Saturday, January 28, 2017

2017 Volvo S90 first impressions

There is another offering in the mid size luxury sedan class. Volvo has stepped up with the S90 and Bumper2Bumpertv has a first look at the sedan.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Volvo S60, a Swede that roars!!!

By John Heilig

  • MODEL: 2017 Volvo S60 T5 AWD Dynamic
  • ENGINE: 2.0-liter turbocharged I-4
  • TRANSMISSION: 8-speed Sportronic automatic
  • HORSEPOWER/TORQUE: 240 hp @ 5,600 rpm/258 lb.-ft. @ 1,500 rpm 
  • WHEELBASE: 109.3 in. 
  • LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT: 182.5 x 74.8 x 58.4 in. 
  • TIRES: P235/40R19
  • CARGO CAPACITY: 12.0 cu. ft. 
  • ECONOMY: 23 mpg city/31 mpg highway/27.0 mpg test
  • FUEL TANK: 17.8 gal. 
  • CURB WEIGHT: 3,862 lbs. 
  • TOWING CAPACITY: 3,500 lbs. 
  • COMPETITIVE CLASS: Audi A6, Lexus ES, Cadillac ATS 
  • STICKER: $44,145 (includes $995 delivery, $6,800 options)
  • BOTTOM LINE: Hampered by a noisy engine and high sticker, the Volvo S60 is still blessed with Volvo’s legendary safety features. 

            Swedish cars have always held unique personalities. There’s no question that Saab, even when it was a division of General Motors, looked at convention and thumbed its nose, deciding that when Saab wanted was always the best idea. I didn’t always agree, but that’s the way I saw it.
            Volvo, too, carries its own personality into the marketplace, that of the safety leader among automakers. Volvo approaches safety with style and panache, not building huge tank-like structures to protect the vehicle’s occupants. And the safety message continues through the whole range, from the smallest sedan to the largest SUV/wagon. What’s best, is that this philosophy has crossed lines to all the other manufacturers.
            Which brings us to the S60 sedan. Called a compact sedan by the EPA, it actually fits nicely into the mid-size category, if on the smaller end of that class.  Dimensionally, the S60 has nice size, with a comfortable ride. 
            However, the turbocharged inline 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine in the S60 is a pain in the ears. This is an engine that is noisy all the time. In normal driving it emits a low roar. It isn’t a “power” roar, like in the Mustang GT350, but it is the same low growl. On hard acceleration it screams out loud. At times, conversation is a challenge inside the S60 and the volume knob on the audio system gets turned up more than usual. The start/stop technology that is like a hybrid’s shuts the engine down on complete stops, a blessing.
            I mentioned acceleration, and the S60 does get up and go when you ask it. Push your right foot down and you are exceeding the speed limit quite quickly. 
            Other than the noise, the S60 is a good driver, with nice ride quality on all road surfaces. Handling is also good, and you can approach and take corners with reasonable speed.
            Front seats are comfortable with good support. Unlike Recaro-type seats which hold you in, the S60’s front seats are more like easy chairs (but don’t take me literally).
            Rear seat legroom is okay, aided by indents in the backs of the front seats. Entry and exit into the rear seats is difficult, requiring some contortions. The rear headrests can be folded forward using a switch on the center stack to improve the driver’s rear vision. As with most cars, the rear seat backs fold forward, using release levers located at the top of the trunk, to increase cargo capacity.
            The driver faces an interesting instrument panel that is clear in some areas, less in others. For example, in the center is a large tachometer with a large inserted digital speedometer. There’s a bar graph fuel level indicator on the left and fuel economy levels. On the right is a power gauge, instant fuel economy and gear selected. 
            The Harmon-Kardon audio system gave good sound but requires different tuning techniques. Don’t try this while driving. Similarly, the HVAC system takes a while to master. Four knobs on the flat center stack for the audio and HVAC can be confusing.
            I mentioned safety, the S60 is equipped with a plethora of alphabet-coded safety systems, all of which I have come to rely on with other vehicles. There is BLIS (blind spot detection), City Safety (low speed collision avoidance), SIPS (side impact protection system), WHIPS (whiplash protection system), lane keeping alert, rear view camera, road sign information (the local speed limit is displayed on the instrument panel), and approximately a zillion air bags.
            So while the Volvo S60 is typically Swedish and quirky, and typically Volvo and safe, the memory I will take with me from the ride is the noisy engine.

(c) 2017 The Auto Page Syndicate

Nissan Armada, first drive

The latest version of the Nissan Armada comes with a new drive train and new technology. Bumper2Bumpertv got a chance to test this out on a first drive.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017


Fiat has brought the 124 Spider back to life in the North American market. The new version is a combination of FCA technology and the manufacturing capability of Mazda. Bumper2Bumpertv explains

Saturday, January 14, 2017

2017 Detroit Auto Show reveals

The annual round of major auto shows around the world has begun in Detroit. Bumper2Bumpertv has a look at some of the offerings at the North American International Auto Show for 2017.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Mini Cooper Clubman

By John Heilig

  • MODEL: 2017 MINI Cooper S Clubman All4 
  • ENGINE: 2.0-liter turbocharged I-4  
  • TRANSMISSION: 8-speed automatic 
  • HORSEPOWER/TORQUE: 189 hp @ 5,000 rpm/207 lb.-ft. @ 1,250 rpm 
  • WHEELBASE: 105.1 in.  
  • LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT: 169.8 x 71.7 x 61.3 in.  
  • TIRES: P225/45R19 
  • CARGO CAPACITY: 17.5/47.6 cu. ft. (rear seats up/down)  
  • ECONOMY: 22 mpg city/31 mpg highway/21.8 mpg test  
  • FUEL TANK: 16.1 gal.  
  • CURB WEIGHT: 3,450 lbs 
  • TOWING CAPACITY: Not recommended  
  • COMPETITIVE CLASS: Jeep Cherokee. Nissan Juke, Kia Sportage  
  • STICKER: $35,850 (includes $850 delivery, $5,250 options)  
  • BOTTOM LINE: The Mini Cooper Clubman is probably the nicest Mini I have driven. It has better aesthetics and more practicality for a compelling package.

Over the years I have had a tortuous relationship with MINIs, primarily because of their quirkiness. While I have always appreciated their efficient use of space, even from the beginning when they were really minis, through the “middle years” when the car evolved into slightly larger variants like the MG1100. Maybe I would have had a less strained relationship if my wife had let me buy one, especially the MG1100. But she wisely didn’t.
Now MINIs are built by BMW and for years I have ranted about the centrally mounted speedometer. Voila! The MINI Clubman has a speedometer located where it should be, in front of the driver. In the middle of the dash, where the speedometer used to be, is a huge round infotainment center. It’s still a bit large for my tastes, but it is complete.
The most intriguing aspect of the Clubman is that it is a station wagon. A small one, true, but a station wagon nonetheless. The twin rear doors can be operated using the key fob or by placing your foot under the middle of the rear bumper. The right door opens first, then a second application opens the left door. 
I naturally assumed that with small doors and a small car, cargo capacity would also be small. It ain’t. With the second row seats up, there are 17.5 cubic feet of storage; 47.6 cubic feet with the seats down. It is one of those cargo areas that never seems to fill. There is additional storage under the cargo floor and in the cute rear doors, and six tie downs to secure cargo.
The new Clubman is 12.4 inches longer than the previous edition. It’s also wider, which aids the handling. Since the previous Clubman only had two doors, the extra doors take up much of the extra length.
The prime feature of any MINI is its “go-kart” handling. The Clubman doesn’t disappoint. Fortunately, it isn’t true go-kart handling, because the rock-hard suspension of a go-kart can get old quickly. But the Clubman’s softened suspension absorbs most road irregularities, although some road noise does untrue into the cabin occasionally. 
Old habits die hard, and the Clubman still has some quirks. For example, MINI refuses to have flat push buttons and knobs like other manufacturers to reduce “second collision” injuries, but retains toggle switches. The main one is the start/stop switch in the center of the strip along the base of the center stack. Two other toggles join the start/stop, but all have mini roll bars around them should  second collision occur. Above the rear view mirror are four more toggles for interior lights, all with roll bars around them.
Another quirk is the audio system. It stays on even when you shut off the engine and exit the car and close the door. Only when you lock the doors does it turn off. While it’s a pain, it’s also a good reminder to lock the doors when you leave the car.
Unlock the doors using the fob and a MINI logo lights the ground by the doors. All four door handles also light up. 
A good feature is the extra sun visor mounted over the driver’s door that helps block the sun when it’s on that side.
Front seats are comfortable with good side support in the kidney area. Because of the Clubman’s diminutive size, entering and exiting can be a challenge, but once you’re installed, they are great. Three assist handles aid entry and egress. Exiting his a minor problem with the interior door handles. They blend in quite well with the rest of the door. Once you find them the first time, finding them again isn’t a problem.
Rear seat legroom is okay, but there’s only room for two passengers back there, even if MINI does claim there’s room for three.
Rear passengers have air controls for the HVAC system, but the temperature is still under control of whomever is sitting up front.
As you may have guessed, the MINI Clubman and I no longer have a tortuous relationship. If you’re in the market for a smaller wagon with very good handling, this might be on your “let’s look at this one” list.

(c) 2017 The Auto Page Syndicate

Saturday, January 7, 2017

CES, Consumer or Car Electronics?

The Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas might be dubbed the "Car Electronics Show" these days as automakers show off the latest in technology. Bumper2Bumpertv takes a look at some of the offerings in the 2017 show.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Genesis G80, a first look.

The Genesis division of Hyundai is now a stand alone brand playing in the luxury segment, Bumper2Bumpertv has a look at one of its first offerings strong and weak points.