2016 Volvo XC90 Twin Engine: Double the Induction

April 21st, 2015

2016-volvo-xc90-t8-twin_engine

So the term “twin engine” has officially become a thing and now the world is just a little more bonkers.

Cars have been using two engines, or perhaps motors would be a better word, since the advent of the hybrid vehicle. One motor runs on gas and the other runs on electricity, both working together to provide fuel efficiency and power.

Volvo will sell its new XC90 with a similar setup, except it’ll market its flagship SUV as the XC90 T8 Twin Engine.

It sounds impressive, and it is. The two engines, though, are just the beginning.

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Aluminum: Best for Beer Cans or Trucks?

April 20th, 2015
Did it collapse like a beer can?

Did it collapse like a beer can?

News of Ford’s use of aluminum in the body of the new F-150 shook the auto world in 2014. Some saw it as a revolutionary step in the evolution of the pickup truck, while others mocked the decision as an expensive experiment that would end poorly.

Competing brands touted the strength of steel and took issue with the high cost and questionable durability of aluminum. In an interview with Car and Driver, Michael Cairns, vehicle line executive for Ram, said,

It’s the best material to use for beer cans.

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Honda Heats Up the Civic

April 17th, 2015

Civic Coupe concept, shot 1

Honda has sold more than 18 million Civics since the car’s 1973 debut, making it the sixth best selling car of all time, according to the Cheat Sheet. One of the many reasons for the car’s popularity is its versatility—over the years, the Civic has been available as a sedan, coupe, hatchback, and wagon with power output ranging from a measly 50 hp in its first generation to 276 hp in the most recent version of the Type R (which hasn’t been available in the U.S., but stay tuned!), and won over passionate fans ranging from mileage-focused greenies to tire-shredding tuners. So perhaps it’s fitting that one of the most watched debuts at this year’s New York International Auto Show was of Honda’s new Civic Coupe concept.

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The New Optima and the Future of Kia

April 17th, 2015

2016 Kia Optima

Kia Motors introduced the 2016 Kia Optima at the New York International Auto show a couple of weeks ago as part of an effort to revitalize the brand. As the lesser arm of the mighty Hyundai Motor Group, Kia Motors has struggled to distinguish itself from the South Korean automotive giant’s larger arm (by which we mean Hyundai itself, of course). Kia owes a lot to Hyundai, having been rescued from bankruptcy and absorbed into the conglomerate back in 1998. Kia first introduced its rebranded Hyundai Sonata in 2000 as the Kia Optima in North America, and Kia has since been doing what it can to set the Optima apart from the Sonata and other midsize sedans, in much the same way it’s trying to distinguish itself from Hyundai.

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A New Standard of the World: the Cadillac CT6

April 17th, 2015

Cadillac CT6

If you heard the term “Standard of the World” 100 years ago, only one thing would come to mind: Cadillac. Fast forward a bit and you see the famed automaker enter a dramatic decline, followed by a powerful resurgence. Cadillac is going through a bit of a renaissance right now. Less than two decades ago, we saw the likes of the Cadillac DeVille roaming the streets. Sporting lackluster looks and even worse build quality, the DeVille is second only to the simply awful Cadillac Cimarron on the list of duds produced during Cadillac’s dark age. Thankfully, we have left those depressing days behind, and Cadillac is once again churning out pure gold in the form of cars like the impressive Cadillac CTS, comfy Cadillac Escalade and awesomely fun-to-drive Cadillac ATS. This fast ascent continued at the 2015 New York International Auto Show, where Cadillac unveiled the beautiful 2016 Cadillac CT6.

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The 200,000-Mile Club: Tell Us Your Story!

April 17th, 2015

odometer_260,000

We now have proof that almost any car can pass the 200,000-mile mark.

Earlier this week we were a little put off by a list of cars likely to last 200,000 miles that included only Toyota and Honda vehicles. We posted a response on our blog asking for help in proving that claim wrong. We know we have a dedicated group of proud drivers as readers, because we heard from dozens of folks who have proudly taken their vehicles most of the way to the quarter-million-mile mark and beyond.

Keep reading for some examples of cars that have effortlessly travelled hundreds of thousands of miles. Can you guess how many wear a Toyota badge?

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Can You Spare the Spare?

April 16th, 2015

2015_volvo_s60

My daughter’s birthday nearly ended in the bitter cold, stranded on the side of the road in a questionable area of downtown.

After a nice birthday dinner, my wife and two of our girls clambered into the Legacy to thaw from the unusually frozen April night. With the car started and the heat on, I was ready to pull out of my prime parking space and embark on the journey home.

But I noticed a woman on the sidewalk taking a funny glance at the car as she walked past. Her brief but concerned look caused me to pause enough to wonder what she saw. I got out of the car and found my passenger-side front tire nearly out of air.

“Oh no,” I said to myself, “not here. Not now.”

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Want a Performance Car? Don’t Buy a Forester

April 15th, 2015

2015 Subaru Forester

Certain machines come to mind when we stop to think about cars that are built for driving. The usual suspects are BMW, Porsche, and anything else that can be brought out to the track and tear things up straight from the factory floor.

The Subaru Forester isn’t one of those cars. It doesn’t see much track time, nor do people customize it to make it as fast possible. That’s because a Forester, no matter what is done to it, is still a Forester. It’s the hiking boot of the auto world—not luxurious or fast, but it’ll get you to some fun places in relative comfort.

The Forester plays in a niche segment that also includes the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, and Nissan Rogue. These are not fun cars to drive. They are nice to drive, don’t get me wrong, but no enthusiast alive would call them particularly entertaining when behind the wheel.

A Japanese tuning company thinks it can change that.

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Will Your Car Last 200,000 Miles?

April 14th, 2015

2015 Honda Accord

This used to be a fairly common rule regarding car ownership:

Get rid of it before it hits 100,000 miles.

In fact, I once knew people who firmly believed in trading in their cars before the 60,000-mile mark. They were a strict Chevy family, and experience told them that anything over 60K meant trouble.

Of course, that’s just silly today. Cars at 60,000 miles, regardless of the make, are barely broken in and can easily pass 100,000 miles and even hit 200,000 or more.

A recent list from Consumer Reports rubbed me wrong, because it announced the 10 cars most likely to make it to 200,000 miles. They all had one disturbing thing in common:

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What’s Right: Right or Left Braking?

April 13th, 2015

Left foot braking

When does braking feel like hitting a brick wall?

When you try to apply the brakes using the wrong foot.

For those of us with decades of experience using our right feet to slow down, our left feet might as well be attached to our hips with wet noodles. There’s just no control when it comes to using them to stop a motor vehicle.

The debate about driving with two feet is almost as controversial as the one about which way the toilet paper is supposed to hang on the roll. Proponents of braking with the left are either race car drivers or older folks who cruise down roads with their left foot resting on the pedal and brake lights constantly aglow.

Some new information, though, might begin to make two-foot driving the norm.

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