME but look at all the money you’ll save?

        She became indignant: “You’re just jealous of a Black Woman driving a nice car!!” Want to SEE me turn GREEN with ENVY? She dropped $3,000.00 on that car THREE MONTHS after having driven it off the lot!!! Was my friend OPRA? Not if OPRA made only $56K a year!!! Could have been worse. She could have spent $500.00 for a brake job & lube, she could have spent another $300.00 on a tune up or another $800.00 for a re-built alternator ( I picked up a used one (1yr warrantee) for $60.00 with another $50.00 for an off duty Mercy-Bendz mechanic to slap it in for her). Mercifly, the lord heard my prayer and BENT her MERCEDES (as in totalled) having only driven it for less than a year.

        I absolutely believe BMW, Mercedes & Audi are ‘Engineering Marvels’ but not in the way the author implies. As I tried to explain to “OPRA in Training,” Rich White Folk buy those cars NEW and dump them once they slap 40K miles. Only affection starved minorities with huge self image problems buy such rolling junk and they will pay out the nose for the privledge of what? Looking White?!!!

        I once drove “Opra in Training’ to the Spiffy Mercedes Benz dealership and I felt I was walking into a Casino. It was huge, modern, spacious and you got to lounge on black leather couches sipping chilled diet coke cans as they wheeled her heap to the front door, minus $1,700.00 in service fees. I thanked her tremendously. I said I MAY spend $200.00 on a bottle of fine Cognac while puffing away on a (smuggled) $40.00 Cuban Cigar but damn, I never had me a $1,700 can of Diet Coke before. I feel special (Opra said ‘You’ll walk special too, after I’ve kicked you YOU KNOW WHERE!!!). All Smoke & Mirrors—the accolades do not match the hype for such Tutonic Brutes!!!

    • 0 avatar
      tatracitroensaab

      This would depress me incredibly. Mazda and Volvo are some of my favorite car companies. Idk, I seem to see a lot more Volvos than the sales suggest. I think that Volvo’s problem is that it has too many models to take care of. Okay the s60 and the s40 and some of their crossovers sell, but what about the c30 or the s80? I don’t see so many of those.

      Anyone know how Volvo is doing in China??? I’m sure they could get some volume there, even though the market is beginning to slow…

      • 0 avatar
        bd2

        The S40 does NOT sell (at least not in the US).

        Volvo only sold 3,219 of the S40 last year and 45.9% went to fleet.

        That’s probably why Volvo canceled the S40 for the US market.

    • 0 avatar
      icemilkcoffee

      Woah! Mazda does not belong on there. The CX-5 flies off the lots. On average, each CX5 only stays on the lot for 1 week.

      Frankly even Volvo doesn’t belong on there. Its cars are still fairly competitive, even if the parent company doesn’t seem to want to invest in any marketing.

  • avatar
    jthorner

    Oh, and by the way, cutting your losses is in fact a very capitalist thing to do :).

  • avatar
    steronz

    Was that this weekend at Summit Point? I was wondering if you’d be there driving something strange, but I don’t remember seeing a Volvo out on track.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      It was. I drove the car in three red group sessions, plus I was driving the TD Golf in the first afternoon yellow.

      • 0 avatar
        ckb

        I remember seeing the volvo pulling off midway through a morning session, presumably because it’s brakes were cooked. Then I started to wonder who might be driving a late model stock volvo in the instructors group… Unfortunately brake issues ended my day early so I didn’t get a chance to find out. If your car had AWD, sunday would have been a good day to test that out. You could have had it out with the mostly stock looking corolla in the black group.

      • 0 avatar
        Jack Baruth

        The brakes caught fire and started smoking in the slow section after the back straight. After that I kept the sessions to six laps or fewer. It was far from the slowest car in black or red… I had a pretty good dice with an S2K and Z06 which were being driven by some more laid-back instructors.

  • avatar

    That was SAAB too. You got better than VW (or so you hoped) but didn’t get to the top tier car. When the bottom fell out of leasing, the wannabe buyers, few if any of whom purchased, also went away. I recall one SAAB shop article where he went from 25 leases a month to two sales. Having kept a 900T and a 9-3 running past the “sell by” date, I can report that there IS a reason BMW costs more.

  • avatar
    Polar Bear

    Volvo had a niche as the poor man’s Mercedes; rear wheel drive, solidly made, quality seats and interiors and one of a kind design. Then they decided to become Audi.

    I have owned five old-school Volvos, mainly for their safety and durability, and I keep looking for a reason to go back to Volvo. But if I want an Audi I can buy a real one rather than a half-baked Swedish copy. And if want reliability I can keep driving my no-personality Camry.

    But if I want rear wheel drive I must go Benz, BMW or Lexus. Here is an opportunity for Volvo. Just give me something that doesn’t feel like an Opel.

    • 0 avatar
      Dan

      Mercedes’ cars may have had those things but their real product was snob appeal and Volvo never had any of that.

      Volvo’s niche was overprotective mothers who wanted something good to crash in.

      • 0 avatar
        Polar Bear

        Maybe this was different in America, but in Europe many people up to the 1990s bought a Benz not for the snob value but for the quality. Taxi drivers, for example. The only other car brand that could match Benz for durability was Volvo.

      • 0 avatar
        Advance_92

        BMW, Mercedes and now Audi have spent a lot of time cultivating their image as a prestige brand for the US market, higher than the image they have in Europe. We won’t see a ghost of what’s available elsewhere.

      • 0 avatar

        I used to live, until recently, in the forests of Norland, Sweden. There are still rusting hulks of old 240′s wrapped around trees where there are serious bends in the dirt roads. The past owners will tell you of happy days. I think Volvo lost the message somewhere.

    • 0 avatar
      onyxtape

      Infiniti is also RWD.

    • 0 avatar
      stroker49

      Cadillac is RWD. If you are living in Europe, like me, you can have a used CTS for less than a used Passat. In Europe American cars have a reputation between Pakistan and Belarus products. But just like Americans are wrong when they claim European cars are crap Europeans are incorrect, American cars are not THAT bad.
      The most sold Volvo here in Sweden is the V70, it is incredible that it is not sold in NA. V70 is THE Volvo. S80, well S60 is almost as big and at least as good and costs less. C30, a Ford Focus looking like a Fiat Stilo in the rear, wouldn’t think so.

      • 0 avatar
        Polar Bear

        Unless it was a 1959 with tail fins, I would need thick skin to show up with a Cadillac in Europe. If I could find one to buy, that is. I haven’t seen one for years. There would be mocking and ridicule all day. That’s how Europeans view American luxury cars

      • 0 avatar
        stroker49

        I have thick skin and a -05 STS. Very happy with the car. New it costed over 70000 usd here. After 24000 miles it was like new and 25000 USD. Quite a depreciation! Mocking and ridicule, you bet but I am one of the few here that still like (not everything) the USA!

  • avatar

    I* think Volvo is getting pricey, a lady who I know needed a Transmission for her 2006 Volvo, they wanted $6000.00 for a used one plus installation and HST/ I told her to buy something else and not go that route!

  • avatar
    Roberto Esponja

    Today’s Volvos don’t do anything for me. They look like rejected Volkswagen designs. They have nothing that would make me choose them over another brand.

    • 0 avatar
      cfclark

      I don’t know anyone who could afford a Volvo who wouldn’t either go ahead and just get an Audi or go a slightly cheaper route and just get the equivalent VW. Volvos now are neither fish nor fowl. Once upon a time, there was the “brick”, and now Volvos are just of the same amorphous blob design school as everything else, but undercut on price.

      It’s not “The Boredom Era” for nothing.

  • avatar

    I’d be very sad if Volvo left. It’s the one remaining semi-luxury brand that doesn’t make the owner look like a douche while driving it. Audi having quickly become one of the worst of bunch.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Suzuki is a strong player in India. Staying in the US is a waste of resources (although their failure to make it here will eventually make them an acquisition target for a larger automaker that probably does have a US presence.)

    Mitsubishi’s circumstances are similar to Suzuki, but for the India component.

    Volvo is in a different place altogether. It has no baseline market to support its business. It has no choice but to try to make a go of it in the United States; as a niche player, it will probably fail altogether if it can’t build a market here.

    Volvo really needs to move upmarket. Essentially, it should copy BMW or Mercedes, but develop its own special sauce so that buying a Volvo doesn’t seem like some sort of sad compromise. The same sausage/ different lengths approach with a lineup built around three sedans, some related CUVs and a sporty halo car would make sense.

    • 0 avatar
      icemilkcoffee

      Suzuki is an interesting case- they do very well selling tiny cars all over South Asia and southeast asia. But they insist on selling mediocre midsized cars here in the US- something that is clearly not their forte. It’s like Harley Davidson trying to sell scooters. That’s just not right.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        Suzuki can’t sell us what they sell to the Indians, since we won’t buy those. We want bigger, nicer vehicles.

        But Suzuki doesn’t the resources to build us those nicer vehicles, either. The bigger guys can afford to make cars designed for American tastes, but Suzuki just doesn’t have that kind of money.

        The US is a tough market. It’s very appealing to be in, because of its size. But the attractiveness of the market makes all of the participants more aggressive, which squeezes out the little guys. Anyone who wants to survive on low volumes has to make up for those with higher prices, and Suzuki obviously can’t ever hope to command those prices. Volvo might actually have a shot, but they’ll have to work at it, and fast.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Cadillac already has the BMW wannabe market cornered, so I offer the same advice to them as I had for Cadillac: Innovate!

      Volvos were always niche, but they occupied a position of extreme safety, durability, reliability, and overall quirkiness. While they were already heading in the wrong-wheel-drive direction, Ford took them further.

      Go back to your roots, build another quality volume model such as 240. Advertise facts such as a 19.3 year lifespan, then like Toyota, appeal to the fiscal side of car buyers… this car will save you X amount over its lifetime etc. Promote yourself as a Camry which doesn’t suck out your soul to own or drive. Placate the greenies and build it using recycled materials, or license someone’s hybrid technology.

      “The same sausage/ different lengths approach with a lineup built around three sedans, some related CUVs and a sporty halo car would make sense.”

      Ironically this is what they are already doing, S40/60/80 sedans, XC90 CUV, and the C70 coupe/conv as a halo car until this model year when it was axed.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        I agree not just for Volvo and Cadillac but all other “wannabe” brands trying to bandwagon one trend or another.

        Don’t benchmark other products, BE the benchmark.

        Cadillac especially. In its heyday, they imitated no one. Could you imagine Cadillac of the 50s, 60s and 70s imitating plebian BMW? Heck no! They were a standard of luxury and aspiration. While there’s nothing wrong with sport sedans, I think Pontiac, Buick and Olds could have played in that territory fine by themselves. Cadillac should rival Bentley and Rolls for pure opulence.

        Lincoln has a chance to revive itself in that manner because right now, they have zero image. Cadillac, they’re stuck imitating rival brands’ cars in different wrappers. Not to say they’re bad, just a little unoriginal.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “Ironically this is what they are already doing, S40/60/80 sedans”

        But they aren’t, because the S40 doesn’t compete with the 3-series, the S60 isn’t matched with the 5-series, and the S80 doesn’t go head-on against the 7-series.

        They do have three cars, but those three aren’t slotted properly. This more closely resembles TSX/ TL/ RL than 3-5-7, C-E-S or A4-A6-A8. And being more similar to Acura than to BMW isn’t where anyone should want to be (including Acura.)

  • avatar
    CoastieLenn

    I feel like Volvo has become something of a “redheaded step-child” since being taken over by Geely. I worked for Volvo for 7 years (2001-2008) in the service department, and I feel like that was the hayday for Volvo.

    They had all the right things going for them in the US market, mostly due to the Ford influence and marketing teams surely. The debut of the XC90 in 2003 was HUGE for them; the 2001-2011 S60 was (and in my opinion, still is) a thing of beauty; the 2004.5-2011 S40 was/is fantastic; the 2001+ XC70 had finally evolved into something of its own as opposed to a senseless alternative to a V70 AWD of the 1998-2000 era; the 2008+ S80 is gorgeous and has a song of an optional 4.4L V8; the GTI alternative C30 was a breathe of fresh air to the 18-35 year old crowd, etc.

    All of those components were coming into their own and forming them a solid spot in the US market.

    Now look at them. They still have essentially the same XC90 they had in 2003, but now its got LED fog lights as DRL’s; thier key wagon player- the V70, (by far, the staple of the Volvo line since… forever) is gone; the XC70 is confused and forgotten; the S40 is gone; the S60 has an ass that won’t quit, a face only a mother could love, performance that’s “Meh…”, and is probably going to be forgotten sooner rather than later; the C30/C70 still exist… if you know you want one- No marketing is don WHATSOEVER.

    Why? Why would Geely wreck such a niche market cream puff and arguably a rather prestigeous brand?

    I remember that when Ford took over Volvo in 1999, “heritage” Volvo owners turned their noses up and thought Ford would ruin the brand. Nay- it was the complete oposite. Ford brought Volvo into the main stream while not allowing it to lose touch with its veteran roots. Volvo made Ford a better company with better products.

    Its sad to see this once iconic brand flounder.

    It will always hold a soft spot in my heart, but I no longer support them like I used to. I used to have a passion for Volvo… now its just a respect.

    • 0 avatar
      dude500

      Your third-to-last paragraph makes sense. Ford seemed to make all its products like Volvos during its ownership, whether they be Fusions or the DB9 (a great thing for the Fusions).

    • 0 avatar

      Eh. Not sure, some points:

      XC90: Yes, this needed to be replaced a while ago. Not sure why the have taken so long, but I’m guessing its resources. What with the need for a replacement S60 (it was still good looking, but no longer competitive), and the correctly identified need for a smaller CUV (XC60) their resources were probably tied up. Hopefully the XC90 redo is underway, though I still find it a very good looking vehicle.

      S60: Beyond some funny looking appearance details (aforementioned rear, unattractive headlights), the S60 has gotten very positive reviews about it competitiveness and performance. Yes, not quite as good as the Germans, but then not quite as expensive. Necessary redesign, and hopefully with some minor fixes to the front and rear it will continue to sell well.

      XC60: They nailed it. Timing too. Its selling well, and they correctly identified the market. Its got most of the markers of a Volvo (good looks, nice interior, not too over-the-top) and is just a tad overdesigned.

      XC70: Forgotten? Lost its identity? What? This car is very close to the 2001 in terms of identity. It looks good, its a good family car, etc. It is down on fuel economy and price, and the removal of the third row seat option was a silly mistake. It isn’t especially old though, nor does it come off as forgotten.

      V70: Sales numbers probably spoke here. If it was really their bread-and-butter, they wouldn’t have stopped bringing it to NA.

      S40: Treading on the toes of the S60, not especially unique or great. Not bringing over the V40 I do see as a MASSIVE mistake though. The V50 was also appealing, but NA hates wagons.

      C30: Fun, but limited market. Wouldn’t be any more popular if it had an Audi or BMW badge, and it was killed by a high price. Aforementioned V40 would’ve done much better, me thinks.

      S80: I love it…but it was never a great car for the money, was never going to sell well, and could easily go.

      Volvo’s issues: It went premium quickly and never came back. Families are willing to spend big for their main hauler, especially if its the safest of the crowd, but the cost of maintaining the only-mostly reliable Volvo’s was too much when you could get a Subaru (or Ford or Honda) that did the same thing (largely) for a lower price both initially and in upkeep. Ford didn’t fix this, they just maintained the issue.

      • 0 avatar
        CoastieLenn

        You do make valid points, and I realize that I totally neglected to put the XC60 into my tirade. I agree that timing and execution were great for that model.

        As for models like the XC70… when was the last time you saw one on the road? As someone who covets a 2001-2008 XC70 highly- I see about a 3:1 ratio of old:new style XC’s. It’s lost. Its stuck between the XC60 and the XC90, which IIRC don’t vary in size to much in terms of interior dimensions.

        The C30- I remember when it came out, the “1.0″ model (base-ish) had a starting price of $22,995 and the T5 engine came standard. The only thing that seperated the 1.0 from the 2.0 was the aesthetics. When you consider that a comperable VW GTI was about $1,000 more (albiet with the option of 4 doors). The C30 made sense. I remember on a ride and drive event, the C30′s we drove outperformed the GTI and Cooper S in nearly every test. Now… the low cost option 1.0 is gone and they start at $25,500 and there’s not seeming to be any love from the marketing firms for advertisement. They’re still a capable car, just lost in placement.

        Maybe I’m just seeing this as doom and gloom since they seem to be losing steam, but I’m basing a lot of my observations and opinions on the numbers of Volvo’s I DONT see on the streets in comparison to how prevelant they were a decade ago.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    Sadly, I think Polar Bear’s about got it. Here’s the story of Volvo, based on what my father did. Tired of the ponderousness, lack of comfort and general crudeness of mid-60s Detriot product, my dad bought a 1970 Volvo 144S. It had extraordinarily comfortable seats, drove competently and stopped. It also used less gas, although that was not much of an issue then. In 1977, my dad bought his next Volvo, relegating the 1970 to second car status. Then he bought a new 740 (I can’t remember the year). Then around 1992, he bought an 850.

    The 850 was a repair queen.

    Sometime in the 2000s, he bought an ES300 Lexus.

    That kind of tells the story.

    As a Saab owner, I see Volvo as the next Saab.

    As for the others mentioned, the fact that someone makes one or two models of note is hardly sufficient to support a market presence these days.

    • 0 avatar
      icemilkcoffee

      Once Volvo went FWD, all the legendary quality and tank-like build disappeared.

      • 0 avatar

        The legendary reliability and tank quality is what comes of having a 15 year old design (*cough*240*cough*).

      • 0 avatar
        CoastieLenn

        I’ll disagree with that. As I stated above, I worked in a Volvo service dept. for 7 years and aside from the terrible transmission in the 1993 850 and the air conditioning evaporator in pretty much every model thru the 2000 MY, they were bulletproof. HIGHLY sought after by technicians and the people that know the brand. The Bosch throttle module dibacle in the 1999 MY threw the biggest monkey wrench in them.

        I routinely saw 250k+ mileage 850′s and even S70′s that required little more than regular oil changes.

        From 2001+ (aside from the early T6 S80′s), again… bulletproof.

        I will say though, that Volvo’s tend to be a shadetree mechanic’s nightmare. If they don’t see a dealer for 5+ years and a local mechanic works on all of the “maintenance” for the owner- once that car has a need to go to the dealer for something, AAaaaaallll of the problems that could have been diagnosed and triaged earlier come to light since most mechanics seem to not want to do anything more than throw brake pads and rotors at a car. “Oil leaking? Nah, don’t worry about it- it was from the oil cap.” Wrong.

        Again, this is a comment from a guy who LOVES working on his own cars but knows Volvo quirks.

      • 0 avatar
        Advance_92

        Volvos were bulletproof because all their design roots came from the mid 70s when the 240 was introduced. Very rarely will a make sold in the US have that kind of lifespan (74 to 93 for the 240, if I remember), though you can argue US cars had the same design through the 60s and 70s under the body panels. But that all changed in in the early 80s.

        I still see plenty of beat up 240s in Chicago and while they all have rust in one place or another they’re still running in the urban jungle. I’m always tempted by one for the dirt simple maintenance and service they need, but I’d have to go to California or Oregon to find a good one, with a clutch.

      • 0 avatar
        ranwhenparked

        @Advance_92

        Older than that. The 240 was just an upgraded/re-engineered 140, which dated back to 1966. Same body, same floorpan, same underpinnings, etc.

  • avatar
    jacob_coulter

    I’d still hate to see them go, I don’t know why anyone actually wants less car companies in the US.

    I will agree though that they’re now basically an upscale VW, and it’s probably only a vehicle I would lease. Still, count me as a fan of the new S60, I think they’re a great looking car with solid performance.

    My guess is, they will eventually fail, if for nothing else the incredible amount of government regulations make compliance so expensive that only the biggest will survive.

    If I were Volvo, I would go for broke and do a modern remake of the Volvo 240 and incorporate the classic lines. I could see it catching on like the Mini Cooper.

  • avatar
    Morea

    Volvo has a nice compact straight six that can be used longitudinally or transversely. Developed by Ford for Jaguar but now found only in Volvos (I believe).

    With Lexus ditching the straight six and BMW perhaps following (by using turbo 4s or 3s or V8 for the M cars) perhaps this is a niche for Volvo.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    Volvo is a leader in seat comfort and crash safety. Both of those will be higher priorities when cars start driving themselves, which Volvo also has a lead in. They should stick it out for now. Plus, scandinavian design is making a comeback.

    Just bought a XC70. It beat out the wagon and SUV competition. Tahoe would have been a contender, but demographic dealing was disgusting and I didn’t trust that the next guy wouldn’t get a couple grand off I didn’t.

    In the end, adaptive cruise control was a deciding factor for the car we use on road trips. Can’t compare Volvo’s version to anyone else’s, might be a good article for TTAC.

    • 0 avatar
      Steve65

      “adaptive cruise control was a deciding factor for the car we use on road trips.”

      I’ve never been able to wrap my mind around the idea that a gadget which does exactly the WRONG thing in traffic is considered a selling point.

      • 0 avatar
        Landcrusher

        What wrong thing are you accusing it of doing in “traffic”?

      • 0 avatar
        Steve65

        Slowing down and speeding up to pace other traffic, instead of maintaining speed like you’re supposed to. The correct respose to overtaking a slower vehicle is to pull left and pass it, not hover endlessly behind it.

      • 0 avatar
        Landcrusher

        I think you are making the perfect the enemy of the good. The real wrong answer is to dumbly hit the car in front. When conventional cruise works as intended, which most drivers can’t manage, you often have to disengage, change lanes and accelerate, then resume cruise. Adaptive does everything for you except change lanes, if you can change lanes in time, they work the same.

        Sure, I would like the car to drive itself, but they don’t sell that yet.

      • 0 avatar

        Steve65, have you driven on NA roads lately?

        Yes, in a perfect universe…where there is plenty of space and everybody is in the correct lane for their speed normal cruise control is good.

        But strangely, whenever I’m on a highway in real life, the traffic is (usually) moving but also stacked cheek to jowl. The speed is constantly variable, so you can never really use cruise control. You have to sit there and modulate the pedal all the time as the speed of traffic varies through a 30-40km/h range. Under those conditions, adaptive cruise would be perfect.

        Lets put it more simply. My experience says standard cruise is good on multilane highways about, oh, 25-35% of the time. Adaptive cruise expands on that number, possibly be a significant amount.

      • 0 avatar
        Steve65

        And yet, 90% of my time on a freeway is with cruise control set. I can routinely go 20-30 miles in normal Bay Area traffic (not commute stop and go) without having to disengage it or adjust it, simply by setting an appropriate speed and paying attention. It makes it really clear how often people change speed for absolutely no reason. Generally blindly mirroring some nearby vehicle rather than picking a number and maintaining it.

        Oh, and I don’t hesitate to cut off someone who paced me for miles, and then jumped into the left lane and started passing just as I get to slower vehicles and need to move over. If they’d simply maintaind speed and passed when they reached me, there would never have been a conflict. Pay attention or pay the price.

      • 0 avatar

        “(not commute stop and go)”

        Bingo.
        First of all, you should I know that I won’t buy a car without cruise. I use it all the time. I use it as much as I can on multi-lane highways, and I use it almost permanently on all the two-lane roads I travel.

        What you don’t seem to be getting, or are choosing not to get in order to maintain the old “bah humbug technology” argument that seems to crop up so frequently is that adaptive cruise control DOES THE SAME THING BUT BETTER.

        Do you not think that people who have bothered to set cruise have an ideal speed in mind? Of course they do. Of course they move and pass as much as they can without disengaging. The only thing adaptive cruise does it save you the trouble when you don’t have the option of passing and must slow down. This happens quite a bit on any type of road that is heavily traveled. Yes, not in northern Ontario, where you can maintain cruise for hours…but then again that’s not what I’m talking about.

        Again, I’m really not sure what you are arguing here. I think somehow you are under the belief that having cruise control that will adjust its speed once it gets within a user-defined distance of another car makes a person suddenly desire to accelerate up and down constantly and unwilling to pass and continue on their way. “No, no, please, I WAS going 120, but now that I’m behind this 1995 Neon and going 90 I’d rather stare at its butt for the rest of the day.” Seems unlikely.

        Perhaps part of the problem is that you’re talking about a functioning freeway, and in my experience (aforementioned 401/GTA area of Ontario) this properly functioning ideal is not really the norm anymore.

      • 0 avatar
        Landcrusher

        The Bay area has certainly changed. Still, in your situation you described, adaptive STILL works better. The other 10% of the time.

      • 0 avatar
        Steve65

        Two similar behaviors I see on a daily basis:

        1. Pull up behind me. Reduce speed and follow me (anywhere from 2 sec to 1/2 sec following distance) despite empty lane to the left. After some random time interval, change lanes (as often to the right as to the left) accelerate and pass. Maintain new speed until another slower vehicle is reached. I often end up repassing these people, sometimes repeatedly.

        2. Pull up behind me. Reduce speed and pace. When I get an opening and move right, accelerate to higher speed, pull up behind next car in line, pace. This precisely mimics the effect of “adaptive” cruise control. It’s especially fun when “pace the next car” has them now riding alongside my left side, since I’m now blocked into the right lane in the event slower traffic moves in front of me.

        The second group will also often peter out once they get alongside me, and just ride there hovering in my vicinity for no apparent reason.

        There are many variation of this, such as the ever popular “hover until you’re about to be passed, and then cut off the car that’s passing you”. Or the “pull over, pass, pull back, and then slow down to below the original speed which caught you up to me.Look aggrieved when I’m suddenly riding up your bumper.”

        In short, yes, I DO believe that there are plenty of people out there who “desire to accelerate up and down constantly and [are] unwilling to pass and continue on their way”. Because I see them every day. Give these people adaptive CC, and they’ll clutter up the roadway ever worse than they do now. Nothing like an impenetrable mile-long string of cars in the #2 lane, all travelling together because it never occured to any one of them to NOT just slow down and pace rather than pass. As it stands now, at least occasionally the looming presence of a bumper growing in the windshield prompts them to notice the speed differential and take action.

        These days “share the road” seems to be interpreted to mean “everybody should defer to the clueless”. When I was learning how to drive, it meant “be predictable, and stay the fsck out of other people’s way.” A gadget which increases unpredictability and tacitly endorses it is bad.

      • 0 avatar
        Landcrusher

        Steve,
        Nowhere in the sales brochure does it say Adaptive Cruise control will solve all your problems or improve behavior. If used though, it prevents tailgating. Seems if all your mysterious neighbors had it, your problems would be solved. Except, of course, the quirky Chicken Little like way your posts have.

  • avatar
    CowDriver

    My 1996 Volvo 850 is still going strong (I took it to Buttonwillow for Cal Club’s time trials last weekend), but Volvo no longer has something that could replace it. I just want a spacious wagon that is fun to drive. The 850/V70 filled that niche perfectly.

  • avatar
    eCurmudgeon

    While not so much car companies per se, but can we add Infiniti and Acura to that list? Two product lines that really need to be rebadged back into Nissan and Honda respectively…

  • avatar
    RatherhaveaBuick

    Suzuki and Mitsu should absolutely cut their losses and get out of the U.S. by this point in time. There are too many car manufacturers right now anyhow, and neither have nothing to offer other than Suzuki’s Kizashi. They’re dead in the water. When was the last time you saw a Suzuki dealership?

    I don’t think of Volvo as a lost cause at all…they’re doing nothing wrong. New S60 is nice, C30 is great, their crossover’s still sell, they’re one of the few companies still making any wagons as well…This may be something difficult for the automotive press to comprehend, but not EVERY car manufacture NEEDS to be compared to BMW, Mercedes or Audi. Volvo is a niche. It’s an alternative to those kind of vehicles, especially in today’s market of douchey BMWAUDENZ drivers. While in past years they were more relevant as an option in the luxury market, (thanks to memorable marketing), nowadays you can still see many newer Volvo’s happily chugging around. My mother has a 2006 S60 and its a perfectly fine car. Albeit not my cup of tea, its quick, competent and comfortable and other than being unpleasant on the eyes and getting shit gas mileage, its perfectly acceptable.

    • 0 avatar

      We have a Suzuki dealership around the corner on River St, N. Charleston, known localy as a great place to buy good priced sports cars, always seems to be a few late model Mustang GT’s on the lot. Once you go around the corner past the tempting used cars I think I saw a few new Suzuki’s, or perhaps it was an illusion.

  • avatar
    chunkachange

    I’ve actually been shopping for a new XC70 the last week. After test driving a lot, it’s the “just right” car for me.

    Should this article change my decision or negotiating?

    • 0 avatar

      No. Its an opinion of one news source, not the indication of a major decision by a manufacturer. Plus, even if they went out of business tomorrow (which the won’t), parts availability and service for them and warranty coverage will remain, as required by law (see worst-case-scenario SAAB parts availability and service…still readily available).

      I personally love the XC70. I own an OB, and the XC70 strikes as the more comfortable, more refined, better looking do-everything alternative that the Outback is. Such a great category of car.

      • 0 avatar
        chunkachange

        Thanks for the opinion.

        That’s how I see the XC70 too. I currently have a Legacy sedan and always assumed I’d be moving to the OB. Unfortunately I kind of hate the new one. I’m sure I’d like it in isolation, but it ditched some of my favorite things about the Legacy and I think that makes it feel much worse. I see from your headlights that you’ve got one of the good ones.

        Now, if I could only get my local Volvo dealership to work with me.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      Over the long run, yes, I would worry about the possibility of buying an orphan. There’s no reason to risk it when there are other things to buy instead.

      Their longevity is not so much of an issue if you plan on leasing it, since you can punt it at the end.

      The article is just one guy’s opinion about what they should do; in that sense, it doesn’t matter. But it raises a fair question about what these companies will do. The writing is clearly on the wall for Suzuki at the least, and I’d be keeping an eye on Volvo, Mitsubishi and Mazda. Their downward trajectories don’t scream out “sustainable.”

  • avatar
    L'avventura

    Unless I’m missing a link. The article linked is not really the WSJ. Its MarketWatch. Both are Dow Jones/News Corp companies but the writers are different. MarketWatch is a free site. WSJ is mostly subscription based. As a free site, MarketWatch tends to have these multi-page click through articles.

    As far as Volvo, their sales volume doesn’t justify a US presence. They have 7 models currently on the market, and a combined sales of just below 5K last month.

    5 of the 7 models sells below a mere three figures. 3 of those models sell in the 200 cars/month range (C30,C70, S80). The two models that support all of Volvo are S60/XC60. Which combined is the majority of Volvo sales.

    Running a successful luxury brand is expensive and requires volume. As Volvo is targeting the “low-end” of luxury, they should have the volume to justify that. They should be selling more cars compared to their more expensive rivals.

    The problem for Geely is that low-end luxury cars usually have a high-volume car that they share platforms with. Such as Acura usage of the Accord platform, or Audi’s usage of the Group A (Golf, etc) platform for the A3. Geely platform sharing is nowhere near as robust as its global competitors.

    But Volvo will do fine and they’ll stay in the US as long as the Chinese economy stays afloat. Geely is nearing 2 million cars a year. They have deep pockets and the backing of the Chinese government.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    Ultimately, the question is whether Volvo is making money in the US? Who cares if they don’t sell as many cars as BMW or Audi?

    But having said that, now sure seems like a great time for Volvo to bring wagons back to the US, and market the HELL out of them. ?UVs are becoming stale, now is the time for fashion to swing back around, and hardly anyone else is doing it, so why not? And wagons WERE Volvo for 40 years here. It’s like anything else, for a niche player to succeed, he needs to hit where the majors aren’t.

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      At 5000 cars a month for all of US, I wonder how many Volvo dealers can actually be profitable.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        Parts and service is where the money is made. I’d be willing to bet that Volvos have a higher per unit service contract volume than the industry average as well.

    • 0 avatar
      KitaIkki

      Boxy, practical RWD wagons with gasoline or diesel engines, connected to 6-speed manual or automatic transmissions.

      • 0 avatar
        th009

        You could skip the RWD and just make them AWD, which Volvo can already do. Few enough customers understand the difference between FWD and RWD (or the advantages of the latter) — and even BMW is increasingly selling AWD models.

        But that could be a trademark for Volvo: no three-box sedans. Wagons, shooting brakes, maybe a nice four-door hatchback. Turbo engines and turbodiesels only. And a good selection of safety nannies for the traditional Volvo customers!

  • avatar
    Alex L. Dykes

    Volvo’s biggest problem? Marketing. It’s non-existent and what little does show up is not as snazzy as what they do in Europe. Did you know that the most powerful small luxury CUV is a Volvo XC60 T6 Polestar? Nobody else does either. Does a potential E-350 or 528i shopper know an S80 T6 AWD exists? Probably not. Most of my colleagues seem to agree that Volvo makes some decent products that are prices fairly well, put together fairly well and very comfortable. The problem is nobody knows about them.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      Yep the C30 is a prime example, even “car people” don’t know anything about it. I don’t think I ever saw an ad for it. Its only claim to fame was being in that vampire movie. Thus its “Edwards car” to most tweens. My wife loves her C30 (which was bought BEFORE the movie BTW). However like several posters noticed yesterday… Volvos are an expensive niche product. Thus they are in the position of being unknown AND over priced at the same time, that’s a really tough sell. Just when someone finally stumbles onto one and goes for a look at their local dealer (provided they even have one) they get sticker shock and run away. I figure Volvo can continue to plod along because most people they actually do buy one (like my wife) really enjoy owning them and will buy another.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        IMO being in that awful movie actually worked AGAINST the C30.

      • 0 avatar

        There is no way being in Twilight did Volvo harm. Any visibility is good visibility for Volvo. Plus, how could they NOT be…didn’t the characters drive Volvos in the original trash novel? Or did I just make that up…?

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I was being a little tongue in cheek, however in my mind I will always associate the C30 to that sissy sparkly vampire character and thus will show it no respect. Maybe the model is aimed at teenage girls who can’t act, I’m not sure.

  • avatar
    ranwhenparked

    The middle market really is vanishing. Here in the US, Oldsmobile, Eagle, Mercury, Pontiac, and (later years version of) Saturn are all dead – in Europe, Rover and Saab are already gone.

    Most of the brands left in this segment (Alfa Romeo, Lancia, Volvo, Acura) aren’t exactly pictures of health, and even Buick is still not all that strong outside China.

    The problem is mainstream brands are pushing upmarket, reducing the incentive for buyers to “trade up”, while luxury brands have gone downmarket, offering cheaper cars with more prestigious badges. The middle class/near-luxury makes are being squeezed out.

    Saab tried to save themselves by reposition further upmarket into luxury territory, but they never had the resources to properly compete at that level and the strategy failed.

    China is the one place where the old system still seems to work. Buick, and domestic competitors like Brilliance and Roewe seem to have carved out a reasonably successful niche for themselves.

  • avatar
    CelticPete

    Mazda is in just as much trouble as the other manufacturers. It’s not that they can’t build cars that sell. It’s that they dont build them cheaply enough to make good profit.

    As far as I know the CX-5 is made in Japan and then sent via boat over here. That’s not going to compete in the long run with cars made in Mexico that can be trucked across the US or cars made even cheaper in China (in the future).

    That being said none of them should leave. Its hard to reestablish brand identity when you bail on a country. With the corporate might behind most of these companies its worth it to stick it out and hang in there..

    FWIW the Kizashi is easily as nice as the CX-5. I’d prefer it in fact as I like cars better then tall station wagons with psuedo AWD.

  • avatar
    2012JKU

    I disagree that Ford taking over Volvo helped them in the long run. Volvo lost their trademark boxy design and got a lot more expensive. My mom owned 3 Volvos in a row but didnt buy another when it came time to get rid of her 96 850R. I think Chinese ownership and a limited R&D budget are the final nail in the coffin for Volvo. The only thing that could save them is a retro 240 under $30k which wont happen. The reality is all cars are relatively safe and reliable these days and those were two of Volvos main strong points.

    • 0 avatar
      threeer

      I wonder how much (if any) backlash there is with the Chinese ownership of Volvo. We all have our “red lines” to cross, and many will potentially make the decision to not buy a Chinese-backed large ticket item when there are other options out there. Many of us label shop even down to smaller items, and try to buy domestic (at least) where possible. And this comes from a guy who actually rather liked Volvo, but have shied away from considering them in the future. As it is, with 5k sales across multiple products, I’d wager that Volvo could disappear from American shores without too much impact to Geely’s bottom line (though Gen. Powell might be slightly disappointed to see them leave…).

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    The thing is, theres no real purpose in buying a Volvo anymore now that they’re like every other luxury brand. Their cars are all super fast and gadget filled as opposed to simply tough.

    Volvo could build good 4 cylinder RWDs because thats where their experience was at, they should’ve tried to stick with their secret formula.

    But then again no one in the luxury car market wants a car with reasonable performance and durability, they want “MAD Ring TimeZ!”.

    • 0 avatar
      azmtbkr81

      Is Volvo still considered a leader in terms of safety? If they are they certainly don’t seem to market that point as much as they once did.

      • 0 avatar
        Ryoku75

        Volvo lost its leadership in safety when everyone else caught up, if anything their safety has declined due to the blindspots on their modern products.

        Back with the RWD models they used to advertise the small blindspots on it, lets not forget that despite this these cars were on par with modern cars in rollovers.

  • avatar
    genuineleather

    Volvo’s biggest problem is that while their cars may have lower MSRPs, the equivalent Mercedes or BMW will cost the same (or less) per month on a lease. Volvos are great for people who want a nice-but-not-flashy car, but there aren’t many such buyers. Just ask Acura.

    Nice styling, competent engineering, and comfy seats matter little to people who want $500/month worth of status.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Let the brand culling begin!

  • avatar
    danio3834

    As long as they keep their operations right sized for their volume, there’s no reason why they can’t continue selling global products here.

    The real hurtle for niche products is regulation, which if greatly reduced could really diversiy our vehicle choices and let smaller players like Volvo become more competitive.

    Unfortunately, expensive vehicle regulations force the creation of compromised volume products to enable these vehicles to be priced in a range where ordinary people can afford them.

    • 0 avatar
      ranwhenparked

      That’s it exactly. Volvo can get by with low sales volumes and minimal market share as long as the fundamentals of the business are sound and spending is kept in line with revenue. They are a private company, which gives some advantage in that they don’t have to answer to anyone other than Geely if they don’t continually surpass the previous quarter’s performance.

      Nobody says that you have to totally dominate the market to be a successful business – Chrysler’s tag line used to be “we don’t want to be the biggest, we just want to be the best”.

      That said, Volvo really is hemmoraging cash right now and they are clearly set up for much higher volumes than they are currently doing, so there is a day of reckoning coming there.

  • avatar
    mr_muttonchops

    I’d really hate to see Volvo leave the U.S as they make some nice cars. I’m with the consensus that they need to innovate and change their strategy a bit, and maybe stop trying to aim at the BMW and Mercedes crowd. I always saw Volvo more in the same market as Buick or even more recently Lincoln. They’ve got really comfortable cars, and are well built/engineered, but they’ve never had the performance chops to take on the bigger guys. I’d like to see Volvo continue serving the US, but they need to come down from this whole “We gotta beat Lexus” thing.

  • avatar
    seth1065

    I have a 01 XC wagon and while it is a good car with great seats it is not cheap to repair at all, and as for bullet proof The 01 trannies are gonna blow up it is not a will they it is a when, ( lifetime tranny fluid Volvo really???) I bought mine with a rebuilt tranny so I should be safe but the person I got it from a family friend poured over 8 grand into it in two years, and if you blow a tire on a XC wagon you gotta replace all four so your nail in the side of your tire is now a 750 repair bill.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      “you blow a tire on a XC wagon you gotta replace all four so your nail in the side of your tire is now a 750 repair bill.”

      I thought that was true of all all wheel drive vehicles.

  • avatar
    stuki

    For hat it’s worth, IKEA has demonstrated quite clearly that there is a sizable market for Chinese made goods wrapped in tasteful and pragmatic Scandinavian design.

    One problem fro the Swedes, have always been that the small size of their car making ecosystem have made it virtually impossible to keep up with larger carmaking clusters in the technological arms race. IF China does succeed in becoming a global center for automotive manufacturing, that should no longer be an issue.

    And one thing that Scandinavia does have going for it, is a middle (heck, even lower middle) class compensated sufficiently to be somewhat selective about what they purchase. Which can be seen in pretty much anything they design. The market bifurcation into pure, cheapest possible USA/Third World/Asia style junk, and high end “aspirational” goods, is less pronounced there, which means it is quite likely you actually get people designing, building and green lighting middle class cars they actually plan on buying themselves. Instead of trying to guess what someone in a completely different situation will find appealing.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    Some of Ikea’s stuff is made in low cost Poland. Some of their design series can get pricey. Stay away from the fibreboard stuff. I have too much looking at stick men.

  • avatar
    LeafMeAlone

    Recently the S60 came out on top in a mild offset crash test. Just look at some of the other positions taken by Rupert Murdock’s rag and their poor judgment will become obvious. For a bit more money than a Avalon or Azera, the S60 delivers quality, safety, style and performance. I wouldn’t hesitate to own one if they made an electric version.

  • avatar
    SilverHawk

    At this point in time, Geely has had no influence on what products Volvo is selling in the US market. Volvo is known to be developing a new platform that will underpin their future mainstream models, and are looking to partner on the development of a small car platform. The future business plan is being formulated in Sweden, but seems to be taking a long time to finalize. In the meantime, marketing is suffering, especially here in North America, as they decide on their future. The US is Volvo’s largest market.
    China is currently Volvo’s 3rd biggest market. The cars are produced by a joint venture with Chang’an that dates back to the Ford ownership period. This arrangement will continue. Geely has plans to build a new factory for increased production, but everything hinges on the new product plan. It remains to be seen how long Geely will wait for the team in Sweden to finalize their product plans. Volvo was a very important acquisition for Geely, and thy’re looking for positive results.

  • avatar
    pb35

    I am a Volvo fan and owner having purchased a 2007 XC90 V8 Sport new. Reliability has been good so far, the major failure being the angle gear for the AWD. It failed about 8 months after my factory warranty expired. My Volvo service dept. escalated the case and Volvo covered a nearly $4k repair. There is much to be said for taking your foreign car to the dealer for scheduled service.

    Would I purchase another? After owning the V8 I can’t see downgrading to the 3.2 I6. I’m leery of the Chinese ownership but it doesn’t seem to have affected the service I receive. I really like my local dealer a lot and living in a college town, I see many XC60s, 70s and 90s every day. Not to mention the S60. I don’t want a BMW or Audi. What am I going to buy? A Pilot? An LR4? Enclave? The XC is primarily driven by the wife now and she won’t give it up. It’s the perfect size for us and our twins. I am holding until the next gen XC90 sometime in the next 4 years (lol). I won’t buy the first year model so I wait at least another 3 years? Probably not, that will make my XC 8-9 yrs old.

    As for sales, I get Volvo sales results to my inbox every month and they are always…the same. Up or down slightly. YTD sales are down 1% from last year. Not a path to prosperity IMO. Finally, for those that say Volvo is no longer the leader in safety, the S60 passing the mild offset crash test was very impressive. I would rather crash in my XC than a Pilot any day, bottom line.

  • avatar
    turbobrick

    Volvo does what Volvo wants to, Geely is just the sugar daddy writing the checks at this point. They want to get a piece of the CDM, and the path to happiness for them was to buy Volvo to gain access to their intellectual property. We can revisit the subject when V40′s start coming out of an assembly line in China.

    People keep lamenting for the return of the 240, which was well built and very overpriced back in the day. Lets look at their current portfolio, where they have a mid-size S60 with the “White Block” 5-banger that’s been around just as long as the old “Red Block” had been when it disappeared from the US market.

    Ergo, the modern 240 replacement exists, and it’s called the S60.

    Re: Volvo needs to be axed… I don’t think so. They’re not cannibalizing sales from another division of the same company, and again, Geely wants to increase their production volume in order to sell more units in China. In the US they need better advertising and more of it. They’ve gotten off the safety message because everyone perceives every rickety bucket riveted together in a shed to be equally safe – the mild offset crash tests is the perfect opportunity to hammer home the message that “We look beyond the current standards because we think that safety involves more than just stars on a chart”. Get some engineering types to explain the design philosophy, why they are different from other Euro brands (our engines can be repaired without removing them from the car…).

  • avatar
    cornycopious

    “Volvo isn’t number one in safety anymore” is one of those things people say without thinking about it or having any idea what they’re talking about just to have something to say. Have you put the dots together after the recent IIHS small overlap test? You should. Manufacturers (practically all of them except Volvo) are mailing it in when it comes to safety, building to the tests and nothing but. Change the test slightly and suddenly you see that they aren’t even able to protect you from hitting a tree at 40 mph unless you happen to hit it dead center. The only reason that test didn’t take Volvo by surprise? They’ve been doing it on their own SINCE THE 80′s. Other manufacturers are going to have to redesign their entire lineups to pass, whereas Volvo’s now ancient XC90 sails through it without a hitch. Have you seen the XC90 rollover video? You should check it out. Now check out the same rollover video for the MDX, X5 and every other SUV in the segment. Oh– what? Those manufacturers HAVEN’T made such a video public? If safety isn’t important to you that’s cool. Just don’t delude yourself into thinking your Toyota is remotely equivalent just because the US government said so after putting it through a barrier of ersatz “tests”. Also, have you noticed that the new S60 almost bested the 3 series in every category of comparison in the Road and Track review? Have you noticed how much better Volvo’s user interfaces are than practically everything else on the road? Do you think you might get any value out of a seat that was actually designed by an orthopedist? Volvo’s decision to stick to North America is probably just a vote of faith in the American public to one day be able to recognize good design and choose it over the garbage they’ve been buying. Probably a wreckless decision given that we gave the world the happy meal, but I think we should take it as a compliment and just be glad they haven’t given up.


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