Luxury Lifestyle

Rolls-Royce debuts lifestyle app 'Whispers' that curates exclusive experiences for owners

Rolls-Royce has rolled a new app that caters to the brand's exclusive clientele.

Photo courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

Rolls-Royce can customize nearly everything about a vehicle for the right price. Now, the company is moving forward with plans to help owners customize their own lives with bespoke experiences befitting their luxurious lifestyle.

The world is at the fingertips of Rolls-Royce owners who use the new Whisper app, billed as, "an entrepôt to a world that Rolls-Royce intimately and uniquely understands – a digital gateway to a curated world of luxury."

Whisper by Rolls-Royce The app offers customized experiences for users.Photo courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

Rolls-Royce describes Whispers as,

"An ever-changing collection of beguiling products has been curated to surprise, delight and intrigue. Members can create their very own bespoke experiences or products. They are invited to work with experts to design and build their own personal racetrack, or commission a personalized Monopoly set incorporating one's own properties and assets. Need entertaining? - book a private performance by the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. Commission a beautiful portrait of your favorite pet or design your very own minaudiere.

From truffles to caviar or crafting your own Cognac, patrons can peruse and purchase a diverse and eclectic selection of luxurious products and curiosities – all on the Whispers platform, in the comfort of their own home.

Whispers provides Rolls-Royce clients access to transformative, inspiring and entertaining experiences. From backstage-access at the Grammys, front-row seats at Fashion Week, walking the red carpet at the Academy Awards, VIP previews of Art Basel, to meeting artists at Coachella, players at Wimbledon or athletes at the Olympics, Whispers unlocks a world of exclusive access.

Worldwide luxury travel experiences are offered. An expedition to Antarctica or an African Safari can be facilitated at the touch of a button. And, of course, Whispers members are invited to join Rolls-Royce at exclusive, hosted experiences, for example, an Art Weekend visiting the private collection of one of the world's most prestigious collectors, or a weekend at the sumptuous Villa D'Este Concours D'Elegance. Members may receive an invitation to an intimate dinner on the production line at the Home of Rolls-Royce in Goodwood, England, or even a private, curated tour of luxury goods manufacturers in the capitals of global luxury. Additionally, members of the Whispers community receive exclusive world-previews of new Rolls-Royce products and offerings before they become public knowledge.

The app isn't truly new. It launched in trial phases two years ago to a select group of global Rolls-Royce clients. After rounds of feedback, the app has been successfully deployed in the United Kingdom, Europe, the Middle East, and the United States. Membership is strictly limited to owners of new Rolls-Royce motor cars.

Whisper by Rolls-Royce From concierge services to curated experiences, Whispers offers it all.Photo courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

Rolls-Royce has plans to constantly adapt Whisper's offerings to align with client interests.

Users can download the app for the Apple device via the App Store.

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Volvo has updated the Volvo on Call app for PHEV and EV drivers.

Photo courtesy of Volvo Car USA

Volvo has improved the Volvo on Call smartphone app to increase its functionality regarding plug-in hybrid (PHEV) and electric vehicles (EV). The enhancements are available in all Volvo on Call markets.

The app now allows drivers to see how much distance they have driven in fully electric model and view their electricity and fuel consumption, in addition to other metrics. Later this year the service will also give users the ability to see the impact of their driving on their CO2 footprint, as well as the estimated fuel costs saved by driving in fully electric mode.

Volvo on Call app The Volvo on Call app now has added functionality.Photo courtesy of Volvo Car USA

"We want the Volvo On Call app to make life easier for you as a user and create a more personal experience," said Ödgärd Andersson, chief digital officer. "As the car becomes ever more connected, the potential of the app increases and we intend over time for the app to be as much a part of the Volvo as the car itself."

For applicable Volvo Recharge models, bought during the offer period, the app will also inform drivers on the status of the electricity refund that launched last year (varies by market).

Volvo Recharge refers to all Volvo brand PHEV and EV vehicles.

All Volvo one Call functionalities are available for all Volvo PHEV models built and sold by the company after 2015 in the 47 countries where Volvo on call operates. In China, functionalities similar to the app's capabilities will be added to the WeChat platform.

Volvo XC40 Recharge side plug Volvo has launched the XC40 Recharge as its first mass market battery electric vehicle. Photo courtesy of Volvo Car USA

"Just like a step counter helps people exercise more, I believe that by giving people better insight into their driving patterns, it will help them to drive in a more sustainable way," said Björn Annwall, head of EMEA at Volvo Cars. "We see plug-in hybrids as 'part time electric cars' that encourage changes in people's behavior and help pave the way for a transition towards fully electric cars."

Volvo is currently the leader in PHEV sales, which comprise nearly 25 percent of all sales in Europe. The automaker is planning to make 50 percent of its global sales EVs by 2025 with the rest hybrid models. Its first fully electric car, the XC40 Recharge P8, will go into production later this year in Ghent, Belgium.

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The Toyota Highlander Hybrid has been completely redesigned for the 2020 model year.

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

The Toyota Highlander Hybrid isn't going to make any headlines for its sexy looks, rugged prowess, or zero to 60 mph time. It doesn't have to. While the Toyota Supra, Ford Bronco, and Ferrari SF90 Stradale dominate that conversation, the Toyota Highlander Hybrid goes about its day.

It doesn't have time to stop and check out the other models. It's too busy solidly doing its job, just like it has been for the last two decades. And there's nothing wrong with that.

It's precisely that premise that carries over from the last-generation Highlander Hybrid to the new one. Redesigned for 2020, the model isn't revolutionary in the way that the new Ram 1500 was when it debuted. Instead, it's a thoughtful improvement.

2020 Toyota Highalnder Hybrid The Highlander Hybrid is fuel-efficient and can lug around three rows of passengers.Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

The 2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid shines in its practicality, continuing to move the midsize SUV story along in (mostly) all the right ways.

Like many things that Toyota has done with its vehicles over the last decade, the Highlander Hybrid hits that sweet spot blending the expectations of buyers with the modern technology that they may not have even known that they wanted.

The three-row SUV's hybrid 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine delivers 243 horsepower and is just powerful enough to get you through your drive with ease. The SUV achieves over 600 miles of range, which is fantastic for road trips.

There's an EV mode in the hybrid that gets you going out of parking lots and driveways with little exterior noise. However, the SUV's passengers can hear wind noise against the windshield – something that only goes to prove just how comparatively quiet an electric vehicle is.

2020 Toyota Highalnder Hybrid Steering the Highlander Hybrid is easy and it comes equipped with a boatload of standard safety technology.Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

Driving the Highlander, which came equipped with all-wheel drive, in mixed conditions resulted in right around 33 mpg. That's not bad considering the week included short trips for groceries, running the air conditioning at full blast most of the time, and keeping up with traffic off the line. It's rated at 35 mpg combined by the EPA. It's not uncommon for real life driving to be slightly lower than expectation.

The SUV is fantastically easy to maneuver, and the wheel feels good in-hand. Multi-view parking cameras make fitting into and out of a parking spot a breeze, which is good because rearward visibility through the glass isn't great.

The Highlander Hybrid is comfortable in every row. Adults can easily fit in the first two for extended periods of time. There's gobs of small item storage space providing perfect opportunity to keep your car plenty cluttered if you'd like.

The peanut butter and jelly-colored interior in the Highlander Hybrid tester isn't a favorite and there are some less-than-premium materials in the premium-priced model but the overall design is attractive.

2020 Toyota Highalnder Hybrid The large 12.3-inch infotainment screen dominates the dashboard in higher trim levels.Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

Its large 12.3-inch infotainment screen on the tester isn't the most pleasing to use, but it gets the job done. Use Apple CarPlay and most of your problems in that regard are solved.

Moving the second-row seats is relatively easy but having a permanent cupholder base between captain's chairs, no matter how rugged, is not my favorite design choice. A family's littlest third-row occupants are likely to choose to go this route and there's plenty of space for feet to get stuck and plastic to get scuffed.

The third-row seats go up and down with ease. There's a good amount of cargo room at the back for groceries.

2020 Toyota Highalnder Hybrid Putting down the second- and third-row seats for storage is an easy endeavor.Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

A flat load floor is something minivan owners rave about. Personally, I prefer foot wells in the second row, which provide more contained storage solutions for when you pop out to the store and don't need/want to store in the cargo area. They also provide a divider between second-row passengers leading children kicking each other less.

The three-row SUV isn't revolutionary. It never had to be. What it is, is very good, especially compared to the Honda Pilot. The 2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid should be on your test drive list for the very reason that it makes life with a family easier.a

But (and this is a big but) it is pricey. The Highlander Hybrid can cost over $50,000 in its highest trim (the cheapest is $38,200). The Highlander's hottest competition, the Kia Telluride and Hyundai Palisade, aren't nearly that expensive, but they also don't come with hybrid variants.

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