In the late 1990s when Ford embarked on ambitious plans to dominate the premium market segment, it aligned its purchased foreign brands Aston Martin, Jaguar, Land Rover, and Volvo together in its “Premier Automotive Group.” That apparently left resources spread too thin and Lincoln was left to let the Town Car soldier on, the LS with no successor, and the Continental to vanish into history. Lack of a clear vision in the years after the PAG was sold off to keep the Blue Oval afloat meant Lincoln was positioned more like the orphaned Mercury brand as merely premium Fords. Lincoln is attempting to correct a couple of those missteps with the re-introduction of the Continental as its top model offering. Lincoln executives are promoting this new Lincoln as being focused on premium luxury rather than a performance car. Indeed, sybaritic comfort is something that even Cadillac has chosen to make secondary to performance and handling. The Continental certainly looks the part and the interior is no exception. Lincoln promises a 3.0L V6 with an anticipated 400 hp applied to the pavement through all four wheels. That V6 is mounted transversely so those expecting a Continental in the configuration of your grandfather’s Town Car will be disappointed. It likely won’t matter: the interior appears extremely commodious. The exterior champions Lincoln’s abandonment of the split winged grille that, though distinctive, was largely criticized. A horseshoe shaped grille with a prominent Lincoln logo sets the direction as the brand’s new trademark. The curious winged door handles from last year’s Continental concept have arrived in tact. Though details are mostly scarce right now, we expect a host of safety and infotainment features already offered throughout Ford’s product offerings. Expect the Continental to hit the road in late 2016.
Once upon a time Volvos were known as cars that looked like a loaf of bread or, worse yet, a refrigerator. That stigma began to erode when the original S90 sedan, which had clearly been styled exclusively with a t-square, was replaced with the wind sculpted S80 sedan in 1999. The once stodgy brand known also as a leader in safety innovations began to transform while under Ford’s ownership into a fashionable Swedish brand in such a way that comparisons to IKEA were inevitable. Having been sold off to the Chinese automaker, Geely, in 2009, Volvo has recently been under yet another transformation. For 2017 the S90 sedan returns and is nothing short of a stunning executive class car. The exterior features the shouldered fenders inspired by the original S80 sedan and a grille and hood shape reminiscent of the legendary P1800 sports coupe from the 1960s. The interior sports very natural materials (the finish on the woodgrain makes you want to reach out and run your fingers over the surface) and rich hues in the same vein as the also excellent XC90 crossover. The S90 is offered with either a T6 supercharged and turbocharged 2.0L 4-cylinder or a T8 Twin Engine (deceptively also a 4-cylinder) plug-in hybrid powertrain that delivers up to 410 horsepower. The S90 also makes available a large animal detection system that offers a warning and brake support. This isn’t surprising coming from a company originating from a country where moose collisions are considered a normal driving hazard. With as good as this car looks, we can’t wait to see the much rumored wagon version of this car.
While green car enthusiasts have been watching Telsa and its exotic electric cars, the world should take notice: today GM unveiled the Chevrolet Bolt EV. The Bolt EV is significant because it has the potential to be the first mass market EV with a 200 mile range. Mass market means a starting price that Chevrolet assures will be ‘around $30,000’ after federal tax credits. The Bolt was unveiled last year as a concept and just a year later we are seeing the production version which will be built at GM’s plant in Orion Township, MI. While a full charge will take up to 9 hours with a 240-volt charging unit, an hour of charge accomplishes 25 miles of range. This EV offers more than just electrified propulsion. Other technologies packaged into the Bolt EV are an integrated rear camera mirror that virtually eliminates blind spots and surround vision. The instrument panel is festooned with a 10.2″ tablet-like display that can reportedly be controlled by simple, intuitive gestures. Chevrolet promises to have its newest electric vehicle available to customers by late 2016.
Now on the market for ten years, Ford is not satisfied to rest on its laurels as it continues to use its midsize Fusion to scrape sales away from the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord. Ford has massaged the front fascia slightly, added optional LED headlamps, and introduces a rotary shift knob that replaces the more conventional console shift lever. The Fusion Hybrid and Plug-In Hybrid both remain available, the latter of which offers options for monitoring and scheduling charging through the MyFord Mobile app. Those who want to wring a little bit more fun out of their commute should look to the Fusion Sport which offers a 2.7L turbocharged EcoBoost V6 as well as all-wheel drive. A Platinum trim level offers a unique front grille and 19” polished-aluminum wheels. Three EcoBoost engines are offered across the range with the 1.5L and 2.0L 4-cylinders in addition to the Sport-exclusive 2.7L V6. Sadly, it appears that the rare manual transmission has been cut from the line-up.