Virtual reality always seems like a technology that belongs in the realm of science fiction. But each new technological advance makes it more possible, and Audi is utilizing their own virtual reality headset to show off their vehicles like never before. The company has developed a compact headset kit that puts customers right in front of their vehicles. The customer can pick and choose the vehicle they want to witness and even alter the different features, colors and options and then look at them in a realistic world. It’s an exciting advancement that should change the way people buy vehicles eventually.
An Immersive Experience
When you use the virtual reality headset devised by Audi you’re put right in front of the car that you’re interested in seeing. You can climb inside the vehicle, you can open up the trunk or listen to the radio of the vehicle. You can get as close and personal to the vehicle as you like and really get a feel for what it’s like without actually seeing it in person. It offers a good way to see the vehicle just as it will appear in real life and this should satisfy most buyers who simply want to know what a car is going to look like.
Shrinking Down the Dealership
In order to show customers vehicles a large dealership filled with a variety of different cars is typically needed. With this very compact virtual reality headset that isn’t the case any longer. The typical-sized dealership is compact down into a small brief-case sized product that a salesman could bring around with him wherever he goes. The technology is supposed to become available in “dynamic growth markets” and that means those living in big cities around the country will probably get a chance to try out the technology if they are considering buying an Audi.
Take a Look at All Your Options
One of the most difficult things about picking out a new car, especially at the dealership, is that you can’t really see how all of the different options and color combinations are going to look on the vehicle. The virtual reality headset is about to change all that. As a customer looking to buy a new vehicle you will be able to look at all the available models in all of the different trims, colors and with different option packages.
That means that you can try out all the different configurations you are interested in and see what they truly look like. Playing around with this little tool will give you a first-hand look at options and features that you would just have to guess at before, and that means that you will be able to enjoy better vehicles and the ability to pick and choose things more accurately.
While this headset is not the same as climbing into an Audi and test driving it, it’s a good way to start getting an idea of what a vehicle looks like inside and out. It also represents one of the best ways to view all of the different colors and options on your vehicle before making a final purchase decision. Even a very full dealership won’t be able to show you vehicles with all the options you want along with your ideal color.
Lexus recently released the 2015 version of the LX 570 and it’s just as large and luxurious as the previous versions were. Only a few minor changes were made to the vehicle, and for the most part Lexus stuck with what was working with the model while improving upon a few things here or there. Performance This massive SUV is surprisingly light on its feet thanks to the potent 5.7 liter V8 packed under its hood. It provides 383 HP and the simple 6-speed automatic transmission glides through the available gears effortlessly. The end result is smooth acceleration and a powerful feel when behind the wheel. Another nice feature of this SUV is the full-time 4-wheel drive system. It handles snowy and wet road conditions confidently and manages to maintain a sure grip on the road in most driving situations. The only downside to this configuration is the poor fuel economy, getting only 12 MPG in the city and 17 out on the open highway. Interior Comfort The inside of the LX 570 is just as you would expect from a luxury SUV approaching six figures. Leather and wood styling abounds. The 14-way power adjustable driver’s seat is exceedingly comfortable, and the 12-way passenger seat is pretty close as well. Up to eight passengers can ride around with enough seating room inside, making this one of the largest and most comfortable SUVs on the market. There is plenty of room for luggage or whatever cargo you need to carry at the back, even when seated to full capacity. Features The 2015 version of the Lexus LX 570 comes with just a few feature updates. It now comes with Siri Eyes Free for improved voice operation capabilities. The media system also supports the Slacker music streaming service now. It comes with a slew of standard features, such as iHeartRadio and Pandora, OpenTable and MovieTickets, as well as a Facebook Places feature that lets you check in and tag friends and family. The system accesses data services via a tethered smartphone, and the navigation system can be updated with information from both Yelp and Bing for easily locating points of interest in the area. All of these applications can be controlled using the built-in 8-inch touchscreen display. The screen also provides the view for the navigation system, as well as the backup camera. Looks The LX 570 sticks to a pretty understated design, with a small grille and modern LED headlights. It’s got a boxy body, with just enough curvature to keep it from looking dated. Whiel clean looking and with a slight upper-class flair, the LX 570 won’t stand out in a major way on any roadways. Available Extras While the LX 570 is well-appointed in its base model, there are plenty of available extras that you can take advantage of as well. The added Luxury package adds in more leathers and wood accents, while also offering heated seats throughout the vehicle and ventilated seats up front. The Intuitive Park Assist add-on offers wide view front and rear cameras for an improved look around the vehicle when backing out or into a spot. If you’re a media enthusiast you can get the top-of-the-line 19-speaker Mark Levinson Reference Surround Sound audio system with a total of 450 watts of power. There is also an upgrade package providing a dual-screen rear seat entertainment system. Overall the 2015 LX 570 is a very classy SUV with a massive footprint. It’s one of the most comfortable on the market and it’s highly capable in adverse weather. But with all those positives it’s hard to ignore the poor fuel economy or the starting price tag of $82,930. At that rate it will remain a niche product that’s very good at what it does.
With each passing year Americans increase their demand for fresh and new crossovers to drive around town. What used to be a niche vehicle has come into the mainstream and CUVs are taking over as the most popular form of transportation in the United States. In order to keep up with that demand Toyota has been ramping up CUV production and is even looking at some new models to help them keep up with competitors.
Sales figures for CUVs and SUVs were up by 16 percent in 2015 showing just how interested Americans are in these vehicles. With such large sale spikes in these sectors it’s important that Toyota works hard to keep up with demand if they want to remain competitive. They have already had to increase production for their Rav4 and Lexus RX crossovers, and it’s likely that the surge will continue throughout 2015 as well.
The SUB Rav-4 CUV
The Rav-4 is Toyota’s smallest CUV currently but the automaker is considering developing an even more compact vehicle to help them keep up with some of their competitors. They believe that the next big surge of vehicle demand will be centered on these small crossovers and it’s highly likely that the Toyota lineup will expand with a compact crossover in the near future.
The Appeal of the Crossover
It’s hard to say exactly what is so appealing about a crossover compared ot the standard SUV or a truck. Most American’s who purchase SUVs and trucks never take them off paved roads, or do so only a small portion of the time, and maybe crossovers are so popular because they provide the benefits of both SUVs and trucks without many of the downsides that come with such large vehicles. Crossovers are spacious inside and they are more fuel efficient than SUVs or pickup trucks are. They aren’t as robust and can’t withstand harsh driving conditions or handle towing as much, but that isn’t what they are meant for. Crossovers are comfortable to drive and they provide a rugged looking exterior that makes them a bit more exciting than a minivan.
If you’re a fan of crossover vehicles it’s likely that you will see more offerings from many of the top automakers in the coming years, Toyota included.
Car owners and passengers interested in remaining connected to the Internet on the go will be interested to hear that Subaru is joining the 4G movement and plan to add high-speed 4G LTE connections to their 2016 vehicles, thanks to a partnership with AT&T. During CES 2014 Subaru let visitors know about their future plans to integrate 4G connections into their new lineup of vehicles for everyone interested in taking full advantage of multimedia and information apps while on the go.
Subaru didn’t mention which models would be getting the enhancements first, but it is likely to go into the high-end models first and move its way down the lineup over time. Dealerships should start getting the new technology in around summer time and then drivers will get a chance to test out the new high-speed capabilities first hand.
Benefits of a Strong Connection
While it might be hard to see the benefit of having a strong Internet connection in your car at first, there are actually quite a few perks to this. Many applications such as Pandora, and Slacker radio rely on mobile data to get their music while on the go, and they could play higher quality audio clips, or offer smoother playback with a more reliable Internet connection. Additional applications are expected ot make their way into the Subaru dashboard as well allowing drivers to take advantage of this new more powerful connection.
As a passenger in a Subaru it’s easy to see the benefits of the new and improved technology. Children with tablets and a spouse trying to get work done on a laptop can all benefit from the connection while on a road trip. Subaru is also updating its StarLink infotainment system with a range of new two-way applications that provide real-time information that’s helpful and convenient to have available.
Computers are making their way into every facet of everyday life, and it seems that they are becoming more important to driving situations as well. It’s li9kely that Subaru owners will have to pay for an Internet subscriptions if they want to take advantage of AT&T connections, but there is no information about whether they will offer prepaid plans, or if drivers will have to lock themselves into a contract.
In the past week at the Detroit Auto Show Lexus unveiled their 2016 GS F sporty sedan, and they showed off just how capable of a sedan it really is. This goes along with the RC F that has been gathering support in the Lexus community and speaks to a trend to sportify their vehicles.
When Lexus unveiled the 2016 GS F at the 2015 Detroit Auto show they stated that it isn’t a track car and it isn’t a luxury vehicle but something in between the two. The car is luxuriously appointed, and has enough space to accommodate up to five adults comfortably, but it has sports car qualities as well, particularly how it handles.
Performance and Handling
The GS-F has more than enough power to feel sporty, even with its large footprint. It relies on a 5.0 liter V-8 engine that outputs 467 HP and 389 lb.-ft. of torque. All of this raw power is directed toward the rear wheels of the vehicle via an eight speed automatic transmission. While an auto tranny may be disappointing to any enthusiasts looking for a more hands-on driving experience, it boosts efficiency levels and paddle shifters are thrown into the vehicle for a bit more control.
The car has plenty of grit and wouldn’t be too out of place at the track with its engine and power level, but it also has some nice comfort and efficiency qualities that make it a better regular driver. The engine switches over to the Atkinson cycle in certain conditions boosting its efficiency. The driver can adjust the feel and fuel economy of the vehicle further by choosing from one of the four different driving modes. Eco, Normal, Sport and Sport S+ for varying performance adjustments.
Handling can be adjusted further by switching between the different torque-vectoring settings using the electronic differential. It offers a standard, slalom and track mode depending on what type of driving you are planning on doing that day.
Luxury Appointments and Appearance
As an aggressive F series car Lexus decided it needed to look the part as well. It features a very large and intimidating spindle grille. It comes with three stacked LED headlights that give it a sharp slant and large front air intakes for added cooling and the wow factor. At the rear a very low-profile carbon fiber spoiler along with chrome exhaust outlets provide a sporty accent.
Within the cabin you’ll find stiffer, more reinforced seating for everyone. There is also a large multi-display cluster that adjusts depending on the driving mode you select. On top of these sport enhancements you’ll be greeted by all the standard Lexus Luxuries and they certainly don’t skimp on those on their GS cars.
Overall the F-Type GS is an exciting spinoff of one of Lexus’ most luxurious and tech-savvy sedans on the market. It’s got the thrilling feel of a sports car, but it’s appointed luxuriously enough to keep riders and long-term drivers comfortable and satisfied.
911 and convertible fans were collectively dribbling all over their television sets and computer screens when the Porsche 911 Targa was released just a year ago, and now they are upping the ante with a more brutal machine residing in that same attractive exterior. The 911 Targa 4 GTS offers more performance capability for an even more exciting experience for drivers looking to push the limits.
At the Detroit Auto Show this week Porsche showed off the next generation of their 911 Targa. It comes packed with a 3.8 liter boxer engine that puts out around 430 horsepower overall. The full power isn’t available until the vehicle climbs up to 7,500 RPMs, but revving that deep throaty engine is half the fun of driving it. It’s also said to have sharper handling features that give the car a sportier feel when driving it around than the base model.
The GTS comes with a seven speed manual transmission as standard, but you can opt for the PDK automatic double-clutch instead to improve acceleration times slightly and make driving the car easier. It climbs from 0 to 60 in just 4.4 seconds with the manual tranny and manages it in just 4.1 seconds when you slap in the PDK. Either way it’s one fast convertible.
One downside to the vehicle’s engine layout is that you only get about 4.4 cubic feet of trunk space in the car. You’ll have space for just a bag or two which will restrict how far you can go and what activities you can complete in the vehicle, but that doesn’t take away from how much fun it is to drive around.
It Comes at a Price
Neither the Targa 4 or its GTS variant are very cheap with both priced in the six figures, but the Targa is available from $101,600 while switching to the GTS version bumps the price up to $132,800. The not so subtle price difference does offer more than just a performance boost however. The car comes with enhanced features within, and many of the improvements are addons that you would have paid extra for in the base Targa.
There is no information released about what the fuel efficiency figures will be for this little powerhouse, but they should be worse than the not-so-stellar 18/26 on the base Targa, and that’s if you drive the vehicle conservatively, so prepare yourself to fuel up before you go cruising.
Volkswagen recently announced that it will be releasing a special lineup of SUV vehicles, and they showed off the styling concepts and some of the features at the Detroit Auto Show with the Cross Coupe GTE concept. It’s a sporty plug-in hybrid that offers enough interior space for up to five passengers to sit comfortably, and offers impressive fuel efficiency ratings.
Power and Efficiency
The SUV relies on a standard gasoline engine as well as two electric motors to create an all-wheel drive feel. The gasoline V6 engine produces 276 HP and offers 258 lb.-ft. of torque. There is an electric motor mounted at the front and the back of the vehicle and altogether there is 355HP and 280 lb.-ft. of torque available from the SUV making it a very capable vehicle, that should handle nicely even in poor driving conditions. Thanks to the electric motors used in this SUV and the powerful 14.1kWh lithium-ion battery used an estimated fuel efficiency of 70 MPG equivalent is achieved, making it a very cost-effective tool for commuting. The battery is mounted where a traditional driveshaft would be, but the crossover still has an electric driveshaft shanks to the all-wheel setup it uses. When set in the all-electric mode, the SUV can travel for up to 20 miles before it needs to be charged once again.
Electric motors are known for their higher-than average torque output compared to their overall Horsepower rating, and the concept SUV utilizes this feature in order to provide swift acceleration. While the combines horsepower of the vehicle is 355 HP, it has a whopping 280 lb.-ft. of torque to work with and this allows it to go from sitting still to travelling at 60 MPH in a predicted 6.0 seconds.
Adjustable Drive Feel
As with most modern vehicles today the Cross Coupe GTE concept offers different driving settings that alter how it performs and feels while driving it around. Switching between Snow, Sport, On-Road and Off-Road will affect the characteristics of the vehicle. The different settings alter the steering response, transmission performance, throttle sensitivity and engine output to create a different feel and help the SUV achieve different goals.
Such a modern creation wouldn’t be complete without the looks to match. Volkswagen decided to integrate the headlights, the grille and the turn signals all into one seamless piece that gives it a more streamlined look. The color scheme is an icy blue that’s nicely accented by all of the bright chrome pieces around the vehicle. The inside is just as modern if not more so than the exterior of the vehicle. It puts a massive 10.1 inch touchscreen display right in the center, and provides gesture sensors to enable the same gesture controls that were present in the concept vehicle at CES.
This very modern looking SUV is built on the new, and highly modular MQB platform. That means that different architectures would be possible with this concept car in the future. It’s possible that Hydrogen, Natural Gas, Diesel or a range of other combinations could become variants of this modern crossover. Volkswagen has yet to release the details on the seven seater version of this vehicle, but they are planning on releasing it in the future for everyone with larger families.
CES is one of the biggest tech conventions of the year and Volkswagen took the 2015 convention as an opportunity to show off some of their most leading edge technological advances. They brought a vehicle they dubbed the Golf R Touch, and showed off how they can blend touchscreens, gesture controls and advanced computing to create an effective overall package, but did they go too far with all the screens? You be the judge.
This version of the Golf R comes equipped with three different touchscreens. One behind the steering wheel in place of the gauge cluster, much like the Audi TT, the other two are set up in the center stack. The digital cluster is made up of a 12.3 inch screen that displays dynamic information and provides a more useful set of information that’s easy for the driver to view. In the center stack there is a 12.8 inch upper display that is meant for viewing most of the information from the media center and the nav system, and an 8 inch multi-touch display below, that is designed for offering most of the controls that you will use to manipulate the information on the rest of the screens. There is also a powerful processing computer behind the scenes designed to take in all the information from the different screens and switch up the displays as you go, and there is a camera mounted in the ceiling that pays attention to your hands, looking for gesture controls.
With the camera interface the driver can wave their hands around and make different movements to adjust the screen without ever touching it. This makes it easier to manipulate the screen in a comfortable position. It also keeps it nice and clear of any fingerprints. The only downside to the gestures is that you still have to keep an eye on the screen to make sure they are all functioning properly, which can be a bit distracting.
Along with all of the touchscreens and the gesture tech, VW showed off their new MIB II media software. This system comes with support for Android Auto, Mirrorlink for advanced connectivity and Apple Carplay for improved apps from the iOS side. Overall the new software appears very smooth and offers a lot of new options to owners who are looking for improved applications, or apps with advanced functionality.
At CES, Ulrich Hackenberg, the chief of research and development at Audi briefly showed off a cool new smartwatch that the company has been developing with LG. It’s a customizes G Watch R that’s been branded as an Audi product and built to work with the advanced Prologue Concept.
During the presentation at CES Hackenburg used the product to call the car forward from behind the stage and he says that it is capable of much more than that. He explains that the device could be used to lock or unlock the doors or to start or turn off the device, but there are deeper functions possible as well that help make it a pretty exciting product.
The Exciting Features of the New Audi Watch
The watch relies on NFC or near field communication technology, allowing it to communicate with the vehicle even if the power is dead. That means that you don’t have to worry about being locked out of your vehicle, even if you do forget to charge the watch.Since the watch has an NFC chip it is being investigated as a method for unlocking rental vehicles for Audi. That means that the owner could gain access to a rental vehicle without ever having to go into a facility and deal with staff members beforehand. Set up the plan online and use the programmed watch to unlock the vehicle easily.
The watch also comes with biometric sensors that could be used to control different features of the vehicle. For instance, the watch could see how hot or cold the driver is and make climate control adjustments to help keep them comfortable. It could also see that the driver is nervous or upset and suggest that they pull over for a few minutes to regroup before heading down the road further. There are a lot of exciting possibilities for this watch, and Audi is trying to keep it hushed for now.
Most of the cooler ideas and concepts for the watch aren’t likely to become available anytime soon, but it’s very possible for this smartwatch to be used as a smartkey for the vehicle in the near future. Drivers would be able to keep their key and starter right on their wrist, instead of worrying about carrying it around in their pocket.
Pairing the watch with autonomous vehicles that are currently under development at Audi could provide some very cool functions later on, and it’s an exciting prospect to think about.
Toyota has invested a great deal of time and energy into researching and developing all the technology leading up to their fuel cell vehicles. Now they are showing how much they are truly dedicated to advanced society to hydrogen-powered vehicles by making those 5,680 patents available free of charge, to any companies producing hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. These patents are only available until 2020, when Toyota will begin capitalizing on them once again, but by then the industry should have advanced dramatically.
Toyota Can’t Do it Alone
Akio Toyoda, Toyota President is the first to admit that the auto giant can’t do it alone. They don’t have enough power and research specialists to be a strong enough driving force to get everyone into hydrogen-powered vehicles, and that’s why they are hoping to enlist the help of some of the other leading automakers as well.
Letting Go of Profits
By giving out all of these valuable patents Toyota is essentially saying goodbye to massive profit potentials over the short term. It’s hard to decide if what they are doing is smart or ludicrous. While they are throwing away profit potential, they are also securing a strong future for hydrogen tech, which they can still profit off of. By making this move, Toyota is following in the footsteps of rivals Tesla, the electric car company that recently made all of their electric patents available to the public.
Bringing Higher Quality Products to the Public
By giving out all their patents Toyota is guaranteeing to offer the top quality products to the public, because if they don’t one of their competitors will. This shows that Toyota is confident in their engineering capabilities, and that they believe they can still beat out their competitors even when they don’t have their secret tech locked away from prying eyes.
While some people may see this move as Toyota being foolish, they are doing society a favor by giving hydrogen technology a true chance to grow and prosper. Giving away their patents may be just the driving force needed to get more automakers involved in the technology, and to speed up the advancements associated with it. All the research that will benefit from these new ideas could result in more major advancements that dramatically improve the technology as time goes on. That’s Toyota’s hope, and we’ll have to wait and see if it pays off.