Engines

Mazda considering adding a rotary engine to one of its SUVs

The Mazda CX-30 might soon be adding a rotary engine to its list of powertrain options.

Photo courtesy of Mazda North American Operations Inc.

It's the words that the little voice in the back of the mind of Mazda enthusiasts keeps saying: rotary engine. While most of said enthusiasts are eagerly awaiting the always-rumored return of the RX-8 (not that it's happening anytime soon) and it's rotary engine, the first vehicle that could possibly get the engine isn't a new RX-8. It's the CX-30.

Tucked into a press release designed for European media outlets celebrating the rotary engine, are two lines that stand out:

"Later, the company developed a prototype Mazda2 EV with a small single-rotor engine used as a range extender. A similar system could find its way onto the Mazda MX-30, a brand new battery electric crossover SUV arriving at dealerships this year."

In the production SUV, it's likely that the rotary engine would serve in an alternate power plant capacity. This is similar to the way BMW has used the i3 model with the available range extender, which pairs a 0.647-liter two-cylinder engine with the car's battery to achieve a range of 200 miles.

The big question is, will this version of the car come to America? Mazda has committed to adding plug-in electric models to its lineup. However, the expediency with which they arrive in the U.S. marketplace may be slowed by the recent move of the Trump administration to roll back an Obama-era law that pushes automakers to produce more fuel efficient vehicles. Regulations are more stringent in Europe so it makes sense that Mazda would first turn its attention there.

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The Polestar 1 is one of the most fuel-efficient all-wheel drive vehicles you can buy.

Photo courtesy of Polestar

When winter amps up and roads get swathed in rain, sleet, snow and ice, the benefits of all-wheel drive come into play. Luckily drivers don't need big gas-guzzling SUVs or trucks to tackle wintry conditions — plenty of fuel-efficient options offer additional traction thanks to power at all four wheels.

What follows are the most fuel-efficient all-wheel-drive models available in America that run on gasoline, electric, and hybrid powertrains. Note that vehicles appear in ascending order by combined EPA fuel economy rating. MPGe is "miles per gallon equivalent," which equates electric energy to that found in a gallon of gasoline — this figure is used for EVs (electric vehicles) and PHEVs (plug-in hybrid-electric vehicles). Prices listed are MSRP and don't reflect additional options or EV tax credits.

24.) 2021 Audi A8 60 TFSI e Plug-In Hybrid quattro

2019 Audi A8

Photo courtesy of Audi AG

MPGe/MPG (combined): 53/23
Electric range: 18 miles
Base MSRP: $95,900
As the flagship of the Audi lineup, the A8 has the distinction of being one of the most luxurious vehicles on this list. Offered for the first time with a powerfully efficient plug-in hybrid system, this large sedan features a turbocharged V6 engine combined with a potent electric powertrain to produce a plentiful 442 horsepower. Whether running in hybrid mode or fully electric, power gets routed through the 8-speed transmission to Audi's legendary quattro all-wheel-drive system.

23.) 2021 Volvo XC90 Recharge PHEV T8 eAWD

2020 Volvo XC90 Photo courtesy of Volvo Car USA


MPGe/MPG (combined): 55/27
Electric range: 18 miles
Base MSRP: $63,450
One of the larger, more luxurious plug-in hybrid SUVs on the market, the XC90 received fresh styling and new standard features for the 2020 model year. Also new for 2020 is an available 6-passenger configuration that replaces the second-row bench with individual bucket seats. Power comes from a unique 2.0-liter engine that is both turbocharged and supercharged, teamed with a powerful electric motor to produce 400 horsepower. Volvo's advanced all-wheel-drive system can send up to 50 percent of the total torque to the rear wheels as needed.

22.) 2021 Lincoln Aviator Grand Touring

2021 Lincoln Aviator Grand Touring Photo courtesy of Lincoln Motor Co.

MPGe/MPG (combined): 56/23
Electric range: 21 miles
Base MSRP: $68,900
The top-line trim of the all-new 2021 Lincoln Aviator is the Grand Touring — a plug-in-hybrid version that combines a twin-turbo 3.0-liter V6 engine with a 75 kW electric motor for total output of 494 horsepower and a prodigious 630 lb-ft of torque. This three-row luxury addition to the Lincoln lineup offers available adaptive suspension, adaptive suspension with road preview and air glide suspension. Aviator Grand Touring offers Pure EV and Preserve EV modes for electric-only driving or to preserve the battery charge for later driving. The Grand Touring comes with Lincoln's intelligent all-wheel-drive system as standard equipment.

21.) 2021 Volvo XC60 Recharge PHEV T8 eAWD

XC60 Recharge Plug-In Hybrid R-Design

Photo courtesy of Volvo Car USA

MPGe/MPG (combined): 57/27
Electric range: 19 miles
Base MSRP: $53,500
Volvo's most popular SUV, the XC60 was redesigned for the 2018 model year and in addition to new styling and features, the premium crossover is available with the same powerplants as its larger sibling, the XC90. Surprisingly, the most fuel-efficient powertrain of the XC60 line is also the most powerful. Like the XC90, the T8 plug-in hybrid system employs a 2.0-liter turbocharged and supercharged engine sending power to the front wheels, while an electric motor powers the rear wheels. Total power output is up to 400 horsepower and 472 lb-ft of torque to all four wheels. The immediate torque of the electric motor helps the XC60 T8 reach 60 mph in less than 5 seconds.

20.) 2021 Polestar 1

2021 Polestar 1

Photo courtesy of Polestar

MPGe/MPG (combined): 58/26
Electric range: 52 miles
Base MSRP: $155,000
For many years, the Polestar moniker had been associated with high-performance models of the Volvo lineup — this year Polestar launched a standalone electric performance brand with the introduction of the Polestar 1. Fuel efficient, sexy and powerful, the Polestar 1 features a turbocharged and supercharged 4-cylinder engine sending 326 horsepower to the front wheels, while an electric motor in each rear wheel creates a high-tech all-wheel-drive system delivering a total 619 horsepower.

19.) 2021 Volvo S90 Recharge PHEV T8 eAWD

2021 Volvo S90

Photo courtesy of Volvo Car USA

MPGe/MPG (combined): 60/30
Electric range: 21 miles
Base MSRP: $60,695
The flagship sedan of the Volvo lineup, the S90 gets a freshened exterior and an updated interior for the 2021 model year. Like other Volvos on this list, the S90 also receives the 400-horsepower plug-in hybrid system with all-wheel drive provided by a gas engine powering the front wheels while an electric motor motivates the rears. This also means that when operating in pure EV mode, the S90 is rear-wheel drive — the internal-combustion engine must be running to engage the all-wheel-drive system.

18.) 2021 BMW X3 xDrive 30e

2021 BMW X3 xDrive30e

Photo courtesy of BMW

MPGe/MPG (combined): 65/25
Electric range: 18 miles
Base MSRP: $49,600
For 2020 BMW added the X3 xDrive30e, the first plug-in hybrid version of the popular X3 compact crossover. The X3 xDrive30e combines a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine producing 184 horsepower with an 80-kW electric motor integrated into the 8-speed automatic transmission for a total system output of 292 horsepower. Since the electric motor is integrated with the transmission, power can be sent to all four wheels even when operating in electric-only mode.

17.) 2021 BMW 330e xDrive

2021 BMW 330e

Photo courtesy of BMW

MPGe/MPG (combined): 67/25
Electric range: 20 miles
Base MSRP: $46,550
The BMW 3 Series has been available with xDrive all-wheel drive for years — and now this sporty sedan gets a fuel-efficient plug-in hybrid powertrain. The 330e sports a 2.0-liter BMW TwinPower Turbo engine delivering 181 horsepower teamed with a 107-horsepower electric motor for an impressive total of 288 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque. For those seeking a bit more oomph, pressing the throttle past the "kick down" position delivers an extra 40 horsepower for 10 seconds. The rear-wheel biased all-wheel-drive system provides sporty performance as well as added traction needed for slick road conditions.

16.) 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLC 350e 4Matic EQ

2021 Mercedes-Benz GLC 350e 4Matic EQ

​Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

MPGe/MPG (combined): 68/25
Electric range: 22 miles
Base MSRP: $51,900
For 2018 Mercedes-Benz added a plug-in hybrid to its popular GLC crossover lineup — the 350e 4MATIC. Powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter engine teamed with an electric motor, the GLC 350e 4matic EQ delivers total system output of 315 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque. Power gets directed to all four wheels via the standard 4Matic all-wheel-drive system. The GLC 350e is also available with a route-based operating strategy that activates the electric driving mode when it is most efficient for the planned route — considering navigation data, topography, speed limits and traffic conditions.

15.) 2021 Audi A7 55 TFSI Plug-in Hybrid quattro

2021 Audi A7

Photo courtesy of Audi AG

MPGe/MPG (combined): 68/29
Electric range: 24 miles
Base MSRP: $74,900
For 2021 Audi adds a plug-in hybrid variant to its A7 model lineup, bringing all the performance and luxury expected with the added benefit of greater fuel efficiency. The 362-horsepower powertrain consists of a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine and an electric motor situated between the engine and the 7-speed dual-clutch gearbox. Whether running both powerplants or with electricity alone, the power gets sent to the pavement via Audi's quattro all-wheel-drive system.

14.) 2021 Porsche Taycan 4S

2021 Porsche Taycan AG

Photo courtesy of Porshe AG

MPGe (city/hwy/combined): 68/71/69
Electric range: 203 miles
Base MSRP: $103,800
Five years ago, Porsche introduced the Mission E Concept along with news that the German sports car company would come to market with a fully electric vehicle based on that concept. The car is the new Porsche Taycan. This sleek four door is available in a range of high-performance variants; however, the 4S provides the best fuel economy. With up to 563 horsepower emanating from two synchronous motors located on the front and rear axles, the Taycan 4S can sprint to 60 mph in less than 4 seconds while providing the added traction of all-wheel drive.

13.) 2021 Volvo S60/V60 Recharge Plug-in Hybrid T8 eAWD

2021 Volvo S60/V60 Recharge

Photo courtesy of Volvo Car USA

MPGe/MPG (combined): 69/30
Electric range: 22 miles
Base MSRP: $48,295 / $67,945
Volvo introduced an all-new S60 sedan and V60 wagon for the 2019 model year. Built on Volvo's new Scalable Product Architecture, both body styles are available with a variety of powertrains; however, the most powerful also happens to be the most efficient — the T8 plug-in hybrid. Like other Volvos on this list, the S60 / V60 features a unique powertrain; under the hood resides a 2.0-liter supercharged and turbocharged 4-cylinder engine teamed with a powerful electric motor. Total output for the S60 hybrid system is 400 horsepower and 472 lb-ft of torque delivered to all four wheels. The hybrid variant of the V60 wagon is only available on the performance-oriented Polestar Engineered trim which gets sportier features and boosts output to 415 horsepower.

12.) 2021 MINI Cooper SE Countryman All4

2021 Mini Countryman Photo courtesy of MINI

MPGe/MPG (combined): 73/29
Electric range: 18 miles
Base MSRP: $42,350
MINI's small crossover, the Countryman gets fresh styling and equipment upgrades for the 2021 model year. This also means updates for the brand's first plug-in hybrid, the Cooper SE Countryman. One of the larger MINIs on the market, the Countryman is a four door offering reasonable cargo space, ALL4 all-wheel drive and a fuel efficient yet potent hybrid powertrain. A 1.5-liter turbocharged 3-cylinder engine drives the front wheels, teamed with an electric motor powering the rear wheels for a combined 224 horsepower and 284 lb-ft of torque. When fully charged, the hybrid Countryman can reach speeds as high as 77 mph using the electric motor alone.

11.) 2020 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

2019 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

​Photo courtesy of Mitsubishi Motors

MPGe/MPG (combined): 74/25
Electric range: 22 miles
Base MSRP: $36,295
Last year the Mitsubishi Outlander received exterior updates including a new grille, headlights, lower bumper accents, 18-inch alloy wheels and a rear spoiler — these changes also applied to the Outlander plug-in hybrid. The Outlander PHEV combines a 2.0-liter gas engine and two high-performance electric motors — one at the front and one at the rear — for a combined 224 horsepower. The electric motors provide instant torque for Mitsubishi's Super All-Wheel Control 4WD system, designed to deliver efficient all-weather capability and efficiency. Mitsubishi is selling the 2020 model into 2021 before it releases the redesigned 2022 Outlander.

10.) 2021 Jaguar I-PACE

2019 Jaguar I-PACE Photo courtesy of Jaguar

MPGe (city/hwy/combined): 80/72/76 (estimated based on 2020 model)
Electric range: 253 miles
Base MSRP: TBA
Jaguar introduced the I-PACE last year as a fully electric luxury crossover that delivers excellent on-road performance as well as off-road capability. The all-wheel-drive I-PACE is powered by two electric motors, one driving each axle, for a total output of 394 horsepower and 512 lb-ft of torque, which makes the I-PACE capable of accelerating from zero to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds. Drivers can choose a mode according to driving conditions that changes throttle response, suspension and steering — there is even a Rain/Ice/Snow mode. All I-PACE trims come well equipped with high levels of luxury, as well as the latest high-tech safety features including automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, rear cross-traffic monitor, traffic-sign recognition and clear exit monitor.

9.) 2021 Audi e-Tron Sportback

2020 Audi E-Tron Sportback

Photo courtesy of Audi AG

MPGe (city/hwy/combined): 76/78/77
Electric range: 238 miles
Base MSRP: $69,100
The Audi e-tron Sportback is the second all-electric vehicle from Audi, following the e-tron SUV that launched last year. Up front, the e-tron Sportback features the familiar Audi Singleframe grille with vertical struts; the 2-row crossover seats five adults and has a 4-door coupelike roofline. The e-tron Sportback is motivated by two potent electric motors — one powering each axle — creating a new generation of quattro electric all-wheel drive. Output from the two electric motors is 355 horsepower, and in Boost mode that increases to 402 horsepower, which allows e-tron to accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 5.5 seconds. The 95 kWh battery is positioned low in the vehicle with a protective honeycomb structure for a lower center of gravity and better handling.

8.) 2021 Volvo XC40 Recharge P8 AWD

2021 Volvo XC40 Recharge Photo courtesy of Volvo Car USA

MPGe (city/hwy/combined): 85/72/79
Electric range: 208 miles
Base MSRP: $53,990
This year Volvo brings its first-ever fully electric vehicle to market — the XC40 Recharge. Based on Volvo's small, premium crossover, the XC40 Recharge offers impressive storage space that includes a "frunk" under the hood. The all-wheel-drive electric powertrain produces an impressive 402 horsepower and 486 lb-ft of torque — a lot of power for such a small crossover. Arriving in showrooms later this year, the XC40 Recharge features an Android-powered infotainment system featuring embedded Google technology and services such as the Google Assistant, Google Maps and the Google Play Store.

7.) 2021 Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid

2021 Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid

Photo courtesy of Subaru of America Inc.

MPGe/MPG (combined): 90/35
Electric range: 17 miles
Base MSRP: $35,145
The first plug-in hybrid vehicle from Subaru, the 2021 Crosstrek Hybrid is based on the top-level Crosstrek Limited trim. The Crosstrek Hybrid combines a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder boxer engine with a Lineartronic CVT teamed with two integrated motor generators allowing up to 17 miles of electric range at speeds up to 65 mph. The hybrid's Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive is designed for a PHEV with an electronically controlled variable transfer clutch. The onboard system will charge the 8.8-kWh lithium-ion battery in five hours with 120-volt power, and in approximately two hours with 240 volts.

6.) 2021 Polestar 2

2021 Polestar 2

Photo courtesy of Polestar

MPGe (city/hwy/combined): 96/88/92
Electric range: 233 miles
Base MSRP: $59,900
The second model from the new standalone Polestar brand, the Polestar 2 is a 5-door fastback built on Volvo's Compact Modular Architecture platform that integrates the battery pack into the floor for improved chassis rigidity and reduced noise, vibration and harshness. Polestar 2 is equipped with two electric motors driving all four wheels. Total output is a healthy 408 horsepower and 487 lb-ft of torque — good enough for this entry-level model to reach 60 mph in less than 5 seconds. The new Polestar 2 is expected to start arriving in showrooms by the end of 2020.

5.) 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime

2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

MPGe/MPG (combined): 94/38
Electric range: 42 miles
Base MSRP: $38,100
The RAV4 is already Toyota's top-selling model in the U.S., and for 2021 Toyota doubles down with the addition of the RAV4 Prime — the first plug-in hybrid SUV from Toyota. RAV4 Prime derives power from a new hybrid system that combines the 2.5-liter gasoline engine from the RAV4 Hybrid that produces 177 horsepower with front and rear electric drive motors for a total system output of 302 horsepower. According to Toyota, RAV4 Prime will accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 5.7 seconds, making it second fastest in the Toyota lineup behind G Supra.

4.) 2021 Tesla Model X Long Range Plus

2021 Tesla Model X

Photo courtesy of Tesla Motors

MPGe (city/hwy/combined): 109/101/105
Electric range: 371 miles
Base MSRP: $79,990
Although there are only a handful of fully electric SUVs for sale in America, the Tesla Model X was the first of the group. The Model X Long Range is powered by a dual-motor all-wheel drive system and will accelerate from zero to 60 mph in just 4.4 seconds, with a top speed of 155 mph. Adaptive air suspension is standard; the Model X offers seating for seven with access to the rear seat via top-hinged Falcon Wing doors. Thanks to the absence of an internal combustion engine, the Model X has a large front trunk in addition to a rear cargo area.

3.) 2020 Tesla Model S Long Range Plus

2021 Tesla Model S

Photo courtesy of Tesla Motors

MPGe (city/ hwy/combined): 121/112/117
Electric range: 402 miles
Base MSRP: $69,420
Tesla changed the automotive landscape when it introduced the all-electric Model S — this luxury sedan was the first production electric car to offer more than 200 miles on a full charge. The big sedan is available with a range of high-performance powertrains, but the Long Range Plus with its dual-motor all-wheel-drive system is the most fuel efficient according to the U.S. EPA. This entry version of the Model S offers plenty of gusto — the efficient automobile can sprint to 60 mph in just 3.7 seconds.

2.) 2021 Tesla Model Y Long Range

2021 Tesla Model Y

Photo courtesy of Tesla Motors

MPGe (city/hwy/combined): 131/117/125
Electric range: 326 miles
Base MSRP: $49,990
The newest model in the Tesla lineup, the Model Y tops the charts as the most fuel-efficient crossover sold in America. Smaller than Model X, Model Y offers optional third-row seating that enables the vehicle to carry up to seven occupants. The dual-motor system provides torque to both the front and rear axles for full-time all-wheel-drive capability, and according to Tesla, Model Y will accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds with a top speed of 145 mph. The Model Y can recharge up to 158 miles in 15 minutes at a Tesla Supercharger location.

1.) 2021 Tesla Model 3 Long Range

2021 Tesla Model 3

Photo courtesy of Tesla Motors

MPGe (city/hwy/combined): 141/127/134
Electric range: 353 miles
Base MSRP: $46,990
The Model 3 joined the Tesla lineup last year; although production was slow to start, this "more affordable" electric sedan is now Tesla's best-seller. With styling similar to the larger Model S, the Model 3 Long Range gets two electric motors — one on each axle — and enough power to reach 60 mph in about 4.2 seconds. Despite being the entry-level Tesla, the Model 3 comes well equipped with features such as a 15-inch touchscreen display, dual-zone climate control, Bluetooth connectivity, LED exterior lighting, a backup camera and a suite of advanced safety technology with collision avoidance and automatic emergency braking.

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Volkswagen has sold seven generations of the Golf in the U.S.

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Volkswagen is saying goodbye to the Golf in the U.S. Kind of. The small hatchback is popular overseas but failed to find a continued, dedicated audience in North America where buyers are opting for larger SUVs and trucks over cars.

"Over four decades, the Golf has delivered a great value to American drivers," said Hein Schafer, Senior Vice President, Product Marketing and Strategy, Volkswagen of America, Inc. "It exemplified what Volkswagen does best—melding dynamic driving characteristics with purposeful packaging and unmatched quality. While the seventh-generation Golf will be the last of the base hatches sold here, the GTI and Golf R will carry its legacy forward."

Though its audience has faded recently, the Golf family has been popular with buyers in the U.S. for decades. Nearly 2.5 million of the cars have been sold since 1974.

The first-generation Golf was sold as the Rabbit in the U.S.Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

1974 V

Production of U.S. bound 2021 model year VW Golfs ended last week at the plant in Puebla, Mexico. The run of models that has already been produced is expected to sustain the market through the end of the year. It will be available in just one grade: Golf TSI. That car is powered by a turbocharged 1.4-liter engine that makes 147 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. Buyers can choose from either a six-speed manual gearbox or an eight-speed automatic transmission.

Every Golf TSI comes standard with LED daytime running lights, rain-sensing windshield wipers, heated washer nozzles, keyless entry, 16-inch aluminum alloy wheels, a sunroof, leatherette steering wheel, heated front seats, forward collision warning, autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian monitoring, blind spot monitor, and rear traffic alert.

Pricing for the 2021 Volkswagen Golf with a standard six-speed manual transmission starts at $23,195. The eight-speed automatic transmission starts at $23,995. The destination charge for all Golf models is an additional $995.

How to get a Mk 8 Volkswagen Golf

But, if you really, really want a new, eighth-generation Golf, there's a way to get one. The Golf GTI and Golf R, both performance-focused versions of the Golf, will be arriving in the U.S. this autumn for sale as 2022 model year vehicles.

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