Volvo V70 R – a family wagon with a large dose of fun

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

Much has been made through the years of Volvo’s safety features. Buy a Volvo and buy peace of mind for you and your family. Indeed, Volvo vehicles old and new have been and are as safe or safer than other forms of family transportation.

Volkswagen Passat 2.0T – German engineering at a value price

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

The new Volkswagen Passat is a truly remarkable car. It did not take many miles behind the wheel of the 2006 sedan to come to that conclusion.

The completely redesigned mid-sized Passat has all the earmarks of an entry luxury car with a library-quiet demeanor, rich-looking and well-executed interior and solid performance. There’s nothing to hint that the new sixth-generation Passat will not be everything and more than the award-winning and highly rated version it replaces.

Toyota Highlander Hybrid, lots of bucks for the bang

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

Hybrid vehicle strategy has changed at Toyota and Honda. And the Japanese automakers are selling hybrids — vehicles with a gas engine and an electric motor — as fast as they can make them.

Honda and Toyota have made the hybrid attractive with scads of power and many upscale amenities as part of the standard equipment package.

Toyota RAV4 — from cute-ute to brute-ute

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

The Toyota RAV4 has grown up in 2006 and added a solid layer of muscle.

More than a decade ago, the adorable little RAV entered the marketplace igniting a new segment of small car-based fuel-efficient sport utility vehicles. Journalist pundits quickly labeled the RAV4 and a handful of other like-minded vehicles “cute-utes.”

Subaru B9 Tribeca – a downtown name with an uptown attitude

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

Coloring out of the lines can be fun, but it can be risky in the automotive world.

Unusual styling can sink an otherwise excellent vehicle. A decade ago it sunk the best-selling car in America.

Let’s return to the mid-90s, heady days for Ford and its best-selling Taurus sedan. Ford introduced the jellybean-shaped Taurus in the late ’80s and it resonated with families across the land. By the early ’90s, the Taurus was the best selling car in America.

Saturn Vue V-6 wins with the help of a ringer

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

Saturn’s last-decade image as a viable American alternative to the Japanese economy brands has been tarnished over the past few years.

Saab 9-3 SportCombi brings back the favored hatchback

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

A number of manufacturers refuse to call them wagons.

But vehicles that look curiously like station wagons of old are making an astounding comeback, particularly among the European entry-level luxury ranks.

Vehicles with four doors and a hatch in back were once a staple of the industry in virtually all segments. Then in the ’90s it became more fashionable to find the hatch attached to the rear end of a sport utility vehicle.

Torrent brings a likable crossover to Pontiac

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

Pontiac struggled this summer even as the rest of the General Motors’ lineup enjoyed big gains thanks to the “employee discount for everyone” sale.

A big deal was made about the “excitement” division actually losing sales in June, the month the discount program started and the month one GM division showed 200 percent gains over June 2004. While seven brands enjoyed increases ranging from 36.4-percent for Buick to a whopping 210.5-percent for Hummer, Pontiac sales were off 14 percent.

Solstice brings real excitement back to Pontiac

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

Excitement has returned to the Pontiac brand in the form of the Solstice roadster.