STEM Students Design Hollywood Central Park in a Unique Contest

May 27, 2015 lacarguy Hollywood Central Park Tags: , , , , ,


The Friends of Hollywood Central Park partnered with the Stem Academy of Hollywood back in September and gave students a chance to give their input about crucial park design characteristics. Now the students are being given another chance to try out their design skills in a real-world situation in a fun little contest that’s being put together around the Hollywood Central Park.

Hollywood Central Park Rendering

The Contest

In the contest a set of three different student teams are commissioned with coming up with their own designs for the Hollywood Central Park project. Each team is supposed to be acting as a competing engineering firm competing for the project. The students will put together their own designs and present them before a judge to determine the final winner.

The Details

The contest took place at the Stem Academy of Hollywood at 1309 N Wilton Place in Los Angeles. It occurred yesterday between 4 and 5 PM to a crowded room full of interested guests.

During the event snacks and refreshments were provided as each of the teams presented their creation. The guest judges were charged with making a final decision and picking the best team design overall. Each design was highly unique and had something special to offer.

Not only did the whole event give the students an exciting real-life event to design for, but the designs will provide new ideas for the park and some may even be incorporated into the finished project. If you are interested in coming up with your own park concepts there is a Hollywood Central Park application that allows you to design your own version of the new park. You can make use of the designer tool or keep an eye on new developments surrounding the park project by visiting the Hollywood Central Park website here. The tool features a simple drag-and-drop interface that allows you to quickly customize your own creation. After you finish your creation you can easily save it, share it with friends and family or share it with the project itself for consideration. The contest will help the Friends of Hollywood Central Park get some new ideas and so will the unique park creator tool that is being opened up to so many users around the web.

The Excellence that is the 2016 Cayman GT4

May 26, 2015 lacarguy Porsche Tags: , , , , , ,

Originally Porsche released the Cayman to attract new customers to its brand. The cars were a much cheaper entry-level option and they helped create a whole new slew of sales that the company never had before. The Cayman along with the Cayenne pretty much saved the company, and now Porsche is moving beyond that initial entry-level stance of the Cayman toward a more performance-focused variant that can exceed 911 performance levels in some cases. The new Cayman GT4 is a powerhouse in its own right. It benefits from that exceptional well-balanced handling that makes it ideal for track driving, and comes packed with more power than a Cayman ever has before.

2016 porsche cayman gt4

The Powerhouse

The Cayman GT4 relies on the same 3.8 liter flat six that powers the 911 Carrera S, but the way that the engine has to be installed limits airflow which drops the total power figure from 400 HP down to 385 HP. A total of 310 lb.-ft. of torque is available at 4750 RPM. The most impressive thing about this engine, other than its raw power, is the fact that it’s more powerful than what comes in a base 911 Carrera by 35 HP. Porsche has long avoided overpowering the 911 with its mid-engined vehicles until now. The car is expected to accelerate from 0 to 60 in just 4.0 seconds.

Dynamic and Fun Handling

The Cayman is known for exceptional handling thanks to its good solid mid-engine mounting. Now that it has so much power there’s no reason to believe that the GT4 can’t outrun some of the 911 models out on the track. It comes with a six-speed manual transmission, the same that’s used on the Cayman GTS. The car comes with a set of dynamic mounts that suspend the entire powertrain to allow improved control over driving feel. The mounts allow you to switch between a very tight suspension to a looser variation for switching from the track to more gentle driving conditions. The GT4 is also equipped with an adjustable anti-roll bar and a more rigid front strut suspension for improved handling.

Retains its Lightweight Body

Even though the Cayman GT4 is substantially more powerful and more durable than the Cayman S, Porsche claims that the weight of both vehicles is about the same. That means the GT4 should feel considerably faster than the other model, which will make it even more fun to tear up the tracks with. The GT4 could potentially get around a quarter-mile track in just 12.0 seconds with a talented enough driver behind the wheel.

The Cayman GT4 should be faster and more capable on the track than most 911 vehicles unless they are turbo charged or carry the GT modifications themselves. That’s pretty impressive for one of the more lowly mid-engine cars, and will make the Cayman even more desirable to own.

Volkswagen Produces its Own Baja Bug with the Beetle Dune

May 25, 2015 lacarguy Volkswagen Tags: , , , , ,

Volkswagen is working hard to complete a unique vehicle that few people probably expected but that’s actually pretty cool. It’s called the Beetle Dune, and it’s essentially a production version of the Baja Bug modification that’s been around for years. This lifted and high-powered vehicle gives the traditional Beetle an adrenaline-filled edge that should draw some interest.

Smart Design Strategy

The Beetle Dune makes a lot of sense for Volkswagen because it seems like a whole new vehicle, but only requires modifications without the whole design process. The active lifestyle customers probably wouldn’t pick up the standard Beetle, but this variation is a fun product that should appeal to customers looking for something compact that can handle slightly rougher terrain. It’s a way to give fans of the Baja Bug a way to get their own without modifying a production vehicle themselves, and that’s a smart strategy.

volkswagen beetle dune

Racing Interior

The inside of the Dune is a high-contrast of grey and yellow that looks really cool. It comes with a set of sport gauges above the media system, and the car is equipped with unique Dune badging throughout. It’s fitted with sporty seats, and has modern chrome accents that finish the interior out nicely.

VW Beetle Dune Interior

What You Get

With the Beetle Dune you get the same great quality that comes with any other Beetle, but with some off-roading changes. The vehicle’s been lifted by two inches for a bit more ground clearance. It also comes with flared fenders allowing for the wider tires that it’s equipped with. These slight variations give the Beetle a much more aggressive look that will help it stand out. It comes with the high-powered powertrain that’s in the Beetle R-Line. IT has a 210 HP direct-injected four-cylinder engine that’s been turbo charged for a good mix of power and efficiency. Those interested in improved off-road handling could remove the stock tires and put a set with aggressive tread on instead. It still wouldn’t give the vehicle 4-wheel drive but it should help it travel down mud or dirt roads easily enough.

When’s the Release

The Beetle Dune is expected to be released in 2016 and it should be priced a bit higher than the Beetle R-line option, putting it up at the 20k price range. It’s certainly going to be a unique offering on the market, but it’s hard to say if that will work in favor or against Volkswagen’s latest creation. There will surely be some buyers that can’t get enough of the unique vehicle, but for many adrenaline junkies the vehicle lacks the cargo space or rooftop room for things like ski racks and gear.

3 Vehicles that Might Improve from the Mazda Partnership

May 24, 2015 lacarguy Toyota Tags: , , , , , , ,

The new Mazda-Toyota partnership has some people completely perplexed. After all Toyota is much larger and more powerful than Mazda, what could Mazda possibly bring to the table? As it turns out Mazda has a lot to offer Toyota, despite the company’s compact size. Mazda excels at making fun-to-drive and efficient compact cars, something Toyota could learn a thing or two about still. Here’s a list of three different Toyota cars that are likely to improve in the future with help from Mazda.

Toyota Motor Corp President Akio Toyoda (L) and Mazda Motor Corp President and CEO Masamichi Kogai shake hands during their joint news conference in Tokyo May 13, 2015. REUTERS/Issei Kato
Toyota Motor Corp President Akio Toyoda (L) and Mazda Motor Corp President and CEO Masamichi Kogai shake hands during their joint news conference in Tokyo May 13, 2015. REUTERS/Issei Kato

The Corolla

The highly popular Toyota Corolla is built like a tank and holds value better than most, but it lacks the personality had by the Mazda3. By adapting some of the performance qualities and fun styling cues of the 3 the Corolla could be even more exceptional. As long as Toyota figures out a way to add to the Corolla without taking away it will become even more popular while growing a larger fan-base than it already has.

The Camry

The Toyota Camry is one of the most reliable appliances on the market today. It’s not particularly exciting but it has impressive resale values and consumers expect this vehicle to stand the test of time. The Mazda 6, though while not nearly as reliable takes a similar price point as the Camry and injects it with upscale styling and improved handling mechanics making it feel higher quality. These are elements that Toyota could bring to the Camry to make it an even stronger offering.

The Yaris

In recent years the iconic Yaris has been taking over the roadways. It’s tiny, it’s cute and it’s an exceptional value. Unfortunately the Yaris feels a bit underpowered and Spartan on the interior. The Mazda2 is another vehicle that may not offer as much in the way of reliability or value as the Yaris, but offers superior handling and styling while residing in the same price range. It’s exciting to think about what Toyota and Mazda can do together and Mazda is already working with the automaker to help them develop a more lively compact.

With a bit of guidance from Mazda Toyota can take each of these three highly reliable vehicles and make them even more enjoyable to drive around. Toyota owners confidently pick up new models each year for reliability and safety reasons, but in the future perhaps they will pick them up for entertainment as well.


Reviewing the 2015 Lexus NX 300H

May 22, 2015 lacarguy Lexus Tags: , , , ,

Just a few years ago the American public was interested in larger and more powerful SUVs. Now that want has shifted toward smaller and more fuel efficient vehicles and manufacturers are responding. Vehicles like the BMW X3, the Acura RDX and now this Lexus NX lineup are being released. While each of these compact SUVs has something special to offer, the NX 300H hybrid is the most fuel efficient of the bunch. What it lacks in simplicity it makes up for in quality and comfort and it’s a good vehicle worth consideration for someone that likes to commute longer on a single tank of gas.


Top Level Fuel Efficiency

In a market awash with relatively inefficient little SUVs the Lexus NX hybrid stands out dramatically. This compact crossover manages an efficiency rating of 35 MPG in the city and 31 on the highway. This is on the same level as many efficient family sedans, and makes owning a crossover much more desirable for some people. Compared to vehicles like the BMW X3, the Acura RDX and the Volvo XC60 the NX 300H has a very impressive fuel efficiency rating that actually stands out as the best.

Interior Comfort

The inside of the NX feels like a Lexus. The seats are coated with leather and padded liberally. Wood accents an analog clock and hand-stitching all come together to give the vehicle a cool and modern vibe. The main controls are within easy reach and are simple to operate, things only become complicated when you try to make use of the infotainment system. Other than the media system being exceedingly difficult the interior is very comfortable, spacious and enjoyable to be in.

Complicated Interface

This Lexus is very good at providing all the tech features that you could want out of a vehicle. It comes with several screens sharing a plethora of information and there are controls galore. You’ll be able to connect your phone and use a range of apps with the vehicle, but all of this is quite complicated. If you’re the type of person who just wants to climb in the car and drive, without learning a bunch of new controls you’ll have a tough time maximizing the Lexus NX300H. It has a lot going on and it takes some time to adjust to it.

Standard Handling

There really isn’t anything special about the way the NX hybrid handles. It’s drives smoothly and is as comfortable as you would expect from Lexus, but it doesn’t have much oomph and the driving feel is lacking a bit. The CVT is a bit mushy in operation and can feel a little bland. The steering wheel only offers a low level of feedback. With nearly 200HP at your disposal and almost instant torque thanks to the electric motor the vehicle doesn’t feel sluggish during operation though. It speeds up readily and the gas engine kicks in early enough to provide you a feeling of power in the upper range too.

If you’re after a lightweight SUV to ride around in comfortably and do a bit of hauling the NX 300H is a quality option. It’s best for people that value fuel economy in their vehicles, and has a lot to offer to the right audience.

Introducing the 2016 Toyota Hilux

May 21, 2015 lacarguy Toyota Tags: , , , ,

The Toyota Hilux has a strong reputation for being one of the most dependable and relatively indestructible vehicles of all time, and they are continuing that reputation with the 2016 model of the vehicle. The 2016 version gives the vehicle a face lift while also making it more tech-savvy and rugged than ever before.

toyota hilux

Polling Buyers to Make a Better Truck

Toyota get in touch with as many previous customers as it could to find out how to make the next generation of the Hilux, one of its most popular trucks ever, better. The customers requested a more durable suspension that’s also more flexible to reduce interior noise of the vehicle.

Getting Australian Engineers to Take a Look

One of the most popular markets for the Hilux is Australia. The Australian outback has some very difficult terrain to traverse and people want something that’s going to hold up to regular punishment. The Hilux does this nicely. Before Toyota started mass-producing the vehicle they brought in a set of Australian engineers to take a look at the new design. They wanted to make sure that the engineers liked the new design and the improvements that were made to the vehicle.

More Rugged Design

In order to make long-time Hilux fans happy Toyota invested its efforts into making the truck even more durable and reliable. The frame and suspension were both beefed up in the newest model, and some variations of the 2016 Hilux now have a working payload of a ton for all those heavy users that want to toss more into the bed. The truck is releasing with a four-cylinder turbo diesel, but is expected to be offered with a variety of engines both gas and diesel as time goes by.

Interior comfort

Another major adjustment that’s come with the new Hilux is more comfort amenities within. The truck comes with a touch screen media display as well as a rear view camera for easier backing up. It also has less interior noise than before and a slightly smoother ride.

Transmission Versatility

In an age when automatic transmissions are becoming the only option it’s rare to see a new release that comes with a manual as well. The Hilux delivers on that front as well. IT comes with either a six-speed manual or automatic transmission, so you can have it either way you want.

Widespread Release

The Hilux is a widespread vehicle that’s been sold in over 180 countries and Toyota is expecting this model to be just as popular. It’s releasing in countries like Australia and Thailand first, but it’s possible that it will make its way over to the United States after releasing to its biggest markets if it is successful enough.

Why Getting a Luxury Car Makes Sense for Some People

May 19, 2015 lacarguy Audi Tags: , , , , , ,

For some people it’s hard to understand how someone can justify the price tag of a luxury car or SUV. Most of the time these are the folks who like saving money whenever they can, and often they haven’t owned a luxury vehicle before. As the saying goes you don’t know what you’re missing if you’ve never experienced it, or something like that. Luxury cars have a lot to offer and the benefits aren’t just skin deep. Luxury owners know all the benefits of paying for a high quality vehicle, and that’s why they keep coming back for more, even if they are paying thousands more for their vehicles than the average Joe next door.

Standaufnahme    Farbe: Arablau
Standaufnahme Farbe: Arablau

Get the Best Safety Features

Even if you’re shopping for a family vehicle it often makes a lot of sense to go with a luxury brand. That’s because luxury vehicles come with some of the best safety features on the market. They are equipped with leading adaptive safety features like dynamic cruise control, and radar traffic systems that make sure that you notice the major safety concerns out on the road even if you aren’t paying close attention. Many times these systems will spot potential problems before they are even visible to the driver.

Enhanced Comfort

The higher prices of luxury vehicles generally result in higher quality interiors. This means that you get a cushier seat with more back support for more comfortable driving, especially on longer trips. Not only are the vehicles built with better and more comfortable materials, but they also have more comfort features as well. These features include things like automatic climate control, and heated or vented seats. What seems like a pretty basic perk on paper can add up to be a really nice benefit over time.

Improved Looks

While this isn’t a good reason for many people to get luxury vehicles it’s nice to have a car, truck or SUV that’s nice looking. Having a good looking vehicle inspires pride and offers something to look forward to each day that you prepare for the morning commute.  Not only will the car be styled to look better, but you’ll enjoy a more exclusive look as well. Most luxury vehicles have edgier styling to help them stand out and they come with more options to choose from. When you are customizing your new Audi A4 you’ll have plenty of different options to pick from, allowing you to create a more unique vehicle overall.

Fun To Drive

Not every luxury vehicle is going to be powerful or built for performance, but the bulk of them are more powerful than standard vehicles are. This means that you can speed up faster, enjoy superior handling around corners and overall just enjoy the ride a bit more. It’s fun slamming down on the gas pedal and feeling the vehicle respond with force immediately, and that’s what you’ll experience with many luxury vehicles. Cars made from automakers like Audi are known for their excellent driving mechanics and that’s what you can expect when you pick the right luxury vehicle to drive around.

Buying a luxury vehicle doesn’t just mean having a showy badge to flaunt to your coworkers when you pull into the parking lot. Buying these vehicles gives you more features, more driving performance and generally more perks to enjoy overall.

Porsche is Banking on its Elaborate Experience Center to Bring in More Customers

May 18, 2015 lacarguy Porsche Tags: , , , , , , ,

While it makes a lot of sense for brands like Toyota to invest heavily in online marketing and virtual interfaces to show off their vehicles, the same can’t be said for luxury offerings from automakers like Porsche. High-end luxury purchases are more of an emotional experience and you have to really love that new 911 to be willing to pay the exorbitant price tag attached with it. That’s why Porsche is investing heavily in its Experience Center just outside of Atlanta. The Center gives interested customers a chance to truly experience Porsche vehicles, and the automaker hopes that will result in an increased number of buyers overall.

atlanta porsche experience center

Driver development track

One of the highlights of the experience center is the Driver Development track. This 1.6 mile circuit comes with a variety of challenges to help drivers tackle specific skills that they would like to enhance. The course offers a section to promote improved handling capabilities, another to help deal with low friction turning, one to help with general handling in low-friction situations and an off-road course for more extreme uphill and loose surface situations. Each person that decides to head out onto the track will be paired with a coach that will help them achieve specific goals while on the course. This is to help the driver remain safe and to help them get the most out of the experience.

The cars also come with a camera to give you the opportunity to keep a recording of the whole experience. Porsche is undoubtedly hoping that you’ll be inclined to share your experience with the rest of the world on social media, but either way you’ll have a fund memento from your day on the track.

Take a Look at Some Classics

Porsche maintains a large set of classic vehicles that serve as a sort of Porsche Museum for all the visitors who come in. Whether you want to get a look at one of the early race cars, or even the original Porsche Diesel tractor you’ll enjoy a look into Porsche’s past. The automaker is also making it possible for Porsche owners to display their own vehicles at the facility for a fee.

Enjoy Fine Dining

There is even a fine dining restaurant so you can eat well after a day of fun at the experience center. The 356 Restaurant is a modern looking establishment that’s a mix between a bar and a dining area. It has a casual atmosphere with the quality food of a top restaurant.

Get Evaluated for Racing

The human performance center will evaluate your readiness for actual racing. The dedicated medical personnel will take a look at your vitals and let you know how ready you are to go racing. It’s a fun way to check out your fitness level and it helps make sure that every driver that gets behind the wheel is

Driving Simulator Lab

Climb inside one of the simulated Porsche cockpits and try racing on different tracks around the world. The simulator offers a fun experience and gives you a chance to try out a variety of tracks that you probably wouldn’t get a chance to drive on otherwise.

All of this fun comes together in a memorable experience, and that’s exactly what Porsche is counting on. They expect around 30,000 visitors to make their way through the doors of the center annually, and the organization is hoping that each one will want to recount tales from the experience for years to come to any Porsche fans they meet up with.

How to Make a Safer Car Purchase

May 17, 2015 lacarguy Toyota Tags: , , , , , ,

Most new car buyers focus on the features or the look of a vehicle far more than they do the safety features. When you think about this it seems a bit silly that so much focus is placed on the fun aspect of owning a vehicle and something so important like personal safety is often placed on the back burner. If you want to make sure you and possibly your family and friends are safe when riding in your vehicle, do yourself a favor and make sure that you spend a sufficient amount of time considering safety options before making the purchase.

Toyota Prius Plug-in Small Overlap Test
Toyota Prius Plug-in Small Overlap Test

Take a Look at Crash Ratings

One of the most important ways to verify the safety of vehicles is through crash test ratings. Both the NHTSA and the IIHS crash vehicles into specific barriers on a regular basis to check to see how durable they really are. There’s no better way to find out what a vehicle is made of than to look at the crash test ratings. Look for vehicles like the Prius V and the Toyota Highlander that scored highly on both crash tests, because they will hold together in the unfortunate event of a crash.

Count Airbags

Always look at the number of airbags that a vehicle comes with. The more airbags that it packs in the better, because this means you’ll be protected more effectively in the event of a crash. Many vehicles have at least six airbags today and an increasing number are getting knee bags and side-curtain bags even at the back of the vehicle. Keep track of the number of airbags before you buy.

Backup Cameras Make Sense

Many new vehicles are coming with backup cameras today, and that’s because they help avoid a lot of possible collisions. Co;nsider getting a vehicle that has a camera and if you have to choose between one that does and one that does not, you should get the vehicle with the camera. It will make you safer and make the vehicle more enjoyable to drive. While you’re at it, you should pay attention to how well you can see out all the windows of a vehicle and stick with one that offers a good level of visibility. If you’re having a hard time seeing out some of the windows or the pillars are too wide that can cause problems down the road.

Look for Active Safety Technology

While active safety technology such as adaptive cruise, blind spot monitors and even some autonomous driving systems are still pretty new to the market, they are good to have. They help keep you out of trouble when your mind wanders or when you simply don’t notice an impending problem. Active safety technology may be the most important safety feature that vehicles can have and getting a car loaded up with it is a good way to stay safer out on the road.

If you want a safer vehicle it’s a good idea to look out for all these features before you buy. They make a big difference and can create a much safer environment for you and your family.


Porsche Calls an End to the Power War between Automakers

May 16, 2015 lacarguy Porsche Tags: , , , , , ,

While there is something special about a car with a massive amount of power packed under its hood, having a great deal of power doesn’t necessarily improve the driving experience. Many car owners who rave about Porsche vehicles don’t like them because their packed with power, but because they are lightweight and have excellent driving mechanics. It’s pretty cool to be able to say that your car’s packing over 700HP, but let’s be honest, how often are you going to be able to make use of all that power? Just think about this for a moment, in a car with over 700 HP you can reach 60 MPH in first gear. At that speed most drivers aren’t planning on turning the speedometer much farther, and there’s so much untapped potential being wasted.

porsche 911 gt3

According to Andreas Preuninger, Porsche’s GT car chief Porsche is going to stop chasing numbers in future iterations of its top vehicles. Sure numbers sell, but they aren’t what make a great car. What makes a great car is excellent driving mechanics and good steering feedback. These are all features that can be achieved with 400 or 500 HP just fine, and there realistically isn’t any reason to go higher than that.

More Power Means More Weight

Another thing to consider is that adding more horsepower to a vehicle means adding more weight as well. A more powerful car needs larger brakes, it needs a bigger engine, a more durable suspension and these are all things that take away from the driving experience and the feeling of power. Unless a car is crafted from very expensive materials such as carbon fiber, you won’t really feel all the added power that it has because it weighs so much more.

It’s likely that future generations of Porsche vehicles will focus on maintaining current horsepower levels, or even dropping back a bit and improving upon what matters most, driving mechanics. Through lighter vehicles, improved suspension systems and bolstered steering setups Porsche vehicles can still lead the industry and show everyone just how meaningless the horsepower rating really is.

Eventually if Porsche is able to pull away from the power war it’s likely that the rest of the industry will follow in the automaker’s wake. This should lead to more accessible vehicles that are more fun to drive around in, and maybe just maybe car weight will start going down again.