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  • William Maley
    William Maley

    Interactive Review: 2020 Volvo XC90 T8 Inscription

      Volvo SUV? Check. Plug-In Hybrid? Check. Interactive Review? Check.

    Next up for an interactive review is the most expensive Volvo I have driven, the 2020 XC90 T8 Inscription - as-tested price of $86,790 with a $995.00 destination charge. Sadly, there is no kitchen sink to find, but this vehicle is loaded. It has four-corner air suspension, 21-inch wheels, a Bowers and Wilkins audio system, massaging front seats, heated steering whee, captain chairs for the second row with heat, panoramic sunroof, and 360-degree camera.

    Power comes from the T8 plug-in hybrid powertrain that I tried in the V60 Polestar a few weeks back. While not as potent as the Polestar, the XC90 still posts some impressive numbers of 400 horsepower and 472 pound-feet.

    Here are some initial impressions

    • Despite the hefty pricetag, I don't get the feeling of luxury that the Inscription is supposed to bring. I have to wonder if its due to the black leather and dark wood trim being used.
    • Did I mention that this comes with a crystal gearshift?
    • Ride quality seems to be ok with the 21-inch wheels, but there is a fair amount of tire noise on rough pavement.

    I'll have more thoughts as the week goes on. In the meantime, if you have any questions, drop them below.

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    Edited by William Maley

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    WOW, crazy as I have to agree based on the picture that the dark interior does not say uber luxury.

    Questions:

    • Is the crystal shifter like the one in Cadillac? Looks a bit like it.
    • How is the comfort of the Drivers seat?
      • Is the massage feature distracting while driving?
    • Quality of the camera system?
    • Interior size for large people, any draw backs observed?
    • Does the bottom front section of the drivers seat pull out for longer legs like other autos has on some seats?
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    On 9/25/2020 at 7:23 PM, David said:

    WOW, crazy as I have to agree based on the picture that the dark interior does not say uber luxury.

    Questions:

    • Is the crystal shifter like the one in Cadillac? Looks a bit like it.
    • How is the comfort of the Drivers seat?
      • Is the massage feature distracting while driving?
    • Quality of the camera system?
    • Interior size for large people, any draw backs observed?
    • Does the bottom front section of the drivers seat pull out for longer legs like other autos has on some seats?

    I can answer a few of these questions at the moment.

    2: Strikes a good balance between comfort and firmness. Did a couple of hours behind the wheel and ran into no issues.
    2.5: Did not find it to be really distracting, but I think this may a be a case by case thing.
    3: Very good camera system, although I wished that it was easier to get to the 360-degree view when parking.
    5: There is a power adjustment for this.

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    These are a truly beautiful day to day ride, size, and luxury.

    But:

    1) Do not do the 21", etc. wheels. Adds an odd noise, etc. that isn't needed, and roughness vs. the others. Still rides well, but too big (on anything) doesn't work ideally, ever.

    2) Highest Inscription, etc. models are not sellers. For good reason. This in the $55-70k range is killer, and oozes luxury and refinement vs. something like a Cadillac Acadia aka XT-whatever.

    The seats...well...every other automaker should just make deals with Volvo to buy their seats, and skip the development costs. The best.

    Edited by caddycruiser
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    Final Update on the XC90 (Was hoping to get this up yesterday, but got busy with other things).

    • Average MPGe landed around 50.2 for the week. Around 60 to 65 percent of my driving was done on electric power alone. It would have been higher had I not checked if I had fully plugged in the charger into the connection the first night I had the vehicle.
    • Overall electric range came between 20 to 22 miles.
    • Recharging the XC90 T8's charging time, it is the same as the V60 Polestar - 8-10 hours. You can use a 240V outlet to charge it via an adapter.
    • To answer @David question on space for tall passengers, there is plenty of headroom due to the boxy shape. Legroom is fine, provided there isn't a giant sitting up front and has the seat set all the way back. Don't even think about trying the third row - pain to get in and barely any legroom if the second-row captain's chairs are moved all the way back.
    • No problems with Volvo Sensus in terms of freezing or crashes. 

    When it comes to write the full review, I'll likely be doing a "Here's what I would cut from the Inscription" to make the price tag slightly more palatable. Spoiler, the 21-inch wheels are the first to go.

    I should have a new interactive review up later today.

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    • By William Maley
      I rarely get the opportunity to drive two different flavors of the same vehicle within a short timeframe. But that's what happened in the fall when I had the chance to drive the new Hyundai Sonata in its standard and hybrid forms. The Sonata has always been a favorite of mine as it offered a lot for a midsize sedan, with a surprising price tag. It has also come very close to being at the top of the class, but falling somewhat short due to one thing or another. This new version has the chance of changing that.
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      If there is an issue I have with the Sonata's design, it is the grille. I find it to be slightly cartoonish due to the large size and shape.
      Simple, Yet Elegant Interior
      If you're worried that the polarizing ideas from the exterior make their way inside, don't. The interior is surprisingly sedate with clean lines and a simple design. Hyundai should be commended for using a lot of soft-touch plastics and leather on various surfaces. It makes the Sonata look and feel more premium than its price tag may suggest.

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      Next up is another 10.25-inch screen housing Hyundai's latest infotainment system. I like the three-window layout on the home screen that you can customize to your needs. Navigating around the system is a breeze with a response touchscreen and capacitive touch buttons sitting on either side. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard.
      The next two tech features are exclusive to the standard Sonata. First is what Hyundai calls a digital key. Using the BlueLink application on a compatible smartphone, you can use this instead of the key to start the car and drive away. At the time of this writing, this is only available on Android phones. Hyundai did provide a loner Samsung Note smartphone for the week to try this out. I did not have the best experience with this feature at first because I found you need to be pretty close to the vehicle to make a connection. Trying to connect from my room upstairs, just above where the vehicle was parked, the application would throw up a connection error. I found that if I moved to the living room or just outside the front door, the phone was able to make the connection. This sours some of the appeal of this feature. 
      At least using the phone as the vehicle's key does work a bit better. It only takes a few seconds for the phone to make the connection to the vehicle and you can start it up. Although, I found myself wondering wouldn't it be easier and faster to have the key. The only feature that makes any sense to me is the ability to share the key with other people, but lock down certain aspects.
      Second is Smart Park (or smart parkh as made famous by the Super Bowl commercial from last year). Using the key, you can have the Sonata move forward or back out of the parking spot to allow for easier access to get into the vehicle. It's simple to operate, just hold down one of two buttons for a few seconds; the Sonata starts up and goes into the correct gear to move in the desired direction. I can see the appeal in urban areas where space is limited. But in the current pandemic times all of us find ourselves in, this seems to be more of a gimmick.
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      Opting for Limited on the Sonata Hybrid brings a solar panel for the roof which acts as a trickle charger for both the 12-volt car battery and 1.6-kWh lithium-ion pack for the hybrid system. Hyundai says that the panel can add an extra two miles of range with adequate sunlight. I can't attest to this claim, but will say the solar panel did add an extra bit of charge to the battery, even on an overcast day.
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      Calm and Collected
      Hyundai has done some work on the Sonata's chassis and suspension to make it more rewarding to drive. It shows on a winding road as both versions show little body roll and feel more agile than the outgoing model. Steering feels direct and has a decent amount of weight. I will say the Mazda6 is still the one to beat if driving pleasure is your key goal.
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      Where most people will stumble on the Sonata is the exterior. It is very much a love or hate it affair. Plus, some of the tech features feel more like a party trick to show to friends than something you'll use. 
      Nevertheless, I think Sonata moves up to the top of the midsize sedan pecking order. 
      But there is one more question to answer. Between the regular and hybrid versions, which one I would drive away with. The answer which surprised me is the hybrid. I found it to be a little bit more well-rounded and deliver some excellent fuel economy figures during my time.
      Alternative:
      Kia K5: Like the idea of the Hyundai Sonata, but not to sure on the design? Then the Kia K5 may be the answer. Based on the same bones as the Sonata, the K5 takes a more evolutionary approach to the design. The basic shape may remind you of the previous-generation Optima, but its the little details such as a new grille and revised rear deck lid that help it stand out. From reviews, the K5 proves to be a bit sportier. We hope to get our hands on this challenger in the near future. Disclaimer: Hyundai Provided the Sonatas, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2020
      Make: Hyundai
      Model: Sonata
      Trim: Limited 1.6T
      Engine: Turbocharged 1.6L GDI DOHC 16-Valve Inline-Four
      Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 180 @ 5,500
      Torque @ RPM: 195 @ 1,500-4,500
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 27/36/31
      Curb Weight: 3,336 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Montgomery, AL
      Base Price: $33,300
      As Tested Price: $34,365 (Includes $930.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Carpeted Floor Mats - $135.00
      Year: 2020
      Make: Hyundai
      Model: Sonata Hybrid
      Trim: Limited
      Engine: 2.0L GDI DOHC 16-Valve Inline-Four, Permanent Magnet Synchronous Motor
      Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 150 @ 6,000 (gas); 51 @ 1,800 - 2,300 (electric motor); 192 (total output)
      Torque @ RPM: 139 @ 5,000 (gas); 151 @ 0 - 1,800 (electric motor)
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 45/51/47
      Curb Weight: 3,530 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Asan, South Korea
      Base Price: $35,300
      As Tested Price: $36,430 (Includes $975.00 Destination Charge)
      Options: 
      Carpeted Floor Mats - $135.00
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    • By William Maley
      Despite being one of the best sellers in the luxury crossover class, the Lexus RX lacked something many competitors offered; a third-row option. Lexus rectified this a couple of years ago by stretching the RX's body and adding a third-row to create the RX L. I spent some time in the RX 350L Luxury back in the fall to find out if Lexus has another winner or if this a half-baked attempt.
      You can tell the difference between the standard RX to the longer L by looking for a floating roofline treatment. This is due to Lexus blacking part of the c-pillar to help disguise the added bulk. It doesn't fully work as looks somewhat half-baked. At least Lexus was more successful upfront where non F-Sport models get a new mesh insert to replace the horizontal slats, along with a revised bumper. When equipped with the Luxury Package, the RX is a plush and pleasant place to spend time. The leather upholstery feels nice to the touch and the use of contrasting colors (cream and brown in my tester) help make it feel special. Lexus has finally added a touchscreen for the RX's infotainment and it makes a huge difference. Gone are the litany of issues I have noted in previous models such as, Being precise with your finger movements when selecting an item Becoming very distracting to use when on the move Not the most intuitive controller Now using Lexus Enform or Apple CarPlay/Android Auto is not an exercise in frustration, but one of ease. My only complaint is that I wished Lexus moved the screen slightly more forwards. It is quite a reach to use the touchscreen. Those sitting in the second row will not have much to complain about as head and legroom are plentiful for most passengers. The same cannot be said for the third-row. Getting back here is difficult as there is not enough a gap when the second-row seat is moved forward. Once back here, space is non-existent with your head touching the headliner and legroom from nothing to something bearable depending on where the second-row is set. The one upside to the longer RX is cargo space. With the third-row seat folded, you get about seven extra cubic feet of space compared to standard RX. Power comes from a 3.5L V6 used in several Lexus and Toyota vehicles.  For the RX 350L, it produces 290 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque. My tester came with all-wheel drive, but front-wheel drive is standard. Performance is adequate as you'll be able to keep up with traffic or make a pass with no issue. Those wanting a bit more performance should look at something like the upcoming Acura MDX or Volvo XC90. Comfort is still a key hallmark to the RX. Bumps and potholes become mere ripples when driven over. There is also a noticeable lack of road and wind coming inside. The RX 350L feels like a stop-gap solution until Lexus finishes up their upcoming three-row crossover due out within the next couple of years. The third-row isn't all useful for carrying passengers and is best to fold down to expand cargo space. If you need a third-row, there are much better options such as the Volvo XC90. But if you really want an RX, stick with the standard two-row version and pocket the cash you saved for something nice. Disclaimer: Lexus Provided the RX 350L, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2020
      Make: Lexus
      Model: RX
      Trim: 350L Luxury
      Engine: 3.5L DOHC 24-valve with VVT-iW V6
      Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 290 @ 6,300
      Torque @ RPM: 263 @ 4,700
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 18/25/21
      Curb Weight: 4,597 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Miyawaka, Fukuoka, Japan
      Base Price: $54,700
      As Tested Price: $63,540 (Includes $1,025.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      12.3" Navigation System/Mark Levinson 15-Speaker Premium Audio System - $3,365.00
      Blind Spot Monitor with Intuitive Parking Assist, Panoramic View Monitor, and Rear Cross Traffic Alert Braking - $1,865.00
      Running Boards - $640.00
      Color Head-Up Display - $600.00
      Second-Row Captain's Chairs - $405.00
      All-Weather Floor Liners with Cargo Mat - $330.00
      Cold Weather Package - $315.00
      Mudguards - $155.00
      Door Edge Guards - $140.00

      View full article
    • By William Maley
      Do you need a V8 engine in your flagship luxury sedan? That's a question I posed myself when a Genesis G90 equipped with a 5.0L V8 engine was dropped off for a week. The standard G90 with the twin-turbo V6 offers an impressive amount of performance and refinement. But the V8 offers much more power, along with some extra goodies you cannot get with the V6. 
      Since our last visit with the G90, Genesis has given a bit of a facelift. The front end prominently features a new diamond-shape. I found myself growing to like it, even if I thought it was a tad too large. But I can see this becoming a point of contention. Other changes include new wheels and a restyled rear end that makes the G90 look a bit cleaner. No changes of note for the interior. It still is very luxurious to sit in and the controls are logically laid out. The only item I'm sad not to see is the new 12.3-inch digital cluster that is found in the all-new G80 and GV80. Opting for the Ultimate means back seat passengers get their own screens mounted behind the front seats. This allows you to tap into the G90's infotainment system to play audio, check various information, and look at the navigation system. Ultimate models come with the larger 5.0L V8 producing 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with an eight-speed automatic and rear-wheel drive. All-wheel drive is available as an option. The V8 is a bit of a tough sell when compared to the twin-turbo 3.3L V6 as it slower off the line and not as flexible whenever you need to accelerate quickly. Both engines also are similar in terms of refinement, offer a muted engine note. The only place I found the V8 to be slightly better than the V6 was in my average fuel economy. The V8 returned 24.7 mpg, while the V6 only got 20.3 mpg. A combination of the V8 G90 being rear-wheel and not all-wheel, along with more miles being done on the highway likely contributed to the better fuel economy figures. Ride quality is still on the hallmarks of the G90. With the adaptive suspension in either SMART or Comfort, the G90 glides along any road surface with nary a bump or pothole coming inside.  Around bends, the G90 doesn't feel at home with a fair amount of body roll. There is a Sport model to help reduce this, along with adding more weight to the steering. For the as-tested price of $76,695, you are getting quite a lot of equipment. There are LED headlights, Nappa leather upholstery, three-zone climate control, 17-speaker Lexicon audio system, power sunshades, adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, memory settings for seats, and much more. The only way I could recommend the G90 Ultimate is either if you're operating a livery service or just want a V8 engine no matter what. Otherwise, you'll be happy with the G90 Premium and its twin-turbo V6. That said, the current G90 is starting to show its age, especially when compared to some of the new Genesis models such as the G80 and GV80. A new model is coming down the pipeline and if the recent models are any indication, the G90 has a real shot of becoming one of the best luxury sedans. Disclaimer: Genesis Provided the G90, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2020
      Make: Genesis
      Model: G90
      Trim: 5.0 Ultimate
      Engine: 5.0L GDI V8
      Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Rear-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 420 @ 6,000
      Torque @ RPM: 383 @ 5,000
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 16/24/19
      Curb Weight: 4,817 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Ulsan, Korea
      Base Price: $75,700
      As Tested Price: $76,695 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge)
      Options: N/A
  • Posts

    • Seems South Korea Battery Giant Samsung is the official battery supplier to Rivian with their Li-Ion SDI battery cells. At the start the R1T will ship with the standard 135 kWH battery pack good for 300 plus miles. Early 2022 the Max pack 180 kWH battery pack for 400 miles as well as the lite pack of 105 kWH battery pack will join the options. Currently Rivian is beating all rivals with the best battery warranty of 8yrs or 175,000 miles which ever comes first. To quote Rivian on their Warranty for their auto's: What is the warranty coverage on a new Rivian? New Vehicle Limited Warranty is included on all new R1S and R1T vehicles purchased from Rivian. New Vehicle Limited Warranties include: Comprehensive: The cost of all parts and labor necessary for any defective materials are covered for 5 years or 60,000 miles, whichever comes first Battery Pack: Coverage includes all components inside the high-voltage battery and 70% or more of the battery capacity for 8 years or 175,000 miles, whichever comes first Drivetrain: Coverage includes the drivetrain and components for 8 years or 175,000 miles, whichever comes first Corrosion (Perforation): Body panels that are perforated by corrosion will be covered for 8 years with unlimited miles A full list of warranty coverage will be located in the Warranty Guide prior to production vehicles being available for purchase. What is the warranty coverage on a new Rivian? - Support Center - Rivian Charged EVs | Samsung SDI to be Rivian’s battery cell supplier - Charged EVs I have to say that the OEMs in Detroit as well as Tesla need to pay attention as Rivian is offering a far superior auto warranty over any of them.
    • Steroids             PS:                  THIS is a proper Pontiac Trans Am gif...   
    • I stand corrected. I guess one can... It is more accurate to say: Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder.   If you look for beauty, you will find it. And by contrast, if you look for ugliness and faults, you will find that too... It all depends on what you want to find.     
    • October 5th, 2020 Hino Trucks, a subsidiary of The Toyota Group Company announced their Project "Z". This was the Company's development plan to offer zero emissions vehicles (ZEV) for class 4 to 8 medium and heavy duty trucks in the North American market with customer demonstrations in 2022 and production starting in 2024. Project Z was a development plan to bring Fuel Cell and BEV to the whole medium and heavy duty product line for customers along side Diesel as the industry started to convert over. The long 5 year plan was expected due to the continued R&D that would be needed on Diesel trucks to meet global emission standards and the development time for fuel cell and BEV trucks. During the Virtual 2021 NTEA Work Truck Show, Hino Trucks announced their intent to produce all class 4 to 8 trucks using Cummins engines for sale in North America. This is the Cummins B6.7 and L9 motors to start being produced in the Hino's L and XL Series models at the end of 2021. Additional models moving forward will come out to cover all truck lines allowing for a much reduced investment in R&D while at the same time allowing Hino to ramp up their efforts to move over sooner to a Zero Emission fleet of trucks. As such, this announcement allows Hino and Cummins to secure long term diesel motor production for existing sales of such trucks and Hino is able to focus on Zero Emission vehicles (ZEV) using BEV and Fuel Cell technology. Hino has now moved up their time line with production of Fuel Cell and BEV trucks in Q4 of 2022 with full production by the end of 2023 rather than the end of 2024. A couple of take aways from both the Cummins and Hino announcements and projects: Hino can shift resources from Diesel R&D to Project Z. Cummins secures long term diesel powertrain commitments. Both OEMs secure a new partnership that helps offset R&D investments. Cummins partnership contracts for diesel powertrain also secures revenue stream allowing Cummins to invest in their own ZEV Powertrains. Both companies have stronger long term growth prospects with this partnership allowing both stocks to grow. Additional commitments by HINO to the battery production industry securing large size battery cell production contracts. Battery suppliers another grow industry to consider. HINO is a very popular truck line used in inner city deliveries as well as the suburbs and rural areas. Having a diverse portfolio of ZEV and Diesel trucks with a solid know power train from Cummins is a win win for Fleet buyers. Hino is lookin to lead the medium / heavy duty truck market in North America as well as around the world being ready for the needs of ZEV solutions while strongly supporting the needs of Diesel fleets. View full article
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