2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD

2013 Volvo S60 AWD

This white little Swedish number was waiting for Ruth and I at DIA upon our return from Chicago last week.  In Latin, the word Volvo means “I roll”, so we rolled up to Greeley, and I was forced to familiarize myself with the controls in the dark (late arrival).  This was my third Volvo to test, and I must say I have liked them all.  Volvo was founded in Gothenberg, Sweden, in 1927, and is currently owned by Geely Automobile of China (since 2010).  My S60 came in “Ice White”, which was no big deal, but the leather seats were “Beechwood” and black leather, and very attractive.

This S60 T5 is the Volvo that comes with an in-line five-cylinder, 2.5 liter alloy engine sitting crosswise under the hood.  With the turbocharger, it puts out 250 horsepower and 266 lb. ft. of torque.  It’s coupled with the electronically-controlled AWD system from Haldex and a six-speed Geartronic automatic transmission with sport mode.  Acceleration of the T5 is reportedly zero to sixty in 6.6 seconds, and fuel economy ratings are 20/city and 29/highway.  I observed 23 mpg during my time with the Volvo.  The AWD system only sends a trickle of power to the rear wheels when cruising, enhancing fuel economy.  But for snow or sporty driving, more power is sent to the rear.  The ride and drivability are satisfying for this five-passenger car, as you might expect from Volvo.

The AWD system adds $2,000 to the M.S.R.P. of the S60, and I cannot see why someone would buy the car without the option.  Other options on this car were the premier package ($2,200), climate package ($700), trunk spoiler ($375), and 17” Njord alloy ten-spoke wheels ($250).  The premier equipment included moon roof, key-in-your-pocket ignition, leather seats, and a power passenger seat to go with the power driver’s seat.  The base price, freight, and these options brought total list price to $38,170.  This Volvo comes standard with Sensus, incorporated into the dashboard’s 7” display as an intuitive computer command system.  No navigation or rear camera was present on this Volvo, but it had satellite radio, CD, Bluetooth, and a USB setup.  Of course it had power windows, locks, tilt/telescope, and heated front buckets.  Additionally, the car had City Safety, a system of frontal collision avoidance utilizing a laser sensor.  I did not participate in this program.

The styling of Volvo’s S60 is certainly acceptable, and has been reconfigured as of last year.  It’s an upgrade from the old S60, and my test car garnered a lot of looks around town and in parking lots.  The little spoiler on the trunk was attractive, as were the dual exhausts back there.

If I were in the market for a luxury European weather-fighter with classy looks, this Volvo would be on my shopping list, equipped pretty much the same as my test car.

2012 Infiniti FX35 Limited Edition AWD

FX35 & Corn

This past week in Illinois I was presented an Infiniti FX35 to drive around the state.  Ruth and I picked it up at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport and set sail to the Northwest towards Rockford.  Our ultimate destination was Galena, Illinois, an old lead mining town that is currently a resort, named a top ten “charming small town” by TripAdvisor for 2011.  The 1989 movie, “Field of Dreams” was partially filmed in Galena, and it was home to Ulysses S. Grant after the Civil War.

The Infiniti was Iridium Blue and had Graphite leather seating.  The Limited Edition FX35 is the top-of-the-line model that includes hard drive navigation, voice recognition information systems, “eye in the sky” parking assist, Bluetooth wireless, reverse tilt-down outside mirrors, 21” dark finish alloy wheels with ten spokes, adaptive front lighting (auto-leveling), dark aluminum roof rails, and aluminum pedals.  The CD/stereo/satellite/USB system was made by Bose with 11 speakers and speed-sensitive volume  control.  The blue paint was specific to this model and floor mats even had blue piping around the edges.  Of course, a moon roof and rear camera were on hand – the interior was stunning.

Infiniti has been producing the FX series of vehicles since 2003, and is the luxury division of Nissan Motors of Japan.  Styling has always been a hallmark of the vehicle and power is supplied in V-6 and V-8 configuration.  My FX35 had a 303 horsepower, 3.5 liter aluminum V-6 with 262 lb.-ft. of torque and 32 valves.  I drove a V-8 in Phoenix over the winter, and both it and this Iridium blue vehicle had plenty of snap.  The transmission is a seven-speed automatic with manual shifting and snow mode.  Zero to 60 mph time for the FX35 I drove was 6.4 seconds, and with a V-8 that number is reduced to 5.8.  Fuel economy ratings of the car are 16 city/21 highway (23.8 gal. tank), but during my week at the wheel the overall average was 22.3 mpg.  The FX35 weighed 4,299 lbs., wheelbase was 113.6”, and overall length was 191.3”.

Ruth and I enjoyed the ride across the state in the FX, but I wouldn’t want it to be any firmer.  This vehicle is somewhat of a sports car/crossover, with persons that ride in it at a low-to-the-ground attitude, despite the underneath clearance of 7”.  It is not an “off-road” four-wheeler, but a weather-fighter, nonetheless.  Cargo capacity behind the five-passenger seating is 24.8 cubic feet.

As mentioned, styling is the thing with an FX, and tourists all over the state were gathering at the rest stops to take a closer look at our ride.  Twin exhaust finishers peek out from under the rear fascia, and those fender vents behind the front wheel wells are functional.  The wheel wells that reveal the 265/45R21 V-rated all-weather radials, by the way.  The dark gray alloys seemed to be a big draw for the onlookers.

The M.S.R.P. for the FX35 was $52,445.00, including the freight charge.  That was about $14,000.00 less than the big V-8 we tested in Phoenix, and made this six cylinder buggy a pretty fair deal in my mind, and perhaps in those of the buying public.

“Evolution Orange” 2012 Toyota Prius C

Prius C

    An evolution is taking place within the Toyota Prius lineup, most recently with the introduction of their Prius c (city), which occurred earlier this year.  It’s the smallest Prius, and is the fourth model that the company currently makes available.  Toyota brought me an orange one to test last week, or at least that is what it looked like.  The color is Habanero, named after a chili pepper of the same hue.  The paint, which is metallic, received a split vote at our house; I liked it and Ruth didn’t.

Toyota had two goals in mind when they started production of the Prius c, and they were to offer it for under $20,000, and to insure that it got 50 miles per gallon.  It is basically a redesigned Yaris with a hybrid power train.  The power comes from a 1.5 liter, four cylinder, 73 horsepower aluminum engine with 82 lb. ft. of torque.  It is coupled with an electric motor with 60 horsepower, and the total hybrid system horsepower is listed at 99.  A continuously variable automatic transmission puts the power to the front wheels.  It’s OK to drive, although certainly not as perky as the regular Prius with its 134 horsepower system or even a Yaris with its 106 horsepower.  Trips both north and south out on Interstate 25 were not terrifying – I had the cruise control and power enough to stay out there with the glut of traffic associated with that artery.

On the northbound trip to Cheyenne, I obtained a combined 55.2 mpg on the round trip with the Prius c.  Ratings on the car are 53 city and 46 highway, and 50 combined.  This is the information that Toyota wants you to contemplate when you consider the window sticker on the Prius like I drove, which is $26,140.  It’s way over twenty grand because it’s the “four”, upgraded model with leatherette SofTex (black) buckets, moon roof, navigation system, push button starting, in-your-pocket keyless entry, tilt/telescope, satellite radio and 16”, eight-spoke attractive alloy wheels.  Toyota installed Bridgestone P195/50R16 Turanza EL400 all-season radials on the car, and I liked them fine.

In a departure from Prius custom, the c has the shifter on the console of this car, an improvement in my mind.  The hand brake is there, as well, and those front buckets proved comfortable for me and Ruth.  My daughters from Denver jumped in the back for a ride around Northglenn, and they had no complaints either.  The cargo area equals 17.1 cubic feet (it’s a hatchback – no trunk lid to cap off your cargo), and the nickel-metal hydride, 19.3 KW battery resides under the 60/40 fold-down back seats.

Styling is different than the big brothers in the Prius lineup, and includes huge, 23” rear taillights and no lower tailgate window.  The reconfigured Yaris body style is an improvement, and up front they’ve installed fog lights and projector-beam halogen headlamps.

“Evolution Orange”, by the way, was a song by Earth, Wind, and Fire from their 1982 R & B album, “Raise!”.  It was a middling number on that album among hits, and perhaps the Prius c will suffer the same fate, what with shoppers opting for a used, traditional Prius.  Or they may like the looks as much as I did and go for the “little fella”.