The Truth About Cars » Volvo http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Thu, 30 Jul 2015 11:47:27 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.2 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars » Volvo http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/category/reviews/volvo/ Volvo More than Doubles US Polestar Allocation for 2016 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/volvo-more-than-doubles-us-polestar-allocation-for-2016/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/volvo-more-than-doubles-us-polestar-allocation-for-2016/#comments Sun, 19 Jul 2015 16:01:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1119449 After the sale of Polestar to Volvo, the Swedish automaker is cranking up output and bringing more than double the number of high-performance sedans and wagons to the U.S. for 2016. Also, there will be more wagons than sedans wearing Polestar badging this time around, as Volvo states 60 percent of the 265 total Polestar […]

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Volvo S60 and V60 Polestar, model year 2016

After the sale of Polestar to Volvo, the Swedish automaker is cranking up output and bringing more than double the number of high-performance sedans and wagons to the U.S. for 2016.

Also, there will be more wagons than sedans wearing Polestar badging this time around, as Volvo states 60 percent of the 265 total Polestar units will be V60 models.

It should come as no surprise that Volvo is looking to leverage its now-owned Polestar brand a little more than they have in the past. The automaker is also expanding the Polestar color palate with Icy White and Bright Silver in addition to the Black Sapphire and photo-friendly Rebel Blue shades available last year.

As in 2015, S60 and V60 Polestar models will be powered by a 345 horsepower, turbocharged,  six-cylinder engine.

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Volvo Could Be Buying Polestar To Exit Motorsport http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/volvo-buying-polestar-exit-motorsport/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/volvo-buying-polestar-exit-motorsport/#comments Tue, 14 Jul 2015 16:00:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1115153 The fraternity of automotive journalism was atwitter when blue Polestar Volvos arrived at the Chicago auto show last year. While the cars delivered increased performance and looks to match, Polestar also gave the high-performance Swedish offerings credibility with racing programs in Scandinavia (STCC) and Australia (V8 Supercars). It’s no secret, though, that Volvo’s marketing head, Alain Visser, sees […]

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Polestar STCC

The fraternity of automotive journalism was atwitter when blue Polestar Volvos arrived at the Chicago auto show last year. While the cars delivered increased performance and looks to match, Polestar also gave the high-performance Swedish offerings credibility with racing programs in Scandinavia (STCC) and Australia (V8 Supercars).

It’s no secret, though, that Volvo’s marketing head, Alain Visser, sees no future for the brand in motorsport. Purchasing Polestar might be the Swedish manufacturer’s way of ending at least one of its racing contracts while still holding on to the blue-hot Polestar brand.

Speaking with Swedish media late last year, Visser plainly stated, “Motorsport does not conform with our brand, where we stand for smaller engines and safety. We are therefore pulling out of STCC, for example, as soon as the contracts permits.”

This goes along with Volvo’s official statement this morning where the only mention of Volvo’s motorsport involvement with Polestar is the automaker intention to not purchase the racing part of the Polestar organization. That’s it. Nothing is mentioned regarding the successes shared by the two parties in the Scandinavian Touring Car Championship or V8 Supercars Australia.

But, what exactly is Polestar, anyway?

Polestar can be split into three distinct parts: the racing team contesting both STCC and V8 Supercars series; Polestar Performance AB, which makes go-fast aftermarket parts for Volvos; and Polestar Holding AB, the owner of all of Polestar’s trademarks.

Volvo, in their effort to exit racing, has chosen to purchase the last two, opting to leave now-former Polestar owner Christian Dahl with the racing team that will be renamed later.

This is a clever move by Volvo. It allows the company to continue its use of the Polestar name and also retain engineers and other knowledge at Polestar for future branded models while no longer having to fund the expensive endeavors of motorsport. By purchasing Polestar, Volvo can effectively end the contract it now has with itself. Christian Dahl is then free to continue his passion for racing, funded by a Viking Karve-sized load of cash from the Chinese.

Will Polestar be as successful now that its motorsport links have now become heritage? We will just have to wait and see.

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Volvo Buys Polestar, Maybe Won’t Be Unicorn After All http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/volvo-buys-polestar-maybe-wont-unicorn/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/volvo-buys-polestar-maybe-wont-unicorn/#comments Tue, 14 Jul 2015 15:00:26 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1115105 Volvo has purchased Swedish high-performance tuner Polestar, the automaker announced Tuesday. The company will own and operate Polestar as an in-house performance division much like Ford’s SVT division or Subaru’s STI group (anything other than another Mercedes-AMG or BMW M Division reference). You could be forgiven for thinking Volvo owned Polestar already — the Swedish […]

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Volvo-V60-S60-Polestar-Models-03

Volvo has purchased Swedish high-performance tuner Polestar, the automaker announced Tuesday. The company will own and operate Polestar as an in-house performance division much like Ford’s SVT division or Subaru’s STI group (anything other than another Mercedes-AMG or BMW M Division reference).

You could be forgiven for thinking Volvo owned Polestar already — the Swedish automaker already exclusively contracted with the Swedish tuner in 2013 to produce the V60 and S60 Polestar editions and the two have worked together since the 1990s.

Volvo said in the medium-term it would double output of Polestar branded cars — which could mean more than 80 sedans and 40 wagons a year coming to the United States.

Polestar’s racing team, which races in the Scandinavian Touring Car Championship, won’t be included in the deal. This shouldn’t come as a surprise. Volvo Global Marketing Vice-President, Alain Visser, stated last year, “Motorsport does not conform with our brand, where we stand for smaller engines and safety. We are therefore pulling out of STCC, for example, as soon as the contracts permits.”

Christian Dahl, now former-CEO of Polestar, will remain as the team’s principal and the touring car team will be renamed.

“We are extremely satisfied with the way the performance business with Volvo has developed. But we are a racing team first and foremost. This is an opportunity to return our full attention to our core business – to develop and race Volvo cars,” Dahl said in a statement announcing the deal.

Volvo said Polestar would be involved with the automaker’s plug-in hybrid cars in the future.

Financial details of the deal were not disclosed by Volvo.

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Volvo Offers Lifetime Warranty on Replacement Parts http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/volvo-offers-lifetime-warranty-replacement-parts/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/volvo-offers-lifetime-warranty-replacement-parts/#comments Thu, 09 Jul 2015 20:00:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1112225 Volvo announced today it will warranty any replaced part and labor, not including wear-and-tear items and accessories, for the life of the car. The coverage extends only to service at dealerships. Volvo owners will pay for the initial replacement parts and labor on vehicles with expired warranties, but Volvo will pay for any additional service on that part for as long as […]

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163787_Volvo_XC90_at_the_Swedish_Royal_Wedding

Volvo announced today it will warranty any replaced part and labor, not including wear-and-tear items and accessories, for the life of the car. The coverage extends only to service at dealerships.

Volvo owners will pay for the initial replacement parts and labor on vehicles with expired warranties, but Volvo will pay for any additional service on that part for as long as the owner has the car. The parts warranty covers all models from all years and will be honored at all North American Volvo dealerships, according to the automaker.

“The lifetime parts and labor warranty is a commitment to both quality vehicles and quality customer relationships,” Lex Kerssemakers, President and CEO of Volvo Cars of North America said in a statement. “Everyone should feel confident that Volvo is here to support our customers throughout the ownership of their vehicle.”

The parts warranty is part of Volvo’s larger service program that includes roadside assistance, software upgrades and the ever-important, free carwash.

With an upcoming U.S. plant, perhaps Volvo will save on shipping costs.

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Chinese-Built Volvo S60 Sedans to Arrive in U.S. in “About Two Months” http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/chinese-built-volvo-s60-sedans-to-arrive-in-u-s-in-about-two-months/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/chinese-built-volvo-s60-sedans-to-arrive-in-u-s-in-about-two-months/#comments Tue, 26 May 2015 17:18:32 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1076298 Proving the first Chinese cars to come to America will be imported by established brands, Volvo has a number of S60 sedans on the boat from China and they’re expected to arrive in about two months. Manufacturing in China is just one part of Volvo’s plan to boost sales to 800,000 units annually before 2020. […]

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2015 Volvo S60 Sedan

Proving the first Chinese cars to come to America will be imported by established brands, Volvo has a number of S60 sedans on the boat from China and they’re expected to arrive in about two months.

Manufacturing in China is just one part of Volvo’s plan to boost sales to 800,000 units annually before 2020.

The S60s bound for the United States are built in the Chinese city of Chengdu before transported to Shanghai for export. Volvo also produces the XC60 in Chengdu. Another plant in Daqing builts the previous generation XC90 that Volvo markets as the XC90 Classic.

Volvo did not say how many cars it plans to export from China, Automotive News Europe reports.

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2016 Volvo XC90 First Drive (With Video) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/2016-volvo-xc90-first-drive-video/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/2016-volvo-xc90-first-drive-video/#comments Thu, 21 May 2015 15:30:39 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1069282 Volvo seems to be on the long road to recovery. Although sales have continued to slip in the USA, the numbers were up worldwide last year. In an interesting twist, 2014 was also the first year more Volvos were sold in China than North America. That could be cause-and-effect since Volvo had been more focused on […]

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2016 Volvo XC90 T6 AWD

Volvo seems to be on the long road to recovery. Although sales have continued to slip in the USA, the numbers were up worldwide last year. In an interesting twist, 2014 was also the first year more Volvos were sold in China than North America. That could be cause-and-effect since Volvo had been more focused on their European-only new compact sedan and wagon. 2016 finally showers some Swedish love on America with a complete redesign of the XC90, the SUV originally designed for us. Because China is now a bigger market than we are, this XC90 isn’t just for us, but for China and the growing number of big crossovers clogging up Europe as well.

Exterior
The Volvo DNA is undeniable, but an Audi influence is also readily apparent. While I admit I like Audi’s design language, I am a little saddened the very distinct Volvo styling cues from the original S80, S60 and XC90 continue to get softened over time.

Up front is a bolder, flatter grille (thanks to pedestrian impact regulations), distinctive optional LED headlamps and a shorter front overhang than ever before. The shorter overhang is possible because this is the first Volvo in ages designed to accept only 4-cylinder or smaller engines under the hood. Out back, the distinctive Swedish hips are nearly gone, replaced by a more sloping profile that is more aggressive but less extraordinary. The Audi influence is most apparent out back where U.S.-bound models get red turn signals instead of the amber blinkers found on the European model. While Audi supposedly makes the amber-to-red change because the amber lamps from the EU don’t cover enough surface area, Volvo’s switch is purely aesthetic.

Interior
Until the new Q7 lands and we can look inside, the new XC90 has the best interior in the segment with no exceptions. After stepping into a Range Rover Sport after the event, I can safely say the Volvo compares well with the next category up. Momentum trims make do with injection moulded door and dash components, while Inscription models slather everything within reach in acres of cowhide, more wood trim than a modern Jaguar and a simple style that is distinctly Scandinavian. (Which is surprising since the lead interior designer is American.)

The new SUV gets Volvo’s first complete seat redesign in ages. The Swedish thrones have long had a reputation for impressive ergonomics, but a refresh was overdue. The new design allows for 4-way lumbar, adjusting side bolsters, extending thigh cushions and ventilation in addition to heating. I was unable to sample the less capable base seat, but 8 hours in the top-end model confirms Volvo has improved the adjustability without sacrificing their legendary comfort and support.

Hop in the back and you’ll notice the XC90’s length may have grown over time, but interior height is actually down in some measures. This makes the third row very unusual. The seats are some of the most comfortable mother-in-law-row seats I’ve had the pleasure to sit in, but the headroom limits their usefulness to those under 5’8. The cargo area is surprisingly generous behind the third row with enough room to stuff roller bags in the long way, but I suspect most folks will keep the way-back seats folded. If that describes your typical third row usage, you may want to lobby Volvo for the seating accoutrements in the picture below.

Volvo XC90 Excellence - interior

As we’ve all heard, chauffeurs are cheap in China and being driven is preferred to driving. To satisfy this growing segment of Chinese society, Volvo will build the XC90 Excellence, which can be had as either a 3 or 4 seat model. No, Volvo didn’t bring one to sample to the event, but I mention it because the concept sounded way out in left field when I first saw the blog posts about it a few weeks ago. After having experienced the new interior, however, I have to say it makes sense. All but the steering wheel airbag cover is Range Rover competitive and I wouldn’t mind seeing a 5-seat variant with a little extra “plush” in the back. Just call it something other than the “XC90 Excellence.” Please.

Infotainment
Volvo placed a 9.3-inch touchscreen in the middle of the dash, which acts more like a tablet computer than a traditional infotainment system. The display actually works a little more smoothly than Tesla’s ginormous 17-inch model, although it’s much less snazzy. The overall concept allows four different data “zones” to coexist on-screen at the same time, customizable by the user. To interact with them, you touch the option and it expands while shrinking the others. This allows you to see the nav system’s map and your next turn directions while also seeing your media information, fuel economy, vehicle status and other pertinent bits. Touch responses were lightning fast, just like the latest tablet computers. The system offers iDrive-like levels of adjustment and vehicle customization.

2016 Volvo XC90 T6 AWD

Over on the driver’s side is an all-new and all-gigantic 12.3-inch LCD instrument cluster. The gauge design is elegant and well-laid out using nearly 1/3 of the display for either your media functions or a navigation map, even when a destination is not set. I’d say the new Volvo display ranks on par with the new Mercedes S-Class and ahead of the Jaguars and Land Rovers with disco dashes in terms of design. Speaking of JLR products, I have one gripe: like the English disco dashes, Volvo has little ability to customize the LCD aside from colors and some minor gauge changes. Although GM has only four different layouts to chose from in Cadillac CUE, that’s three more than Volvo and the looks are all different.

Safety
For 2016, Volvo reprises most of its safety systems, updates several of them and adds some new ones for good measure. The usual suspects – like a plethora of airbags and anti-whiplash seats – are standard. Volvo’s City Safety autonomous braking system gets an under the covers overhaul. Previously, the system came in two different versions: the base version relied solely on a laser scanner and camera to detect traffic and the second version was bundled with the adaptive cruise control using a radar sensor to expand coverage to pedestrians and cyclists. This generation of City Safety doesn’t increase the speeds above 31 mph, but the radar sensor and expanded sensing is now standard, as is a software tweak to improve accident avoidance in intersections. The new radar sensor replaces the laser scanner and is located in the same housing behind the rear-view mirror. The new location is less susceptible to ice build-up or snow packing in cold weather and may reduce repair costs in minor accidents.

Safety seems to be a game of diminishing returns, so the new systems focus on higher hanging fruit. The run-off-road protection uses the City Safety camera to determine if you are leaving the road surface. If you do, new seatbelt tensioners will pull you into place and a deforming seat frame makes sure when you launch into the air and land, spinal forces are reduced by 1/3. There’s also a rear-end collision warning that lets you know a drunk is about to plow into your hind end. The system will tension the seat belts, flash the hazard lights to attract the attention of the other driver, and will use the brakes to keep the car under control during and after the collision.

Volvo 2.0L T6 Drive E Engine

Drivetrain
As advertised, Volvo has kicked their 5- and 6-cylinder engines to the curb with the new XC90. While there are a selection of engines available in the EU, the only one making it to the USA is the turbocharged and supercharged 2.0L direct-injection four-cylinder. In the SPA platform, there’s a little more room for the plumbing. So, power is up slightly from the XC60 Drive-E to 316 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque, nearly the equal of the BMW N55 in most tunes. The only transmission is an 8-speed Aisin automatic. All T6 models get a standard Haldex AWD system that will send up to 50 percent of available power to the rear whenever it wants. And, depending on the situation, the system will send up to 80 percent of power to the rear axle if a front wheel slips. If you need more power, Volvo doesn’t give you a bigger engine; they add a hybrid system in addition to the turbo and the supercharger. Say what? You heard that right, the XC90 T8 is a plug-in turbocharged and supercharged 400 horsepower hybrid.

Volvo’s hybrid system is thematically similar to Acura’s RLX hybrid. Things start with the same 316 hp engine and 8-speed auto as the T6, but they jam a 46 hp, 103 lb-ft electric starter/motor/generator between the engine and torque converter. The engineers ditched the Haldex AWD so they could stuff a water-cooled 9.3 kWh lithium ion battery in the tunnel between the front seats. The mechanical AWD is replaced by a 87 hp, 177 lb-ft electric motor connected to the rear axle sending power through a fixed 10:1 reduction gear. With a maximum discharge rate of 87 hp from the battery, the power and torque curves combine to give the driver 400 ponies and 475 lb-ft of torque. (Official US numbers are not final.) If you live in the snow belt, you should know while the T6 can send 158 hp to the rear on a whim, 87 is the most you’ll ever get in the T8. If that sounds like the Lexus and Acura eAWD systems, you’re right, so expect similar snow and ice performance.

2016 Volvo XC90 T6 AWD

Drive
I was honestly a little surprised Volvo designed an entirely new suspension system for the SPA platform in addition to everything else. Instead of MacPherson struts, Volvo fits double wishbones up front producing a positive impact on handling. Out back, the XC90 sports a funky single composite leaf-spring in the independent multi-link suspension. The rear suspension design (except the leaf spring part) is quite similar to what Jaguar is using in the new XE. Logical, since both were started while Volvo and Jaguar were owned by Ford. The new design makes it easier to integrate the optional four-corner air suspension fitted to all XC90s at the testing event. The new suspension design, the lightened front end and the widest tires Volvo has ever put on a production car (275 width) improve handling just as you’d expect.

This puts the XC90 closer to the X5 than the MDX or QX60 in terms of grip. Configured comparably, the X5 will out handle the XC90 thanks to a RWD dynamic and better weight balance. But, the XC90 is less expensive. So, configured to a similar price, the Volvo will likely win. Speaking of price, the XC90 and the MDX price out almost identically. Although the XC90 starts higher at $48,900, it comes with standard AWD and the Acura doesn’t. Similarly configured an MDX Advance and a XC90 Momentum (with appropriate options) end up just $100 apart, a decent discount vs the other Euro options.

The all-new XC90 features a completely new chassis, front and rear, including a double wishbone front suspension.

The all-new XC90 features a completely new chassis, front and rear, including a double wishbone front suspension.

The engineers are claiming a 6.1 second 0-60 time – the same time advertised by BMW for the X5 in both RWD and AWD forms. Unfortunately, I was unable to 0-60 test the Volvo. Going back in our logs, I discovered that the 2015 X5 xDrive35i is the only BMW in recent memory to take longer to get to 60 than BMW’s claimed. The X5 hit 60 after 6.5 seconds, meaning the Volvo may be a hair faster. Check back for full specs when we get our hands on one for a full review. Add the hybrid hardware and Volvo says 0-60 drops to 5.7 seconds – notably faster than the QX60 hybrid (7.1) but a far cry from the 4.4L turbo X5 (4.7).

Numbers aside, the small engine in the XC90 certainly has a different feel than the 3.0L engine in the BMW. Low end torque from idle lags then comes on strong. Passing torque is excellent at most speeds, and at high RPMs the engine feels a hair more out of breath than the larger displacement options.

2016 Volvo XC90 T6 AWD

The XC90 isn’t a game changer for Volvo in America. It can’t be. A brand is more than one car. However, if the XC90 is a window into Volvo’s future, then I have high hopes. If the Swedes can make over their entire lineup fast enough, they may also salvage their American sales numbers. This kind of interior quality in a 3-series sized vehicle would give even the all-new and all-tasty C-Class a run for its money. Just two things stand in their way: a distinct lack of marketing to let Audi shoppers know there is a better crossover for sale and the worrying thought it may be another 12 years until this XC90 gets redesigned. If you’re shopping for a luxury 3-row and don’t give the XC90 a look, you’re missing out on one tasty meatball.

Volvo provided the vehicle at a lunch event.

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Review: 2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country (with video) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/review-2015-5-volvo-v60-cross-country-video/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/review-2015-5-volvo-v60-cross-country-video/#comments Fri, 03 Apr 2015 13:00:14 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1030617 Volvo may not have invented the wagon but no company has as much dedication to the practical cargo hauler as the Swedish brand. With the new V60 Cross Country they have expanded to six wagons world-wide (V40, V40 Cross Country, V60, V60 Cross Country, V70 and XC70). Wagon fans sad that Volvo isn’t bringing their […]

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2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Exterior Side-004

Volvo may not have invented the wagon but no company has as much dedication to the practical cargo hauler as the Swedish brand. With the new V60 Cross Country they have expanded to six wagons world-wide (V40, V40 Cross Country, V60, V60 Cross Country, V70 and XC70). Wagon fans sad that Volvo isn’t bringing their smaller boxes to the USA may be relieved to know the V60 Cross Country is not replacing the V60. This means that for the first time in a long time, we have access to three Swedish wagons on our shores.

Exterior

Volvo is a company normally associated with safety and practicality. They are the comfy penny loafer of the luxury segment if you will. This Volvo is different. Rather than the boxy form-follows-function style we’re used to from Sweden, the V60 is more about style than practicality. The change is most noticeable in the rear where we get a hatch that is raked forward and a greenhouse that plunges and pinches toward the back. e still have a subtle hint of the Volvo “hips”, but the design has been smoothed and simplified since the 1999 S80 that started Volvo’s modern style.

For off-paved-road duty, Volvo jacked up V60’s ride height by 2.6 inches, added some silver trim here and there, swapped out the grille for a honeycomb-themed version and added some black wheel arches. Thus the oddly named V60 Cross Country was born. For reasons I don’t quite understand, the CC gets larger wheels (18-inch) narrower 50-series rubber. This should be your first hint that the CC is more soft-road than off-road focused. As you might expect from a car maker located in the north, the CC can be had with an electric heated windscreen ala Range Rover that speeds ice removal when the snowpocalypse returns. Perhaps it’s my preference towards wagons in general, but I think the the tweaks work on the CC, it retains the crisp style I appreciate on the V60 but adds just enough “rugged” style to differentiate it on the road.

2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Interior.CR2

Interior

For those that haven’t shopped for a Volvo wagon in a while, the Swedes continue to shuffle model numbers around. Once upon a time the wagon variant of the S60 was the V70 and the off-road version was the XC70. Today however the V70 and XC70 are based on the S80 wagon. The V50 was once the wagon version of the smaller S40 leaving just V60 available. Sounds logical, right? So an off-road modified V60 would be a XC60. Oops, that already exists. So Volvo dusted off their older “Cross Country” nomenclature, the same trim that ostensibly got shortened to “XC” a while back. Confused yet?

The V60’s is on the small side for this segment and that’s most noticeable in the rear where we have less legroom than you’ll find in the A4 and BMW 3-Series wagons. This is the key reason that Volvo will be bringing their stretched S60 sedan to America next year, sadly there is no word of a matching V60L.  Front seat accommodations are spacious, but still offer a less room than the Germans. One thing Volvo has consistently excelled at however is seat comfort. Front and rear seats are well padded and extremely comfortable. All 2015.5 Volvo models finally ditch the lumbar support knob for a 2-way power variety which is welcome, but not as adjustable as the 4-way competition. In an interesting twist, all CC models get a variant of the S60 and V60’s sport seats which offer exaggerated bolstering on the back and bottom cushions. I like the feel, but if you’re a larger person you may find them a little narrow.

The cargo area is where we see the consequence of Volvo’s sexy side profile. Behind the curvaceous hatch sits half the cargo capacity of an XC60 at just 15.2 cubic feet. With the rear seats folded it expands to 43.5, about half of what you find in the XC70. The cargo space is small enough that even the questionably practical BMW X4 has a little more room in the back. Audi’s allroad slots between the XC70 and V60 Cross Country in overall dimensions and cargo capacity.

2015.5 Volvo Sensus Connect Infotainment Navigation-004

Infotainment

2015.5 doesn’t bring a larger screen or major UI changes to Volvo’s Sensus Connect but it does add a cell modem. The new “Connected” Sensus gives the driver access to online business searches, streaming media without a smartphone, OnStar-like telematics services (Volvo On Call) and access to Wikipedia. The service requires a data subscription to use the full range of services, but wisely Volvo decided to toss in a WiFi chipset so you can share your cell plan with passengers or use a paired smartphone for Sensus’ data connection if you’d rather not have another cell phone bill. Also along for the ride is a smartphone app to let you see if you locked your car, remote start the engine, or honk the horn and flash the lights if you’ve lost your car in the IKEA parking lot.

Volvo’s Sensus system continues to keep up with most of the entries in this segment by adding features to their snappy interface. The system is well laid out, intuitive, and oddly Volvo allows access to essentially everything while the vehicle is in motion. This allows passengers to enter information using the on-dash control-wheel without stopping the car. The driver can use the same knob, or a control wheel on the steering wheel to control system functions. The graphics, maps and voice commands aren’t quite as well done as iDrive and you can’t voice command your media library as you can in an Acura or Lincoln, but it is competitive with A3’s and allroad’s MMI and COMAND in the CLA and GLA.

2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Engine 2.5L 5-Cylinder-002

Drivetrain

Volvo’s slick 300HP turbocharged/supercharged engine is sadly incompatible with the V60’s AWD system. (The output to the rear axle is located in a different spot and would require modifications to the chassis.)  As a result, all 2015.5 Volvos with AWD use the company’s trued and true 5 and 6-cylinder engines and older 6-speed automatic. For CC duty, Volvo limits your engine choice to just the 250 HP 2.5L 5-cylinder engine which can crank out up to 295 lb-ft in overboost for a limited time. If you’d like Volvo’s smooth inline-6 turbo, you’ll have to step over to the regular V60 or the XC70. Thankfully Volvo chose to leave the anaemic 3.2L engine out of the V60’s engine compartment.

2015.5 beings new shift logic to the transaxle that significantly reduces shift time (and sacrifices some shift quality) when in “sport” mode. Despite receiving some efficiency tweaks a few years ago, the 2.5L’s fuel economy still lags behind the 3-Series wagon at 23 MPG combined. Sending power to the rear is the latest Haldex AWD system which can send up to 50% of the power to the rear axles at any time, and if wheel slip up front occurs the power transfer can exceed 90%.

2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Exterior 18-inch Wheel

Drive

The new programming of the AWD and transmission in sport mode was instantly obvious behind the wheel compared to 2014 S60 T5 AWD I benchmarked back-to-back. The new AWD software  sends noticeably more power to the rear when flogging the CC on winding roads and  transmission shifts are considerably faster and firmer. The change in programming isn’t just about feel, it also took a quarter second off the 0-60 time without an increase in power. The Aisin 6-speed transaxle in Volvo’s product-line has always felt soft compared to the ZF 6-speeds that BMW and Audi used, but this software narrows the gap. The improved bundle scoots to 60 in 6.41 seconds, just under 3/10ths slower than a X4 xDrive28i (that review is coming up soon.)

With the V70 to XC70 transition the engineers softened the suspension, but they took a different path with the CC making this one of the firmer almost-crossover vehicles around. The suspension is more forgiving than the V60 R-Design, but significantly stiffer than the larger XC70 or the Audi allroad. This leads to impressive handling when compared to the allroad, XC70 or even the distant Subaru competition. Something along the lines of a BMW X4 or BMW 328i GT will feel more nimble without a doubt, but they are also significantly more expensive.

2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Exterior

On the surface of things it would seem that the $41,000 V60 Cross Country commands a $4,000 premium over the V60, XC60 or XC70. That sounded logical to me at first, since BMW charges roughly the same to make the X3 less practical create the X4 from the X3. However, when you adjust for the standard AWD, 18-inch wheels, navigation, sport seats, LDS gauges, etc the CC actually ends up being slightly less than a comparable V60 and $1,500 less than the XC70 3.2. (Speaking of the XC70 and the 3.2, Volvo’s big wagon has a confusing engine line-up. Opt for FWD and you get their sweet four-cylinder turbo and new 8-speed auto. Get the middle-trim and you’re saddled with a wheezy naturally aspirated 3.2L engine, but pony up a little extra and you can get the same BMW-fighting twin-scroll turbo 3.0L engine as the V60 R-Design.)

Audi’s allroad is several thousand dollars more than the CC when similarly equipped and is even a slight premium over the XC70 despite being smaller. The rugged Audi handles well, but the Volvo weighs several hundred pounds less and that more than compensates for the less advantageous weight balance in the corners. While the BMW X4 and 3-Series GT may deliver superior handling, they also come with a superior price tag. A comparable X4 xDrive28i will set you back at least $8,000 more.

2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Exterior-001

The Audi allroad and the Volvo XC70 are made for rural living with a Euro twist. The soft suspensions soak up poor pavement in the boonies, the AWD systems are sure-footed on dirt roads and you won’t bruise your kidneys if you decide to drive off the beaten path to check on your trendy alpaca herd. The V60 Cross Country has a different mission in mind. Like the X4 and 3-Series GT, this Volvo was made for folks that live down a short gravel road but drive on high-speed winding mountain roads for most of their commute. In other words, my demographic exactly.

Trouble is, as much fun as the Cross Country was to drive, and how perfectly it seemed tailored to my demographic, the XC60 or the XC70 make considerably more sense. Part of that has to do with the V60’s position as a “styling exercise” than a practical cargo hauler. The XC60 gives up less handling ability than you’d think with twice the cargo capacity and the XC70 gives you more thrust, more luxury, and, again: twice the cargo capacity. The 2015.5 V60 Cross Country is one of the best wagons ever sold in America, but I’d buy a XC70 T6 instead.

 

  Volvo provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review

Specifications as tested:

0-30: 2.5 Seconds

0-60: 6.41 Seconds

1/4 Mile:15 Seconds @ 92 MPH

Average Fuel Economy: 22 MPG

 

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Volvo Moved More Wagons Than Sedans In Canada In February 2015 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/volvo-moved-wagons-sedans-canada-february-2015/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/volvo-moved-wagons-sedans-canada-february-2015/#comments Tue, 17 Mar 2015 14:00:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1023977 Volvo is having a hard time moving most of its wares out of the showroom in Canada, with its wagons being the silver lining to its cloud. Good Car Bad Car reports overall Volvo sales are down 16 percent so far in the first two months of 2015, following a fall of 62 percent between […]

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2015 Volvo V60 Polestar_2

Volvo is having a hard time moving most of its wares out of the showroom in Canada, with its wagons being the silver lining to its cloud.

Good Car Bad Car reports overall Volvo sales are down 16 percent so far in the first two months of 2015, following a fall of 62 percent between 2005 and 2014. However, the Sino-Swede automaker managed to sell 54 V60s in February, compared to 27 units of the S60. Thirty-one XC70s and four S80s left the showroom that month, as well.

Of course, the best-selling Volvo in Canada that month was not a wagon, but the XC60, with 101 sold; 113 left the lot in January.

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Volvo S60, V60 Polestar Enter Second Run, Middle East For 2015 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/volvo-s60-v60-polestar-enter-second-run-middle-east-2015/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/volvo-s60-v60-polestar-enter-second-run-middle-east-2015/#comments Wed, 25 Feb 2015 12:00:23 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1007730 Been wanting a Volvo S60 or V60 Polestar? The Sino-Swedish automaker is making a second batch for 2015, with 13 countries to take delivery this time. Volvo plans to make 750 S60 and V60 Polestars this year for the 2016 model year, citing the performance vehicles’ sales success in 2014 for the second production run. […]

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Volvo S60 and V60 Polestar, model year 2016

Been wanting a Volvo S60 or V60 Polestar? The Sino-Swedish automaker is making a second batch for 2015, with 13 countries to take delivery this time.

Volvo plans to make 750 S60 and V60 Polestars this year for the 2016 model year, citing the performance vehicles’ sales success in 2014 for the second production run.

Meanwhile, the Middle East will see some of the blue Volvos on its roads this year, as Bahrain, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar and United Arab Emirates are the newest additions to the list of markets the automaker sells its high-performance wares, which currently include Australia, Canada, Japan, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom and United States.

As for what they’ll receive, the Polestars feature power from a turbocharged 3-liter I6 pushing 345 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque through a Polestar-calibrated paddle-shifted six-speed automatic to the vehicle’s Haldex four-wheel drive system. The S60 goes from nil to 60 in 4.7 seconds, while the V60 does it in 4.8 seconds. Top speed is limited to 155 mph, and Brembo brakes stop the 20-inch wheels — shod in Michelin Pilot Super Sports — before any moose are hit. Price of admission in the U.S. starts at around $60,000.

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2016 Volvo S60 Cross Country To Be Rarity In US Market http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/2016-volvo-s60-cross-country-rarity-us-market/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/2016-volvo-s60-cross-country-rarity-us-market/#comments Thu, 05 Feb 2015 12:00:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=993978 Future sightings of the upcoming 2016 Volvo S60 Cross Country are likely to be rare, as only 500 will arrive in U.S. showrooms this summer. Car and Driver reports the 500 will wear the concept’s Austrian Gray and either black or white when it arrives in the United States. Meanwhile, markets such as Russia and […]

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Future sightings of the upcoming 2016 Volvo S60 Cross Country are likely to be rare, as only 500 will arrive in U.S. showrooms this summer.

Car and Driver reports the 500 will wear the concept’s Austrian Gray and either black or white when it arrives in the United States. Meanwhile, markets such as Russia and India may see the standard S60 replaced with the more off-road capable sedan, based on the rougher road conditions found in both countries.

As for why the U.S. will see so few S60 Cross Countrys, Volvo North America boss Lex Kerssemakers says it’s an experiment to determine how successful such a beast would be among the audience it hopes to attract: those who want what SUVs and crossovers have, but not in an SUV- or crossover-sized package:

There are so many niches popping up these days. You see our competitors trying to fill all sorts of niches, and I’m not convinced that the consumer is really ready for all those niches. But in all fairness, you don’t know until you have tried. You can test and clinic whatever you want, but at the end it’s the real life in which you have to find it out. We’ll see how it works.

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Volvo Considering Three Southern States For New Plant http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/volvo-considering-three-southern-states-new-plant/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/volvo-considering-three-southern-states-new-plant/#comments Wed, 04 Feb 2015 16:00:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=993698 Volvo could soon join BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Kia in the Southeastern United States, as the Sino-Swedish automaker is seeking a home for a new factory. WDRB-TV reports Kentucky, North Carolina and South Carolina are in the crosshairs for the factory, with incentives from the respective governments the deciding factor in where Volvo goes. Potential locations […]

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Volvo could soon join BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Kia in the Southeastern United States, as the Sino-Swedish automaker is seeking a home for a new factory.

WDRB-TV reports Kentucky, North Carolina and South Carolina are in the crosshairs for the factory, with incentives from the respective governments the deciding factor in where Volvo goes.

Potential locations cited by the station, as well as publications News & Observer and The Times & Democrat, include Hardin and Christian counties in Kentucky, Siler City and two other locations in North Carolina, and the Charleston area in South Carolina.

Volvo has a presence in North Carolina, where its North American truck division is headquartered. The automaker also once considered South Carolina for a factory back in 1996. No comment about the current search was given by Volvo, however, nor by those who would know of such information, including Kentucky governor Steve Beshear and South Carolina Department of Commerce representative Allison Skipper.

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Volvo Considers Expanding Cross Country Range http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/volvo-considers-expanding-cross-country-range/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/volvo-considers-expanding-cross-country-range/#comments Fri, 23 Jan 2015 12:00:29 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=987770 The V40, V60 and upcoming S60 Cross Country models won’t be alone for too long, as Volvo plans to expand the Cross Country range. Autocar reports Volvo’s vice president of product strategy Lex Kerssemakers was taken aback by the interest in the S60 Cross Country that recently bowed in Detroit, noting the potential for additional […]

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The V40, V60 and upcoming S60 Cross Country models won’t be alone for too long, as Volvo plans to expand the Cross Country range.

Autocar reports Volvo’s vice president of product strategy Lex Kerssemakers was taken aback by the interest in the S60 Cross Country that recently bowed in Detroit, noting the potential for additional models to gain a few inches in lift, but without the need to enter XC territory:

The XC models are clearly for people who want an SUV; Cross Country models offer some of the benefits and looks, without the same capability or price. So long as Cross Country models have some capability — all-wheel drive, hill descent control — then they are giving customers what they want, and that is enough for them to be considered authentic.

Kerssemakers also noted that when production of the S60 Cross Country begins in the next few months, it will have been eight months since the high-riding sedan was conceived. He cites the automaker’s size and independence as factors in bringing the model to market as quickly as it did.

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NAIAS 2015: Volvo S60 Inscription, XC90 R-Design Revealed http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/naias-2015-volvo-s60-inscription-xc90-r-design-revealed/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/naias-2015-volvo-s60-inscription-xc90-r-design-revealed/#comments Tue, 13 Jan 2015 22:25:04 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=982417 Aside from the S60 Cross Country, Volvo also introduced the S60 Inscription to the world during the 2015 Detroit Auto Show, while the XC90 R-Design made its North American debut. The S60 Inscription’s selling point is rear legroom, which Volvo hopes will be class-leading with the sedan. The S60 will be assembled at its facility […]

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Volvo S60 Inscription

Aside from the S60 Cross Country, Volvo also introduced the S60 Inscription to the world during the 2015 Detroit Auto Show, while the XC90 R-Design made its North American debut.

The S60 Inscription’s selling point is rear legroom, which Volvo hopes will be class-leading with the sedan. The S60 will be assembled at its facility in Chengdu, China, with exports to the United States set for this summer.

The XC90 R-Design ups the ante on the new XC90, with a range of Drive-E engines delivering up to 400 horsepower to the road through either 20-inch or optional 22-inch R-Design alloys. The XC90 will also arrive in U.S. showrooms alongside the S60 Inspiration and and Cross Country this summer.

Volvo S60 Inscription Volvo S60 Inscription Volvo S60 Inscription The all-new Volvo XC90 R-Design Volvo XC90 R-Design The all-new Volvo XC90 R-Design

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NAIAS 2015: Volvo S60 Cross Country Bows http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/naias-2015-volvo-s60-cross-country-bows/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/naias-2015-volvo-s60-cross-country-bows/#comments Tue, 13 Jan 2015 21:14:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=982137 Coming to a Volvo showroom this summer is the high-riding crossover-sedan hybrid (as in plants, not Prii) S60 Cross Country. The S60 Cross Country receives a 2.5-inch lift above the standard S60, with the 250-horsepower T5 turbo-five powering all four corners. 18-inch wheels deliver the power to the road, with 19-inch wheels optional. The S60 […]

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Coming to a Volvo showroom this summer is the high-riding crossover-sedan hybrid (as in plants, not Prii) S60 Cross Country.

The S60 Cross Country receives a 2.5-inch lift above the standard S60, with the 250-horsepower T5 turbo-five powering all four corners. 18-inch wheels deliver the power to the road, with 19-inch wheels optional.

The S60 Cross Country will arrive in the United States, Canada, Russia and Europe in limited numbers beginning this summer.

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Volvo Entering Digital Sales, Limiting Show Appearances http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/volvo-entering-digital-sales-limiting-show-appearances/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/volvo-entering-digital-sales-limiting-show-appearances/#comments Tue, 16 Dec 2014 11:00:20 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=961729 Volvo may not be ready to directly sell its models to the public in the same way Tesla does, but the automaker is ready for online orders. Reuters reports Volvo will gently wade into Internet sales around the globe, and increase spending on digital advertising, though consumers will still need to visit their nearest dealer […]

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Volvo may not be ready to directly sell its models to the public in the same way Tesla does, but the automaker is ready for online orders.

Reuters reports Volvo will gently wade into Internet sales around the globe, and increase spending on digital advertising, though consumers will still need to visit their nearest dealer to complete the transaction for now, per sales boss Alain Visser. He adds that around 80 percent of the automaker’s base are already well-versed in online shopping, and believes the habit will transfer into cars soon enough.

Just as Volvo adjusts its backwards cap and velcro sneakers before rolling out onto the information superhighway upon its magic keyboard, however, the automaker will not be attending as many auto shows as it once did. Instead, it will hit a single show per year in Asia, Europe and North America — specifically, Shanghai/Beijing, Geneva and Detroit — preferring to produce its own annual global event for the latest and greatest.

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Volvo Unveils New Drive-E Three-Cylinder http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/volvo-unveils-new-drive-e-three-cylinder/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/volvo-unveils-new-drive-e-three-cylinder/#comments Fri, 12 Dec 2014 11:00:16 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=958977 Volvo unveiled its new Drive-E three-cylinder engine Thursday, with prototype testing already underway. The engine was developed in-house, and is considered “a natural next step in Volvo’s strategy of downsizing.” Horsepower and torque are unknown at this time. Per powertrain vice president Michael Fleiss, the new Drive-E is being developed alongside Volvo’s CMA architecture, and […]

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Volvo 3-Cylinder Family

Volvo unveiled its new Drive-E three-cylinder engine Thursday, with prototype testing already underway.

The engine was developed in-house, and is considered “a natural next step in Volvo’s strategy of downsizing.” Horsepower and torque are unknown at this time.

Per powertrain vice president Michael Fleiss, the new Drive-E is being developed alongside Volvo’s CMA architecture, and will also power Volvo’s 60 Series with a little help from turbocharging. R&D senior vice president Dr. Peter Mertens adds the engine “can be built on the same production lines” as the four-cylinder Drive-E engines, providing “flexible production potential” as needed.

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Review: 2015.5 Volvo XC60 T6 AWD http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/review-2015-5-volvo-xc60-t6-awd/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/review-2015-5-volvo-xc60-t6-awd/#comments Thu, 04 Dec 2014 17:24:11 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=955474 Volvo is in midst of a turnaround. Sold by Ford and acquired by Chinese Geely Automobile, Volvo representatives see the company heading on a path similar to Jaguar and Land Rover. With this fresh injection of money, in recent years we have seen many concept cars, existing product updates, amazing new engines, and the first all-new […]

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Volvo is in midst of a turnaround. Sold by Ford and acquired by Chinese Geely Automobile, Volvo representatives see the company heading on a path similar to Jaguar and Land Rover. With this fresh injection of money, in recent years we have seen many concept cars, existing product updates, amazing new engines, and the first all-new post-Ford model, the handsome XC90. Refreshed for 2014, the 2015.5 XC60 receives further minor upgrades, including an app!

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Smart phones, as they are called, are all the rage among kids these days. They say that kids even care more about their fancy phones with intentionally cracked screens than they do about cars, which is equally sad and puzzling. Automakers have their hands full with cell phones, too. From distracted driving, proper connectivity, to charging ports and cubbies, cars must be fully cell phone friendly. Several automakers have even gone as far as integrating cell phone-like apps into their infotainment systems and even developing their own apps, which is what Volvo just did.

This app, available on iOS, Android, or Windows Phone (respect and apologies to all the BlackBerry users) enables to user to get vehicle information, location, status, as well as remote unlocking and start. It’s basically all the information that is selectable on the gauge cluster of most modern vehicles, in the palm of your hand. It even sends you push notifications if your Volvo is unlocked. Its best feature is probably being able to unlock and start the car from your phone and spy on its location when it is used by someone else. VIN number, user passcode, and code generated by the vehicle were needed for the initial setup. Only the user passcode was needed for further usage. The app is part of the 2015.5 update which includes Sensus Connect, an OnStar-like service which I did not try out.

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Recently Volvo has also introduced a new family engines called Drive-E. I had a chance to drive an S60 with the 302hp supercharged and turbocharged version of that engine and simply fell in love with it. The engine had plenty of low-end power and pulled to the redline with authority, all while achieving almost 30mpg overall. Unfortunately the Drive-E engines are currently available only in FWD configuration. The vehicle in pictures is an AWD T6 model powered by an older 3.0-liter turbocharged six-cylinder engine with 300hp and 325 lb.-ft. of torque, mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. It’s a powerful engine, and it moves the boxy XC60 with ease, but it is neither as refined as the new Drive-E nor nearly as efficient at 17mpg in the city and 24mpg on the highway.

Despite its age, the recently updated XC60 still looks fresh and really stood out when I parked in a garage full of gray generic cars. It’s still a modern and handsome design, one that draws attention but is also quickly forgotten, and almost invisible to cops. It’s also unmistakably Volvo, thanks to the family headlight and grill design, as well as the huge six inch male symbol logo front and center.

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The driver and passengers are rather isolated from road in the XC60. The vehicle is very quiet and the body feels very stiff, allowing only deep thumps from road imperfections to be transmitted inside. The ride is very comfortable overall but the twenty-inch wheels and 255/45 Pirelli Scorpion Zero tires are a bit of overkill and probably not the best choice for winter. The few buyers who will throw the XC60 into a curve at speed will be rewarded with minimal body roll and general composure similar to many European sedans.

The interior has premium and solid feel to it. All of the interior materials are soft and nice to touch, gauges are easy to read, and the two-tone sports seats are very comfortable and supportive, finished in soft leather. Rear passengers might complain about legroom, and fitting three booster seats across the bench seat will be challenging. The center stack is full of small buttons but the primary controls are performed via the four big knobs and steering wheel controls. The infotainment system could use a bigger screen and it could be a bit higher in the dash.

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The 2015 Volvo XC60 T5 Drive-E FWD starts at $36,200. The vehicle reviewed here is $42,400. Platinum package is $4400 and it includes a power tailgate, Xenon headlights, keyless entry, backup camera, HomeLink™, Harmon Kardon audio, adaptive cruise control and many other active safety features such as collision warning and avoidance, pedestrian/cyclist detection, and lane departure warning. Climate Package & Child Booster Seats is $1550, sport seats are $500Blind Spot Information System Package is another item that should be standard on a Volvo but costs $900. Metallic paint is $550, dub wheels are $1000, and the destination/delivery charge is $925. The total for the tested vehicle comes to $52,225. The top of the line XC60 T6 AWD R-Design Platinum is $50,750 before options.

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For decades Volvo has been know as the safety brand. Looking at the Monroney sticker and where the company is today, I would love to see all of those new active safety features become standard across the model range. Furthermore, all of that technology and those great new engines are not going to contribute to additional sales if price is significantly higher than the sales leaders such as Jeep’s equally equipped Grand Cherokee or the Lexus RX 350. The XC60 is a pleasurable vehicle to live with but it is out-pricing itself in a very competitive market segment.

Kamil Kaluski is the East Coast Editor for Hooniverse.com. His ramblings on Eastern European cars, $500 racers, and other miscellaneous automotive stuff can be found there. 

Volvo Cars of North America, LLC provided the vehicle for this review.

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Capsule Review: Volvo 240GL Estate http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/capsule-review-volvo-240gl-estate/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/capsule-review-volvo-240gl-estate/#comments Sat, 01 Nov 2014 13:00:15 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=934626 Volvo might have been one of the beneficiaries of the headlong rush towards European non-luxury in the Seventies but it, like Porsche, was permanently crippled by the American public’s confusion of “unhurried model cycle” with “should only make one specific car, forever”. For the boys from Stuttgart, it was the Yankee preference for the 911 […]

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Volvo might have been one of the beneficiaries of the headlong rush towards European non-luxury in the Seventies but it, like Porsche, was permanently crippled by the American public’s confusion of “unhurried model cycle” with “should only make one specific car, forever”. For the boys from Stuttgart, it was the Yankee preference for the 911 that warped the next thirty years of their product plan into 911-looking things that were not at all like the 911, even if they said “911” on the rump.

Volvo made a different choice when they decided that the twenty-seven years between the 1966 debut of the 144 and the final 1993-model-year 240 were enough and that it was proper to make a clean break between those boxy RWD sedans and the boxy FWD sedans that followed. In so doing, they both doomed the company to permanent irrelevance and inadvertently created a cult.

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Whenever the aliens finally come, they will no doubt conclude that Volvo stopped making automobiles in 1993 and didn’t start again until about five years before whatever the invasion date turns out to be. The successor 700- and 900-series cars often fell prey to the first generation of Europeansdon’tunderstandelectronicsitis. The 850 and its successors raise absolutely zero interest from anyone unless they have a “T5″ or “R” on the decklid. The S80 is a lovely automobile but it doesn’t have any enthusiast following whatseover. The SUVs, of course, are as disposable as any other SUV without a practical tow rating.

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For that reason, most of the Volvos you see on the streets nowadays fall into two categories:

  • recent model, possibly under factory warranty
  • 240DL or 240GL.

There’s just something about those old Volvos that inspires… passion. Most of them are now owned by young people who identify strongly with what the Volvo brand used to represent. They believe in the 240-series and they restore them for daily use, not the Cars-and-Coffee klatch. While the sedans are still popular, particularly the end-of-run aero-headlamp 240DL sedans, the hipster-Volvo equivalent of a ’63 Stingray Fuelie is the late 240 wagon.

As fate would have it, I’ve had a chance to experience two of these lately; a 240DL with glass E-code headlamps and a permanent interior cloud of cannabis smoke, in which I rode to a hilltop park outside Portland, and this 240GL, which I had the opportunity to drive around rural Ohio a few weekends ago. The DL was in like-new condition, thanks to a rust-free life on the West Coast and a thorough restoration at the hands of an owner with considerable mechanical aptitude. This GL isn’t nearly as perfect, being sourced from New York and with a reasonably long list of fixes yet to come, but it’s mechanically outstanding and a genuine pleasure to operate.

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First things first: this is not a large car. Dimensionally it’s similar to the 2003 Accord. Opening the square-shouldered door and taking a seat, however, reveals a quality of seating and available space that both exceed what you’ll find in any Japanese-brand mid-sizer. The almost complete lack of tumblehome allows the seats to be both wide and widely spaced. The overall feeling is airy but solid, thanks to pillar thickness that was rare in any of the decades in which this model was sold.

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The controls and instrumentation are absolutely straightforward, although the mouse-fur trim is no improvement over the more sparse appearance of the DL model. (Apparently there’s a bit of reverse snobbery among Volvo wagoneers, with the DL and its roll-up windows considered the more desirable car nowadays. More Volvo-ish, dontcha know.) Visibility is outstanding all the way ’round, with only the skeletonized rear headrests offering any significant impediment.

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Even after more than twenty miles, this “estate” feels impeccably solid as I pull out onto a 45-mph back road. The steering is trustworthy and the brakes seem up to par. Acceleration, on the other hand…

The Volvo 240 of this era mustered 114 horsepower from its four-cylinder engine, but I’m not totally sure that all of them showed up for work in this particular example. It’s remarkably slow. To the customers who looked at the midsizer Volvo as an affordable alternative to the Mercedes-Benz W123 240D, it was probably a rocketship. Compared to a modern Hyundai Accent, it might as well be a diesel. (Yes, there was a diesel variant, but it did not survive to the Nineties in our market.) Progress is steady but in no way quick.

In just ten or so seconds, however, I’m up to 45mph and ready to try a little bit of the old swerving back and forth for purposes of warming tires and checking lateral stability. Well, there’s not much of that either. Best to calm it back down and just enjoy the Volvo’s core virtues. The ride is steady and relaxed, with plenty of compliance for potholes and rough shoulders. Ten minutes behind the wheel of the 240 will make you feel better about your place in the world, assuming you’re not in a hurry to get anywhere.

What’s not to like about the Volvo, other than the lack of pace? It’s spacious, comfortable, quiet, and reassuring. It’s entirely and refreshingly free of the merest pretense of “sportiness” and all the better for it. It feels as if it will last another twenty years without difficulty. The old phrase “boxy but good” applies here. The current Volvos feel uneasy in their own skins, half-heartedly going through the motions of enthusiast focus and swoopy design, but this is the real deal. I’d rather have this than any brand-new car in a Volvo showroom, both now and twenty years from now.

The Chinese owners of Volvo are no doubt perplexed by the long shadow this vehicle continues to cast on their current lineup. But if they had any sense at all, they’d dig up the old drawings and build it again — or at least come as close to it as the current Mustang does to the Sixties car. In a world where “brand” is all-important, the Volvo brand is nearly worthless. The Volvo 240 brand, on the other hand? That’s a moose of a different color.

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Consumer Reports: Infotainment System Woes Mark 2014 Reliability Survey http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/consumer-reports-infotainment-system-woes-mark-2014-reliability-survey/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/consumer-reports-infotainment-system-woes-mark-2014-reliability-survey/#comments Tue, 28 Oct 2014 10:00:36 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=936826 Consumer Reports released its Annual Reliability Survey for this year, focusing some of the attention on the woes experienced by a handful of infotainment systems. According to the publication, the absolute worse of the pack in 2014 was Infiniti’s InTouch system in the new Q50, with over one in five owners wanting to take a […]

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Infiniti InTouch - Infiniti Q50

Consumer Reports released its Annual Reliability Survey for this year, focusing some of the attention on the woes experienced by a handful of infotainment systems.

According to the publication, the absolute worse of the pack in 2014 was Infiniti’s InTouch system in the new Q50, with over one in five owners wanting to take a crowbar to the whole thing. The brand itself took a beating, dropping 14 points to 20th out of 28 as a result of the Q50’s issues, as well as the overall reliability issues in the QX60. Other infotainment systems ironing out the bugs included Ford’s MyTouch, Honda’s HondaLink and Fiat Chrysler Automobile’s UConnect.

Concerning overall reliability, Lexus once again took the top of the podium, while Toyota and Mazda respectively brought home silver and bronze, and Honda finished in fourth. Buick, meanwhile, was the only brand among the Detroit Three to place in the top 10, jumping from 16th to sixth on the strength of its entire portfolio.

As for why the other Detroit brands failed to reach the top 10, Consumer Reports says domestic small and compact cars, along with full-size trucks, are holding everyone back. Tesla also didn’t make the list, but that was due to criteria than low quality: the publication only rates brands with a minimum of two models, a situation that will be remedied when the Model X rolls out next year.

Finally, Audi took fifth behind the Japanese makes, while Porsche took ninth ahead of Kia. BMW and Volvo remained within the top 20. Only Mercedes-Benz took a hit among the Europeans this year, falling 11 spots to 24th thanks to the new CLA and S classes.

The Consumer Reports 2014 reliability survey obtained its information from 1.1 million vehicles, the largest survey of its kind in the publication’s history.

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Volvo Goes Death Metal With Triple-Turbo Two-Liter Four http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/volvo-goes-death-metal-triple-turbo-two-liter-four/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/volvo-goes-death-metal-triple-turbo-two-liter-four/#comments Tue, 14 Oct 2014 12:00:12 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=930858 Channelling its inner Viking death metal chef spirit, Volvo has unleashed a concept 2-liter turbo-four delivering 450 horsepower with the help of three turbochargers. Automotive News reports the concept Drive-E engine — developed with help from Volvo Polestar Racing — would deliver more punch per liter than other engines — such as the Bugatti Veyron’s […]

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Channelling its inner Viking death metal chef spirit, Volvo has unleashed a concept 2-liter turbo-four delivering 450 horsepower with the help of three turbochargers.

Automotive News reports the concept Drive-E engine — developed with help from Volvo Polestar Racing — would deliver more punch per liter than other engines — such as the Bugatti Veyron’s 1,200-horsepower 8-liter quad-turbo — were it to go into production; Volvo says the engine is only a concept, and hasn’t said if it will build the engine.

Unlike old-school turbocharged engines that use exhaust to create power, the Drive-E “triple-boost” engine uses an electric turbo to drive compressed air into the other two turbos, quickly spooling up the power while eliminating lag.

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Chinese-Built Volvo S60L Bound For US Market In 2015 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/chinese-built-volvo-s60l-bound-us-market-2015/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/chinese-built-volvo-s60l-bound-us-market-2015/#comments Wed, 08 Oct 2014 14:00:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=927706 CEOs and senior execs going on shopping runs to Staples may soon be able to leave their MKTs at the parking garage when the Chinese-made Volvo S60L arrives next year. Automotive News reports Volvo plans to ship 5,000 units to the U.S. annually, with sales to begin in H2 2015. The move will save the […]

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CEOs and senior execs going on shopping runs to Staples may soon be able to leave their MKTs at the parking garage when the Chinese-made Volvo S60L arrives next year.

Automotive News reports Volvo plans to ship 5,000 units to the U.S. annually, with sales to begin in H2 2015. The move will save the Sino-Swede automaker considerable cash, as the vehicles will be imported from a factory not involved in a joint venture like Volvo’s competitors, according to CEO Hakan Samuelsson.

He also says Volvo will position the S60L as an “executive car,” offering more features and options in its 112.5-inch wheelbase than the S60, which will take its place as a sportier variant.

As for quality, product development chief Peter Mertens said the longer S60 fared better than the European-built standard model based on the company’s internal quality audits.

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Capsule Review: 2014 Volvo V60 T6 R-Design http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/capsule-review-2014-volvo-v60-t6-r-design/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/capsule-review-2014-volvo-v60-t6-r-design/#comments Thu, 25 Sep 2014 20:45:39 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=919634 Is it really necessary to beat the dead horse again? We know that enthusiasts love wagons, demand more wagons, praise wagons and don’t buy wagons. We should be lucky we have any wagons left in our marketplace. The Audi A4 and Subaru Legacy wagons gave way to the Allroad and Outback, two jacked-up, cladding-encrusted faux-crossovers that […]

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Is it really necessary to beat the dead horse again? We know that enthusiasts love wagons, demand more wagons, praise wagons and don’t buy wagons. We should be lucky we have any wagons left in our marketplace. The Audi A4 and Subaru Legacy wagons gave way to the Allroad and Outback, two jacked-up, cladding-encrusted faux-crossovers that are really just wagons by another name. Volvo did the same thing too, axing the V70 wagon while retaining the XC70. And then they relented.

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Volvo is pitching the V60 as a “sport wagon” or a “lifestyle” vehicle, or anything but a station wagonIn terms of hauling people and cargo, the XC70 is more of a station wagon than the V60 is. At 182 inches long, the V60 is about 10 inches shorter than an XC70, and the XC70 has it beat in practically every interior dimension. Cargo capacity for the V60 is 43.8 cubic feet, compared to 72.1 for the XC70.

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As we determined in our last review of the XC70, the oft-repeated trope that CUVs offer inferior driving dynamics compared to station wagons was dismissed – between an XC60 with the 4C active shocks and an XC70, it was a wash. The V6 has the advantage of being, on average, 300 lbs lighter than the XC60, and the performance tires on the R-Design amplifies whatever benefits the lighter weight and smaller footprint contributes to the V60’s dynamics.

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Of course, this is a Volvo, so don’t expect crisp, Germanic responses or the last word in steering feel and feedback. The V60 gives you enough rope to have some fun on twisty back roads or cloverleaf interchanges, but between the all-wheel drive system, the electronic nannies and the understeer-oriented chassis, there’s never enough to hang yourself. Much like the S60 that it’s based on, the V60 is best drive at a relaxed to moderately spirited pace.

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Lesser V60s can be had with boosted 4 and 5 cylinder engines, but the R-Design features a 3.0L straight-six (transversely mounted), making 300 horsepower and 325 lb-ft of torque. With a broad, fairly flat torque curve, the Volvo’s engine delivers lots of usable power throughout the rev range. A hint of lag is the tradeoff for a brawny motor that doesn’t run out of breath at higher RPMs, much like today’s lesser crop of boosted mills tend to do, though the biggest letdown is the dated 6-speed automatic, which is on its own, more relaxed work schedule.

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The V60’s interior is an oasis from the over-complicated, touch screen and leatherette-laden cabins of many German competitors. Volvo is still all-in on buttons and knobs, while the climate control system incorporates a hand diagram of a seated human that can direct airflow to various regions of your body. The infotainment system is simple to use and can be navigated while driving without becoming overly distracted. The stereo is crisp and clear while the front seats are some of the best in the business. When wrecked V60s start appear in junkyards, I’ll be harvesting one of the front seats to turn into my next office chair.

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Where the V60 starts to fall apart is in, well, being a wagon. There’s not a ton of room for rear seat passengers, and the swoopy, coupe-like silhouette and compact footprint lend the wagon an undersized cargo area. Two adults could each pack a suitcase for a weekend visit, but this is not the Volvo wagon of yore where a whole family’s worth of luggage, people and pets could be stuffed in and taken away on summer vacation. For that, you’ll need to XC70, or one of Volvo’s crossovers.

$51,775 is a lot of coin simply for the privilege of having a cool looking station wagon that isn’t exactly great at fulfilling the promises of a station wagon. You don’t need to be Tim Cain to understand that it’s not the most potent recipe for sales success.

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Volvo provided the car, insurance and one tank of gas for the review. Photos courtesy of Autoguide.com

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North Korea Owes Sweden $428M For 1,000 Volvos Swindled In 1974 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/north-korea-owes-sweden-428m-1000-volvos-swindled-1974/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/north-korea-owes-sweden-428m-1000-volvos-swindled-1974/#comments Tue, 02 Sep 2014 11:00:34 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=904857 Forty years ago, the North Koreans and the Swedes entered into an agreement where the latter’s socialist and industrialist interests aimed to bring recognition to the former’s regime while filling its pockets from the country’s mining industry. Part of this agreement included 1,000 Volvo 144 GLs, which were meant to be paid in copper and […]

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Stolen Volvos in North Korea

Forty years ago, the North Koreans and the Swedes entered into an agreement where the latter’s socialist and industrialist interests aimed to bring recognition to the former’s regime while filling its pockets from the country’s mining industry. Part of this agreement included 1,000 Volvo 144 GLs, which were meant to be paid in copper and zinc.

But that was 40 years ago.

Newsweek reports North Korea, under Kim Il-sung’s regime, ultimately absconded with the Volvos and other Swedish goods during a Swedish-Korean trade fair in Pyongyang, all within the same year the vehicles were delivered.

Since then, the Swedish Export Credits Guarantee Board has calculated the interest owed on the debt linked to those goods. Total debt after inflation plus interest holds at kr3 billion ($428 million USD).

As for the Volvos, they were ordered for taxi service within the North Korean capital. As of 2008, those cars were not only still running, but, according to photographer and entrepreneur Tor Rauden Källstigen, were treated well:

I think I’ve never been inside such an old car even back home in Sweden. This taxi was very well maintained too, close to mint condition it seemed.

Were Il-sung’s grandson and current ruler, Kim Jong-un, to sell the vehicles at current book value, he would net $2.6 million — or 0.6 percent of the debt — for the trouble.

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Volvo Restructuring To Three Families, Configurations By 2019 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/volvo-restructuring-three-families-configurations-2019/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/volvo-restructuring-three-families-configurations-2019/#comments Fri, 29 Aug 2014 10:00:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=903194 By 2019, the face of Volvo will change as the Sino-Swedish automaker begins restructuring its offerings, with the new XC90 leading the way. Autoblog reports Volvo will align its lineup portfolio around three families (40, 60, 90) and three designations/configurations (S sedan, V wagon, XC crossover). In turn, the 40 family will share a platform […]

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By 2019, the face of Volvo will change as the Sino-Swedish automaker begins restructuring its offerings, with the new XC90 leading the way.

Autoblog reports Volvo will align its lineup portfolio around three families (40, 60, 90) and three designations/configurations (S sedan, V wagon, XC crossover). In turn, the 40 family will share a platform with parent company Geely’s offerings, while the 60 and 90 families will use Volvo’s SPA modular platform.

Additionally, the V40/V60/V90 wagons will have a Cross Country variant, matching up with Audi’s and Subaru’s offroad formula for their respective non-rugged base offerings. Meanwhile, R-Design and Polestar will apply their magic performance touches to a few of the new vehicles, going up against similar efforts from BMW, Mercedes and Audi.

All of the above are expected to come online within the next four years, but no coupes or convertibles are in the plans, citing a lack of a case for either at this time. Volvo will instead focus on boosting its volume, with a goal of 800,000 units for 2014 alone.

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Study: Nine Brands Suffer Loyalty Issues Among Their Customers http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/study-nine-brands-suffer-loyalty-issues-among-customers/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/study-nine-brands-suffer-loyalty-issues-among-customers/#comments Wed, 20 Aug 2014 13:00:51 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=896834 Honda, Ford and Toyota all have one thing in common as far as Kelley Blue Book knows: All three inspire brand loyalty among over half of its customer base. Alas, nine other brands wish they could be just as inspirational. In its study of KBB data from 33 brands regarding customer loyalty, 24/7 Wall St. […]

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2014 Scion tC Exterior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Honda, Ford and Toyota all have one thing in common as far as Kelley Blue Book knows: All three inspire brand loyalty among over half of its customer base. Alas, nine other brands wish they could be just as inspirational.

In its study of KBB data from 33 brands regarding customer loyalty, 24/7 Wall St. says the following nine brands are likely to see their customers jump ship to another brand come trade-in or lease time:

  • Mitsubishi: 21.77 percent average
  • Chrysler: 22.72 percent average
  • Dodge: 22.88 percent average
  • Jaguar: 25.45 percent average
  • Scion: 25.79 percent average
  • Lincoln: 27.49 percent average
  • Infiniti: 28.25 percent average
  • Volvo: 29.41 percent average
  • Buick: 29.45 percent average

The study notes the brands with the highest loyalty averages also move the most units off the lot, while low-loyalty brands have sales to match; six of the nine listed sold less than 100,000 units during H1 2014.

As for what inspires loyalty in the first place, KBB senior manager of marketing intelligence Arthur Henry says price and reliability play the most important roles in whether a customer will stick with a brand. However, luxury makes like Jaguar, Infiniti and Buick suffer not from perceptions of poor reliability, but fierce competition from within the U.S. luxury market.

That said, Arthur notes customers can switch loyalties no matter how a brand is perceived, citing economic conditions and changing consumer preferences as factors in switching.

The post Study: Nine Brands Suffer Loyalty Issues Among Their Customers appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

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