Tuesday, 23 July 2024

Toyota has many vehicles with impressive popularity, but in the SUV realm their clear champion is the Toyota RAV4, a compact crossover that consistently lands at or near the top of sales charts.

In terms of variety of RAV4 models, Toyota has been smart to recognize that not everyone is eager to jump into an electric vehicle, so they offer some other more reasonable alternatives — namely a hybrid version and a plug-in hybrid version of the RAV4.

This makes lots of sense, especially considering how Toyota was a longtime pioneer in the hybrid space going back to the launch of the Prius.

The plug-in option is called the RAV4 Prime, and I recently spent some time behind the wheel of a RAV Prime. A carryover to the 2024 model from the 2023 version, the RAV4 Prime is a well-designed, user-friendly vehicle that delivers a solid drive quality plus strong fuel economy.

Read on to learn more about what the RAV4 Prime plug-in hybrid has to offer compared to other vehicles in this space, and who will want to take one home.

Published in SUV / TRUCK REVIEWS

The debate over whether fully electric vehicles are the best answer for most car buyers, or if hybrids and plug-in hybrids better fit our lifestyles, rages on.

Volvo has covered all angles with its largest SUV offerings. For those ready to make the leap, they have just unveiled the brand new EX90, a cutting-edge, fully electric, three-row SUV that is starting to make waves.

But they also recognize that not everyone is ready for that big of a leap, and still offer their XC90 three-row offering in a plug-in hybrid option, called the XC90 Recharge.

I recently tested a 2024 XC90 Recharge, which fills an important role in the Volvo lineup and is a great middle ground for buyers who aren’t on board the full-EV train yet.

Read on for full details on how the XC90 Recharge measures up to rival luxury SUVs from Genesis, Audi, BMW, Mercedes and others.

Published in SUV / TRUCK REVIEWS

Mitsubishi’s got a steep hill to climb as it battles for the attention of U.S. car buyers. But one sure way to reach the people and grow their presence is to make strong vehicles that stand up well even against tough competition.

One such vehicle that should help in that regard is the 2023 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, a plug-in hybrid offering which I recently had the chance to experience.

Redesigned both inside and out for 2023, the Outlander PHEV features impressive design, strong tech and allows people to get closer to the EV experience without actually committing to EV-only living, getting rid of that range anxiety.

It comes through with more power, improved electric-only range, and upgraded looks.

Published in SUV / TRUCK REVIEWS

In the SUV business, where competition is increasingly cutthroat, a brand has to have as many tools in its arsenal as possible.

For Hyundai, its Santa Fe midsize SUV has been around for over two decades, and currently offers just about every variant you can imagine — from ICE versions, to standard hybrid, to plug-in hybrid (PHEV).

Of note is that the Santa Fe is wrapping up its current design before its radically different, brand new 2024 version goes on sale early next year. As is the case when any redesign occurs, the opportunity may arise to catch a price break on 2023 Santa Fe models that dealers may want off the lot.

I recently tested a 2023 Hyundai Santa Fe PHEV — which competes mainly with plug-in hybrid options from Ford, Toyota, Kia and others —  and I’m back with a full report.

Published in SUV / TRUCK REVIEWS
Wednesday, 05 April 2023 00:46

Mazda debuts new 2024 CX-90 three-row SUV

Mazda has announced the brand new 2024 Mazda CX-90, a three-row SUV built on Mazda's all-new large platform. The CX-90 represents the company's new flagship vehicle with wider, longer, and more aggressive proportions. Mazda CX-90 is available with all-new electrified powertrains, including an inline 6 turbo and a plug-in hybrid, that offer drivers enhanced performance and efficiency.
2024-Mazda-CX-90-Reveal

"At Mazda, our focus is to deliver an ownership experience that enriches the lives of our customers. With each new vehicle launch, we challenge ourselves to progress through our human-centric approach of design and engineering," said Jeff Guyton, President and CEO of Mazda North American Operations. "CX-90 offers powerful and responsive performance, alluring design, and intuitive technology. We're very proud of our team's work on CX-90, which we know is a breakthrough vehicle in its segment."


As with all Mazda vehicles, CX-90 is designed with the driver in mind. With seating for up to eight passengers, CX-90 can accommodate families and friends in all three rows. Cabin space, cargo capacity, safety features, and many amenities are optimized for their needs.

Published in NEWS

Lexus is a luxury brand that has long been a supporter of hybrid vehicles, and it recently unveiled its first fully electric vehicle, the RZ 450e.

In the middle of that spectrum of differently powered vehicles is the plug-in hybrid, which embraces a partial EV operation combined with a hybrid setup. Lexus is also pursuing this category, with their first-ever offering being the 2022 Lexus NX 450h+, a plug-in hybrid version of their popular compact SUV.

The 450h+ is part of the second generation of the NX line, which also includes ICE and standard hybrid versions. Plug-in hybrids can help ease worries about range anxiety among buyers, while also allowing them to begin their journey toward fully embracing a true EV.

The luxury battlefield is always intense, and that applies to the electrified/hybrid realm too. So Lexus knows it has to come strong to compete in this sector — where it’s battling brands like Audi, Volvo, Mercedes-Benz and more.

I recently spent time in a 2022 NX 450h+ F Sport, and I’m back with a full report on the vehicle, which shares some technology with the nonluxury Toyota RAV4 Prime plug-in hybrid.

Published in SUV / TRUCK REVIEWS

BMW recently announced the BMW Concept XM, a new vehicle concept that looks ahead to the most powerful BMW M car ever to go into series production, which is set to begin at the end of 2022. Electrification underpins a driving experience which allows the driver to both glide along in near silence and enjoy the engaging pleasure of high performance driving, M-style. The BMW Concept XM provides a preview of the new front end design for BMW’s forthcoming luxury-class models. It also introduces a highly progressive and distinctive take on BMW X model design, and an all-new form of luxury and sense of space for the interior.
 
The series-production model – the BMW XM – will begin production at the end of 2022 at BMW Group Plant Spartanburg in South Carolina. BMW M will be introducing its first standalone vehicle since the legendary BMW M1 in the year it celebrates its 50th anniversary.  The BMW XM will be available only as a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) and exclusively as an M model. 
 
The exterior styling of the BMW Concept XM reflects the vehicle’s exceptional performance attributes: power, agility, and precision, plus an all-electric range of up to 80 km (WLTP) and up to 30 miles (preliminary estimate, not an official EPA value). The newly developed M Hybrid drive system in the BMW Concept XM brings together a V8 engine and a high-performance electric motor to develop a maximum output of 740 hp and peak torque of 738 lb-ft. The first electrified vehicle from BMW M GmbH in the high-performance segment is emphatically pointing the way forward for the future of the brand.
 
“The BMW Concept XM represents a complete re-imagining of the high-performance vehicle segment,” says Franciscus van Meel, CEO of BMW M GmbH. “It underlines the ability of BMW M GmbH to break with established conventions and push boundaries in order to offer fans of the brand the ultimate driving experience. The series-production vehicle – the first pure BMW M model since the legendary BMW M1 – also shows how we are approaching the step-by-step electrification of our brand.” 

“The design of the BMW Concept XM is an extravagant statement by BMW M in the heart of the luxury segment,” says Domagoj Dukec, Vice President BMW Design. “It has a resolutely standalone identity and embodies an expressive lifestyle like no other model in the BMW line-up.”

Published in NEWS

Luxury automakers have embraced the plug-in hybrid at various levels, but one of the automakers going in full steam in this category is Volvo, which already offers a plethora of plug-in hybrids to the public and is eagerly moving toward an all-Electric Vehicle future.

One of the plug-in hybrids that is currently available from Volvo is the S90 Recharge, a large sedan that is pricey, yet fills the needs of any demanding luxury car customer. It embraces the future while maintaining the cushy and comfortable environment these buyers expect. I recently spent some time in an S90 Recharge, and I’m back with a full report.

LOOKS

There are different ways to approach luxury design. Some automakers are more flashy, but others take a more nuanced approach.

Volvo falls in the second category. Unlike the massive, dominating grille on new Lexus models, for example, the Volvo has a classy and minimalist design on the front end of the S90. You still sense luxury, but it’s not slapping you in the face.

Published in CAR REVIEWS

Since launching the hybrid craze years ago with the Prius, Toyota has been a leader in eco-friendly vehicles. Hence their recent emphasis on plug-in hybrids, the next step toward the inevitable arrival of electric-only vehicles for the masses.

One such offering in this vein that I recently got to test is the 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime, a plug-in hybrid version of their wildly popular RAV4 SUV. With an electric range of 42 miles, and strong fuel economy when in hybrid mode, it’s definitely one of the plug-in offerings getting a lot of attention in this changing automotive landscape.

I recently spent some time in the RAV4 Prime, which serves a good landing point for people who want to move beyond standard hybrids but are not yet comfortable with electric-only options.

Published in SUV / TRUCK REVIEWS

While the charge toward electrification of the vehicles we buy continues, some brands are taking the challenge more seriously than others.

Among the brands most dedicated to this incoming change, and leading the charge (no pun intended), is Volvo. The company has a lofty goal of having fully electric vehicles comprising 50 percent of its sales by 2025, and already offers all of its new models in some form of hybrid or electric model.

Volvo has the difficult task of maintaining the strong driving experience that Volvos tend to offer, while adapting to this new eco-friendly environment. I recently tested a 2021 Volvo XC60 Recharge, the plug-in hybrid version of their mid-size SUV, and I’m back with a full report on whether it lives up to these expectations.

Published in SUV / TRUCK REVIEWS
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