2018 Kia Niro PHEV Review
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2018 Kia Niro PHEV Review

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The 2018 Kia Niro PHEV (plug-in hybrid) is a nice crossover that offers a great deal of interior room for the size, a modern sporty look that doesn’t scream I’m a hybrid look at me, and it packs in the latest tech that you’ll want in a new car.

Available in three trim levels, the Kia Niro Plug-in Hybrid starts at $27,900 and goes up to $34,500 for the EX Premium trim level. This is more expensive than the hybrid Niro, but is still eligible for tax credits. I tested the 2018 Kia Niro PHEV EX Premium, which includes a range of safety and convenience features.

Is the 2018 Kia Niro PHEV a Good Crossover?

The 2018 Kia Niro PHEV is a good crossover for many buyers.

The 2018 Kia Niro PHEV is a good crossover for many buyers.

The 2018 Kia Niro plug-in hybrid is a good crossover. With this model you get the same amount of storage as the non-hybrid version, so you don’t need to give up any of the utility by going green. with 105 MPGe, and an all-electric range up to 26 miles, the Niro PHEV offers a compelling alternative to the Prius Prime.

Although this is a small SUV, known as a crossover, it offers decent room for up to four adults.

The plethora of safety and driver convenience features, an easy infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support rounds out the offering.

The 2018 Kia Niro plug-in hybrid is a tempting crossover that offers adequate range, decent fuel economy with hybrid power and a spacious interior for a crossover.
What You'll Love
Good range and fuel economy
Apple CarPlay & Android Auto Support.
Don't sacrifice cargo space to go with plug-in hybrid.
Good amount of room for driver and passengers.
What Needs Work
No all wheel drive option.
Limited ground clearance compared to other crossovers.
Relies on gas engine when heater is running.
4.3

2018 Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid MPG & Range

The EPA rates the Kia Niro PHEV mpg at 105 MPGe and 46 mpg when on gasoline only power.

You can get up to 26 miles on the Kia Niro battery, but this will vary in real world use. With climate control handling the heat in Ohio the electric range dropped closer to 20-22 miles during my week with the Niro PHEV.

Get a full charge at home overnight with the included 110V charger.

Get a full charge at home overnight with the included 110V charger.

Once the all-electric range is spent, you can continue with gas-electric hybrid power. You can charge with an included 110V charger through almost any home outlet or at public charging stations. If you run out of battery power, you still get good fuel economy.

Driving the 2018 Kia Niro PHEV

The 2018 Niro PHEV drives and handles much like you would expect a crossover to.

The Niro PHEV responds quickly when you press the gas, giving you an engaging driving experience that won’t leave crossover drivers hoping for more power. There is a Sport mode that adds a little more pep to the throttle if you need to spice up your drive.

The Nireo PHEV handles and drives well for a crossover, but lacks all wheel drive or a lot of ground clearance that some buyers need.

The Nireo PHEV handles and drives well for a crossover, but lacks all wheel drive or a lot of ground clearance that some buyers need.

Overall the Niro PHEV does a good job of mixing gas and electric power after the all-electric range is depleted, but there are occasional bouts of indecision as the vehicle searches for the perfect blend of power.

One catch to using the Niro PHEV in all-electric mode is that when you have the heater on, the engine is running. There is no heat pump like you’ll find in the Toyota Prius Prime or heating system like the Chevy Volt uses.

There is no option for all wheel drive, a downside in the midwest, but not a dealbreaker for everyone.

2018 Kia Niro PHEV Tech & Safety

Kia’s UVO infotainment is easy to use, includes a 7-inch touchscreen that is responsive and easy to see while driving. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard on the Niro PHEV.

Tap into Apple CarPlay or Android Auto in the Kia Niro.

Tap into Apple CarPlay or Android Auto in the Kia Niro.

You can plug your iPhone or Android phone in and use your apps, phone, messages, navigation, music and audiobooks on the in-screen console. This is available at a glance while driving and you can also use voice control.

The system also supports Bluetooth for phone calls, streaming music and Sirius XM. Call quality is above average and the upgraded Harmon Kardon sound system sounds good.

On the Kia Niro PHEV there are a lot of safety and convenience features. You’ll need to upgrade to the EX trim level or the EX Premium to get some of these, but thankfully there are a lot of standard features including;

  • Lane Keep Assist
  • Forward Collision Warning
  • Backup Camera
  • Autonomous Emergency Braking
  • Smart Cruise Control

On the higher trim levels you also get Blind Spot Detection with Rear Cross Traffic Alert and on the EX Premium you get a parking assist system with sensors to let you know if you are close to something.

The Smart Cruise Control system works very well, reducing driver fatigue on longer trips. While not as exciting in day-to-day use, the Autonomous Emergency Breaking is a great feature that can help you avoid accidents.

2018 Kia Niro PHEV Design & Interior

A modern design that doesn't scream, "Look at me I'm driving a plug in hybrid."

A modern design that doesn’t scream, “Look at me I’m driving a plug in hybrid.”

While many electric vehicles focus on delivering a small hatchback style, futuristic interiors and interesting design choices, the Niro PHEV looks like a normal crossover. The exterior looks like a modern small SUV, and that’s perfect for many urban buyers who need something that fits into tight spots, but also has room for adventures or trips to the store.

The interior is spacious for such a small SUV and you don’t sacrifice any cargo room by going with the plug-in hybrid thanks to batteries under the rear seat and cargo area.

You’ll find plenty of space for four adult passengers. Up front heated and cooled seats on the EX Premium help reduce the need to use the climate controls as much. The higher seat position is at a nice point between a car and a full SUV, giving you an elevated look at the road.

You Need These 10 Must Have Car Features: Find Out Why

Smart Cruise Control

Smart Cruise Control

Do you hate constantly adjusting your cruise control, or giving up on cruise control because of traffic or due to a driver in front of you who keeps changing speed? You need a smart cruise control system.

Smart cruise control goes by many different names. You may see it listed as Radar Cruise, Adaptive Cruise or Intelligent Cruise control. Whatever it is called, it will allow you to set your cruise control and then stay with the flow of slower traffic.

Here's why we love it and why you need it. You get on the highway and set the cruise at 76 miles per hour. You also set the distance you want kept between you and the car in front of you. There are typically three or four settings so you can be close or keep a lot of space. Now you simply steer and your car will go 76 mile per hour when traffic allows it or there is no one in front of you. When someone is in front of you going 73 mph, the car automatically slows down to keep you the distance you choose from that car. This is indispensable in traffic and on long road trips. 

Not all smart cruise control systems are the same. Some of work at all speeds, while others only work above a specific limit. Some systems can bring you to a complete stop in traffic and then restart without you needing to touch a pedal. 

You can find adaptive cruise control on cars as cheap as $18,500 like the Toyota Corolla, and as an option on many cars below $30,000. Even on pricier cars you may need a higher trim level or special package to get this feature. 

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2020 Genesis G70 RWD 3.3T Sport Review

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Just how good is the 2020 Genesis G70 RWD 3.3T Sport?

The 2020 Genesis G70 is a special combination of luxury, performance, and driving dynamics that are sure to bring a smile to your face. The Genesis G70 is a luxury sports sedan that punches up to the C-Class and 3-Series, with the ability to deliver fun and great engine noise at a more affordable price.

There is a lot to like about the 2020 G70 RWD 3.3T Sport, but you do need to accept a smaller back seat and an infotainment system that could use an upscale user interface. Thankfully the system does support Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which is where many drivers will spend their time. Available in 2.0T, 2.0T Sport, and the 3.3T trims. I tested the Sport Trim with Rear Wheel Drive.

Driving the 2020 Genesis G70 RWD 3.3T Sport

The 2020 Genesis G70 RWD 3.3T Sport is a blast to drive.

The G70 is an absolute blast to drive. The rider is great, and even in sport mode it still feels very controlled. The expertise that went into fine-tuning the handling and performance shines through when it delivers a smile on twisty roads. Even when pushed, the car feels under control and the behavior is predictable and repeatable, which leads to a fun, yet safe experience. A low center of gravity and the electronically controlled suspension play together nicely, resulting in an excellent rider quality.

You can dial up Eco, Smart, Comfort, Custom, and Sport driving modes. Eco is optimized for fuel economy, Comfort for a smooth comfortable ride, and Smart adapts to your driving style. Sport mode optimizes for a more engaging driving experience, but it is still comfortable if you want to use this mode on longer highway trips. Custom lets you mix different options to match your preferred settings.

The twin-turbo 3.3L V6 provides plenty of power and the engine sounds excellent. The power and the exhaust note offer a compelling combination to the luxurious interior and refined looks. The G70 3.3T Sport is quick, with a 0-60 time under 5 seconds. The adjustable suspension lets you control how much feedback you feel, but even without adjustments, you get a lot of feedback from the road.

You can expect around 20 mpg combined with 17 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway.

Genesis G70 Interior

The G70 interior is beautiful and comfortable.

The 2020 Genesis G70 interior is positively luxurious. The materials are top-notch and I loved the quilted seats and armrest area. In addition to looking great, the seats are very comfortable. I cruised all over Northwest Ohio to check in on some friend’s kid’s baseball games, watching from a distance, and even after a long day of driving, I felt fresh. The layout of the cabin is good with a nice amount of center console storage and wireless charging when I wasn’t using CarPlay.

One small feature I loved was the adjustable bolsters on the seats, which lets you adjust for a tighter fit during aggressive driving, and a looser more comfortable grip during normal driving. These are easy to adjust using the controls on the side of the seat. You can also adjust some of the motion of the passenger seat using controls on the driver’s side. This is handy if you are helping someone get in upfront, or if you need to make room for an adult or kid in the backseat. The seats are heated on all models and on the Elite and higher they are also ventilated, which is a must-have upgrade in the middle of hot summer.

Rear seat legroom is a bit cramped, but it is good enough for kids, and an adult on a sort ride can be comfortable. If you plan to cruise with adults, look at the more spacious G80 or G90.

The trunk handled my collection of gear for road trips, hiking, and helping with a home renovation. It’s large enough to handle a handful of suitcases and other items that you will need on your road trips. On the Prestige and higher packages, you get a Power Trunk.

Infotainment & Safety

The Genesis infotainment system is good, but it looks like it was pulled right out of a Hyundai. It’s easy to use and the system works, but it doesn’t match the interior of the G70 as well as it could. The good news is that the system supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. You need to plug in to use these options, but with a cord, you get the best access to your messages, music, audiobooks, maps, and calls. You can also use Bluetooth to connect to the car for calls and music. The Lexicon 15 speaker stereo system is good, allowing me to find sanctuary on the road. Call quality over Bluetooth and CarPlay was good. There are three USB ports, two up front and one in the rear.

The infotainment system is good, but it could use updated graphics.

There is a lot of great safety technology and driver convenience features. The adaptive cruise control worked nicely, keeping me in pace with traffic as I cruised along the interstate. Standard safety and convenience features include;

  • Blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert
  • Lane departure warning and lane-keeping assist
  • Automatic high beam headlights

With the Elite Package, you get Low Beam Assist, which steers the headlights with the wheel, to light up the direction you are turning as you drive. This dramatically improves nighttime visibility.

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5 Tips to Keep Your Dog Safe in the Car

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It’s important to keep your dog or puppy safe while traveling in the car. This year there is a huge rise in the number of road trips and in new pet ownership. If you are planning to take your new best friend on vacation or just around the block, it is important to do it safely.

Sitting your best friend on your lap or in the passenger seat is tempting, and it’s something we’ve all done. According to AAA, 84% of Americans have driven with their pet in the car, but only 16% use a restraint; and one in six put their dog on their lap.

We spoke with Nissan to learn more about the safe ways to transport your dog to the park, to the vet, on vacation or anywhere you are going. These dog car safety tips aren’t exclusive to Nissan vehicles, so you can use them in whatever you are driving right now, though we will share a few cool features on the 2021 Nissan Rogue, including a Nissan Concierge to help you find dog-friendly restaurants. The goal is to keep you and your dog safe.

“Often drivers may hit the road and just have their pet jump in the back seat for the ride. For a small investment and an extra minute or two, you can take steps to help ensure your pet is secured in the car,” said Brandon Sanders, product safety expert, Nissan North America. “An unrestrained pet can be a distraction and also poses a greater risk of injury to human occupants.”

Buckle up Your Pup

Buckle up your dog for safety.

It is important to secure your dog to the car using a seat belt with a chest style harness. Make sure you follow the directions on the chest harness and get one that is designed for vehicle use. This is an especially nice option for medium to large size dogs.

Tether Your Dog

Another option is to use a pet seat belt, which is a pet restraint tether. This is a quick option that is relatively affordable. You can secure your pet to the seat belt or to the child seat anchors. This helps keep your dog secure so that they don’t distract you and can help keep them safer if there is an accident.

Crates and Carriers Secured to Car

Crates and kennels are safer ways to travel.

Small portable carriers are useful, but many of these are not crash tested. You can get bigger carriers and crash-tested carriers. With smaller carriers, it is a good idea to use pillows to keep it in place and a seat belt. You can also place this on the floor behind a front seat. If you place this carrier on a seat, move the front seat back top limit the distance the carrier can move. Medium to large pets should be in a sturdier kennel that is secured in the cargo area of an SUV if possible.

MIM Variocage Single L - Crash Tested Dog Travel Crate - Large (00363)
9 Reviews
MIM Variocage Single L - Crash Tested Dog Travel Crate - Large (00363)
  • The ONLY Dog Transport Cage to Pass Front, Rear & Roll-Over Crash Tests
  • Proven Performance in Europe for Nearly a Decade
  • 14 Adjustable Sizes to Best Fit Most Cats, Dogs and Vehicles
  • Locking Doors with Gas Hydraulic Motion Springs
  • Emergency Escape Hatch for Added Safety

Use Boundaries for Safety

While the best option is to secure a kennel in the back, you may want to use a cargo area divider to keep dogs in the area you put them. You can use one to keep the dog in the cargo space, or one to keep them in a second or third row. Explore your options.

LPY-Pet Net Vehicle Safety Mesh Dog Barrier SUV/Car/Truck/Van - Fits Behind Front Seats
116 Reviews
LPY-Pet Net Vehicle Safety Mesh Dog Barrier SUV/Car/Truck/Van - Fits Behind Front Seats
  • Net Barrier Fits most cars/vans/trunks/SUV.
  • Keep your pet at the back and make your drive safe. Durable see through mesh, pet's claws won't get caught.
  • Many pets likes steps over it onto the console,with the car back seat barrier,keeps pets from launching into front seat.
  • Durable and long lasting, strong hook in bungee cords is not easily deformed, protective cover designed won't hurt the dogs.
  • Easy to Install and Remove: The net barrier is easy to Install and remove with hooks and adjustable strips. Can be attached either to the handles above the door or the front seat headrests.

Make Every Trip a Safe Trip

While they love the wind, this is not safe. Make very trip with your dog a safe trip.

It can be very tempting to just toss your pup in the car for a trip to the dog park or to hold him while driving to the vet, but short trips are just as dangerous as long trips. It is best to treat every trip as a safe trip with your dog. While it can be a challenge the first few trips, most dogs will adjust to the new riding style with time. This isn’t about your driving ability, but about the concern for other drivers.

Nissan offers some 2021 Nissan Rogue features that make it a nice option for pet travel. These include;

  • Near 90-degree rear-door openings that make loading and unloading bulky cargo, like a kennel, easier than ever.
  • An updated Divide-N-Hide rear storage system offers options to securely store pet leashes, bowls, grooming tools, food, and more.
  • Rear Door Alert (RDA) can provide drivers with an audio and visual reminder to check the back seat when exiting the vehicle. Interior car temperatures can rapidly increase to dangerous levels in certain climates.
  • Available Tri-Zone Climate Control gives pet owners the flexibility to set rear seat temperatures to a comfortable level for pets, separate from the front driver and passenger temperature control.
  • Available pull-up sunshades on both rear doors can be used to remove unwanted direct sunlight on pets secured in the rear seats.
  • Available Nissan Concierge gives drivers access to a human assistant to help with tasks like finding pet-friendly restaurants, dog parks and more.
  • A deep pocket behind the right wheel arch provides a smart storage solution for items like a gallon of water for rest stops.

You can see some of these features and the Nissan Rogue in the video above. We recently tested out the Nissan Concierge and loved it. If you are a busy person, it’s a really handy option.

Last update on 2020-09-20. This post may contain affiliate links. Click here to read our disclosure policy for more details. Images via Amazon API

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13 Exciting 2021 Bronco Features

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  • You can reserve a 2021 Bronco today for $100
  • Packed full of Off-Road features
  • Ford Studied how people use the competition to solve common problems.

After years of waiting, the 2021 Ford Bronco reveal is here and we’ve been able to dive into the most amazing Ford Bronco features, which we’re highlighting for you in this detailed roundup. We’re focusing on the 2021 Ford Bronco 2-door and 4-door models. Check out our 2021 Ford Bronco off-road review ride for more on how it handles.

Ford officially announced the 2021 Bronco and Bronco Sport this evening with a base price starting at $29,995. You can reserve one starting tonight directly from Ford with a $100 refundable deposit. Every Bronco is equipped with four-wheel drive, removable doors and there are more than 200 factory-backed aftermarket accessories already. There are 11 Bronco colors, seven series to choose from including one special First Edition and an optional marine grade interior that’s ready to get wet.

The 2021 Bronco interior is packed with features that we can’t wait to try out. Some of these are thanks to the human-centric design that Ford used to build the Bronco from the ground up. One of the models was perched in an off-road stance to see the usability of things on the trail, which led to one of my personal favorite features.

2021 Ford Bronco Features

  1. Hood Trail Sights
  2. G.O.A.T. Modes
  3. Gear Management
  4. Removable Doors
  5. Sync 4 & Trail Apps
  6. Easy-Off Roof with a View
  7. Off-Road Chops
  8. 360 Camera View With Spotter View
  9. Steel Shields and Bash Plates
  10. Trail Tech
  11. Washable Floor with Drains
  12. Ford Co-Pilot 360 Available
  13. Accessory and Customization Ready

Below, we dive deeper into the 2021 Bronco features that stand out to us, and that we can’t wait to try out on the road and on the trail.

Hood Trail Sights

Stay in the know with hood trail sights.

It’s a small feature, but one that stood out as soon as we saw the 2021 Bronco. The boxy and bold design includes a raised edge on the front of both sides of the hood. Thes trail sights rise off the front corners making it easier to see where the edge of your Bronco is on a trail. This can be especially helpful for shorter drivers, but as someone who’s driven a variety of vehicles off-road, this is something that really stood out to me. They also function as tie-down points with 150-pound capacity.

G.O.A.T. Modes

Tackle tough terrain with G.O.A.T. modes.

Ford includes G.O.A.T. modes in the 2021 Bronco that allow you to change the driving mode to match the terrain that you are on. G.O.A.T. stands for Goes Over Any Terrain. The driver can switch between version drive modes for assistance getting over obstacles and out of tough situations. These include Normal, Eco, Slippery, Mud, Sand, Baja, and Rock Crawl.

Gear Management

Easily bring your gear and gadgets.

There is a small gear management rail that runs along the top of the dash. This rail allows you to bring your own devices and securely connect them to the Bronco while offroading and road-tripping. Easily mount a phone or your GoPro to record and share the trip without leaving suction cup prints on your windshield and constantly switching checking to see if it’s holding. Ford even includes charging ports up near this rail so you don’t end up with a mess of wires running up to the windshield.

Removable Doors

Pop the frameless doors off and store them in the back.

While the Bronco is not the only off-road vehicle with removable doors, Ford is playing up the design. These frameless doors are reportedly easier to remove than those on competing models. On the four-door Bronco all four removable doors are storable in protective door bags in the back end. This allows you to leave the doors until you get to an off-road location and then you can take them with you instead of leaving them chained up at the parking lot. The mirrors are mounted on the cowl, so they stay on when the doors come off.

Sync 4 & Trail Apps

Enjoy Sync 4 and trail-ready navigation.

The 2021 Bronco includes Sync 4, which is the latest tech offering from Ford. It includes over the air updates, FordPass and you get a lot of cool off-road features on the Bronco. Sync 4 includes support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which are great for keeping in touch as you head to your adventure. The Bronco exclusive off-road navigation feature allows you to better plan and share your off-road trips and fun. There are over 1,000 curated trail maps powered by NeoTreks’ AccuTerra Maps, Trails Offroad trail guide sand FunTreks trail guides. This lets you combine off-road trials in your overall navigation. These work on the standard 8-inch screen and the 12-inch screen.

Easy-Off Roof with a View

The 2021 Bronco roof is easy to remove.

Both 2-door and 4-door Bronco models come with a removable roof and easy to remove rear quarter panel windows. Unlike the Wrangler, there is no bar running across the frame between the front and rear seats. This opens up the cabin even more and allows for a better view from the back seat. The roof is in three or four sections on the 2-door Bronco and four sections on the 4-door Bronco. Each section can be removed by one person, simplifying the open-air experience. On the 2-door model the first row panels store in the back, similar to how some Wrangler models handle the Freedom Tops. Modular hardtops all include removable rear quarter windows. A cloth soft top is standard on the 4-door model, but you can option with both hard and soft tops if you don’t want to choose.

Off-Road Chops

Ford packs in a ton of great off-road tech, but there are also exciting specs in our feature roundup. Important 2021 Bronco specs include;

  • 11.6-inch ground clearance
  • maximum 29-degree breakover angle
  • 37.2-degree departure angle
  • 33.5-inch water fording

These are great on paper, and we are looking forward to testing them out on the trails. Ford plans to roll out Off-Rodeo courses that will let users experience and learn more about the Bronco’s off-road capabilities.

360 Camera View With Spotter View

This isn’t the actual view, but a spotter view helps in sticky situations.

Built into the infotainment system is a 360 camera view system so that you can see what is around you on the trail. This is especially handy when you are the most experienced driver or if you are off-roading alone. The off-road spotter view offers an even better way to see what is happening around you. These views are very handy if you are on a technical trail, but also reassuring for novice off-roaders.

Steel Shields and Bash Plates

Steel plates and a bash plate protect key components.

Each Bronco includes steel shields to protect important under-body hardware. On higher-end models, you’ll find a front bash plate and shields for the engine, transmission, transfer case, and fuel tank. The optional side rock rails are strong enough to handle the weight of the Bronco on each side. These can all provide additional peace of mind when you hear a scrape or a bang while off-roading and increase the chances that you’ll be driving home after a tough outing.

Trail Tech

Trail tech gives you more control and confidence off-road.

The Bronco’s Trail Toolbox offers handy tech fro off-roading that simplifies some of the common activities so that you have more confidence and control.

  • Trail Control – cruise-control at low speeds for off-roading.
  • Trail Turn Assist – tightens off-road turning radius with torque vectoring.
  • Trail One-Pedal Drive – use one pedal to control acceleration and braking for more precise control while rock crawling.

We’ve tested the Trail Control on the Ranger and it was very handy for clearing obstacles at a steady pace. We’ve enjoyed one-pedal driving on electric vehicles and can’t wait to test it out off-road on a Bronco.

Washable Floor with Drains

A washable floor simplifies cleanup on select models.

It’s easy to get wet and dirty when you’re having fun in the wilderness and the Bronco is ready for it. Select Bronco models include a rubberized floor with integrated drains so that you can wash out the dirt and adventure when you are done. You can also option marine-grade vinyl seating surfaces that resist mildew. You’ll also find wipeable surfaces and rubber switches, big grab handles, and easy clean options throughout the Bronco.

Ford Co-Pilot360 Available

Ford Co-Pilot360 helps with driver-assist tech to get you to the trail and home safely.

The 2021 Bronco comes with Ford Co-Pilot360, which brings driver-assist features to your vehicle. While off-road prowess is great, these features help on the way to and from each adventure. While we don’t have the exact features on the Bronco, this typically includes blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, brake assist, automatic high beams, and other options. We do know that the Bronco includes AdvanceTrac with Roll Stability Control and Trailer Sway Control standard.

Accessory and Customization Ready

Make the 2021 Bronco yours with accessories.

The 2021 Bronco arrives with more than 200 factory-backed aftermarket accessories that can add capability and style to the vehicle. This is likely just the start as third-party supplies will no-doubt fill in with additional features and options once they go hands-on with the new Bronco. Ford told us that you can take the Bronco down to almost the frame with a wrench and an hour, so expect to see a lot of cool accessories soon.

Last update on 2020-09-20. This post may contain affiliate links. Click here to read our disclosure policy for more details. Images via Amazon API

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2020 Volvo XC40 Review

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The 2020 Volvo XC40 is a great subcompact luxury SUV that combines a fun and playful look with some of the best Volvo features to deliver a perfectly sized Volvo for many buyers.

Volvo packs in a lot of technology, a funky orange interior option, loads of technology including a handy semi-autonomous driving mode if you opt for the Advanced package.

We’re seeing more and more small SUVs on the market, and the 2020 XC40 stands out thanks to the premium cabin materials and variety of options. While you will need to spend time learning how to use the infotainment system, the big screen makes it easy to see lots of important information at once. The cargo area is small, but ultimately it had enough room for my adventures.

You can buy the 2020 Volvo XC40 in three options; Momentum, R-Design, and Inscription. I tested the T5 R-Design model that includes a more powerful engine, sportier appearance, navigation, and a panoramic moonroof.

2020 Volvo XC40 Tech & Driver Features

The XC40 infotainment system is good.

This little luxury SUV packs in a lot of great tech options and driver convenience features. While there are noticeable omissions from the larger Volvo SUVs, most of the things you’ll want are included or available.

There is a large 9-inch touch screen in the center of the dash. This is portrait orientation, which allows you to use Apple CarPlay or Android Auto on the bottom and keep access to other car features and functions up top. The screen is bright and responds quickly to most taps. I mainly use Apple CarPlay while I am driving so that I have fast access to my messages, music, Audible, and my favorite map apps.

You can use some physical buttons for control, but most of your in-cabin controls are on the touch screen. The main menus are very easy to use, but it takes some time to learn the next tap. The system is a little slow when you first start the car, but once you are going it is quick. There are a range of included apps that you can use to pay for parking and more.

The XC40 works with Volvo On Call, which I wasn’t able to test, but the service lets you remote start from your watch, accept in-car deliveries with Key by Amazon and even share your car with friends and family through the app.

The in-car sound system is good, with a lot of control over the listening experience. I could sufficiently jam out when I needed and chill out to an audiobook when on a cruise. I definitely miss the full-scale Bowers & Wilkins sound system from the XC90, but the harmon/kardon premium audio is sufficient for the XC40.

Charge easily from any seat.

Chargers are available in the front and back seat, plus there is a wireless charging pad to put your phone on when you don’t need CarPlay or Android Auto. There is also a 12V charging point in the cargo area.

From a driver standpoint, the XC40 packs in a lot of cool tricks. One of my favorites is the semi-autonomous driving mode called Pilot Assist. This builds on the adaptive cruise control that keeps you flowing with traffic and allows the car to speed up and slow down, or even stop and resume in traffic. Pilot Assist helps steer the XC40, keeping you in your lane, even around some curves. You still need to keep your hands on the wheel and drive, but with Pilot Assist you don’t need to make as many small corrections while driving. It performs well, and is smoother than the system I used in the Hyundai Sonata, but not as soon as the BMW system.

The 360 Birds Eye View lets you easily get in and out of parking places without worrying about tapping another car or scuffing your wheels. The Intelligent City Safety feature can help avoid collisions with cars, pedestrians, cyclists, and even large animals. Blind Spot Monitoring alerts you to cars in your blind spot, and Cros Trafic alerts you when backing up. Cross Traffic will apply brakes to prevent a collision and the Blind Spot Information System with Steer Assist can help steer you back into your lane.

Our model also came equipped with a cool parking assist feature that helps you park in a tight spot automatically and then even helps you exit the parking spot.

2020 Volvo XC40 Interior & Style

The 2020 XC40 T4 R-Design looks very nice.

This is a small SUV, but there is a good amount of room for people, and a usable amount of cargo space. I am a huge fan of the fun orange floor option, which fits in nicely with the overall style of the XC40. The T5 R-Design features larger 19″ wheels, black rearview mirror caps, and a two-tone finish option with R-Design Nubuck upholstery. The exterior is sporty and fits the size very well. It’s fun and a little funky. There is a small garbage container built into the center console and even a flip-out hook from the glove box to hold a bag. I’m not a fan of the cupholder design. If you put a taller water bottle in it, there is a good chance that it will roll out while driving, but most cups do stay in place.

Inside the orange floor option really amps up the style and it works very well with the premium materials throughout the cabin. I was able to get comfortable as the driver and there was also a decent amount of room in the back seat.

The XC40 interior with optional flare orange is out of this world.

The cargo area isn’t very large, but it still feels very capable for the size. I like that there is a power outlet, an elastic strap to secure items, and a handy flip-up divider for keeping cargo secure or hiding small items that you need to keep handy. You can also use a kick under gesture to open the tailgate if your hands are full.

Driving the 2020 Volvo XC40

The power under the hood depends on if you opt for the T4 or the T5 option, which put out 184 and 248 horsepower respectively.  I tested the T5 R Design with all-wheel drive, which is a nice option to have for slick surfaces and the option I would choose if I was buying this in the midwest.

the 2020 Volvo SC40 T5 R-Design is fun to drive.

Power is good, and it delivers zippy acc3erlation for a small SUV. It pairs up with the eight-speed transmission very well. Shifts are timely and smooth. The engine is a bit loud when you are accelerating, but while cruising it sounds more refined and is less noticeable. You can tow up to 3,500 pounds with the XC40.

It is a fun vehicle to drive, with good handling and a sporty fun feel for a small SUV. The R Design is equipped with a stiffer suspension and you can opt for an adjustable suspension. The ride quality is good and all around this is a nice small SUV on the road.

The 2020 Volvo XC40 is rated for a combined 25 mpg, 22 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway.

Last update on 2020-09-20. This post may contain affiliate links. Click here to read our disclosure policy for more details. Images via Amazon API

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2021 Ford Bronco Off-Road Review First Ride

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How good is the 2021 Ford Bronco off-road?

The 2021 Ford Bronco looks cool, but how does it actually drive off-road? That’s a question I’ve been hearing since the reveal and now I can tell you how the 2-door Bronco handles off-road– at least from the passenger seat.

Ford recently let me take a ride in the 2021 Ford Bronco 2-door model through an off-road park in Michigan. This model was equipped with the seven-speed manual, which includes a Creeper Gear, and the turbocharged 2.3L EcoBoost inline-four capable of 270-horsepower and 310 lb-ft. of torque. You can also get the 2021 Ford Bronco with a 10-speed automatic transmission.

While I am eager to get into the driver seat, experiencing the 2021 Ford Bronco does offer insights into the capabilities and the ease of using the off-road features. My driver was very experienced with the manual transmission found on this model. From the passenger seat, the shifting looked smooth and the Creeper Gear was a very handy option allowing for more control and torque over obstacles.

Ultimately I want to experience driving the new Bronco through these obstacles, but the control, and ease with which the Bronco and the Bronco Sport tackled the obstacles reminded me of an off-road easy mode.

In the case of the Bronco, this comes from a variety of handy features. Halfway through the off-road experience, we paused on a series of hills meant to put articulation to the test. Reaching up and pressing the sway bar disconnect button that is on the top edge of the dash, we boosted the Bronco’s articulation, making it easier to crawl off without worrying about tipping.

While you are off-road you can easily reach and engage common off-road features. (Prototype shown, final design may differ)

This is a prime example of the ease of using the features on the Bronco. In our Bronco Features roundup, we focused on the amount of attention that Ford put into the usability and livability of their off-road machine, and after spending part of the afternoon actually going off-road in the Bronco it’s clear that this strategy paid off.

I came away impressed with the off-road capabilities and ride of the 2021 Bronco. It’s a different experience in the passenger seat, but it’s also a place I’ve spent many hours in the Jeep Wrangler, which the Bronco is going head to head with. The ride quality off-road felt good on the passenger side, comparable with my time in the Wrangler.

Overall the experience was confidence bolstering. Yes, this was a course that the driver had run multiple times and he had a lot of off-road experience, but it felt like there was a lot of capability left in the Bronco. That’s something we’re looking forward to testing for ourselves soon.

We weren’t able to try out a lot of the on-trail tech in the Bronco during this experience, but the huge screen with Sync 4 and over 1,000 trail maps hold a lot of promise. That’s something we’re waiting to take a deep dive into soon.

Last update on 2020-09-20. This post may contain affiliate links. Click here to read our disclosure policy for more details. Images via Amazon API

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