When purchasing a new car, crash safety ratings tend to fall below other priorities like style, fuel economy, performance, amenities, cost and even brand loyalty. That’s unfortunate, since more than a handful of cars will consistently fail to perform well in the one situation we all hope to avoid: a serious accident. If you’re smart, and especially if you have kids in tow, you’ll take the time to bone up on which vehicles are the safest. Of the 22 cars that received the highest safety rating from the IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety), these are the absolute best.
This Week's News on Wheels
This Week in Motoring: Chrysler surges ahead in sales, the skinny on Singer Porsche, missing pickup tailgates, North Korean grand theft auto and much more.
This Week in Motoring: new tire tech from Michelin, Bentley’s new design direction, pitching to female car buyers, a rare Range Rover goes up for sale and much more.
Crossovers to the dark side
Crossovers have changed in the recent past; you no longer have to trade in your testicles and driving sense to drive one. Even the haters (car nuts) have been proven wrong now that more horses, better driving dynamics and sleeker silhouettes have shown up in performance-focused crossovers. Here are five that break hard from the pack of mediocre crossovers still stuck in the driver’s ed parking lot.
Vintage and Swedish and Very, Very Fast
What’s more surprising than a sedate-looking vintage Volvo wagon that has enough power to bury supercars? In search of the ultimate sleeper, we came across what would normally be a cute vintage 1967 Volvo Amazon Combi wagon that’s instead been slammed, juiced up and fitted without some of the most mind blowing guts a family hauler has ever seen.
The Swedes Finally Redeem Themselves For Ikea
Negotiating a bulky child seat in the back of a sports coupe during the summertime is not dissimilar from performing hot yoga. The minds at Volvo have rethought the whole rigamarole and sought the path of inner peace by creating the world’s first inflatable child seat. We break it down.
10 Concepts We're Praying Find their Way to Production
Watching concept cars bow at international auto shows is like watching the festivities at Paris Fashion Week: displays are daring, beautiful and sometimes just downright petrifying. The world gets to see bold, shocking statements or captivating ones that might just make it to market. The best examples are fuel for dreams of what may come. This year, the Geneva Motor Show proved to be fertile ground. From a student-submitted sports car to a practical van, here are our 10 favorite concept cars from the show.
More beautiful than a Swedish bikini model
As great as Volvo’s first two concept cars (the Concept Coupe and the Concept XC Coupe) were, it’s the Volvo Concept Estate that’s got us giddy with “build it” fever. About to unveil at the Geneva Motor Show, the Concept Estate is essentially the shooting brake (two-door wagon) version of the Concept Coupe, bettered by the addition of a big rear door. Plus, it appears to be as beautiful under the skin as it is on the outside.
The Wagon of My Dreams
As much as I’d love to press my garage door opener and find a wickedly fast Audi A6 Avant 3.0 TDI bi-turbo or Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG S 4Matic Wagon waiting within, the real wagon of my dreams might actually be even more difficult to come by and definitely moves at geologic speed compared to the aforementioned family rocket sleds. It’s a true driver’s car that just happens to be an iconic station wagon, too: the Volvo 240 GLT Turbo Wagon.
A Taste of Things to Come
Concept cars are the stuff of dreams, representing the wondrous “could be” situations that make us salivate. Every year various auto shows pull the veil off auto industry pageants every year, and every year our collective pulses race to see what car companies have wrought in the way of wild designs, impressive technology and a foreshadowing of what might come in the not-too-distant future. Detroit has delivered ten of the most eye-catching concepts of 2014, and we’ve jumped in with a gusto. See which ones we love and why, here.
Today in Gear, we find a new Volvo concept, a pricey TV, Stumptown varietals and much more.
The gifts that keep on giving
Just about every morning, before our cup of joe, we slap ourselves as a reminder of how lucky we are to drive some of the best cars in the world and get paid for it. 2013 was another year of stupendous privileges, with wheel time in Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Land Rovers, Bentleys, Rolls-Royces, Porsches, Jaguars, Mercedes-Benzes, Audis, BMWs, Aston Martins and more. We’ve been the beneficiaries of a huge upswing in the automotive marketplace in terms of style, quality and driving excitement through virtually all segments. And you know what that means: 2014 should prove to be even better.
Here are the cars we most covet for the new year, each one a standout in its segment by virtue of its quality, technology, design, driving experience or all of the above. In a stellar field, these are the ones that stir the petrol in our veins the most. As we embark on a new year, here’s a toast to what should be an incredible 2014 on the digital pages of Octane.
Ze cream of ze crop
There was another huge auto show this year in Frankfurt, Germany. Spread out across a dozen exhibition halls covering a mile of real estate, the 65th IAA show featured wares from virtually every automaker on the planet. It is at Frankfurt, for instance, where you can learn about cutting-edge technology like heated armrests (no, we’re not kidding) and then walk around the corner and sample the same technology in a 2014 Mercedes-Benz S-Class. If the question is asked, “Wasn’t that car shown at Frankfurt?” chances are, at least for now, the answer is “yes”. Ditto on whether said car saw extensive press coverage. With that, here’s a rundown of the best of Frankfurt — not just the big names, but the ones that made us take notice.
One sultry Swede
Volvo has been eschewing their once-signature boxy designs for over a decade as cars like the swoopy XC60 demonstrate. But at the Frankfurt Auto show this year they proved they’re ready to venture even farther with the Volvo Concept Coupe, a gorgeous, liberal reinterpretation of their venerable P1800. We break it down.
The Tie Bar Shoelaces Ever the bastion of affordable style and flair — from tie-it-yourself bow ties to pocket squares to, well, tie bars — The Tie Bar has introduced some colorful accessories to tie onto something a little lower. These waxed cotton laces come in 25 colors and are cheap enough to make customizing…
Three million miles and counting
Irv Gordon looks young for his age. If you were to divide the almost three million miles he’s driven in his 1966 Volvo P1800 by the national average of miles driven per year, he would be 220 years old. Gordon took a few minutes to tell us about his pastrami-driven last meal on earth, his certification as a shotgun instructor and why his next car might be an Aston Martin.
5-Doors to your heart
The venerable station is no longer what it was: a dowdy people hauler that oftentimes “sported” less than favorable designs (faux wood paneling, anyone?). And though the American populace now prefers cross-overs, station wagons still survive in the domestic automotive landscape. With lower centers of gravity, sleeker profiles and (typically) better driving dynamics than their SUV counterparts, there’s plenty of reasons to love them. We certainly do.
It’s for all of the aforementioned reasons that wagons sell in much bigger numbers in Europe. With the hope of bringing the States around to how truly great they are, we give you five of the best wagons (and, sadly, some of the only ones left for sale here). Let’s just hope they never completely disappear.
Time to meet the winners
Imagine spending years designing, redesigning, engineering and finally building a car — only to have public opinion weigh in on your baby. No pressure, right? Well, at this year’s New York International Auto Show, plenty of brands did a damn good job. We were tantalized by some of what’s to come: cars that will certainly hit production in some form or another (and thank goodness for that). From track beasts to practical and attractive sedans, we rounded up the cream of the crop, in our humble opinion. Take a look at the 10 best in show.
A new generation of four-doors
Family sedans tend to be the automotive equivalent of Valium (minivans are horse tranquilizers, in case you were wondering), but times have changed. Family men no longer need to sacrifice
too much in the way of driving excitement and looks in order to transport tykes and trikes. We get it. You’d rather be doing some tire ripping, engine-snorting performance runs on your way to drop off your son at school. Still, we’ve compiled our list of “family sedans” that take let you perform your dad duties with aplomb while still allowing you more than a modicum of manly fun.
Four on the floor
With fresh changes to design language inside and outside of recent models like the XC60 and C30, Volvo has impressed buyers in the luxury/European markets, tempting some potential German-made owners to their (safe) side of the road. In hopes of continuing that trend, Volvo’s released an affordable AWD option for their entry-level, 2.5L engine 2013…
Under New Ownership, but Still Damn Sexy
By Gear Patrol reader Amos Kwon Even though Volvo hasn’t made the design equivalent of a Frigidaire on wheels since the 1980s, their cars have still attracted both suede elbow-padded, tweed blazer wearing professors and suburban upper-crusty moms for the last two decades. Now that they are owned by China’s Zhejiang Geely Holding Co., some…