Volkswagen is Going to Great Lengths to Remain Environmentally Sustainable

August 31, 2015 lacarguy Volkswagen Tags: , , , , ,

It’s no surprise that the automotive industry isn’t great for the world, but we continue to purchase new vehicles and demand more powerful, more feature rich and largely more capable cars, trucks and SUVs to come out each and every year. Many people strive to improve the environment without even realizing the impact that their own purchases make on the environment. Needless to say that companies like Volkswagen are left to figure out how to meet those demands while also reducing their impact on the environment. Part of this is because of federal MPG and emission mandates, but that’s not all. Most automakers legitimately want to help improve the environment as well, and Volkswagen is working quite hard to do its part.

volkswagen egolf

Reducing Vehicle Emissions

Volkswagen has plans to reduce vehicle emissions and fuel consumption by as much as 40% between 2010 and 2020. While we’re already tipping past the halfway point to that goal at present the company is still working hard to meet the reduction goal and strives to make incremental improvements each and every year. IN order to meet these lofty goals the automaker works hard to make a between 10% and 15% efficiency improvement to each model vehicle every new model year. The automaker isn’t just stopping at its 2020 goal though, it also has an overarching goal to create a lineup that’s 90% more efficient by 2050. Sure that’s nearly 35 years out from now, but such a lofty goal is going to take time, and it’s much more aggressive than many other automakers today.

Electrifying its Vehicles

Another way that Volkswagen is working to improve its lineups efficiency is by making hybrid and full electric versions of its current vehicles. The automaker has plans to electrify at least 40 different models and is already actively working on making those changes. To help its electric vehicles succeed Volkswagen is also going to invest $10 million into charging infrastructure around the country so there are places to actually power up those vehicles.

Emission Credits

Volkswagen works with 3degrees, a carbon offset broker to help improve the environment in other ways to offset the carbon produced during production. So for instance, the automaker might help fund the planting of so many trees per automobile that they produce. This funding goes to the aid of forest conservation and reforesting other sections of the earth. The efforts are closely monitored by third parties to ensure that carbon offset claims are accurate. When all the efforts Volkswagen is making to meet efficiency demands can’t keep up entirely the automaker relies on these carbon credits to make up the difference and to help reduce their environmental impact as well.

Volkswagen is going above and beyond what many other automakers today are doing to reduce its overall environment impact. As long as the company, and other automakers around the world keep working to make these improvements personal transportation will have less of an effect on the environment over time.

The 2016 Lexus GS is More Menacing than Ever

August 30, 2015 lacarguy Lexus Tags: , , ,

Toyota recently unveiled the 2016 Lexus GS and showed off some new appearance modifications and some slight tech and powertrain improvements as well. The new exterior updates are something that everyone should see, and many buyers will be interested in the new customization options as well.

2016 Lexus GS 200t

Some Serious Changes Out Front

The 2016 Lexus GS  and GS 200t look absolutely menacing out front. It still has the signature spindle grille, but it’s modified slightly along with a number of other key features. Redefined headlights give the vehicle a glinting look, and the sharp creases surround the grille make it into an absolute scowl that’s intimidating and sexy all at once. There are many people exclaiming that Lexus went too far with this latest design, but many others think they went just far enough. It’s certainly a more aggressive take on the GS than we’ve seen before, and it could be a change that’s here to stay depending on consumer reactions to it.

Other than the major changes out in front, the 2016 Lexus GS doesn’t look much different around the rest of the exterior. Some minor updates were made to the rear lights and the wheels feature new designs, but other than that it’s pretty much business as usual.

Take a Look Inside

Once inside the Lexus GS you’ll see that the layout and design is pretty much the same, but you have some more customization options to choose from than before. There is now a Matte Walnut, laser cut wood, and Linear 3D textures to choose from for the vehicle.  If you decide you want the F Sport model you can also opt to have Naguri Aluminum used to accent the interior. There is also a new F Sport leather option, Rioja Red. One final change to note, the analog clock in the center comes with an aluminum housing now and a pair of LED indicators, but the new look is very similar to the old one.

Powertrain Adjustments

Lexus made power improvements to the vehicle, although quite minor, to match the more aggressive front end. The car now comes standard with 311 HP, up from 306 thanks to altered 3.5 liter V-6 engine. It also comes with an eight speed automatic transmission now to allow for smoother shifting and performance during hard driving.

The hybrid version of the GS has some improvements as well. IT got a water-cooled permanent magnet electric motor to go with the V6 and provide a powerful 338 HP overall. The car’s linked to a planetary CVT and Toyota claims the vehicle can go from 0 to 60 in just 5.6 seconds, a pretty impressive feat.

Other than those major front end adjustments and the new powertrain upgrades the 2016 Lexus GS is more of the same good stuff. It still offers all the tech goodies that you could want, and it drives smoothly enough to please even the pickiest of drivers. Sure it’s not the fastest sports car on the block, but the hybrid version is decidedly quick and both options should be a lot of fun to drive around, with or without the rest of the family.

The 2016 Toyota Prius Looks Surprisingly like the Mirai

August 29, 2015 lacarguy Toyota Tags: , , , , , , ,

The 2016 Toyota Prius is planned to debut in just a week from now, and it was expected that someone would leak photos before that date. Well now we have them, and what’s surprising about this new model isn’t that it’s pretty refreshing (though it is), it’s that the 2016 Prius looks a lot like the Mirai. That resemblance is really obvious out back of the Prius, but there are a few other similarities around the vehicle as well.

2016 Toyota Prius

What’s New Out Front?

The seemingly happy face of the 2015 Toyota Prius out front has been transformed into a more aggressive scowl on the 2016 version. The headlights are more swooped and angular, the grille is lower down and thinner and the fog lights go off at a more aggressive curve than before. The end result is a clearly more aggressive and sportier vehicle, and I’m really digging it.

Take a Look at the Rear

At the rear of the 2016 Prius you get a lot of styling cues taken straight from the Mirai. It’s got a very similar lighting setup with lights that curve and angle down toward the floor in close to a scythe shape. The car also has that same “floating” roof design, making use of black pillars to give the roof a floating look nearly identical to what the Mirai has going for it. The Prius has a higher tail in the back than the Mirai however, giving it that distinctly lifted look that everyone is familiar with on Prius’s now.

Bolstered Fuel Efficiency

While this post wasn’t originally meant to talk about much more than the look improvements to the 2016 Prius, it’s hard to go through a full post without at least mentioning how much more efficient this car is supposed to be. Toyota execs say that the car is supposed to be at least 10 percent more efficient than the outgoing Prius model. The old version managed 50 MPG combined, so it’s safe to say that we should expect somewhere around 55 MPG combined in the 2016 model. To achieve the efficiency improvements Toyota relied on a new engine with a higher thermal efficiency than the other model. Toyota also refined some of the electrical components around the vehicle to not only make it more affordable but more efficient.

If you’re into what Toyota did with the Mirai as far as looks is concerned, you’re sure to enjoy the 2016 Prius more than its predecessors. It certainly has a new edginess about it that it didn’t in the past, but it still has that unique styling that sets it apart from other vehicles. You won’t mistake the Prius for the Camry, or any other vehicle that Toyota has rolling around in its fleet, and that’s a good thing for the car.

The Cayman GT4 is a Serious Driver’s Vehicle

August 25, 2015 lacarguy Porsche Tags: , , , , , ,

Up until now Porsche hasn’t dared give its Cayman variant enough power to stand up against its flagship 911 for fear of overshadowing it, but that’s exactly what the automaker did with the Cayman GT4, and it’s now available in the USA for examination.

cayman gt4

The Power

The Cayman GT4 comes packed with 385 HP, all produced from a very capable 3.8 liter flat six that was taken straight out of a Carrera S. It’s got the full front end from the Porsche GT3 making it highly aerodynamic and responsive around the corners of any track you bring it on.

A Real Driver’s Vehicle

Unlike the 911, the Cayman has a nearly perfect weight distribution with weight heavily centralized in the center of the vehicle on this mid-engine car. That gives the Cayman superior handling around tight corners and other track features that the 911 might struggle on a bit thanks to the rear-engine design it relies on.  That’s what makes this Cayman GT4 so desirable and why drivers are practically climbing over one another to get their hands on it.

Is it Faster

Motor Trend took out both the 911 Carrera and the Cayman GT4 and compared the performance and times for 0 to 60 acceleration and over the ¼ mile and on both tests the Cayman GT4 came out ahead by quite a ways. That said, the Cayman GT4 is quite a bit faster than a Porsche 911 with the same power configuration, but it probably can’t keep up with every Porsche ever made, because it doesn’t have the power to compete with some.

Crushing the Figure Eight

On the figure eight track test, which is just a series of touch turns in a figure eight pattern, the Cayman S was able to post a faster speed than nearly every Porsche 911 taken around the same figure eight course with 23.8 seconds, and during their testing the Cayman GT4 manages the course in 23.5 seconds beating out many of the fastest 911 times, but still not overtaking the GT2 or GT3 times around the course.

The latest Cayman GT4 is a beast of a vehicle, and it’s something that every Porsche lover should try out at least one time. It’s not the right vehicle for everyone, but a driver looking for a race car experience each time he heads out onto the open road will be absolutely over the moon with this vehicle.

The 2015 Volkswagen Touareg Hybrid Sees Some Tech and Aesthetic Improvements

August 24, 2015 lacarguy Volkswagen Tags: , , ,

2015 marks the final year for the Volkswagen Touareg Hybrid. It’s a highly powerful vehicle that offers impressive performance. Unfortunately the vehicle also comes along with a hefty price to go along with all that quality. The latest version benefits from several key improvements that should be taken into consideration when considering the 2015 model versus some of the others on the used market.

2015 touareg hybrid

A Spruced Up Interior

Inside the 2015 Touareg there are quite a few key improvements. The dash, console and side panels of the vehicle benefit from more silver accents than before. A richer leather is used throughout the cabin and a better fine-grained wood is relied upon for accenting the cabin. The end result is a much classier build overall that really stands out. The vehicle also has a more durable switch-gear that should hold up better over time.

A Snazzy Exterior

The latest Touareg Hybrid looks nicer from the outside thanks to many different improvements made to the vehicle. A four-bar grille and a variety of chrome trim accents brighten up the exterior while also giving a bit of an upscale touch. Restyled wheels offer a more modern appearance and

Enhanced Safety Features

To keep the Touareg competitive with the other SUVs in the market it received a bunch of new safety features in the 2015 model year. The vehicle comes with adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring and pre-collision automatic braking. It also has a lane departure warning system to help keep drivers within the lines when driving tired or distracted.

Smooth Handling with Plenty of Power

The 2015 Touareg is surprisingly light on its feet with tight handling characteristics. It has an electronically assisted rack and pinion steering system. It feels much smaller than it is and accelerates effectively thanks to a powerful V6 with 333 HP and 325 lb.-ft. of torque.

While the hybrid Touareg isn’t completely revamped, and most of the changes it received are with the tech or the looks of the vehicle, it’s even more desirable than it was in the past. It’s a good solid SUV for people willing to pay for quality. It drives and looks like a luxury vehicle, but comes in at a lower price than most luxury SUV options. It’s clearly refined, and a true pleasure to ride around in.

Porsche Purists Won’t Like the New Turbocharged Change

August 23, 2015 lacarguy Porsche Tags: , , , ,

Conservative Porsche owners aren’t likely happy about the new changes that Porsche has planned for its entire lineup of vehicles. The automaker is planning on getting rid of naturally aspirated engines entirely in favor of turbo-charged models across the lineup. This change offers a lot of benefits to every vehicle owner, but it does come with some drawbacks as well. Whether Porsche owners like it or not, it’s a change that has to be made and one that Porsche seems very committed to starting next year.

porsche 911 carrera gts

The Positive Improvements

There are a few positive improvements that smaller turbocharged engines will offer to Porsche owners. The first, and most important is that the vehicles will be more efficient overall. Fuel economy figures will drop down and so will emissions. This is very important for Porsche, because the automaker has strict government efficiency levels it has to meet, and adjusting its lineup to meet those requirements is essentially to remain in business. Another benefit is that even though these engines are going to get smaller they will actually get more powerful as well. That means that they will be faster once up to speed, and drivers will have more to work with.

A good example of this is the Carrera 911. According to Car and Driver the turbo version of the vehicle coming next year will have 400 HP available, a 50 HP increase even though the engine is dropping from 3.4 down to 3.0 liters. The car will technically be more powerful, though it might experience turbo lag that keeps it from accelerating any faster.

Why Purists Don’t Like It

Purists don’t like turbocharged engines for one specific reason, and that’s throttle lag or turbo lag. This phenomenon occurs as the turbocharger begins to build up speed when the vehicle first begins accelerating. The vehicle experiences a bit of latency while it tries to build up speed and that makes it harder to precisely operate the throttle. It makes driving a bit more difficult and finicky and takes away from that smooth performance that Porsche vehicles are so known for.

Combating these Issues

There are a few different ways to handle this issue. By adding in a couple turbos instead of just one the lag can be reduced noticeably. Some automakers have also relied on electric turbo systems that rely on electricity to start spinning a turbocharger before it has a chance to do so naturally, and that also helps reduce turbo lag substantially. There’s no information about whether Porsche is going to rely on any of these techniques to improve driving dynamics of their vehicles, but it’s likely that they will do something to make a difference. This is likely to be the pattern that all Porsche vehicles follow in the future, and it wouldn’t be surprising for most of the lineup to get a slight power boost while becoming more efficient in the process.

Preserving the Manual

Even though Porsche is taking away the naturally aspirated engines that so many purists prefer, the automaker isn’t doing away with manual transmissions. There will still be plenty of models that offer a high quality seven speed manual transmission to enthusiasts who want a more traditional driving feel.

The New and Improved 2015 Volkswagen Golf

August 22, 2015 lacarguy Volkswagen Tags: , , , ,

The 2015 Volkswagen Golf has a bunch of nice improvements that make it more desirable than ever for a buyer looking for a compact vehicle. The new Golf looks very similar on the outside, but once you climb inside and start driving it around it’s easy to see some of those improvements coming into play.

2015 volkswagen golf

It’s Faster

After taking a long look at the 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI there’s no denying that it’s a faster vehicle than its predecessors and it’s faster for two different reasons. The first reason is that it’s simply more powerful than before with an engine that offers 210 HP and 258 lb.-ft. of torque. The vehicle’s also lighter, making that power boost more noticeable. It’s a full 82 lbs. lighter than the previous model, and it can travel from 0 to 60 in less than six seconds, which is pretty impressive for a compact car that’s not designed as a performance vehicle.

You’ll Hear it as You Drive

One downside with the latest Golf is that there’s quite a bit of road noise coming through. When you get up to top speeds you’ll hear the wind blazing past the car, and you’ll also hear the road beneath you and the engine. While it has several styling cues that look like they came straight out of an Audi, the vehicle doesn’t have the same level of sound proofing that you would expect from one of the luxury vehicles.

More Room to Sit and Haul

It’s no secret that the Volkswagen Golf isn’t a big vehicle, but with recent modifications there is room enough for two adults to sit in the back of the vehicle quite comfortable. The leg space is nearly the same as a Honda Civic sedan, and that’s pretty respectable for such a compact vehicle. There’s also more than enough space for storage at the rear of the vehicle. The trunk is larger than on previous models for slipping items inside more comfortably, and within that storage space there is a total of 22.8 cubic feet of storage. That’s enough room for several bags to travel around comfortably, or a full cart of groceries. No matter what you use the Golf for, there is going to be space to carry around reasonable loads.

Good Driving Ranges for Trips

When taking trips with the gasoline version of the Volkswagen Golf you’ll have around 400 miles of driving range available to you. Each fill up will give you an average of 400 miles that you can travel before running out of fuel. On a family trip that spans highways more than city driving conditions that range might go up as high as 480 miles before fuel has to be added to the vehicle.

Sure the Golf isn’t the right vehicle for everyone, but buyers who want something small, relatively quick and very efficient should at least take a look. With so many different variations to choose from, this compact vehicle has a lot to offer to a range of buyers.

EV Vehicles: Why They’ll Save You Over Time

August 20, 2015 lacarguy Volkswagen

Vehicles are expensive to maintain, and that’s one of the reasons that so many people decide to stick with one instead of two. Fortunately electric vehicles like the e-Golf could serve as a potential solution to this problem. Several recent studies show that electric vehicles are more affordable to maintain, and that difference only becomes more prominent as time goes on.

2015 VW egolf

There is Less Going on

In electric vehicles there’s simply less going on overall. There isn’t as much cooling and there is no oil to worry about. The sludge buildup problem isn’t present and electric motors run pretty reliably over time without needing much of any maintenance. A huge number of products rely on electric motors today, and most of those products can run for years and years without needing any maintenance at all. Since electric vehicles are so much simpler, it makes a lot of sense that they would be more affordable to maintain as well.

Cut down on Brakes and Repairs

With so much less going on in the vehicle it means that you won’t have to spend money on many of the maintenance tasks that you currently do. It won’t be necessary to change the oil any longer. it also won’t be necessary to worry about coolant levels or spark plugs like you used to. There are some other savings that you might not have been expecting though, and one of those is on brake equipment. When you drive an electric vehicle you are likely making use of regenerative braking. This is a technology that slows down the vehicle using a motor setup to recharge the batteries within the vehicle. The technology slows the vehicle before you even have to apply the brakes. What that means is that you’ll use your brakes considerably less than you otherwise would. This results in brake pads lasting longer and many times on rotors, calipers and all the other brake technology lasting longer as well. That’s a real bonus that most owners don’t even expect to see.

Save Money Over Time

Buying an electric vehicle to save on maintenance costs and fuel makes a lot of sense, but only if you are going to own the vehicle for quite some time. The first few years of owning the vehicle probably won’t make up the difference that you paid for the higher priced vehicle. With electric vehicles still being more expensive than gasoline vehicles you have to own them for as long as you can to save some money. That’s why you should only pick up one of the vehicles permanently if you’re planning on keeping it for many years. If you will be getting rid of the vehicle after a few years then leasing is probably the way to go for most people.

The Highly Impressive 2015 Toyota Highlander Hybrid

August 17, 2015 lacarguy Toyota Tags: , , , , ,

The Toyota Highlander has long-been one of the customer favorites for transporting larger families. This highly capable vehicle is spacious, packed full of utility and versatile enough to meet most everyday needs. On top of all that it’s relatively efficient compared ot other vehicles in the industry. The Highlander hybrid is an even more pronounced and effective version of the SUV, and it just got even more capable in 2015.

2015 toyota highlander hybrid

It’s Not Cheap but Worth It

As with most great things in life, the Highlander hybrid isn’t cheap. You’ll have to fork over more than $40,000 to become the owner of this highly capable vehicle, and the top-end variations climb up over the $50,000 mark. By spending the extra money you get a wildly more efficient version of the highly popular SUV. A standard Highlander gets 18 MPG in the city and 24 MPG on the highway. Upgrading to the hybrid version bumps those figures up to 27 MPG and 28 MPG respectively. That means that you can drive in the city and out on the highway with a very respectable fuel economy.  You will have to sacrifice a bit more than just extra cash when you opt for this model though, because it has a lower level of power and only tows 3,500 lbs. which is about a 1,500 lb. drop from the standard version.

Impressive Storage Capacity

The vehicle will carry around up to eight people, and even with the added battery packs it still manages to offer a high level of storage for whatever you need to carry around. There is 13.6 cubic feet behind the third row, and a massive 42.3 cubic feet of storage with the third row folded down into the floor.

Highly Comfortable

One thing that you’ll notice about the highlander hybrid right away is just how comfortable it is to ride around in. It has a highly capable suspension system that takes bumps and uneven road surfaces with ease. You’ll effortlessly glide over all sorts of road defects while travelling and you’ll be amazed at how quiet it is inside. Even at highway speeds the inside of the Highlander is almost whisper quiet, making it easier than ever to have a conversation or to just enjoy the music you have playing in the background.

Capable Performance

The Highlander Hybrid isn’t a race car, and it’s not meant to zip around tracks at pulse pounding speeds. It is however designed to speed up capably in the middle of traffic, and to handle going up a hill while packed full of heavy cargo. It does all of these things well, and it actually drives pretty well. Even though the hybrid model is heavier than the gasoline version they both go from 0 to 60 in a very adequate 7.5 seconds. The steering is a bit soft and there is noticeable body roll around corners, but for being as large as it is, the highlander is very comfortable to drive around.

Families looking for a mid-sized SUV to travel around in will surely enjoy what the Highlander has to offer, and those looking to save on fuel should consider moving up to the slightly pricier hybrid version. Both options are highly capable and provide the performance that you would expect from an SUV.

Toyota Made Some Noticeable Improvements to the 2016 Land Cruiser

August 15, 2015 lacarguy Toyota Tags: , , , ,

Toyota understands the importance of SUVs in today’s market, and that’s why they’ve taken the time to completely go over and improve their flagship model, the 2016 Land Cruiser, to appeal to even more buyers. It’s better looking, more capable and safer than ever before.

2016 land cruiser

New Transmission

Finally the Toyota Land Cruiser gets a bump up from the six speed automatic transmission to a more capable eight speed. Not only does this improve fuel efficiency for the vehicle, but it also gives it a smoother and more enjoyable ride. You’ll delight in how easily the vehicle switches from one gear to the next. The gear changes are almost imperceptible and they’re much cleaner than they were on the older model.

Tech Improvements

The latest model gets a nice wireless phone charger making it even more convenient to keep your latest devices topped up while on the move. It also comes with a new advanced rear entertainment system that has a pair of 10-inch screens for the kiddies to watch. There is also a center console that comes with a built-in cooler for long-distance trip treats. There is a set of cup holders and a USB port imbedded in that center console as well.

Interior Improvements

Toyota made its top SUV even more enjoyable to ride in by adding soft-touch interior materials throughout the cabin.

Exterior Enhancements

On the outside it’s clear that something is different, but it’s hard to spot the changes immediately. The grille is larger and covered with more chrome than before to really stand out. The headlights have a curvy, more modern look about them, and they also include a set of daytime-running LEDs. The new and improved lower bumper has chrome trim now and is imbedded with a set of fog lights. There is also a sporty body kit available for buyers, but they’ll have to pay a bit extra for it.

New Safety Features

The 2016 Land cruiser comes jam-packed with some of the best safety features that you’ll find on the market today, all standard. It has front collision mitigation and avoidance systems. It also comes with a rear cross traffic alert system and a blind spot monitor to keep you aware when changing lanes. Finally it’s packed with automatic high beams and an adaptive cruise control system and a backup camera to help you pull out of the driveway.

Overall the latest Land Cruiser is more capable than before, nicer looking and a whole lot safer than it used to be. It’s an exciting upgrade, and something that SUV fans will be happy to get their hands on.