The 2016 Volvo V60 T5 offers a wide variety of comfort features plus superb hauling capacity.The 2016 Toyota Tacoma TRD Off Road shown near Leavenworth, Wash. It performed nicely in snow and ice conditions.

Volvo provides optimum performance and safety

Our recently tested 2016 Volvo V60 Cross Country T5 AWD wagon offered us much to like for transport and comfort, plus plentiful safety features that Volvo is known for.

     Powered by a 2.5-L turbocharged five-cylinder engine with CVVT, this DOHC creates 250 HP at 5,500 RPM and 266 lb-ft. of torque at 1,800 RPM. It’s mated to a smooth-shifting six-speed Geartronic automatic transmission with Advanced Quick Shift, so the powertrain combo provides more than adequate punch for all driving conditions.

     The Haldex AWD system with Instant Traction allowed us safe driving in very inclement conditions that included ice, snow, and slush. Part of the comfort comes from the touring chassis that features an electronic stability control system and a hill-descent control system, plus corner traction control via torque vectoring for added safety. Add to that 18-inch all-season tires, and the driving experience in bad weather is quite pleasant.

     Interior safety elements on the unibody high-strength steel V60 include three-point safety belts with front height adjustment, inflatable curtain airbags, driver and front passenger dual-stage supplemental airbags, whiplash protection, side-impact bags, and more. There is also Volvo’s City Safety Collision Avoidance System that alerts drivers to potential low-speed accidents.

     On the Cross Country model, very little has been overlooked for creature comforts, including front sport seats with power lumbar support (an eight-way power driver’s seat and power passenger seat), graphic aluminum inlays, push-button start, leather steering wheel with tilt and telescoping features, dual-zone climate control, 40/20/40 folding seats, power foldable rear seat headrests, power/retractable exterior mirrors, and rain-sensing wipers.

     Added to the above comforts are a Sensus navigation system with a seven-inch color screen, 180-watt audio system, Volvo On-Call system, plus full connectivity features and a smartphone app for remote starting.

      With the convenient 40/20/40 seats and a total cargo capacity of 48.3 cubic feet we were able to load eight-foot molding materials for a home remodel project, plus a large amount of other goods, with ease. This wagon is both comfortable and highly usable for hauling varied cargo.

     Our tester, with a base price of $41,000, did have some pricing options that included a Platinum package at $3,650 with a Harman Kardon premium audio system, accent lighting, exceptional dual Xenon headlights with washers and active high beams (perhaps some of the most illuminating lamps we’ve experienced), auto dimming rear-view mirrors, driver alert control, pedestrian/cyclist detection system, lane departure warning, and more.

     We also had a $1,550 climate package that included heated front seats, heated windshield, heated steering wheel, a premium air-quality system, and more. Add to that a $950 package with blind-spot information system, cross-traffic alert, front park assist, and lane change merging aid, plus optional metallic paint and wood inlays, and the final price jumped to just under $49,000.

     Our only dislike on the V60 was a moisture issue that required the repeated use of the front defroster. Other than that, this is a very usable vehicle.

New Tacoma is a usable pickup truck

     The 2016 Toyota Tacoma TRD Off Road 4x4 short bed we recently tested allowed us the pleasure of a beefy powertrain and a double cab for added cargo and passenger space.

     With a 3.5-L V-6 DOHC Atkinson-cycle engine that features Variable Valve Timing with Intelligence (VVT-i), this 24-valve direct-injection power plant delivers 278 HP at 6,000 RPM and produces 265 lb-ft. of torque at 4,600 RPM. Combined with a six-speed electronically controlled transmission, it offers power and a standard towing capacity of 3,500 pounds.

     Excellent features for a pickup include an electronically controlled transfer case, automatic limited-slip differential, an off-road-tuned suspension with Bilstein shocks, crawl control, and hill-start assist, among other features.

     The Star Safety System on the TRD includes vehicle stability control, traction control, ABS, electronic brake-force distribution, brake assist, and Smart Stop Technology.

     With substantial standard safety features including side-impact airbags, the interior of our Tacoma also had a leather-trimmed steering wheel, an Entune premium audio system with navigation and apps, a seven-inch touchscreen, and abundant connectivity.

     Two options pushed the MSRP of our TRD Off Road unit from $33,730 to $36,710. The $2,330 Premium & Tech Package was worth it as it added dual-zone climate control, heated front seats, rear parking sonar, a blind-spot monitoring system, spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert, and more. A $650 tow package included an engine cooler, power steering cooler, 130-amp alternator, four- and seven-pin connectors, and trailer sway control.

     With the double cab, the bed on our tested TRD was short, but the cab offered space for both passengers and cargo on an extended road trip. While the unit performed well traversing three mountain passes with its 4x4 system and traction control, seat comfort was not exceptional.

Parts & People

Parts & People is published monthly by Automotive Counseling and Publishing Company, Inc., a Colorado corporation, P.O. Box 18731 Denver, CO 80203, 303-765-4664. President-Lance Buchner. Founded by Lance Buchner and Dave Lucia.