Category Archives: Car Reviews
2013 Toyota RAV4: What Is It?
RAV4 was one of the first “compact crossovers,” having been introduced for 1996. It has since gone through three redesigns, growing slightly larger with each one. The latest version–which is new for 2013–is a 5-passenger, 4-door wagon with “swing up” liftgate and offered with the choice of front- or all-wheel drive. Deleted from last year are the available 3rd-row seat and V6 engine. RAV4′s closest competitors remain the Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, Hyundai Tucson and similar Kia Sportage , Subaru Forester, and Volkswagen Tiguan.
2013 Toyota RAV4: What’s New
RAV4 has been completely redesigned for 2013, with fresh styling, more features, the promise of better fuel economy, and a more conventional approach. Gone are the previous side-hinged rear cargo doors and externally mounted spare tire (replaced by a regular liftgate and under-floor location for the spare), along with the optional 3rd-row seat and available V6 engine (a combination available in only one other class competitor last year, the Mitsubishi Outlander). Size increases a bit, and only one powertrain is offered: a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission.
2013 Toyota RAV4: Model Lineup Features and Options
RAV4 comes in three trim levels: LE, XLE, and Limited.
Even the LE is quite well equipped. Standard features include power mirrors/windows/remote locks, cruise control, wireless cell-phone link, USB port, digital-media player connection, and rearview camera.
Added on the XLE are dual-zone automatic climate control, heated mirrors, and power sunroof. An optional navigation-system package also includes Toyota’s Entune infotainment system and satellite radio.
The top-line Limited brings such niceties as vinyl upholstery (replacing cloth), heated front seats, keyless access and starting, 8-way power driver seat, and a power liftgate. Three options are offered: blind-spot alert with cross-traffic alert, the navigation package described above, and a similar package with high-end JBL audio system.
2012 Toyota RAV4: Engines, Transmissions, and Drive Wheels
Both front- and all-wheel-drive models come only with a 176-horsepower 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine and 6-speed automatic transmission. Most models come with Normal, Eco, and Sport modes. Eco mode adjusts shift points and throttle response for more efficient driving. Sport mode quickens throttle response, holds gears longer, keeps the transmission in a lower gear for a given road speed, and adds some weighty “feel” to the steering.
2012 Toyota RAV4: Fuel Economy
The EPA rating for front-drive models is 24 city/31 highway. For all-wheel-drive models, it drops to 22/29. The RAV4 runs on regular-grade gas. We have had no opportunity to check fuel economy.
2012 Toyota RAV4: Safety Features
RAV4 comes standard with all expected safety features plus a driver knee airbag and rearview camera. Optional only on the top-line Limited are blind-spot alert and cross-traffic alert.
This evaluation is based on preview test drives.
2013 BMW X6 M: What Is It?
The X6 M is the high-performance version of BMW’s genre-bending premium-midsize SUV. It borrows its basic design, drivetrain, and most of its features from the more conventional BMW X5 M, but the X6 is more costly.
2013 BMW X6 M: What’s New
The X6 M sees minor trim but otherwise no major changes for 2013.
2013 BMW X6 M: Model Lineup, Features, and Options
As stated above, the X6 M largely mirrors the X5 M for feature availability.
Standard equipment includes 20-way power front sport seats, aluminum interior trim, headlight washers, load-leveling adaptive suspension, and 20-inch wheels. This is on top of the usual heated front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, navigation system, and power sunroof found in the less-sporty BMW X6 xDrive50i model.
The optional Driver Assistance Package includes a head-up instrument/navigation display, surround-view camera system, and self-dimming headlights. The Premium Sound Group includes an upgraded audio system with a one-year subscription to satellite radio. The Cold Weather Package adds heated rear seats and a heated steering wheel. Ordering the extra-cost upgraded leather upholstery opens access to optional ventilated front seats with driver-seat massage.
Standalone options include rear DVD entertainment, 6-disc DVD changer, and several varieties of interior trim.
2013 BMW X6 M: Engines, Transmissions, and Drive Wheels
The all-wheel drive BMW X6 M is powered by a 555-horsepower turbocharged 4.4-liter V8 engine paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission.
2013 BMW X6 M: Fuel Economy
EPA estimated fuel economy for the 2013 BMW X6 M is 12 mpg city/17 mpg highway. Since this vehicle is classified as a truck, it is not subject to the U.S. government’s excise “gas-guzzler” tax.
2013 BMW X6 M: Safety Features
The 2013 BMW X6 M includes a standard complement of expected and federally mandated safety features.
No X6 M models have been made available for testing. Since this vehicle is similar to the BMW X5 M, you can check out our review of that vehicle for more information.
2013 Volvo S80: What Is It?
The S80 is Volvo’s flagship car. It shares some of its basic design with the Volvo XC70 station wagon. The S80 is built in Sweden.
2013 Volvo S80: What’s New
Volvo is readying an updated S80 for the 2014 model year, but the 2013 version also benefits from some changes. All S80s now include standard headlamp washers and rain-sensing windshield wipers. Keyless entry and push-button start with Volvo’s PCC (Personal Car Communicator) key fob is also newly standard across the board. Other updates include a redesigned transmission gear selector, additional functionality for the Sensus entertainment control interface, a tunnel detection system for the headlamps, and two new exterior paint colors.
The optional Technology Package adds Road Sign Information (RSI), a system that uses a forward-looking camera to display road speed limit signs in the instrument cluster, and an Active High Beam function that automatically switches the headlamps to low beam when oncoming traffic is detected.
Finally, the Premier Plus Package adds adaptive xenon headlamps.
2013 Volvo S80: Model Lineup, Features, and Options
The S80 is offered in two basic versions, the front-wheel-drive S80 3.2 and the all-wheel-drive S80 T6. Each of these models can be equipped with the optional Premier Plus or Platinum packages.
Premier Plus includes front- and rear-obstacle detection, universal garage door opener, compass, and steering-linked Xenon headlamps. The Platinum Package includes all those items and adds a navigation system, rearview camera, and an upgraded audio system.
The Technology Package includes a collision-warning system, adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning, distance alert, pedestrian detection with automatic braking, road-sign information, driver-fatique alert, and automatic headlamp dimming. A Climate Package adds heated front and rear seats, heated windshield washer nozzles, and a upgraded interior air filter.
T6 AWD models can be ordered with a Dynamic Package that includes aluminum interior accent trim, sport seats, sport suspension, and specific alloy wheels. The Inscription Package for T6′s adds upgraded leather upholstery, a wood-and-leather trimmed steering wheel, and leather dashboard trim.
A selection of individual options are also offered. These items include a rear spoiler, blind-spot alert, portable navigation system, power sunroof, special exterior paint, and illuminated door sill trim.
2013 Volvo S80: Engines, Transmissions, and Drive Wheels
S80 3.2 models are powered by a 3.2-liter inline 6-cylinder engine. This double-overhead cam engine is rated at 240 horsepower. T6 AWD models use a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline 6-cylinder rated at 300 horsepower. Each engine is paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission.
S80 3.2 models are front-wheel drive and T6 AWD models are all-wheel-drive.
2013 Volvo S80: Fuel Economy
EPA estimated fuel economy for the S80 3.2 is 20 mpg city and 29 mpg highway. The S80 T6 AWD is rated at 18 city and 26 highway. Both engines use regular-grade gasoline, but Volvo says drivers can expect enhanced performance with the use of premium.
2013 Volvo S80: Safety Features
The S80 includes all expected safety features including those mandated by the U.S. government. All models include Volvo’s City Safety system that can prevent, or minimize the severity of, certain front-end collisions. A blind-spot alert system is available at extra cost. The optional Technology Package includes many additional safety items including a distance alert system, drowsy driver detection, collision warning, pedestrian warning, and lane-departure warning. The collision and pedestrian warning systems can automatically activate the vehicle’s brakes and bring the car to a full stop under certain circumstances.
2013 Volvo C30: What is It?
The C30 is a 2-door front-wheel-drive hatchback that seats four. It is Volvo’s smallest car, and is built in Belgium.
2013 Volvo C30: What’s new
There are no dramatic changes for 2013, but C30s are available with additional option packages and two new exterior paint colors. All C30 models add standard rain-sensing windshield wipers and headlamp washers. A switch to synthetic motor oil allows for longer service intervals.
2013 Volvo C30: Model Lineup, Features, and Options
The C30 comes in two basic models, T5 and T5 R-Design. A C30 Polestar Limited Edition model will also be available, but production of it is capped at 250 units.
T5 models are well equipped with many standard features including air conditioning, tilt-and-telescopic leather-wrapped steering wheel, height-adjustable front bucket seats, front console, split-fold rear seat back, remote keyless entry, USB port, Bluetooth wireless cell-phone link, and power windows, locks, and mirrors. Alloy wheels with 17-inch tires are included as well.
T5 R-Design adds combination cloth-and-leather upholstery, aluminum interior accents, fog lamps, rear spoiler, and a sport suspension. The wheels and tires are 18-inch units.
Most options are grouped into packages that are available for either model. The Premier Package adds a power driver’s seat with memory function, power sunroof, and a cargo cover. T5′s also gain aluminum interior trim.
The Premier Plus Package adds to the Premier Package steering-linked xenon headlamps with LED daytime running lights, power passenger seat, and keyless access and starting. The front fog lamps are deleted. The top option group is the Platinum Package. This adds an upgraded sound system with satellite radio and a navigation system. Finally, the Climate Package consists of dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, and an upgraded interior air filter.
Individual extras include blind-spot alert, a portable navigation system, and satellite radio. Leather interior trim is available for the T5 model.
2013 Volvo C30: Engines, Transmissions, and Drive Wheels
All C30 T5 and T5 R-Desgin models are equipped with a turbocharged 227-horsepower 2.5-liter 5-cylinder engine. The Polestar Limited Edition C30 gets revised engine tuning that raises horsepower to 250. A 6-speed manual transmission is standard and a 5-speed automatic is available optionally. All C30s are front-wheel drive.
2013 Volvo C30: Fuel Economy
EPA estimated fuel economy is 21 mpg city and 29 mpg city for C30s equipped with the 6-speed manual gearbox. Numbers with the extra-cost automatic are 21 city and 30 highway. The Polestar Limited Edition has the same estimated fuel economy as other C30 models. Volvo recommends regular-grade gas for all C30 models.
2013 Volvo C30: Safety Features
Every C30 includes all expected and required safety equipment including traction control, anti-lock brakes, tire-pressure monitoring system, and front, side, and an anti-skid system. Blind-spot alert is available as an individual extra-cost option.
2013 Volkswagen Golf: What Is It?
Though a minor presence on the U.S. market, this compact, front-wheel-drive hatchback is a consistent top-seller in Europe. In fact, it’s one the world’s most popular cars, with global sales of over 29 million and counting since its 1974 debut. Available with two or four doors, the Golf is smaller than Volkswagen’s Jetta and Jetta SportWagen compacts, but all share a good many underskin components and some structural elements.
The current sixth-generation Golf arrived stateside as a 2010 model. It’s actually a reworked version of the fifth-generation car that sold in America as the 2006-09 Rabbit. A sleeker and somewhat larger seventh-gen Golf starts European sale in calendar 2013 and is expected to reach U.S. showrooms by mid-2014 for the 2015 model year.
2013 Volkswagen Golf: What’s New
The 2013 Golf lineup sees a few minor revisions to interior features, and the base-trim 4-door is no longer offered with manual transmission.
2013 Volkswagen Golf: Model Lineup, Features, and Options
Mainstream Golfs continue in gas-engine 2.5 and turbodiesel TDI form. Each is also offered in “package models” with additional features.
This line also includes the Golf R, a high-performance, all-wheel drive edition that bowed for 2012 as the spiritual successor to the earlier Volkswagen R32 (last sold in 2008). The Golf R is covered in a separate report. So is the less specialized Golf-based GTI, which Volkswagen’s American arm has always sold as a distinct model.
Golfs are marketed in the U.S. as “one-price” cars, meaning that each model is equipped with a specific set of features and offers no major factory options. Various port- and dealer-installed accessories are available, though, including body cladding, body moldings, rear spoiler, chrome exhaust tips, and similar cosmetic enhancements.
Note that while standard equipment is the same for both body styles, 4-door Golfs are priced $ 700 higher than equivalent 2-doors. TDI models are more expensive than comparable 2.5s.
Despite their price-leader status, the base 2.5 models are pretty well equipped. Standard features begin with cruise control, heated power door mirrors, tilt/telescopic steering wheel, height-adjustable front seats, fold-flat passenger seat, cooled glovebox and, for 2013, a front center armrest and carpeted front/rear floormats. Other items include a split-fold rear seat with center armrest and cargo pass-through, auto up/down power windows, “aux-in” audio jack, and a stereo system with single-CD player and touchscreen interface. Stepping up to the 2.5 Convenience version nets heated front seats, wireless phone link, and now a leather-wrapped steering wheel, shift knob and handbrake lever. The top-trim 2.5 Convenience and Sunroof adds power sunroof, an upgraded stereo with in-dash CD changer and satellite radio, plus steering-wheel audio and cruise controls as 2013 additions. All 2.5 models roll on standard 15-inch steel wheels with covers.
TDI Golfs come with all 2.5 Convenience features, as well as a lowered, sport-tune suspension and 17-inch alloy wheels. The TDI Sunroof and Navigation (aka “TDI w/Sunroof and Navi”) adds–what else?–a navigation system and power sunroof. The TDI Technology Package (or “TDI w/Tech Package”) has all the above, plus adaptive bi-xenon headlights with LED running lamps, keyless entry/engine-start, and premium Dynaudio speaker system.
2013 Volkswagen Golf: Engines, Transmissions, and Drive Wheels
Two engines continue, both unchanged. The 2.5 models use a 170-horsepower 2.5-liter 5-cylinder, while TDI versions have a 140-horsepower 2.0-liter 4-cylinder turbodiesel.
A 5-speed manual transmission is standard for 2.5s except the base-trim 4-door, where it’s not offered. A 6-speed manual is standard for TDIs. All Golfs are available with 6-speed automatic, but the transmission differs with engine. The 2.5 models use a conventional torque-converter unit. TDIs substitute VW’s 6-speed DSG dual-clutch automated-manual that can be set to shift like a regular automatic. Both these transmissions feature a manual-shift gate.
2013 Volkswagen Golf: Fuel Economy
Golf’s EPA fuel-economy estimates are also unchanged for 2013. The 2.5 models are rated at 23 mpg city and 33 highway with manual transmission. Automatic versions come in at 24/31. All TDI models are rated at 30 mpg city and 42 highway.
Automatic-equipped 2.5 models have averaged 25.8-27.6 mpg in Consumer Guide testing. A test manual-transmission TDI returned 38.2 mpg, while an auto-manual model averaged 42.2.
Golf 2.5 models use regular-grade gas. The TDI turbodiesel engine meets 50-state emission standards without using a urea-based exhaust-treatment system requiring periodic dealer maintenance.
2013 Volkswagen Golf: Safety Features
The 2013 Golf has a standard complement of expected and federally mandated safety features, including ABS, stability system, and traction control, plus front and curtain side airbags. Rear side airbags are not offered. The manual transmission includes a hill-holder clutch.