Since Toyota said they were going to release hybrid along the lineup they’ve slowly been making good on that claim. The Highlander hybrid has been out for several years now, and Toyota has several hybrid sedans other than the Prius. In the coming year Toyota plans on releasing a Rav4 hybrid. The new model will probably maintain a power level similar to the standard Rav4, but should dramatically improve the fuel economy of the vehicle. Toyota may amp up the power of the vehicle a bit, which should help offset any additional weight that it takes on thanks to the hybrid equipment.
The All-Electric Rav4 Dropped
There was a lot of hype around the all-electric Rav4 that Toyota had planned, that is until Tesla decided that they wouldn’t supply the automaker with the batteries any longer. Now Toyota is planning a hybrid version of the Rav4, and that’s probably as close you’ll get to the all-electric that was announced awhile ago, at least for the time being.
Good Rugged Family Hauler
The Rav4 Hybrid will fill in a gap in the market for a smaller family vehicle that’s rugged enough to take off-roading on trails for camping purposes. The new model will offer a good amount of seating room for a family of five, and will offer enough storage space even with the hybrid tech to carry a modest amount of camping gear.
Hybrids Across the Lineup
It seems that Toyota is making good on their pledge to turn their entire lineup into hybrid models. With each new year a few more hybrids are added in, and given enough time just about every Toyota model should be offered in a hybrid format. Sure the vehicles cost more to create, and they are priced a bit higher, but there are plenty of eco-minded families who don’t mind spending a bit more to cut their gas costs.
The new model is expected to be released in 2016. Toyota already has the model listed in the upcoming vehicle’s section of the website so it’s definitely official. If you were considering picking up a new Rav4 in the next year or two you may want to consider the hybrid version instead. The vehicle will no doubt have an impressive fuel economy, and will be a better option than many other hybrids for driving around town, thanks to the increased storage capacity over sedans.
Cars are continually becoming more advanced, and they are starting to drive themselves. Unfortunately, getting from the point of safely driving in many situations and safely driving in every situation is a huge leap that most automakers are still trying to figure out how to take. It’s very hard to program vehicles to handle every circumstance, as the folks from Audi learned as a lone tumbleweed got stuck in front of one of their important sensors during the Vegas autonomous drive. It’s just too much work to try and prepare for every occasion, and it would be much more effective to let the car teach itself, which is what the bright minds at Nvidia are preparing automakers to do with their technology.
Teaching Through Experience
It’s very difficult, if not possible to isolate every possible problem and situation that a vehicle will encounter while out on the road, and then teach it how to respond to it. That’s why engineers and IT pros are taking an experience-driven approach instead, much like how children or even adults learn to do something new. Instead of trying to isolate events, companies like Nvidia are simply driving around vehicles and letting the cars learn from the experience.
Dave is a robot that was part of a 2003 Darpa project designed to teach artificial intelligence how to drive. He has a deep neural network, or many different data pathways and storage sections much like a human brain. Dave was taken around a course he collected video footage of his surroundings and learned to identify what part of the road to drive on, and how to determine what objects can and cannot be driven over. This is the same way that Nvidia plans automakers and researchers will develop working driving systems for the real world.
To keep up with the challenges created while trying to teach a car to drive, Nvidia developed a highly powerful supercomputer system designed to monitor and process information taken in while driving. It’s known as Drive PX and comes equipped with two Tegra X1 processors for 2.3 teraflops of power. That’s around 15 times more powerful than the top supercomputer of 2000. The system comes with 12 different cameras as well as a radar and a LiDAR system to collect massive amounts of information. All that infomration is processed by the supercomputer to create valuable data that can be used in the programming process. Drive PX is available to anyone who wants to experiment with it for $10,000, and it’s expected to be picked up by research teams, universities as well as automakers.
Affordable Translation to Consumer Cars
Even though the price of Drive PX seems pretty steep at 10k consumers don’t have to worry about covering that cost when they buy a new autonomous vehicle. The technology that’s going to be put inside consumer vehicles is likely to be much more affordable than the Drive PX system itself.
Subaru scored very favorably on the latest Consumer Report Top Ten list. While plenty of larger American auto manufacturers didn’t make the list at all, Subaru managed to take three of the spots. This in itself is impressive, and even more so when you consider how small of a company Subaru is.
What Vehicles Made it?
Out of all the Subarus on the list, the Legacy, the Forester and the Impreza all grabbed the top spot in their category. The cars beat out a long list of vehicles to make that position and it’s thanks to Subaru’s careful design and the features they choose to focus on above all else. Subaru had more entries on the list than any other automaker.
How Vehicles are Chosen
It’s important to understand the decision process that goes into choosing one of these top vehicles to truly understand what a Subaru vehicle has to offer. A set of subjective measures are used to choose the various vehicles on the list. Consumer Reports looks at reliability ratings, crash test ratings, driving dynamics and interior features to make their decisions. Each of the judges that have a say in the rating process have had experience with these vehicles to allow them to formulate an opinion on them.
The Subaru Impreza
The Subaru Impreza received high marks for its interior. With a classy and comfortable ride, the Impreza really stood out to Consumer Reports. It’s also said to have a low level of road noise and an updated infotainment system that can compete with other leading systems on the market.
The Subaru Legacy
According to Consumer Reports the Subaru Legacy succeeds in having a better ride quality than its competitors. It’s spacious and comfortable to ride around in. The vehicle doesn’t lead with its fuel efficiency, but it manages a high figure for offering all-wheel drive.
In a section as competitive as the compact SUV it’s impressive to be the stand out. The Forester achieved the top position through a careful combination of characteristics. It’s described as highly practical and gets good marks for its safety. and fuel economy. The inside of the Forester is equipped with top features at a good price making it a high value in the category.
The all-new 2016 Lexus RX is set to be unveiled on April 1st at the 2015 New York International Auto Show. The vehicle was revolutionary when it was released 17 years ago, establishing a whole-new segment for mid-sized SUV luxury vehicles. Since then it’s been it’s gone through three different redesigns and the latest unveiling will be the fourth.
The 2016 RX is going to be unveiled at the Galleria at Jacob Javits Convention Center on Wednesday, one of the early press days of the Auto Show. If you have press credentials you’ll be able to witness the showcase of the vehicle, and everyone else can view it during the standard auto show days between April 3 and April 12.
Watching Over Live Stream
If you aren’t able to make the event you can also watch it over a live-stream to keep up to date with everyone who’s at the location. The live stream is available at this link and you’re free to visit it throughout the entirety of the event. It begins at 9:10 AM EDT.
The New Look
While Lexus hasn’t made much information available about the new RX yet they did release the teaser photo above. Just a quick glance at it shows off the new floating-roof design that’s very similar to what Nissan used on their new Murano. By extending the side windows back through the rear pillar of the vehicle it gives the roof more of a floating look that should create a distinctive look for the vehicle.
No more information is available about the new SUV at this moment, but all will become clear on the April release. If you’re interested in learning more I encourage you to take a look at the live stream of the event, or wait for the next update.
The 4th Annual Sustainable Business Council Achievement Awards or SBC Awards are coming up on April 22nd and their sure to be a night to remember. They offer a unique opportunity for the leaders in sustainability in Southern California to get the recognition that they deserve and for other sustainable business and thought leaders to meet and mingle with one another and expand their reach and their network. The event is sponsored by top environmental organizations and businesses such as Growing Roots, Summa, Living Homes, LAcarGUY and Lexus Santa Monica.
The SBC (Sustainable Business Council) Achievement Awards is a special event honoring all the Southern California businesses focusing on increasing sustainability in the area and around the country. During the event there will be a silent auction that helps raise revenue for the Sustainable Business Council. There will also be a raffle with a slew of prizes, and the potential to network with some of the top business leaders in sustainable industries in Southern California. In between the major festivities attendees can enjoy tastings from the SBC Restaurant Showcase that brings together leading Vegan, Vegetarian and sustainable restaurants.
Boise Thomas is this year’s Event Emcee and will be handing out awards to the this year’s recipients including Jessica Alba, Brian Lee, Sean Kane, Christopher Gavigan, Christopher Gebhardt and Nancy Mancilla. The CEO of FreeConferenceCall.com will be making the opening remarks to get the event started.
The big day is on April 22 and the awards last from 6:30 until 9:00PM. They’re at the Santa Monica BLVD. at 1501 and there’s complimentary valet for added convenience.
If you would like to get involved with the event you can obtain tickets from here and you can submit your business for a potential award by visiting this link. There are ten different categories that each come with their own unique requirements. The application deadline is the 28th of March and there is a registration fee of $60 to get into the judging.
All the specifics are on the flier below, or you can learn more by visiting the official event link here.
There’s a few areas that a family sedan needs to excel in to be truly enjoyable to drive around packed full of kids. It’s easy to get caught up with the look or the flashy features of a vehicle without considering the factors that really matter in the everyday family sedan. Before you go out shopping for your next car, take a look at this list and consider what these qualities mean to you and how they should influence your vehicle choice.
Top Level Comfort
One of the most important things that you want to look for in a family vehicle is comfort. A roomy sedan makes a pretty good vehicle for family trips, but only if the seats are suitably comfortable. Get in the vehicle and pay close attention to how the seat feels. Before buying any car, make sure that you take it for a test drive to get a real feel for the driver’s seat. Do yourself another favor and sit in the passenger’s seat as well as in the back of the car to get a full perspective. Cars with good lumbar support are an excellent option to consider.
While you can’t really gauge the reliability of a vehicle just by driving it around or looking at it, you can learn a lot by looking at reviews or other mentions of reliability. Vehicles made by Toyota, Lexus or Honda tend to be very reliable. Just look out for vehicles that are named most reliable and consider one of those or the runner-up vehicles when making your decision.
Although safety is often put on the back-burner when making a purchase decision, it should be one of the top considerations for a vehicle that is going to haul around you and your family on a daily basis. Pay attention to IIHS safety ratings as well as NHTSA ratings to get a good feel for how safe a vehicle is. The ratings are easy to find more vehicles and will tell you a lot about the safety features and crash capabilities of a car quickly and efficiently.
Finally there are the family features that you can’t overlook. It’s nice to have a car with dual-zone climate control or an advanced media system, but sometimes it’s the simple things like multiple cigarette lighter ports that really make the difference. Think about what you and your family values the most in a vehicle and take that into consideration each time that you look over a vehicle. Whether that is satellite radio, an Aux port or just roomy rear seats make sure that you are paying attention.
If you’re one of the group waiting for the all new Audi A8 to come out you’ll have to sit back and hold tight, because it’s being put on hold for another year. Audi just made the announcement that the vehicle isn’t going to be showing up before late 2017. The automaker is adding in some extra features for the autonomous driving and all those changes are taking up more time than first anticipated.
Adapting for Autonomous Driving
According to a report put together by Autocar, insiders are saying that Audi is being stretched trying to make all the new electronic changes for the autonomous system to work properly. The new system is going to come with assisted driving features that make it possible to drive at motorway speeds up to 40 MPH without much input from the driver. This technology is one of the reasons the car is going to be a bit late to market, according to insiders.
Releasing a Top Notch Car
Audi’s holding back on releasing the vehicle because they don’t want to rush and put out a half baked product. The car manufacturer wants to maintain its high standards and create a masterpiece worthy of being a flagship car, and they have the Mercedes S-Class car to compete with, which makes nailing the finished product even more critical.
Autonomous Features Make Use of Cloud Computing
One of the new features that Audi has to put into their system is cloud computing support. The cars with autonomous features are going to be relying on cloud computing technology to keep track of changing details like road conditions and traffic patterns. VW group vehicles will be uploading this information constantly, especially the piloted driving cards and all that info will be available to the rest of the Audi and VW vehicles.
If this has you worried about dead spots while driving you have nothing to worry about. Audi is going to have its vehicles download large chunks of information when data is available and hold onto it for use when it isn’t available any longer. As long as the vehicle isn’t in dead spots for an extended period of time it should remain up to date with all the necessary information.
Coordinating Many Different Sensors
To make Piloted Driving work properly the A8 has to make use of and coordinate many different sensors, giving the vehicle a 360 degree view of itself. The car will be outfitted with laser scanners, monovideo cameras, long-range radar and medium radar systems looking behind the vehicle. All this comes together to paint a detailed picture that improves the operating capabilities of the car.
With the complexity of the new system the vehicle is going to be built on top of it’s no wonder that the new Audi A8 is being put on hold a bit, let’s just hope that the delay isn’t extended too much further.
Although most people know of Subaru as one of the safest automakers in the industry, they haven’t given up on trying to improve their technology yet, and at the Geneva Motor Show Nobuhiko Marakami, the head of Subaru was on record saying that they were hoping to become the number one automaker for safety in the industry. This shows that the company is modest and that they have major goals for improvements in the future. While at the motor show the main highlights were of Subaru’s new Eyesight safety system. The system is designed to make driving even safer and Subaru is hoping that it will help make their vehicles the safest in the industry.
Subaru’s new Eyesight system is designed to help drivers avoid crashing altogether and should offer more proactive protection to drivers. It’s the type of technology that will go from trying to minimize damage done after a crash, and simply tries to get rid of crashing all together.
Already at the Top
Subaru is one of the safest automakers in the industry currently, and they aren’t satisfied with that position. They want to continue improving safety features and to get even farther ahead of competitors. Subaru is the only automaker to receive a Top Safety Pick rating on all their lineup from the IIHS. Not only did the automaker accomplish this impressive feat in the last year, but it’s been doing in for the past five years.
Building on Existing Trust
Even though that Subaru knows they are one of the safest car makers in the auto world, they don’t want to lose the trust they currently have with customers. The best way to maintain trust is to keep producing top level products in the future, and that’s exactly what the automaker plans on doing. They are adding a range of new features to enhance their vehicles, but a great deal of research and development money goes into safety features and improvements and that really shows with all of the awards that the automaker has earned in the past.
Lower Insurance Premiums
If Subaru and other automakers are able to create vehicles that are better at avoiding crashes autonomously there’s a good chance that accident rates will go down and with them insurance premiums. This means that owning a vehicle will be more affordable and owners will be able to enjoy paying less for their cars each month. Not only will insurance rates go down, but car repairs will as well with less collisions to worry about.
Since the release of the Mirai many from the US have been worried about the high price of the vehicle. Sure it’s new technology, and the price is bound to dip down with time, but for most people it’s hard to imagine such space-age technology ever being as affordable as a budget gasoline vehicle that you can pick up today, and Toyota concedes that it probably won’t be, although it might be close.
Getting Prices in Line with Diesels
Since before Toyota made the announcement they were producing hydrogen fuel cell vehicles they have been pushing engineers to figure out how to reduce the cost to produce the vehicle by any means possible. Toyota knows that the lower the price of the car is, the more likely it is to be adopted and sell in larger numbers. According to Toyota and their team of engineers it should be possible to get the vehicle’s price down to around what a diesel sedan of the same size sells for today. That’s certainly not as affordable as some of the gas sedans that you can get in this country, but it’s much cheaper than the $57,500 asking price the Mirai is going for at the moment.
Building a Hydrogen Infrastructure
Toyota has been having troubles getting a refueling infrastructure up and running too, and this is largely because there aren’t too many people interested in backing the technology today. It’s still a gamble, and despite a pretty high demand for the vehicle, now that it’s in production, there is no telling whether people are going to really commit to fuel-cell technology or not yet.
Fuel Cell Vehicles Versus Electric
While Tesla believes that electric cars are the transportation of the future, the executives at Toyota are convinced that buyers will feel more comfortable with the way that fuel-cell vehicles work, and stick with that technology for the higher range and greater level of familiarity. Unfortunately fuel-cell technology is more expensive. Battery prices keep coming down and electric charging stations are much more affordable to construct than hydrogen refueling stations are.
It’s hard to say which technology is going to prevail, and it’s possible they will simply coexist in the future, but if Toyota can make good on its claim to create the more affordable fuel-cell vehicle and there is no public timeline on that goal yet, there is a good chance more people will back the technology and we’ll see a market shift in that direction.
Much to everyone’s surprise the 2015 Toyota Sienna has become the best-selling van in its segment. The Sienna has long since been an underdog compared to the Chrysler Town and Country, but it looks like that image has finally changed and buyers have come to see the value in Toyota’s most family-friendly offering. When you stop to actually consider what you get with the Sienna it makes a lot of sense that so many of them are selling.
Inside the Sienna
While the Sienna isn’t the most spacious minivan in the segment, it comes with ample seating room for comfortably holding up to eight passengers. The front row seating offers plenty of room and the second row is highly adjustable for another set of tall passengers to lounge as well. The third row is a bit more cramped, but still offers a respectable level of legroom. Every model of the Sienna comes with a backup camera, to make backing out of tight spaces or out of driveways safer than before. The vehicle also comes with an additional airbag that makes it even safer to ride in for the front passenger. Another nice feature that has come to the Sienna is the SpeakEasy system, that allows the driver to talk over the speaker system so that everyone can hear them, front to back. The third row seats fold flat into the floor for added storage when you’re only carrying five passengers, and the interior is flexible enough for it to be used for most everyday tasks, including lugging around furniture if you need to.
A Revised Exterior
While the inside of the Sienna is what keeps most customers happy after they buy, the outside is what’s drawing them in so much. The refreshed minivan comes with a new more aggressive grille and headlight units. You’ll also get a set of LED daytime running lamps on the upgraded trim levels of the vehicle. The Sienna has a sleeker profile than many of its competitors and this is what is making it a more desirable option from the outside.
Celebrate Safety and Reliability
Other than all the nice family features and the attractive profile, the Sienna is at the top in terms of safety and reliability as well. It received top scores from the federal government crash tests. It also was chosen as the best option in its segment for the J.D. Power and Associates Vehicle Dependability Study showing that it’s built to last, something that every family wants to hear.
Overall the 2015 Toyota Sienna takes an already good vehicle and makes it even better. It’s built in some nice new family features and it performs better than ever before. If you are in the market for a family vehicle, this is one of the best current models out on the market.