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Consumer Reports auto experts report from the 2012 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
Volvo XC60 Plug-in Hybrid Concept

What is it? A gasoline powered concept for the U.S., this SUV is based on a diesel electric hybrid that will go on sale in Europe next year. The front axle is powered by a 34 kW (45 hp) electric motor, joined to a 280-hp, 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine and an eight-speed automatic transmission. The rear axle is powered by a 52 kW (70 hp) electric motor, giving the SUV all-wheel-drive. It is powered by a separate 12 kWh lithium-ion battery, which Volvo says gives the XC60 plug-in hybrid a 35-mile range on electric power alone. That battery pack is charged from a wall outlet in 7-1/2 hours or 240-volt electric car charging equipment in 3-1/2 hours. All this adds up to a combined 350 hp.  The car can operate in three modes: Pure, electric mode; Hybrid, the default mode, which yields fuel consumption equivalent to over 100 mpg, Volvo says; and Power which combines all power sources for maximum performance.

What is new or notable? The XC60 Plug in Hybrid has a Preserve mode which will allow drivers to save the charge in the large battery for use in the city later in a given drive. More sophisticated, the car has an always-on internet connection that monitors the driver’s route and picks the most efficient driving mode.

CR’s take: Volvo says this is a better hybrid than all the others. We’re not sure about that claim, but it does combine a lot of new technologies. At that rate, if it ever comes to the U.S. in its current form, don’t expect it to come cheap.

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