Each year Consumer Reports takes a look at reliability surveys as well as the features for more than 200 vehicles and they use all that information to figure out which cars, trucks and SUVs are the best in their class and which is the best overall. After all the numbers were crunched, the Camry Hybrid was determined to be the best overall value. It was praised for its high level of reliability as well as for its fuel efficiency.
The Reason the Camry Hybrid Was Selected
Typically when Consumer Reports chooses a vehicle for the best value it isn’t one that costs close to $30,000, but that’s not the case with the Camry Hybrid. Even though this vehicle is far more expensive than many vehicles out on the market, it still manages to be the best overall value and can save you money over time if you choose to go with it. The vehicle costs $29,000 to buy new but it has an operating cost of just 52 cents a mile. That’s incredibly affordable and lower than most other vehicles available today.
Good Things They Had to Say
Consumer Reports was impressed by the vehicle’s ability to get 38 MPG which they said was good for a mid-sized sedan. They also went over reliability surveys and used that information to try and determine how much work would have to be done on the vehicle in the first five years of ownership. Since the Camry Hybrid is known for being so reliable it was estimated that it wouldn’t take much work to keep running and that helped give it such a low cost of operation.
Winning Other Categories
The overall most valuable car wasn’t the only title that Toyota took on the Consumer Reports test. They also managed to take the top spot in four other categories, winning some with their Lexus models and the rest with a mixture of Toyota cars and SUVs. Toyota has built their name on reliability, and winning so many top positions only helps them further that image even more.
Consumer Reports went on to say that although the vehicle is highly reliable and very affordable to drive around, it isn’t very exciting. It offers a smooth ride that’s a bit dull. That means if you’re picking up a car for the feel of driving it more than the actual comfort or dependability of the machine you may be a bit disappointed with the Camry Hybrid. However, if you are in the market for a vehicle that you can truly count on, and that will save you money over the five year period of ownership then the Camry Hybrid is an excellent choice. It’s a comfortable vehicle, and Toyota engineers created a rock-solid vehicle when they designed it.
So far luxury car owners have been somewhat overlooked by the emerging hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. Sure the Toyota Mirai has some luxury features, but at the end of the day it’s not a luxury vehicle and that leaves a market gap wide open. Audi is planning on filling in that gap with their hydrogen fuel-cell concept that they debuted at the 2014 LA Auto Show. A7 h-tron concept offers an impressive level of performance for such a new technology, and packs it all into a great looking body that many elite drivers would love to move around in.
While the concept car doesn’t deliver world-class performance, it does come packed with enough power to be fun to drive around. It travels from 0 to 62 in just 7.9 seconds, which isn’t amazing by any means, but it’s quick enough to push you back in your seat. The h-tron manages this feat by utilizing the 228 HP motor that provides 398 lb.-ft. of torque to all four tires of the vehicle. The concept offers a top speed of 112 MPH, which is more than enough to travel on the highway comfortably.
While an Audi is expected to perform well many sporty cars aren’t known for their efficiency. That’s not the case with this concept car however, and it manages an equivalent of 62 miles per gallon, and travels a total of around 310 miles when all four of its tanks are full. The tanks take only around three minutes to fill completely and they hold a total of 11 pounds of hydrogen. The vehicle manages to save weight in the exhaust system by utilizing plastic to vent the water vapor rather than a traditional metal exhaust.
The A7 h-tron comes with a recycling system that recirculates any unused hydrogen to try and use it all up effectively. It also comes packed with a massive 8.8 kWh battery that can drive the vehicle on for an additional 31 miles when fully charged. The battery charges from regenerative braking during driving, or it can be charged using a power cord at home or at the office if plugs are available. It takes four hours with a 230 volt source and just two hours if you have a 360 volt fast charger available.
Although the car isn’t yet in production and Audi didn’t release any pricing information it’s essentially finished. At the show the automaker offered test drives, and explained that the vehicle would look essentially the same once sold to the public. They haven’t released any information about when it will start being sold, but it looks like Toyota and Honda have some competition, albeit in a different market sector than them.
Porsche has a long history with car racing, especially in endurance competitions, and it’s through the long and diverse history that they have developed some of their most useful and innovative technologies. Porsche has a firm belief in what they call “Tech Transfer” and employs a team of engineers with the task of taking concepts used in their race cars to beat out other manufacturers and private racing teams, and moving those concepts over to consumer vehicles designed to be driven under much more relaxed conditions. It’s a policy that has gone on throughout Porsche’s development and one that continues even to this day with their advanced LMP cars.
Bringing Technology to Market
Porsche has used the “Tech Transfer” policy to bring a diverse set of technology from their race cars to their road-going sportsters. If it wasn’t for the policy and a dedicated lab team used to make it happen they never would have shifted over the five-speed gearbox, turbocharging and even something as simple as a tire pressure monitoring system. All of these features, among others, were added onto Porsche vehicles early on because of race cars benefitted from them first and Porsche saw the value in a consumer world as well.
Endurance Races Bolster Fuel Efficiency Tech
Due to key races that Porsche is entering itself such as the Six Hours of Bahrain and the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Porsche is speeding up their progress with fuel efficiency technology and making it possible to keep up with ever-increasing fuel economy regulations.
The LMP Car Leads the Way in Energy Recuperation
The Porsche LMP race car is currently a test-bed for new technology that Porsche eventually plans to release to the general public. Thanks to a variety of helpful technological advances the vehicle is noticeably faster than most GT cars on the road today and manages all that speed while utilizing 30 percent less fuel. These remarkable figures are achieved in large part by effective energy recuperation. The engineers that work on the LMP are doing their best to utilize every resource avaiablle to the vehicle to make it as efficient as possible, including things such as exhaust fumes that have long since been considered as waste only. Each time the vehicle is braked a small generator makes use of the braking force to create additional electricity that can be used for propulsion. The entire time the vehicle is running, a second generator is positioned at the rear and makes use of exhaust fumes to generate even more electricity that goes back into driving the vehicle forward.
Technology Will Take Time to Come to Market
Regenerative braking is already seen on some hybrid vehicles on the market today, but other more exotic technologies, such as exhaust-powered generators will take some time before they hit any mainstream vehicles. But its technical developments like these that allow Porsche to keep building forward, and allows them to offer cutting edge features into the market each decade they remain in business.
Many of the fuel efficiency technologies that can be seen in Porsche’s racecar lineup, can be expected to make their way into consumer vehicles in the next decade.
The Camry is known as one of the industry-leading sedans today and it’s no surprise that the hybrid version of that car is also a hot seller. Even with all of the tech advancements and media features that are packed into the Camry Hybrid it was beginning to fall behind new competitors a bit. The 2015 refresh offers in enough new features to help the vehicle compete with competitors new to the segment and makes it into an even more desirable sedan.
The New Look
The 2015 Camry Hybrid has a new look inside and out. On the outside all of the body panels have been swapped out for new ones. At the back of the car you’ll notice a more rounded look. Larger taillights and a premium chrome strip that helps give the vehicle that upscale look. The sides of the sedan have a more scultpted and edgier look, and the same C-pillars have been used but are broken up by chrome and black accents to give the impression of a more aerodynamic look. Overall the outside of the vehicle looks very similar to the old model, but it’s but modified in slight ways to give it an upscale and streamlined look.
On the inside of the Camry Hybrid everything’s been improved in slight ways. The plastic used throughout is of a higher quality. The climate control buttons and knobs are bigger and made of nicer material. The doors are covered in faux leather or suede depending on the trim level and the gauges are redesigned into a classy twin-gauge display. The touchscreen media system has been improved as well. The screen is larger and the menus on the display are more user-friendly than before and the same as the ones on the 2014 Highlander.
Enhanced Driving Mechanics
Even the more powerful Camry Hybrid has often been criticized about its somewhat dull driving dynamics. Toyota sought out to improve that situation a bit with this refresh. More effort is required to steer the vehicle than before, and the wheel holds firmly in the center more effectively than it did before. Some significant suspension tuning gives the vehicle a slightly stiffer feel, but it still holds that comfortable quality that makes the Camry attractive to easy-going family drivers. The car is just more responsive than before and a bit more fun to take around the bends and winds during family road trips.
Now with a Rearview Camera
The base version of the Camry Hybrid now comes with a simple rearview camera that makes backing up a bit safer and more enjoyable to do. It’s not one of the best systems on the market, but it certainly does a nice job of letting you see while backing up, and that’s all that really matters.
Overall the 2015 Toyota Camry hybrid is a nice improvement. It’s still clearly the same car, but it looks and feels better than it did before. It’s a more attractive version of one of America’s most popular hybrid sedans and it’s worth considering if you were planning on upgrading the family sedan anyway.
As the top level executives at Toyota were looking over the concept car for the new Prius Hybrid, they came to the conclusion that the design simply wasn’t good enough, and charged the designers and engineers with coming up with an edgier look to help set the vehicle apart.
Expect a Highly Refined Prius Look
A great deal of work has been done on the next generation of the Prius, and that work should give it a vastly different look than what we are used to. It’s not clear yet whether it will have an edgier look or not, but Toyota has been cracking down on design issues and trying to come up with better looking vehicles than ever before. They are working to give the Prius a sporty look that will draw in younger buyers looking for a cool and modern vehicle that isn’t just known for being environmentally friendly.
Although there is no word about exactly what changes have occurred, some appearance changes are pretty likely because the vehicle is being built in the C-platform. The car will likely have al owered hood, a lower center of gravity and a smaller air intake. It will also probably have a higher rear end with a sportier stance overall thanks to this new platform. This will give the vehicle an edgy look that will separate it from the old styled Prius dramatically.
Differentiate the Prius and the Plug-in Version
The new designs will reportedly help differentiate the standard Prius from the plug-in version as well. This will help those driving the plug-in stand out more and could make the experience more enjoyable for the buyers who decide to spring for the modified vehicle.
A More Modular Prius
The next generation of the Prius is being built on the more modular C-platform and this affords the engineers a great level of flexibility when desigining the interior of the vehicle. Now they are capable of making the inside larger and more enjoyable to be in thanks to all of the design options that they have available. This will result in a more pleasing interior in the next Prius.
In a vehicle that’s already known for its fuel efficiency it’s impressive that it will be improved upon even more. The engineers are making use of more lightweight materials to enhance the fuel economy even further, while maintaining the highly aerodynamic footprint of the vehicle to help avoid losing out on any of the efficiency benefits that the Prius already had going for it.
These new design changes are being guarded closely and Toyota expects them to have a major impact on how buyers see their vehicles in the future. For a brand that’s long been known as “dull” “safe” and “plain” new and improved designs could make a major difference.
The Audi Q7 is well-known for being one of the largest SUVs out on the road, but thanks to some changes made by the company it’s about to get quite a bit smaller. The Q7 is great for riding around in comfort and with plenty of space, but it hasn’t been the most efficient of SUVs out on the market. Audi decided to downsize their largest SUV offering for just that reason and the end result will be a much more efficient vehicle overall.
Unbelievable Weight Loss
The Q7 went from being one of the heavier models out on the road to being the lightest luxury crossover SUV in its class. It did this by shedding a total of 716 pounds. The body and chassis were made substantially lighter through the addition of a new chassis and lighter materials throughout the body. All of the careful measures that were taken to lighten up the Q7 will have a noticeable effect on overall fuel economy figures.
Impressive Fuel Economy Boosts
Thanks to the changes that Audi made to its Q7, the automaker expects to see some significant improvements to fuel economy figures. They expect gasoline fuel efficiency to jump by as much as 28 percent and the diesel version to jump up by 23 percent. These figures will make the SUV much more competitive against some of the other mammoth luxury SUVs on the market and it really isn’t sacrificing much in order to achieve these improved figures.
Audi did shorten its SUV by 1.6 inches overall and it made the vehicle about a half inch narrower, but even while doing that they managed to add overhead height to the SUV and enhance the space between first and second row seats to improve comfort even more from older versions of the vehicle.
Plug-in Diesel Power
The new version of the Q7 will also come with the option to get a plug-in diesel. This would help make the vehicle even more efficient while making it more desirable for those concerned about the environment as well. Not only that, but the hybrid power should help bolster performance figures as well. The plug-in version of the crossover will be able to go close to 35 miles running solely on battery power before the diesel motor needs to kick in to keep things moving.
Even though the Q7 is losing a bit of that size that makes it stand out so much, it’s improving upon its efficiency figures dramatically and even adding in a couple of nice features to make it more competitive on top of the efficiency improvements.
This year, LAcarGUY is proud to be teaming up with UCLA Athletics program to sponsor men’s and women’s basketball as well as women’s gymnastics. In addition, LAcarGUY is featuring a Super Shot Competition throughout the UCLA basketball season for both men and women’s teams. The contest is a fun and exciting way to get students involved and gives them an opportunity to win a car from one of the 10 LAcarGUY dealerships including Volkswagen, Audi, Lexus, Subaru, Scion, and Toyota.
The Super Shot Competition
At the beginning of each UCLA game, students visit the LAcarGUY table and put their name into a drawing for the Super Shot Competition. Three are chosen randomly. They have 30 seconds to try and make a lay-up, a free throw, a 3-point shot and a half-court shot. The first one to sink all shots will win the grand prize…a featured new car from one of the LAcarGUY dealerships.
LAcarGUY’s 10 dealerships all offer special College Grad programs with little or no credit required for qualifying graduates.
The head honchos at Porsche have been saying all along that they expected the special edition Panamera Exclusive to sell out over time, but even they didn’t expect the positive response they received. In just 48 hours after making the 100 run vehicle available for purchase, each of the vehicles was snapped up and off the market. Now they are kicking themselves wishing they had created more of the vehicles than they did.
While creating the limited Panamera Exclusive Series Porsche took the Panamera Turbo S and stretched it out by an additional six inches. They then gave it a two-tone paint job of black and chestnut brown and threw in matching leather upholstery and a premium luggage set. The rear seats of the vehicle were given 10-inch touchscreen displays for passenger enjoyment while riding around. Once all of the changes were made to the vehicle it was given a $310,500 price tag, tacking on $110,000 over the Panamera Executive model.
Giving it Another Try
Now that Porsche has seen the demand for their ultra-exclusive vehicle they are very likely to put out another run in the future. They know that some interested buyers were left out and that they could probably sell out another run of the vehicles without a problem. There is no word whether Porsche is going to release another run of these high-end special edition Panameras or if they are going to create highly exclusive lineups of some of their other models. Either way, according to Autocar this is a likely development in the future. The company spoke with Wolgang Hatz, Porsche’s head of Research and Development, and according to Hatz they will run similar limited offers in the future now that they know such a high demand exists for them.
It seems that buyers are interested in highly exclusive vehicles and are willing to pay exorbitant prices for them, even if they don’t have many performance improvements. The car is equipped with the same 570 HP engine and uses the same all-wheel drive setup giving both the ultra-rare version and the executive version similar feels while driving. We’ll have to wait and see what model Porsche decides to turn into an ultra-rare exclusive next, but it’s safe to say that there will be additional premium offerings coming up.
Subaru is well-known for giving safety a high priority when developing vehicles and the new Outback is an excellent example of that. The Outback managed to receive two of the gloves highest safety awards available thanks to some great advancements that were made to it. It’s now sturdier and offers more proactive warnings than ever before, which is great news for the driver and passengers as well as any nearby pedestrians.
The Outback managed to achieve the top five star rating available from the Euro NCAP safety rating system. It scored highly in adult occupant protection, child occupant protection. Pedestrian protection and safety assist while also managing to handle barrier tests well. According to the results the Outback is safe for everyone riding in it as well as the people out on the road.
The second of the two awards was even more impressive and it was given in Japan. The JNCAP testing agency is very stringent with their testing and they give each vehicle a rating between 0 and 40. Any vehicle that manages to get a 2 or higher is given the ASV or Advanced Safety Vehicle designation. Anything with a score of 12 or more is an ASV+ vehicle. The Outback blew those markers out of the water by achieving the very highest amount of points possible, it managed to score a 40 on the test thanks to its careful design and suite of safety features.
Major Safety Improvements
The 2015 Subaru Outback has received a variety of improvements to safety features. Additional airbags are present and they are located at the front, at knee level, at the side and as curtain bags to protect all passengers. The vehicle handles impacts better than before thanks to improvements made to the very durable ring-shaped frame that Subaru uses on all their vehicles. The automaker relied on high-tensile steel plates more than it has in the past, and that really upped its durability. The optional EyeSight system is upgraded as well, making it more responsive and capable of predicting accidental situations before they become a real issue.
Overall the 2015 Subaru Outback is more capable of protecting its passengers than ever before. It’s the type of vehicle that you can trust to protect your family and according to both Japan and Europe it’s one of the best out there for safety purposes. Subaru values safety and their latest Outback just serves to reinforce that concept even more.
The Toyota Tacoma has demonstrated an impressive level of longevity for the small number of updates it has received. It’s been going strong for the last 10 years as one of the real mid-sized trucks on the market, along with the Nissan Frontier. Now Toyota has decided that it’s time to up their game and offer a completely revised version of the Tacoma. They’re going to wipe the slate clean and come up with a model that’s equipped with more new parts than old, that should fix a lot of the trucks weaknesses.
Making Improvements to the Aging Truck
The Tacoma received a full revision in 2005 and since then has just been refreshed every few years with minor changes. The main areas that Toyota will try to improve on the Tacoma are in fuel efficiency and performance. The truck will receive a new engine along with a different transmission. These changes should give it more power while making it more fuel efficient as well, which are the two main changes that the Tacoma needs to stay on top.
Gearing Up for the Changes
Experts aren’t just releasing rumors about the Tacoma, Toyota is already gearing up their production plants to be able to create the modified mid-sized truck. According to a spokesperson from the San Antonio production plant engineers have already been there to make the needed changes to allow the new trucks to be built there. Toyota is committed to creating this refreshed model and they say that they have been planning it all along and that they aren’t simply reacting to the new models put out by GM.
New GM Models
GM recently released updated versions of the Chevy Colorado and the GMC Canyon, both of which are more fuel efficient and capable than ever before. While these trucks aren’t exactly the same size as the Tacoma, they are close enough to be a threat to the vehicle. These are the models that the Tacoma has to compete with, and it’s a good bet that the changes it has received will have a major impact on how it performs overall.
Toyota will unveil the all-new Tacoma at the Detroit Auto Show next month. It promises to be a whole new truck that only bears a resemblance to the 2005 model of the Tacoma. It should have a new body and a highly modified interior with a whole new look.
Mid-sized truck fans should keep their eyes peeled for announcements coming out of Detroit in the coming month. It’s a pretty good bet that they will like what they see.