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Volvo XC70 Wins AutoPacific Ideal Vehicle Award for Luxury Crossover SUVs

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The Volvo XC70 is the top ranked Luxury XSUV in AutoPacific’s 2011 Ideal Vehicle Research.  As the class winner, its owners identify few things they would want changed, but there are a few exceptions.  The XC70 has a fast, laid-back windshield that makes it look good, but hard to get into and out of.  Over 25% of XC70 owners want it to be easier to get into and out of.  About 20% want more infotainment technology and more roominess.  About 15% of XC70 owners would give up power and acceleration for better fuel economy.  XC70 owners are less likely to want to change its exterior size or have larger wheels or firmer seats.  Volvo swept the Luxury XSUV class with the Volvo XC60 positioned in 2nd place in the IVA rankings for the class.


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Volvo S60 Goes Head-to-Head With Euro Competitors

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Volvo hasn’t been sitting on its hands while it was waiting for the sale of Volvo by Ford Motor Company to Zhejiang Geely Holding Group in August, 2010. Development of the new S60 continued and the car will be introduced late in 2010 as a 2011 model year vehicle. Derived from the new S80/XC60 platform, the new S60 goes head-to-head with its European competitors in the Premium C/D Car Category – Audi A4, BMW 3-Series, Mercedes C-Class. Volvo also counts the Lexus IS as a facing competitor.
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There was no 2010 S60 leaving a gap in the middle of Volvo’s lineup in the USA that the new car fills. The wagon derivative of the S60 – the V60 – was just launched at the Paris Auto Show, but it will not be coming the States. Too bad, it’s gorgeous.
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Volvo Cars of North America gave us a chance to drive the new S60 T6 with all wheel drive in Newberg, Oregon. Driving out of the new LEEDs Certified Allison Inn and Spa we were able to evaluate the car from rain forest to desert over great driver’s roads.


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2012 Lexus CT200h – Range Expansion Attracts GenX and GenY to Lexus

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Think Audi A3, BMW 1-Series and Volvo C30 and you can better understand the competitive set Lexus is targeting with its all new CT200h 5-door hatchback to be launched in February 2011. Also think of the CT200h as a product really designed for the European market where it is right-sized and right-styled.
The competitive set in the USA sells less than 1,500 units per month now – or about 18,000 per year – small potatoes in a 12,000,000 unit industry. Lexus is going after 1,000 units per month – immediately intending capturing 40% of this small segment. Can they do it?
Given pricing in the low $30,0oo range, the CT will undercut the IS 250, but Lexus management tells us it won’t squeak in under the $30K barrier which could prove to be a psychological threshhold.


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2010 Volvo S80 wins AutoPacific 2010 Ideal Vehicle Award

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Premium Luxury Car: The Volvo S80 won the AutoPacific Ideal Vehicle Award in the Premium Luxury Car segment. The S80 received particularly strong ratings from owners with respect to exterior size, handling, and cargo space. Seat firmness also received top marks from S80 owners.

Posted in: Awards, Volvo

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2010 Volvo V70 wins AutoPacific 2010 Ideal Vehicle Award

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Aspirational Luxury Car: In the Aspirational Luxury Car segment the Volvo V70 edged out the competition with high marks for seat firmness and interior lighting. A very high percentage of owners also said that they wanted the same vehicle ride and safety as they currently have.

Posted in: Awards, Volvo

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Cadillac Launches Premium Care 2011 Model Year

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Cadillac Adds Premium Care  Cadillac is adding standard scheduled maintenance – Premium Care – to its 2011 Model Year products. Providing scheduled maintenance is a way to demonstrate commitment to the customer, reduce ownership costs and increase customer loyalty. BMW has been offering scheduled maintenance for years and has effectively shed its “Break My Wallet” image that existed prior to the scheduled maintenance program.

Premium Brands Abandoned Standard Scheduled Maintenance  In the past, most of the European luxury brands included standard scheduled maintenance – BMW, Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar, Land Rover. As costs went up and belts had to be tightened all with the exception of BMW dropped out. Surprising because consumer input to AutoPacific has indicated that standard scheduled maintenance is a strong enticement in selecting one brand over another.  BMW was winning the battle with no competition.

Standard Scheduled Maintenance Returning as Customer Satisfaction and Marketing Tool  Brands have begun to slowly return to standard scheduled maintenance as a customer satisfaction enhancer and sales enticement… Volvo, Volkswagen are now on board.  Jaguar has added its Platimum Coverage for 2011 that provides all scheduled maintenance for 5-years or 50,000 miles.  2010MY Land Rover models include scheduled maintenance for a short period after
purchase. Perhaps they will follow Jag’s lead.

In any event, standard scheduled maintenance appears to again gain traction in the marketing wars at the top of the market.  That VW has adopted it may indicate adding standard scheduled maintenance even to popular high volume brands.

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2009 NAIAS: Volvo S60 Concept

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Volvo’s mid-range sedan, the S60, shares a platform with the newly updated XC70 and V70 wagons, but the updated sedan won’t arrive until next year. In the meantime, Volvo is building anticipation with a wonderfully styled S60 Concept said to be very close to the production car, minus the concept’s crystal center stack.

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More photos and a Volvo press release after the jump.

Posted in: Concept Cars, Volvo

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2008 Volvo C30: Is This Niche Car Enough to Bring In New Blood?

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Purely from an aesthetic perspective, this C30 is a gorgeous thing. Its super-Scandinavian modernist contours, its low-slung profile, and distinctive rear styling are all very novel and very appealing. Still, sales are confirming what we long suspected – that it’s ultimately very much a niche product. We expect Volvo to sell about 4,000 examples of this Swedish hot hatch in 2008. Even if the economy hadn’t crashed this year, we doubt its sales would have been much higher.

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Top Safety Picks by Insurance Institute of Highway Safety

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The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has announced the winners of its 2009 Top Safety Picks. There are 72 winners in 2009; more than double in 2008 and more than 3 times as many as in 2007. Some key factors leading to winning results are better structure to protect from side impacts and increased application of electronic stability control which helps maintain control and minimize rollovers. Additionally, improved headrests are doing a better job protecting against whiplash.

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IIHS works for auto insurers and publishes the results of its Top Safety Picks to help consumers select the safest cars and light trucks when they are in the market. AutoPacific’s research shows that safety features and feeling safe while driving are very important when a person selects their vehicle.
Ford Wins 16 Top Safety Picks – almost 25% of Those Awarded
A major result of the 2009 Top Picks was that Ford Motor Company (including Volvo) had 16 of the 72 Top Picks. Several years ago, after Ford acquired Volvo, Ford began adopting Volvo safety strategies in its designs. Several Ford vehicles are derived from the Volvo S80 platform – Lincoln MKS, Ford Taurus, Ford Taurus X, Mercury Sable, Ford Flex, Volvo S80. Using Volvo’s vaunted SIPS (Side Impact Protection System), Ford has been able to make its larger vehicles able to withstand significant blows from the side.
The Ford Fusion with ESC and Mercury Milan with ESC, Lincoln MKZ, Volvo C70, Ford Edge, Lincoln MKX, Volvo XC90, Ford Escape, Mercury Mariner, Ford F-150 also won IIHS Top Safety Picks for 2009.
Honda Comes In Second – Close Behind Ford
Coming in close behind Ford Motor Company products was another company that set an objective to become a safety leader several years ago. American Honda has Top Safety Picks for Acura RL, Acura TL, Acura TSX, Acura MDX, Acura RDX, Honda Accord 4-doors, Honda Civic 4-doors with ESC, Honda Fit, Honda Odyssey, Honda Pilot, Honda CRV, Honda Element and Honda Ridgeline. The Honda Fit is the first Economy (Mini) Car to achieve an IIHS Top Safety Pick.
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The IIHS Press Release Is shown below the fold.


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2009 Hyundai Genesis: Does Upmarket Work Here?

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As you may have gathered when we covered this car’s concept (click here) and then production (click here) introductions, Hyundai has just begun offering their U.S. rear-wheel-drive sedan with their first in-house-developed V8 under the hood. Just as the first cars were arriving at dealerships, the company invited media out for a spin, including some track time at Buttonwillow Raceway Park and the chance to drag race Genesis against a V8 BMW 7-Series.

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Supporting the Genesis launch, which has the mission of improving Hyundai’s overall image as much as it does of selling strongly, is an $80 million dollar budget that includes everything from the SuperBowl ads in January (click here), to national customer experience events in Discover Genesis, to training 6250 dealer personnel, to a website, to traditional and non-traditional advertising campaigns. Hyundai is serious about this car and its ability to prove that the accolades and increased placement in more recent third-party awards from the likes of AutoPacific and JD Powers is deserved and repeatable.
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