Volvo S40 T5 – The Perfect Car For The Driver Who Wants A Manual

In the car community, having a car with a stick or being capable of driving a manual car, is an added bonus to show your knowledge and legitimacy as a car enthusiast. Often we discuss what car with a manual transmission would be perfect to learn and or own. The Mazda Miata is always brought up for many reasons, including the fact that it’s essentially a street legal go-kart which gives drivers the sensation of being connected to the road. There are many other candidates, but one that is never mentioned nor given credit as being a fun car is the Volvo S40 T5.

I know what you’re thinking, but much like the C30, the S40 can be fun to drive, and in fact could be the perfect car to learn how to drive a stick. Many S40 owners complain about the close proximity between the brake and gas pedals, as you’ll most likely accidentally tap on of them. This dilemma actually brings up the perfect opportunity to start heel-toeing, which will make you a better driver and help train you to shift through the gears smoother. The S40 T5 has other benefits as well, including performance and modification capabilities.

With a turbocharged 5 cylinder engine producing around 227 horsepower, you’re going to have a decent car right off the bat. It won’t beat a fully stock MazdaSpeed3 but you’ll have more horsepower than a stock Volkswagen GTI. This now leads up to modifications, and here are just a few S40s that are out there where the owners brought the Swedish sedan to the next level.

You can also go with body kits from Heico to add a more sporty appeal to the S40

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Overall the S40 is a great car to start out with, whether to daily drive or learn how to drive a manual. It’s a safe car, the interior is cozy, and the seats are absolutely comfortable. Perfect for the driver who also wants to step into the entry level luxury segment. Despite not being a BMW, Audi, or Mercedes Benz, it’s definitely an alternative if you don’t want to buy a Japanese car, but with that does come costs at the repair shop.

Right now you can find S40 T5s around $5k – $6k. If you’re lucky enough to stumble upon an S40 T5 R-Design don’t pass it up. Not only are they rare to come by these days, but you get some added goodies in terms of aesthetics. They’re also holding their value slightly better and can be purchased for around $12k.

Most importantly, you’ll have a novelty car. Not many S40 T5’s are out there on the roads, let alone a modified one. It’s safe to say that at a local car meet, you’ll have the only S40, but it will be unique which just adds to the appeal and the whole package of owning one.

Volvo Dealerships, Listen Up

In the month of April, Volvo was outsold by Porsche in the United States, 5,217 cars to 4,636 sold by the Swedish automaker. This is very alarming, especially since Porsche’s prices are higher than Volvo’s, and also their vehicles were once rarer. What happened? It wasn’t too long ago, 8 years ago in fact, that Volvo’s yearly sales were in the six figure range. In 2014, the annual sales were at 56,366, which was a 5,000 car drop from the previous year. Volvo is heading into a very dangerous time, and you could say that the new XC90 will keep the company afloat until the major lineup changes take affect in 2017, but I don’t think you can wait another two years before sales figures could, and I stress could, rebound.

Mercedes Benz, Audi, and BMW are in contention for the number one spot, steamrolling over any car brand that even tries to compete with the German luxury car market. But the fact that Volvo was outsold by Porsche is a major concern, and here’s why. The Porsche Macan, Cayenne, and Panamera made up a huge portion of sales in the month April, which means they’re successfully selling their four-door vehicles. The bulk of Volvo’s sales came from the XC60 and S60, with the V60 and V60 CC chipping in with a combined total of just over 700. Now that we’ve seen what’s working for both automakers, it’s time to look at how Volvo dealerships can help improve car sales for the brand. Yes, you the dealerships can play a major role in your car brand’s overall sales.

I’ve had the pleasure of being inside the Volvo S60, and quite honestly, it was enjoyable to drive and sit in. Comfortable interior, and being the owner of an S40, I didn’t feel like I was in a drastically different car, which I liked. With 240 horsepower for the base model, that competes with and beats some of the German competitors in terms of power. You’ve got to let the consumer know that. Brand perception is still holding strong with the “It’s a family man’s car” or “For the Middle-aged adult”. I was at the car show in Boston this past January and there were more than just families in the Volvo section. Twenty-five year olds were surrounding the S60 Polestar, and they didn’t just sit and stare at it, they read the description next to it. There was a genuine interest.

Looking at the various lease options for the S60 from a number of local Volvo dealerships, the S60 is also cheaper to lease monthly than the Audi A3 and A4, Mercedes Benz CLA, and C-Class, and in some cases even cheaper than the BMW 320i X-drive. The S60 beats the competition, not only in power but also price. You have to make that known to the customer, and by advertising and posting content on social media, you can help spread the awareness.

The XC60 seems to be your best seller, and for good reason. But very rarely do I see Volvo dealerships making the XC60 a main focal point on social media. I know that the XC60 is due for a platform change that should happen in 2017, along with the S60/V60, but with a two year buffer, you have to continue pushing the crossover SUV. Porsche is clearly beating you to the punch, and consumers are willing to pay extra if need be to get a luxury crossover or SUV.

The V60 is another car that I don’t see being pushed much on social media, or even in other forms of advertising for that matter. The V60 Cross Country almost outsold the XC70, while also being 87 cars behind the V60 variant. In terms of luxury the V60 is one step higher than Subaru, and again, Volvo isn’t playing this up to their advantage. The V60 CC could have seen stronger sales, especially after the winter we experienced here in the Northeast. But again, Volvo dealerships missed a golden opportunity to promote their off-road capable station wagon.

Lastly, with the XC90 being the most iconic car for this generation of Volvo’s, it’s been somewhat disappointing to see dealerships not emphasizing the importance of this car, while also building up excitement for its release. Right now dealerships are doing the best they can, but hopefully with the new XC90 hitting showrooms, Volvo dealerships will give customers an inside look of their cars, whether that be at local events, or on social media.

Social media is vital to your car brand’s success. You have to utilize Facebook and Instagram. I see the passion for Volvo’s by current owners. They need a reason to go back to the dealership and consider trading in their old Volvo for a new one. The new Volvo’s are absolutely beautiful and I find them to be a dark horse in its market. You have to bring them to light, and make consumers aware of the better options your car company can provide.

Volvo’s Plans Are Becoming Clearer, Ghent Factory Part Of Future

Owners of the Volvo S40 in the United States know that their Volvo didn’t come from Sweden, but that it was manufactured in Ghent, Belgium. Today, there are rumblings and rumors that the S40’s siblings will be coming to America by 2018, and yes, they’ll be manufactured in Ghent just like their predecessor. Motor Authority broke the news that the V40, which is already sold in Europe, should be landing on our shores later this decade, while also introducing the all new XC40. These two new models are just the tip of the iceberg for the Swedish automaker, as Volvo has a 5 year plan to take on other luxury brands in the United States.

With the news that Ghent will play a role in Volvo’s revival in the US, there’s also rumors that China might come into play, as Volvo still hasn’t given up on the idea of selling Chinese-made vehicles. So far it appears that Ghent is the top priority. With that being said, Volvo is also building a new plant in the United States, possibly manufacturing the larger models, but no official word as of today.

Volvo’s other plans consist of new changes to the S60/V60 and XC60, introducing their new flagship, the S90/V90, and discontinuing the S80. With their German counterparts grabbing market share and continuously adding on to their lineups, Volvo has been forced into action as they’ve experienced some adverse times. Clearly, this isn’t Saab, and by entering markets that consumers are buying in, Volvo can experience revitalization, but there’s a lot of work ahead of them.

Right now, there are no official plans to reintroduce the Volvo S40 to the United States. While Top Gear did report that the S40 was in future plans, it appears that the compact sedan isn’t a top priority at this time. However, taking on the Audi A3 and Mercedes Benz CLA would be a wise move, as they also can offer the V40 and XC40 variants to appeal to consumers in that market.

The next few years should be interesting, and it will be exciting to see what will be coming out of Sweden, Ghent, and the United States factories by 2018.

Volvo Building Manufacturing Plant In The United States

So much for all the concerns and drama over Chinese-made Volvo’s invading dealership lots stateside in a few years. Volvo has recently announced that they will be building a manufacturing plant in the United States. Very little has been released on what models will be manufactured there, but with all the hype surrounding the Swedish automaker after the new XC90’s debut, and their five year plan released a few months back, speculation could run wild as Volvo will be introducing new models to their lineup by 2019.

It’s been said that Volvo was trying hard to get a plant built in Mexico, but those plans fell through, leaving the United States as the next best option. Volvo would be following in the footsteps of Mercedes Benz and BMW, who are already producing cars here in America. Most notably, the BMW X-series is made in the United States. Volkswagen has also moved some of their production to our side of the Atlantic Ocean as the mid-sized sedan Passat is made in Tennessee.

Volvo has plans of reintroducing the S40, leaving the door open for a V40 debut, while also adding an XC40 to the lineup by 2019. The S60/V60 and XC60 will be seeing major changes and will be built on a new platform, raising speculations that maybe these will be some of the cars that will be manufactured here. Depending on when this plant gets built, one could also speculate the all new S90/V90, the new flagships for the automaker, could be made in the United States. BMW and Mercedes Benz manufacture some of their bigger models in the US, so why not Volvo?

The Swedish automaker is going to be busy the next five years, and with a new chief executive for North America, Volvo looks to be more aggressive heading into 2020 to compete with other luxury brands in their market.

Volvo On The Verge Of Revamping Their Lineup, New Models By 2019

Volvo, the usually very conservative auto manufacturer, is now a few years away from having a completely new lineup. Some new models will be introduced to the United States by 2019. The S80 will be replaced by the S90/V90, and the S60/V60 and XC60 will all be completely redesigned by 2018. With major changes underway, this adjustment in the lineup is very similar to a pro sports team rebuilding for the future to contend with powerhouses. Unlike their Swedish counterpart, Volvo has learned from Saab’s mistakes and they plan on taking the world by storm with a completely new look.

The unveiling of the new Volvo XC90 was just the beginning of the changes we’ll be seeing in the next four years. Even years after Ford’s sale of Volvo, the S60/V60 and the previous generation XC90 are all using Ford platforms. Starting this year the Swedish automaker is moving in a new direction, a path that is purely theirs, offering unique vehicles to consumers. The real question is, will Americans be enticed by what Volvo will be offering them in a few years?

Right now Volvo is playing catch-up in the automotive world. While Mercedes Benz and BMW are expanding every year, Volvo has maintained a minimal number of models the past three years. The S40, V50, C30, and C70 are no longer in production, leaving the company out of some major growing markets. While Volvo needed to change things around, getting rid of the compact S40 may have been a mistake to some degree as Audi and Mercedes Benz introduced the A3 and CLA two years later. Not to mention other luxury brands who have entered the small sedan market and created market share for themselves.

By 2019 however, we’ll be seeing the S40 making a reappearance to the United States, along with the V40, and all new XC40. With companies like Mazda making the CX-3, Audi producing the Q3, and BMW selling the X1, Volvo is already behind in the small crossover market. The XC60 is the closest thing Volvo has to a crossover, and while it’s the companies best seller, it’s still not selling enough to compete with the likes of other auto brands who are making smaller and more affordable crossovers. That’s where the XC40 comes in. Early reports suggest it should be priced around $30,000 when it hits the US market in 2019

2014 Volvo S60 T6 R-Design
qJake / Foter / CC BY-SA

The S60/V60 and XC60 will be completely redone by 2018 with the XC60 getting a new platform and look in 2017. Still influenced by Ford, Volvo is doing as much as they can with the S60/V60 and XC60, and for the time being it’s working. Moving ahead, Volvo has to make these changes to distinguish themselves from the rest of the pack.

The S90/V90 will be the new flagship for Volvo. Sharing the same platform as the XC90, Volvo’s first order of business is the large sedan market. It’s actually a bold strategy as other car companies are going smaller, putting small sedans and crossovers as a top priority. The XC90 definitely needed a new look to attract consumers, and by the looks of it the SUV is making a huge splash already.

However, has the lineup change come too late? Has Volvo waited far too long to offer a new S40/V40, or introduce a smaller sibling of the XC60? Every other auto brand is lightyears ahead in terms of adding more vehicles to lineups and giving the consumer more variety. Volvo finds themselves among some very worthy and tough competitors, and with Lexus, Infiniti, BMW, Mercedes Benz, and Audi duking it out, is their room for one more in a very heated auto market? These are the questions that are worth asking.

Saab’s changes came way too late in the game. Is Volvo the next Swedish automaker to make adjustments at the wrong time? Volvo’s have always been special, offering a comfortable ride that very few car companies could match. The direction their moving in is necessary to survive, but how close are they flirting to flatlining? The competition is steep, and a lot can happen in a few years. New markets may emerge, the small sedan and crossover classes could become saturated, or other auto brands replicate what made Volvo so successful.

Volvo’s lineup changes will be exciting to watch nonetheless. It’s going to be refreshing to see new models coning out of Stockholm, and hopefully with a revamped lineup, we’ll see the Swedish auto maker dominate once again.

Volvo Has Caught The Cross Country Bug. XC S60 and XC V60?

Volvo is a company in transition. Under new ownership after being sold by Ford, Volvo has had difficulty in distancing itself from it’s past. Much of the designs and components of their older models such as the S60 and discontinued S40 were based off of Ford, and for the S60, there are major changes underway to get rid of the old blueprint and start fresh in 2015. Well they’ve certainly done that by unveiling their new XC version of the S60. With a height adjustment of 2.5 inches, Volvo is moving away from their traditional sedan and have suddenly come up with a Subaru-like, height-adjusted, tough terrain beating car and station wagon.

The addition to the XC family has already caused confusion with the media as there is an XC V60 and a XC60 now, but the difference being one is a station wagon and the other a crossover. What are Volvo’s future plans, what segment are they trying to enter, and who exactly are they competing against with their new XC lineup? These questions seem to go unanswered, but one could speculate that they’re trying to be the more luxurious Subaru by offering AWD across their product line, or their bringing Subaru-like engineering to the luxury car market, a segment that hasn’t been capitalized as of yet. But is there a demand for it?

Volvos primarily sell better in the states with winter climates as their AWD systems are a luxury during the late fall and winter months during the year. It’s very possible that they’re trying to target a specific market that either likes off-road capabilities or prefers something other than Subaru without sacrificing the AWD and year round durability.

However, the redesigned Volvo XC90 might contradict that theory as Volvo unveiled the R-design trim that will surely take on the BMW X5 and Audi Q5. It appears the Swedish automaker is trying to take on multiple segments at once, while also innovating along the way. They have a triple turbocharged engine in the works that could revolutionize the car industry while also continuing to perfect their safety features on their cars.

It will be interesting to see the reception the XC S60 gets when it enters Volvo dealerships early this year. Personally, I see the XC V60 doing better as Subaru has lived off the AWD station wagons for years, and it’s possible Volvo can experience that same success. Great things are happening up in Sweden these days, and let’s hope we continue to see these changes as Volvos have become very luxury-based cars over the past 5 years or so.

Lower Gas Prices Are Still Not Enough For Consumers To Buy Big SUV’s

Cadillac Escalade SUV
Bruno Rs / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

The national average for gas is below $3.00 a gallon which has affected different markets in the automotive segment of the economy. Electric and hybrid cars have seen lower sales figures since the recent nose-dive oil has taken the past few months. However, with these lower gas prices, sales figures for large SUV’s still hasn’t improved, and just as the sports car market, the bigger SUV market may never recover.

Ian Robertson, a Sales Chief for BMW said recently that the age of the sports car is coming to a close and that we’ll probably never see that market recover. While he only mentioned two-door coupes, it appears that the recession has also put another segment of the auto industry on life support. Larger SUV’s such as the Cadillac Escalade and the Chevrolet Tahoe are only maintaining a 7% share of the market, which that number has flatlined since 2009. Not even lower gas prices are helping this segment. Since the recession and the days of $3.00 a gallon, car companies have had to adapt to a new economy, one in which the consumer is very careful about spending and expenses.

The crossover SUV’s have taken a bite out of the traditional SUV’s market share which could explain why we’re not seeing improving sales figures. Crossovers and small SUV’s such as the Volkswagen Tiguan, BMW X1 and X3, Mazda CX-5, Audi Q3 and Q5, Ford Escape, Volvo XC60, and Honda CR-V, are all eating away at the sales figures of their bigger siblings. Car companies aren’t just stopping there, they’re continuing to grow the crossover segment as Mazda already has a CX-3 in the works, and seeing the competitiveness of the Germans, who knows what they’ll think of next.

Consumers have also adapted to the new economy that we’ve lived in for the past seven years. They’re learning that they don’t need a huge SUV to get around and that even with a smaller vehicle, they can still carry their groceries, drive their kids to school, and while doing that, saving money at the pump. Smaller SUV’s and crossovers have become the new practical. While Americans won’t admit it, they’ve become more like Europeans since the recession, as Europe has been living with high gas prices way before the economy had it’s downturn.

We live in a new world. The economy may or may not have recovered, or some sectors have while others are still lagging behind. But one thing is for sure, the auto market will not change the direction it’s heading in unless there is a major swing in the markets and on Main Street. In 5-10 years, we may look back on the recession as the killer of the big SUV and sports car markets as we once knew them.

3 Cars That Surprise, But Don’t Attract An Audience

Every young person’s dream is to own a car that gets looks, notoriety, and a crowd that will fawn over the driver and car. But to get that, you’ll most likely have to buy a $50,000 car that has a powerful engine and nice luxurious interior. However, there can be negatives to all this. Not only is there the possibility your car could get stolen, but there might be a group of envious people who seek to harm your car because they can’t own something that gets the attention of everyone. Maybe you are the type that wants luxury and performance, but without the gathering crowd and just enjoy driving a car that you know is just as good as the Audi or BMW parked in the spot next to you.

Well, you’ve come to the right place. Here are three cars that will surely surprise you, but are probably not the first options on your list of luxury and performance vehicles.

1) Volvo S60/V60 T5

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Any Volvo could be considered non conspicuous, but with a turbocharged five cylinder engine that supplies 250 hp on the AWD model, the S60/V60 tops the competition in it’s category. Other than a selected few cars, not many can boast that they have a more powerful engine than an Audi A4 or the lower trims of the Mercedes Benz C300. The Volvo seats make this car extremely comfortable, adding to the luxury aspect of the car. There is no lag in acceleration when you press the gas, and there is nothing more pleasing than hearing that turbocharged engine roar.

2) Subaru Legacy 3.6R Limited

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Besides the WRX/STi, Subaru’s have the same image as Volvo. They’re seen as safe vehicles for the middle-aged adult, can get through snow thanks to it’s AWD system, and are not considered as a luxury vehicle. That’s where the Subaru Legacy 3.6R Limited comes into play. The Legacy has a 256 hp H-6 engine that has just a bit more power than the S60. This car comes fully equipped with leather seats and a navigation system. The only knock on the Subaru would be it’s subpar fuel economy getting 20-29 miles per gallon. However, this car comes with the performance and luxury qualities that make this car fly under the radar.

3) Toyota Avalon

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Toyota wasn’t joking when they said this was their best creation ever. The Avalon comes with a V-6 engine that supplies 268 hp, and the best part is, this is standard. When it comes to luxury from Toyota, we tend to look at Lexus, but the Avalon has what it takes to hold it’s own against the competition. This car not only looks executive, but it has an engine that would certainly surprise someone if they had no prior knowledge of the car beforehand.

There are plenty of options out there if you don’t want to buy an Audi, Mercedes Benz, BMW, or Lexus, or want all the hype and drama that comes with the people who are drawn in by what you have. The S60/V60 T5, Subaru Legacy 3.6R Limited, and the Toyota Avalon can fulfill all your wants and must haves when looking at a car to buy. These three cars constantly fly under the radar, but you can have fun with them at the same time.

Volvo Has Made Great Cars Over The Years And That’s A Problem

When you think of Volvo, safety, reliability, and the famous steel cage probably come to mind which is a good thing, especially for a car manufacturer. However, these three qualities have created a dilemma for the Swedish auto maker that is becoming detrimental to the company as the years have passed. Next time when you’re commuting and notice a Volvo, are they new, or six to seven years old? Most likely, the answer would be the latter. Having noticed this every morning, it’s become apparent that Volvo owners are too loyal to their older cars, and not going to the dealership to trade them in.

In 2012, Volvo ranked 1st in owners who keep their old cars the longest. On average, Volvos stay with one owner for over 7 years before they’re traded in, and more astonishing, only 30% of those trade ins were to buy another Volvo. Brand loyalty is down considerably, despite the Swedish auto maker manufacturing better, more modern vehicles that should be appealing to younger buyers and not the 50 somethings. What is the underlying issue though, and how can Volvo get back what they’ve lost over the past 15 years?

The biggest problem is that Volvo owners have no reason to visit a dealership unless it’s for a routine checkup or oil change, because their cars don’t break down or have any mechanical failures that other manufacturers experience. Because of this, consumers aren’t seeing the new models in the showroom, or aren’t even exposed to newer Volvo’s. As an owner of an S40, I can attest that it’s extremely difficult to think of owning a different car or a newer Volvo, and having seen and talked to other owners both in person and on Facebook, I’m not the only one who can’t part ways with his or her sedan. Most of the photos that are shared on social media are all Volvos made prior to 2010, and surprisingly, there appears to be more love for the older S60 design than the current one, which in my opinion, the 2014 S60 is a work of art.

Another reason some Volvo owners may hold onto their cars is because their models are no longer in production. The C30, C70, S40, V50, and V70, to name a few, are no longer being made or sold in the United States, and while for some auto manufacturers that’s not a problem, for Volvo, the owners of these cars are attached and are more likely going to continue putting money into their vehicles.

Volvo dealerships need to attract consumers, whether they’ve owned previous Volvos, or are first time buyers to the brand. The new look S60 and V60 are great cars, and with the AWD options, turbocharged engines, and the comforts of a luxury vehicle, these cars could easily sell if they could get owners of older Volvos to consider trading them in. For some manufacturers, they need to stop thinking conventional, and start looking outside the box and reach new customers. Right now, Volvo and many other auto brands aren’t doing that. Volvo is not Saab (thank goodness), but if they don’t start getting people into dealerships’ doors, they’ll be looking down the same road as their Swedish counterpart.

Using CarFax Alone Isn’t Going to Guarantee Finding a Quality Car

Volkswagen Golf 6 2008 26
Janitors / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

CarFax is a great tool for the 21st Century car buyer who is looking for a Certified Pre-owned or used vehicle that is still in good condition. However, there is still no guarantee that you’ll find the perfect car that has years and thousands of miles left in it’s lifetime. There are multiple factors that come into play, such as the previous owner’s driving habits, the car’s seasonal wear and tear, and more importantly where the vehicle was manufactured. The country(s) in which the car was manufactured can be the difference between buying a quality vehicle and a lemon.

To dig deeper into this, think about your favorite automotive brand, or even the current car you own and drive on a daily basis. Where was the car manufactured? Shockingly, some of your favorite everyday purpose cars may not be built where you think they are, even if it has a reputation of being an American, German, or Japanese car.

Volvo has just announced that their new S60L which is manufactured in China will be sold in the United States. With this story being only a few weeks old, it’s already stirred up controversy as the company’s reputation of being a safe, reliable brand may be thrown to the gutter if Volvo plans to go through with selling a Chinese Volvo in the states, which they have every intention of doing.

Volvo’s are known to last a very long time, in fact people joke saying that they’ll outlive the owner if kept in good condition. Who knows how long the 2015 S60L will last, and there will be many questions raised by consumers when you find it in the pre-owned list on your local Volvo dealer’s website.

Another popular car brand is Volkswagen, and it might surprise some that a majority of their vehicles that are sold in the US aren’t made in Germany. Yes, the same Volkswagen who owns Audi, Porsche, and Bugatti doesn’t manufacturer all their cars in Wolfsburg. The VW Beetle, Jetta, Golf, and soon the Golf GTI are or will be made in Mexico. It wasn’t until 2005, when VW changed the appearance of the Jetta, that they started assembly and production in Mexico. Whether this changes the quality of the vehicle itself, that is still to be determined, but the perception customers have of the car is certainly different.

To make sure you’re getting a top notch used car, do extensive research on where the vehicle was manufactured. Not only is the assembly of the car different, but you’ll find that the electrical components and interiors will be substantially different. Road noise or lack thereof will be noticeable, and even the suspension and how it takes bumps on the road could determine where it really came from.

The badge on the front of the car may say it’s from Germany, Sweden, or America, but there is the possibility that it’s originally from some factory in Mexico, or China if you intend on buying the new Volvo S60L. We have no power to improve the driving habits of drivers so we get a used car in great condition, but we can research and make sure we’re getting a car that was built in a factory that has a reputation of producing quality and long-lasting vehicles.