Volvo used terms like rugged, all weather and all road to describe its 2021 V60 Cross Country T5 AWD. But that description could not cover up the fact that this V60 was well equipped, luxurious and performance orientated. They call the V60 an estate in Europe but in the U.S., it is a station wagon. But don’t get it twisted, Volvo has been known to make excellent wagons since the first one in the 1950s and its 2021 offering is no different. The V60 was equipped with all sorts of stuff that you wouldn’t equate with sloshing through the woods. It had heated and cooled front seats with power extensions as well as heated rear seats.
Often great design is about lines, straight and to the point. That is what struck us about the 2021 Volkswagen Atlas. The sides of the vehicle were crisp. For the new model year, the chassis remains unchanged, but the front and rear bumpers have been restyled. The three-bar grille extended into the front headlights. This new model featured LED lighting all round, including low beams. Even the turn signal lights were LED. The front lights were also adaptive.
In a classic bury the lead presentation, it was not until the end of telling us about the 2021 Acura TLX, that one of the presenters said, “we’re moving up market.” This is significant news. Every premium and luxury automaker should be on alert. Acura has always made top quality vehicles briming with customer loyalty. And now they plan to shoulder their way upstream in the market segment. They’ve already started with the next generation of the RDX compact SUV. It is the bestselling vehicle in the segment. Now Acura is aiming the TLX sedan at the entry-level luxury and premium sport sedan segment. They started by replacing the TLX engine. The entry-level powerplant now is a 2.0-liter dual overhead cam, direct-injected, turbocharged four-cylinder mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission with manual shift capability. It made 272 horsepower and 280 lb.-ft. of torque. That is 66 more horsepower and 98 more pound-feet of torque than the engine it replaced. What’s more, peak torque was delivered between 1,600 and 4,500 rpm. That translates into plenty of power at just about any speed. The new Acura TLX had an EPA rating of 22 mpg in the city, 31 mpg on the highway and 25 mpg combined. There are four trim lines of the 2021 TLX: the TLX, the Tech, the A-Spec, and the Advance
Unless you are a sport utility aficionado, you may have never heard of the Toyota Land Cruiser Heritage Edition. But it has been in the automaker’s lineup since 1958. Our test vehicle was powered by a 5.7-liter V8 that made 381 horsepower and 401 pound-feet of torque. It had an eight-speed automatic transmission. This vehicle was not for those-light in the wallet. It got 13 mpg in the city, 17 mpg on the highway and 14 mpg combined. It was a brute and meant to be. Our test vehicle had a basket on the roof for carrying stuff. It looked like it belonged in the badlands or somewhere just as rugged. The vehicle on had two rows of seats so it could have more storage area behind the second row. To be blunt, this is an older platform that Toyota has managed to leverage with all sorts of accessories. It had USB and auxiliary plugs, heated and cooled front seats, as well as heated second row seats. There was also a grounded 120V plug in the rear cargo area. An optional third row is coming. Of course, it could go sloshing through the woods. It had four-wheel high and low gears. You could put it in two-wheel-drive as well. Our Heritage package included 18-inch forged alloy wheels with Toyota center caps that were bronze. Oh, and it was black on black in black. The running and chrome lower body side moldings of the standard Land Cruiser were deleted. We had to climb up into and climb down out of this full-size SUV.
Overnight, that was as long as we had the 2021 GMC Yukon. But it was long enough to form an opinion. They put a lot of work into this sport utility and made it better, much better than the model it replaces. Well try and stick to specific areas. The first was the interior, which had been completely restyled. It was jet black with beige stitching and seat inlays. It may not sound that appealing but it worked The instruments were in bunches in front of the driver and under the floating infotainment touchscreen at the center of the dash. There were USB jacks for both Android and Apple equipment. The front seats were heated and cooled, while the second-row captain’s seats were heated. There were also second row dual infotainment screens that we didn’t even bother turning on much less test. Before we go further, we had the Yukon 4WD AT4, which is a new trim line that will work its way across the GMC portfolio.
Smooth, really smooth, that’s how the 2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid struck us. When we first approached the car, we thought it had a panoramic roof. But closer inspection revealed that this sedan had a solar panel roof. According to Hyundai, this system charges the 12-volt battery and the hybrid batteries as well. It puts out 205 watts of electricity. Hyundai said mileage increases by two miles per day with a solar roof. And it helps prevent battery discharge from the infotainment or HVAC systems when the car is off. The interior layout was uncluttered. We don’t think there was an analogue instrument anywhere. The instruments were digital, and it had a pushbutton gear selector. The speedometer was on the left in front of the driver while the power and charging gauge was on the right. There was stitching on the doors, the heated and cooled seats, and the dash. We do wish the dash was a little softer, but it did not feel like a hard piece of plastic.
Subaru has refreshed its Crosstrek lineup, adding a Sport model with a larger engine. It made its 2.5-liter four-cylinder Boxer engine available on the Sport trim line with dual function X-MODE, with interior and exterior accents and a durable upholstery that it has branded StarTex. Pressing the X-Mode switch activates 5 different forms of control to limit slipping tires when off road: 1. Engine Throttle In normal driving, when the driver steps on the accelerator pedal, the engine throttle opens, however X-Mode is designed so that the throttle doesn't open too quickly. If the driver presses the accelerator further, the engine then delivers torque faster. X-Mode employs special settings that deliver torque gradually at first, but then makes it come on stronger. 2. Transmission X-Mode keeps the transmission in a lower gear so that engine power can be delivered stronger. This shifting pattern, while X-Mode is ON, lets the driver make the most of the power that is available.
Ford has created a power packed lineup of its venerable Mustang. With a half dozen models, the automaker has created a horsepower stuffed lineup with enough oomph for just about every desire. Power ranged from 310 to 760 and we were fortunate to have the 2020 Ford Mustang GT Convertible. It packed a 5.0-liter 460 horsepower V8 under the bulging hood that made 420 pound-feet of torque. The car had a quad tipped dual exhaust system. If that was not enticing enough, the car had a six-speed manual Getrag transmission. The reason we mention the brand of the tranny was that putting the Mustang GT into gear was like the thump of a penitentiary cell door. Once in gear, there was no slipping out. And there was rev-matching technology, which made down shifting carefree.
Ford has taken some conventional technology and updated it to make its 2020 Edge an advanced crossover. We had the Titanium trim package, which was the top of the line. The appearance package included 20-inch polished aluminum wheels, body colored lower side cladding, bright chrome inserts, body colored painted bumpers with front chrome inserts and bright chrome accents around the upper grille. But don’t get it twisted. Although we say chrome a lot, it was subdued, and the agate black metallic paint of our test vehicle dominated. Inside, Ford said the package added dark red/brown Brunello with Brick Red accent stitching on the door inserts, front and rear floormats with Brick Red accent stitching, with Brick Red embroidered “Edge” logo on the front mats, and bright aluminum intrecciato appliques on the instrument panel.
The 2020 Mazda CX-30 is the second model to adopt the latest evolution of Kodo design. It is a more mature interpretation of the striking design ethos. The CX-30 is meant to evoke creativity in one’s life. Realizing two contrasting expressions, the compact crossover has the flowing beauty of a coupe and the bold proportions of an SUV. Mazda’s signature wing grille takes on a sharper and deeper form to achieve a strong, refined front end that is suggestive of forward motion. The diagonal angle of the rear window gives the vehicle a coupe-like silhouette while the narrowed arch shape of the liftgate makes the body look shorter and wider for a powerful stance.