Toyota is planning on releasing an all-new Yaris in a few years from now, but up until that point drivers will be rewarded with a major facelift of the current model. Toyota has taken its time going over the model and improving upon the little things in an effort to make the already enjoyable driving experience even more so.
One of the major changes that Toyota made with the latest Yaris lineup is enhancing the vehicle’s comfort level on the inside. The seats were revamped for added comfort making the vehicle more ideal for longer drives. Although the interior retains a very familiar layout soft-touch materials have been added throughout for a more luxurious and enjoyable experience.
The New Aesthetic Appeal
Toyota states that they’ve injected the latest Yaris with a distinct “European Flavor” and it’s no wonder that they took this route since the Japanese Automaker sells more Yaris models in Europe than anything else. The vehicle has a more distinct look than before with a large black grille with upper chrome accents. It comes with redesigned alloy wheels, and a variety of styling cues taken from the Auris and the Rav4 to give the vehicle sharper edges.
Toyota decided to retain the current Yaris engine so it still puts out 106 HP, but they did make changes to the suspension as well as the soundproofing in the cabin. The new Yaris is designed with a retuned suspension and a more rigid body overall. The enhanced rigidity should improve the ride quality of the vehicle while making it more responsive and fun to drive. Toyota also added more insulation on the interior to help with outside noise. This should make the cabin more enjoyable to ride in and patch up one of the few complaints that customers have with the Yaris.
The latest Yaris will retain its fuel economy levels and is expected to get about 32 MPG in automatic models and 33 MPG combined in manual models. Much of the rest of the Yaris remains the same, but a new set of options are available that weren’t there before giving drivers the ability to customize the vehicle more. One of those options is a dealer-installed navigation system, which would likely have a nicer fit and finish than many after-market products offered.
While Yaris fans looking for a complete overhaul will have to patiently await the new Yaris models a few years down the road, the latest changes should offer a better Yaris than ever before. After all the vehicle is designed to be more comfortable, better looking, more responsive and more customizable than ever before. What’s not to like about that?
Each year thousands of car shoppers put down premium amounts of money for luxury vehicles, but how many of those owners actually enjoy the vehicles that they purchase? A recent study from J.D. Power shows that Porsche owners are the happiest of the lot, making these vehicles one of the best investments that you can make if you’re looking for entertainment.
In this comprehensive study Porsche was able to beat out its main competitors. The automaker scored ahead of Audi, Cadillac and BMW without a problem.
Porsche received a score of 882 on the study putting it firmly in the lead ahead of it’s main competitors
Jaguar and Audi who received an 862 and 858 respectively. The results of this study show that Porsche owners really do enjoy their vehicles, and more importantly that Porsche owners enjoy their vehicles more than other car owners do.
What the Study Means
This comprehensive study asked owners to evaluate their vehicles over a list of 77 different attributes. After all of the different questions have been answered the vehicles are given a final score that falls somewhere on the 1,000 point scale. Porsche received the highest score of the study, showing that Porsche drivers enjoy their vehicles more than any other vehicle owner. One surprising result of this study was how far behind Cadillac was compared to Porsche. They received a mere 826 during the study which is still a respectable score, but far behind the Porsche lineup of vehicles.
Porsche Snags Segment Awards as Well
On top of taking a broad look at the different vehicle lineups, J.D. Power also examines different brands based on segment. Porsche managed to take home three different segment awards as well. Porsche received awards for their Boxster, the Cayenne, and the 911 giving them a strong foothold in a variety of different categories. The Boxster was voted best in the Compact Premium Sporty Car segment, the Cayenne won for the Midsize Premium SUV segment, and the 911 won the Premium Midsize Sporty car segment.
If you’re looking for one of the best vehicles for entertainment and pure enjoyment it could be in your best interests to go with a Porsche. The thousands of Porsche owners surveyed can’t be wrong, and it’s clear that Porsche designed vehicles are meant to please more effectively than many of their competitors. Out of all the models the Boxster, the Cayenne and 911 models are highest rated and well worth a test drive at a local dealership to get the full effect.
The VW Golf isn’t always thought of as a sporty vehicle but the TDI version adds in a lot more horsepower and enhancements that make it more exciting to take around the track. If the powerful enhancements that the TDI version bring to the vehicle still aren’t enough for you, you can achieve even more raw power by adding additional kits from manufacturers such as Oettinger. These companies rely on skilled engineers to create kits that function smoothly with the vehicle and enhance its qualities even further.
The standard Golf is already enhanced if you decide to go with the GTI model, but the Oettinger versions take it a step further by offering more sport body enhancements as well as much more powerful engine options.
The Golf TDI
The VW Golf TDI is a powerful version of the compact that looks great and likes to go very fast. It’s designed to be light on its feet, and to keep your pulse racing no matter where you’re going.
Impressive Body Enhancements
When you look at the Oettinger version of the Golf its clear that this vehicle was designed to go fast. The kit developed by Oettinger engineers comes with a variety of different body enhancements that make it look more streamlined, and quite frankly, more like a race car. It’s equipped with an aerodynamic package as well as a front spoiler, side skirts, and a diffuser giving it a very aerodynamic look and a respectable amount of down force while skidding around the track. To finish off the look of this car black sport rims have been paired with bright red cherry calipers giving this vehicle a very mean look. These enhancements make the car easier to take around corners at high speeds, and that’s exactly what every lead foot likes to hear.
Three Enhanced Engine Options
Compared to the standard GTI these enhancement kits can raise the horsepower by a noticeable amount. The kits come with three very powerful engine enhancements. If the 210 HP of the original wasn’t enough for fans they can get a 290 HP engine, a 320 HP engine and it tops out with a whopping 360 HP engine for the true speed demons out there. The engineers over at Oettinger have officially finished working on making these engine enhancements work with the vehicle and have put these options up for sale.
Any racing fans who want to own a more powerful vehicle than the standard Golf should take a long hard look at the VW Golf TDI. This special car is built to go fast and looks great on the road. To take this vehicle a step further you can pick up a kit from Oettinger and give the vehicle a more personalized look while boosting its horsepower even further.
Any FJ Cruiser fans may be disheartened to hear that Toyota is planning on pulling the plug on the vehicle. They just aren’t selling as well as they used to any longer. Back in 2006 and 2007 60,000+ vehicles were selling annually and since that point the figures have fallen down to around 15,000 annually. This figure shows that interest in the vehicle is declining and that it probably doesn’t make much sense to keep pumping out the vehicles any longer.
Might Be Hard to Find One Soon
Michael Kroll, the spokesman for the FJ Cruiser states that with a last minute spike from enthusiasts they automaker won’t have any trouble getting them cleared off lots.
If you’re interested in getting your hands on one of the FJ Cruisers it would be in your best interests to get one soon. These once not-too-popular vehicles have suddenly become very popular with off-roading enthusiasts. According to Michael Kroll, the spokesperson for the model dealerships and the automaker isn’t having any trouble clearing out the last batch of vehicles from their lots. Even the 2014 FJ Cruiser Ultimate Edition is selling well.
Other Off-Roading Options Out There
Off-roading enthusiasts don’t necessarily need to jump to a different automaker in order to get a suitable vehicle, they just have to be willing to try out a new model. Toyota now makes the TRD Pro version of the Tundra, Tacoma and the 4Runner opening up plenty of other off-road-friendly vehicles.
Each of these specialized vehicles are designed to handle the rough terrain that comes with leaving the main roads behind in favor of the dusty, rocky and steep. Each of these vehicles come with a set of durable aluminum skid plates designed to protect the underside of the vehicle over all the bumps and bruises of the road. They also have an enhanced suspension providing the vehicles with better departure and approach angles, and they have a one-inch lift in the front to help avoid any dragging issues. A set of softer springs helps make serious bumps less jarring and an enhanced pair of shocks keep things nice and smooth even when your moving from bump to bump.
An Advanced Suspension System Makes for Safer Driving
Whether you take these vehicles on the highway or out in the sand pits they are designed to perform as well as possible in either of the circumstances thanks to the Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System that Toyota put in them. This system has a detachable sway bar that allows enhanced wheel articulation when in rough terrain and a stiffer and more responsive ride while out on the highway.
While it’s sad that the FJ Cruiser isn’t going to be produced any longer, Toyota understands that they need to up their offerings for the enthusiasts they will be letting down. Their new TRD Pro models are a good place to start. Now is the time to swoop up any of the remaining FJ Cruisers being sold, or to start considering one of the other offerings.
Many Lexus fans were left scratching their heads when the IS was updated in 2014 but the convertible versions of that vehicle were not. They were simply refreshed versions of the older 2009 model of the IS. This had people assuming that a complete remodel would happen later on in the year, or that they would be discontinued altogether. It looks like both people might have been right depending on how you look at the situation. Lexus may be planning on doing away with the IS convertibles once and for all and switching them over to the new RC platform instead, but no official announcement has been made yet.
Current IS 250 and 350 are Coupes
The current Lexus IS 250 and Is 350 are simply hard top coupes much like the cars offered when the second generation was first released. Since Lexus neglected to release a new set of convertibles in the IS family it is very likely that they are going to be moving them over to the RC family soon, and that’s good news for convertible fans who want a new update.
Making the Switch in 2016
When the second generation of the IS came out the convertibles weren’t released right away and instead coupe equivalents were offered. This is a possible scenario with the RC line as well, but Lexus has no real reason to make such a gap. Instead it is likely they will simply produce enough of the convertibles to get them through until the RC lineup is released and then release the convertibles around the same time or a short while later.
Both Convertibles are Currently Selling Very Well
With 6 percent of all Lexus IS sales being convertibles the one thing that is very clear is that convertibles aren’t going anywhere. This small percentage may not sound like a lot, and it isn’t compared to all the vehicles that Lexus sells, but 3,000 units a year is a significant number that Lexus wouldn’t willingly give up.
Equipped with the New Turbo Engine
The Lexus IS 250C currently sells three times more often than the 350C does, but the engine on the 250 will soon be retired in favor of a smaller turbo-charged model that offers more power and efficiency. When Lexus makes the switch it’s very likely that they will build the Lexus convertible around this new engine. The real question here is whether they decide to introduce a more powerful version at all, or just build their entire convertible line around the 200 turbo.
Although Lexus hasn’t officially made the announcement yet that they will discontinue the IS convertibles it’s a likely scenario that Lexus fans need to prepare themselves for. It’s possible Lexus is simply taking its time to rejuvenate there IS convertible lineup and will be releasing a new wave of them, but with the RC platform coming out, and the brand new engine the other move would make a lot more sense.
One of the biggest issues that sports cars have run into over the years are their very low ground clearance when driving over even slightly uneven roads. Whether the driver is just driving over a dip in the road or coming off the road into a parking lot there is always a chance that they will have to hear the dreaded scrape, as their beloved car is dragged across the ground doing massive damage. Some sports cars (like Lamborghinis) have developed special systems to combat this issue and the Porsche 911 991 GT3 is just one of those vehicles.
Front Axle Lift System
This modern Porsche is equipped with a powerful front axle lift system. The system will lift up the front of the Porsche by 30mm in order to help it avoid scraping any lifted objects on the road ahead of it. The only downside to this system is that it is not something that happens instantaneously whenever necessary. It needs to be activated and you will have to wait a moment before the lift occurs. Even still, Porsche owners in the new GT3 will be able to take their pride and joy over rougher surfaces without worry as long as they are paying attention enough to activate the system.
How the System Works
In order to allow this lift to happen Porsche put the damper in inverted creating a gap below the shock and strut body. This gap is a compressible cavity with enough space to raise and lower the shock and strut of the vehicle. They then attached a pneumatic hose to this cavity allowing them to regulate the amount of pressure in that cavity using a compressor. This hose pushes compressed air into that cavity and causes the car to lift up. By activating the system compressed air is quickly added creating a smooth lifting motion that is barely noticeable but big enough to help protect the bottom of the vehicle.
Though this is not a new system for sports cars in general it is something new to Porsche vehicles in general and isn’t a widespread technology even for advanced sports cars. Hopefully this is a technology that Porsche will begin adding to all of their sports cars in the future. The added flexibility that the system offers is worth the small additional cost that it adds. While many drivers won’t use it all the time, the times when they need it they will be thankful that they bought a Porsche.
The IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) recently put together a comprehensive list of the best vehicles for teen drivers to operate. Each of the vehicles on this list is used because 83% of parents purchase used vehicles for their teens. While choosing the vehicles the IIHS considered teen safety and try to come up with a balanced vehicle that provides plenty of protection while helping teens avoid the temptation to drive recklessly. More than five different Volkswagen vehicles showed up on that list. So fear not VW lovers, you should have no problem getting your child a good reliable Volkswagen to drive around.
When compiling the list the IIHS put together two separate lists. A Best list offering the safest options at under $20,000 and a Good list at below $10,000. While the Good list is not going to offer as much protection as Best list cars, they will be leaps ahead of cars that didn’t make either list.
- VW Passat 2009 and newer
- VW Jetta and Jetta Sportwagen 2009 and newer
- VW Tiguan 09 and newer
- VW Routan 2012
- Volkswagen Passat 2006 to 2009
- Volkswagen Routan 2009 to 2011
Why they Made the List
The IIHS looked at a bunch of different factors in order to determine which vehicles were eligible to make the list. One of the first and most important of these factors is the size of the vehicle. Larger vehicles handle impacts better than small ones do, and this is why no mini or compact cars were on the list. They also avoided recommending any vehicles with high levels of horsepower that could encourage teens to speed more. ESC systems are built into each of the vehicles and safety ratings were looked at closely before making the final decision.
Choosing a Modern Vehicle
Many parents decide to get their children older vehicles because they know that teens drive recklessly and are more likely to damage the vehicle. Unfortunately this is backwards thinking as far as safety is concerned because the new vehicles have the best safety features. All of the VW vehicles listed in the Best choices section were 2009 models and newer because they come equipped with side airbags as well as advanced traction control systems that make staying on the road an easier task. Parents can also get away with getting their children a Passat that’s as old as 2006, but will be sacrificing a few safety features that the newer cars are equipped with.
By following this list you should be able to get your teen driver a good solid vehicle that will help them stay out of trouble and provide them with a safe haven if they do get into a fender bender. Just be sure that you consider how safe a vehicle is before putting your teen in it for the first time. Thanks to the IIHS used car list you should be able to find a vehicle for your child no matter what your price range is.
Drivers are more than happy with the comfort and the dependability of their Camry vehicles, but the one area that they complain about most frequently is performance. While the cars aren’t exactly sluggish, they aren’t light on their feet either and their fuel economy could also be improved.
Toyota is well-known for having industry-leading hybrid vehicles, but their vehicles that rely on plain old gasoline engines just don’t have the oomph or efficiency that some of their competitors do. This is all about to change according to a report that was released from Automotive News. In this report Koei Saga, the senior managing officer of power train development stated that the next generation of the Toyota Camry could be equipped with a turbocharged four cylinder engine instead of the standard V-6 that it’s currently using.
The New Engine
The new four-cylinder turbo charged engine will feature direct-injection and provide just as much power if not a bit more, while also being more affordable and more efficient. This is the same type of engine that is used in some competitor’s vehicles such as the Fusion, and the Hyundai Sonata, and it is one of the only edges that they have over the vehicle currently. By improving this small deficiency the Camry can become the most reliable vehicle on the market while also being one of the most efficient, enjoyable to drive and even more affordable than before.
The new engine will bring a variety of new enhancements to the table. It offers an improved high compression ratio for enhanced power and efficiency, variable valve timing systems and to make it possible for non-hybrid vehicles to run on the Atkinson cycle for enhanced fuel efficiency as well.
The engine that they are considering is the one that recently debuted in the 2015 Lexus NX 200t crossover. That same engine is being considered for the Camry, the Lexus IS 250 and maybe even the Toyota RAV4.
Fears of Customer Rejection
Saga state’s that Toyota is a bit concerned about how customers will react to the change from a standard V-6 to a more advanced turbo four cylinder engine, and Toyota may make both engines available in the beginning to figure out which customers prefer. They will be feeling out customers and gauging their reactions before making a firm decision about this engine change, but it seems like an excellent idea, and a good way to take care of the few deficiencies that the rock solid Camry currently has.
All together Toyota plans on releasing 14 different power trains in the coming year, and these new engines are just the start. Toyota is developing a whole new platform for their vehicles known as Toyota New Global Architecture or TNGA for short, and will be using this enhanced architecture to develop many of their vehicles in the future.
Subaru is known for producing quality vehicles that are loved by outdoors men and performance drivers alike. Most people don’t know that Subaru is also involved in racing, and all of the track time that they put in is part of why their vehicles end up being so reliable. Subaru was able to compete competitively in the Global RallyCross championship this year, and they took part in the grueling 24H Nurburgring Challenge, showing that they are committed to designing rugged vehicles that can take on any surface.
The Subaru RallyCross Team
Subaru is contantly working to improve their racing team and a few years into serious racing and the team is now at a competitive level with Bucky Lasik as one of their top drivers. Two years of development time went into the Subaru rally cars and that hard work showed with Bucky qualifying for the #2 spot and Isachsen coming up just .4 seconds behind him. The two drivers fought hard throughout the race, dealing with all the challenges that are thrown at rally car drivers, and they managed to bring home the Global RallyCross silver medal for all of their hard work.
Taking on the 24 Hour Nurburgring Challenge
The 15 mile course used for the 24H Nurburgring Challenge has been labeled the Green Hell due to its high level of difficulty and harsh terrain. Over the course of the race day more than half of the cars have trouble making it to the finish line at all, and it’s no wonder. This course is the equivalent of climbing to the top of the Empire State building each time that a driver goes around a lap.
Subaru brought the 2015 WRX STI to the fight and although they worked very hard to maintain a fast pace it was not enough to win them the race. Audi came in first place using a specialized R8 model. One of the biggest problems that Subaru faced was how new their vehicle was. While many of their contendors had already used their vehicle in other races and were experience with them, the WRX STI is a brand new model that was just being broken in a couple weeks before the event. The team took the vehicle through the Laguna Seca course in order to determine the best specifications to set the vehicle at, but they didn’t have enough time to really optimize the vehicle completely.
Impressive Performance for a Production Vehicle
Even though the WRX STI wasn’t able to beat out many of their competitors what the race demonstrates is just how powerful and reliable the WRX STI production cars are. Sure Subaru modified the vehicle, but it’s still built on top of the same basic platform and uses most of the same parts. While many manufacturers were creating specialized vehicles to win the race, Subaru just took one of their stock cars and modified it to optimize it for the course. Their fastest lap of the day was 9:28.960 which translates to an average speed of approximately 100 MPH, which is very impressive for such a difficult course.
Subaru may not be the best racing team out there, and they don’t have a history of racing victories, but they are clearly dedicated toward developing quality performance vehicles, and they aren’t afraid to take slightly modified stock cars out onto some of the most rugged professional courses in the world such as the Green Hell. That should inspire confidence in Subaru owners, and it says a lot about the company’s concern for creating quality vehicles.
Evo recently did a comparison between the 11-year old Porsche 911 GT3 and the brand new Cayman GTS to see which car handled better around the track and which was quicker. Their findings were surprising, and it’s impressive to see how well the 11-year old Porsche stood up to a more modern vehicle. After taking a look at the video deciding which vehicle you prefer may be difficult, but either way it’s clear that both are exceptional sports cars.
The Cayman GTS
The Cayman GTS is an upgraded version of the Porsche Cayman S and it feels quite a bit improved for racing performance. The chassis improvements that have been made give it a stiffer feel that’s preferred for racing. This car is a lot of fun to drive around mainly because of how balanced it is. Its very lightweight and agile around quick corners and the slight bit of over-steer lets it take corners very effectively. This vehicle is slightly lighter than the Porsche 911 GT3 that it’s compared to, but it isn’t as powerful either so they feel very similar.
The Porsche 911 GT3
The 11-year old sports car was one of the best cars out there when first released. Even today it remains a high-performing vehicle and it’s a lot of fun to drive. This well balanced car relies on a slight bit of over-steer to go with the rear wheel drive to give the vehicle a stable feel around corners. One major difference between the 911 GT3 and the Cayman GTS is the feel of the steering. This older vehicle has a more mechanical feeling steering system and provides a great deal more feedback. That being said, it doesn’t drive quite as nicely as the Cayman, and the driver needs to have more skilled to operate the vehicle at the same speeds as the Cayman.
Taking them to the Road
Both of these cars handle nicely at high speeds around sharp corners. They are both highly balanced Porsche vehicles with minute differences here and there. The GT3 is a more powerful vehicle but it’s heavier. The Cayman GTS is lighter and slightly more agile. One big difference is the amount of skill it takes to drive each vehicle. While you need to be a skilled driver to operate either vehicle at high speeds, the GT3 is less forgiving and takes quite a bit of skill. During the comparison both vehicles made it around the course in the exact same amount of time, but the Cayman was faster around the tight corners while the GT3 took a lead in the straightaways.
Now that you’ve had a chance to hear about each of these two vehicles, and witness what they have to offer on the track which would you prefer to own?