Category: High MPG Vehicles

Introducing The All New 2018 Toyota Camry

June 23, 2017 lacarguy Green Auto Technology, High MPG Vehicles, Hybrid Vehicles, Toyota of Hollywood, Toyota Santa Monica, Uncategorized Tags: , , , ,
The very first Toyota Camry to roll off the Georgetown, KY line and the all-new 2018 Toyota Camry
The very first Toyota Camry to roll off the Georgetown, KY line and the all-new 2018 Toyota Camry

Over the last 20 years, the Camry has been the franchise leader for Toyota.  When you sell 400,000 units of something year after year after year, you have to be doing something right.  However the Camry in its current guise has been around for quite a while, and it has been a decade since it was all new front to back.  In that decade America, and the world have moved from four door family sedans to crossovers as their vehicles of choice.  For 2017 the RAV4 will outsell the Camry, and by a fair number of units at that.

The family four-door sedan might not be the bread and butter for Toyota anymore, but the segment and the Camry specifically are still vital to the company.  That is why Toyota has launched the all new 2018 Camry, and the first full vehicle to be built on the company’s new TNGA platform.  The current Prius and C-HR share parts of the platform but the Camry is the first to employ it completely.  The new platform (all new 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, all new chassis) allow for more interior room, a quieter more comfortable ride and significant weight savings.

2018 Toyota Camry Hybrid XLE

Exterior Styling:

The new Toyota Camry makes a much bolder more cohesive statement than the outgoing model.  That said Toyota knows that some customers would rather blend in, while others like to make a statement.  With the new Camry, both are an option depending on which trim level of Camry you select.

The L, LE and XLE models styling is sporty without being a boy racer.  The nose has an aggressive look, and from the side profile as well as the rear three-quarters view, it is muscular and handsome.  Choosing the SE or XSE there are more sporty styling cues to make the Camry really stand out. They include a different front end styling, large side intake vents, small rear spoiler, plus and option of two-tone paint that adds a black metallic color to the roof along with matching paint on the rear spoiler and the rear view mirrors.  SE and XSE come with 18” alloy wheels with 19” alloy wheels as an option.

2018 Toyota Camry Hybrid XLE Dash

Camry Interior:

The all-new Camry is built around the cockpit theme.  Instruments, dials, knobs, and switchgear are all angled at the driver to make it as easy as possible to see, touch and feel exactly what you are looking for.

Materials have received a nice upgrade from the previous generation, and are now very competitive with the best in the segment.  L and LE trims have nice cloth seating, SE trim gets SofTex seating material, while XLE, XSE get leather seating with XLE receiving a quilting pattern to give it a more high-end appearance.

Toyota has also upgraded the trim materials as well with different wood or metal materials depending on trim level and packages.  SE gets embossed mesh interior trim while XSE gets textured metal materials.  L and LE have a layered wood trim, XLE receives “Tiger Eye” trim based off the Tiger Eye gemstone.  XLE and XSE interiors are very nice, and while they might not be at Lexus levels they aren’t far off and come at a much-reduced price compared to Lexus.

Standard on L, LE and SE Camry’s is a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment screen in the center stack and a 4.2-inch multi-information display in the instrument cluster.  XLE, XSE and V6 models receive an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system in the center stack and a 7-in multi-information display in the instrument cluster.

A new and exciting option on the new Camry is a 10-inch Heads Up Display.  The HUD can project audio, speed, driver assistance and navigation onto the windshield.

Powertrains:

The 2018 Toyota Camry offers you the choice of three powertrains.  Over 80% of Camry buyers are likely to choose an all new 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine.  While the displacement and number of cylinders may be the same as the outgoing Camry, this is all new engine.  The long stroke high compression engine with both direct and port fuel injection delivers 203 horsepower (a 25 horsepower jump over the old model) at 6,600 rpm and 184 lb/ft of torque at 5,000 rpm.

Next up is a 3.5-liter V6 engine.  This engine is a carryover with some technology upgrades.  New variable valve timing enables greater fuel efficiency without sacrificing performance.  The V6 is rated at 301 horsepower at 6,600 rpm and 267 lb/ft of torque at 4,700 rpm.  Both the four-cylinder and the V6 use a new eight-speed automatic transmission.

The final powertrain is the Hybrid system.  Total power between the engine and hybrid power is rated at 208 horsepower.  The big news with the hybrid is the fuel economy numbers.  in LE trim (lighter vehicle weight and more efficient battery pack) the Camry Hybrid is EPA rated at 51 city/53 highway/52 combined.  In SE and XLE it returns 44 city/47 highway/46 combined.  If you were looking at the Prius for fuel economy but were not taken with the new styling direction then the 2018 Camry Hybrid LE will return very similar fuel economy numbers in a more “standard” looking car for around the same money.

Fuel economy for the four-cylinder Camry is EPA rated at 28 city/39 highway/32 combined, while the V6 is rated at 22 city/32 highway/26 combined.

Safety:

The 2018 Camry comes with a standard suite of safety systems starting with Toyota’s Star Safety System which includes, Enhanced Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Traction Control (TRAC), 4-wheel Anti-lock Brake System (ABS), Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), Brake Assist (BA)andSmartStop Technology®(SST) and 10 airbags.  Also available is Safety Connect® — includes Emergency Assistance, Stolen Vehicle Locator, Roadside Assistance and Automatic Collision Notification. Available by subscription. Complimentary one-year trial subscription. (XSE and XLE V6 models only) Toyota Safety SenseTM P (TSS-P) – Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection, Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist, Automatic High Beams and Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Intelligent Clearance Sonar with Rear Cross Traffic Braking (XSE and XLE grades only)

2018 Toyota Camry XLE HybridInfotainment

Technology:

Toyota will offer their latest Entune 3.0 system.  Entune offers Scout GPS Link through an app on your phone for navigation and comes with a free three-year trial, Entune App Suite, Siri Eyes Free, Google Voice Control along with voice recognition and Bluetooth audio.

 Other trim levels and options packages offer XM Radio, HD Radio, Gracenote album cover art, Safety Connect, Service Connect, Remote Connect and a built-in WiFi hotspot.  Available with the upgraded JBL Audio system is a feature called Clari-Fi.  Clari-Fi takes streaming audio from apps like Spotify, Pandora, Google Music and Apple Music and upconverts it to higher quality audio.

2018 Toyota Camry

2018 Camry Wrapup:

The 2018 Toyota Camry is really three different cars depending on trim and powertrain chosen.  The four-cylinder Camry feels light, composed and sporty.  While you would not call it a sports sedan it can certainly handle back roads without effort.  The ride is very composed and interior noise levels are very pleasant.  The V6 Camry drives and rides like a very substantial car.  The ride is still very composed yet it feels far more luxurious.  The car feels more planted to the road and solid overall.  That is not to say the four-cylinder is lacking in driving refinement, it’s that the V6 takes it to a higher level, near Lexus quality ride control.  Finally, the Hybrid Camry combines the best of both the V6 and the four-cylinder.  The overall feel of the car along with the ride quality is right in line with the V6, yet the steering is light as in the four-cylinder.  Where the V6 gets up to speed very quickly, far quicker than you’d expect, the hybrid is not far behind and is almost silent in doing so.

Pricing for the 2018 Toyota Camry is as follows:
Camry L            $23,495

Camry LE       $24,000

Camry SE       $25,200

Camry XLE       $28,450

Camry XSE       $29,000

Camry XLE V6   $34,400

Camry XSE V6   $34,950

Hybrid LE          $27,800

Hybrid SE           $29,500

Hybrid XLE        $32,250

 

News and World Reports Names Toyota Prius Best Hybrid Value

February 2, 2017 lacarguy High MPG Vehicles, Hybrid Vehicles, Toyota, Toyota of Hollywood, Toyota Santa Monica, Uncategorized Tags: , , , , ,

When most people think of a hybrid vehicle the first one that comes to mind is the Toyota Prius. That’s because it’s the biggest success story when it comes to hybrids. It was one of the first hybrids released and the first real success story in the segment. While there are plenty of other hybrid options out on the market today, the 2017 Toyota Prius remains the best value for the money when purchasing a hybrid vehicle according to News and World Report’s comparison. That means that if you are looking for a hybrid to lower your environmental impact, to cut your gas costs or just to avoid using as much fuel as you once did, the Toyota Prius is likely one of your very best options.

2017 toyota prius

How Winners are Chosen

News and World Report gives out awards to vehicles in 20 different categories and there is a strict comparison technique that the company relies on to select the winners of the contest. To decide which vehicles are the best value, the company looks at the initial price of the vehicle, as well as the total cost of ownership over a five-year stretch. With these two figures it is a simple matter deciding which vehicle is the best value of the bunch.

Affordable and Efficient

The Toyota Prius is known for its efficiency and there are models that average around 55 MPG in city driving conditions today. That’s an impressive figure, and that’s not all the automobile has going for it. Compared to other hybrids on the market, the Toyota Prius is surprisingly affordable. At between $25,000 and $30,000 the Prius is easy for most people to purchase and something that the average homeowner would have no trouble buying.

Spacious and Well-Appointed

The Prius isn’t known for being a luxury vehicle, but that doesn’t stop it from being well-equipped, spacious and nice-looking within. Inside the vehicle you’ll find all the standard features that you expect from a modern vehicle, plus a bunch of active safety features that will help keep you safe while out on the road. The vehicle also comes with plenty of interior space for five people to sit comfortably. There’s ample trunk space in the back, allowing you to pack clothes for a trip or head to the grocery store and do some shopping.

Decent Handling

Sure, the Prius isn’t a sports car, but that doesn’t matter. The Toyota Prius has over 120 HP thanks to the two electric motors and the small gasoline engine. The two electric motors rev up and get the vehicle off to a smooth start from a standstill quickly and effectively. The vehicle isn’t going to win any races, but it doesn’t feel sluggish and handles pretty nicely.

Overall the Toyota Prius is a solid vehicle with a lot to offer in the value department. If you want an efficient car that isn’t going to use much gasoline, the Toyota Prius is still the king of the hybrids and pretty hard to pass up.

Volkswagen Travels more than 8000 Miles for Less than 300 Dollars

July 15, 2015 lacarguy Diesel Vehicles, High MPG Vehicles, Pacific Volkswagen, Volkswagen, Volkswagen Santa Monica Tags: , , , , , ,

It never ceases to amaze us how far some of these little diesel vehicles can travel. Volkswagen just set a new record with the Golf TDI by travelling a whopping 8,233.5 miles on less than 300 dollars in diesel fuel. If that’s not an impressive return on investment I don’t know what is. During the course of the trip the vehicle managed to travel through each of the 48 lower states and traveled for a total of 16 days.

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Setting the Record

Volkswagen managed to beat its own record while trying to do the same thing the company already did. Over this trip they managed to get 81.7 MPG, beating the old record of 77.99 MPG. It’s important to note that this trip beats the hybrid vehicle record by more than 6 MPG, which is pretty impressive since hybrids are supposed to be highly efficient drivers.

Driving Skills Preparation in California

You can’t just start driving and expect to meet the level of fuel efficiency that Bob Winger and Wayne Gerdes managed during their world-record trip. In order to hit the records that they did, the team had to spend hundreds of hours training in different driving conditions. They weren’t verifying the chosen route using these test trips, but rather honing efficient driving skills that would provide the fuel figures the team was striving for.

In a recount of the prep leading up the big trip Gerdes is on record saying that he relied on the Tejon Pass, the Cajon Pass, the San Gorgoino Pass and the Laguna mountains to figure out how to drive efficiently through steep elevation climbs and descents. It took countless trial runs through these mountain passes to hone steep incline driving skills enough to keep efficiency levels up where they needed them to be.

In order to learn how to deal with the highly congested sections of I-95 the trio would encounter through the northeastern portions of the trip, they headed over to 405 and 5 between LAX and San Diego. These notoriously congested sections served as a training ground to master efficient driving even when roads are packed and driving conditions are more restricted and start and stop traffic is common.

California is a state filled with unique features and even though the state was only a small portion of the overall record-setting trip, it served as the key training ground that made it possible for the trip to be successful in the first place.

The Trip

The trip started at the American Headquarters in Herndon Virginia on Monday the 22nd of June. After 16 days of straight driving the vehicle ended up in the same exact spot on July 7th. The main driver doing the run was Wayne Gerdes, but he had help from Bob Winger the co-driver along on the trip.

About the Vehicle

In order to accomplish this very impressive feat the 2015 Golf TDI relies on a turbo-charged engine that uses direct-injection technology and runs on diesel fuel. It has a 6-speed manual transmission that’s quite efficient. This particular vehicle was fitted with Linear Logic ScanGuage II to take a precise measure of the fuel economy throughout the trip. It also relied on an LG G4 smartphone and a Garmin Nuvi LM GPS navigator to get the vehicle where it needed to go all along.

This record shows you how far you can push a couple tanks of diesel if you know what you’re doing and if you have the proper equipment. The Golf TDI is meant to drive far without burning through much fuel, but I doubt anyone expected it to travel quite as far as it did in real-world driving conditions, or as efficiently.

Diesel vehicles are well-known for being fuel efficient and that’s why truck drivers rely on them to get freight around the country. It’s a benefit that recent vehicle buyers are beginning to notice, and could cause more shoppers to start choosing diesel when making their purchases.

Toyota’s New High Performance Solid State Batteries Secure an Electric Future

December 30, 2014 lacarguy Electric Vehicles, Green Articles, Green Auto Technology, High MPG Vehicles, Toyota Tags: , , , , ,

Even though Toyota seems to be focusing on Hydrogen Fuel Cell vehicles as the transportation of the future, they are still working hard to develop their electrical technology, and they have quite a few developments up their sleeve. The automaker has two different powerful battery technologies in development that could both dramatically improve the performance capabilities of electric-driven vehicles, one of which is in the prototype stage already, solid-state batteries. toyota solid state battery Solid State Batteries Toyota is developing a technology known as solid state batteries and they have already produced a coin-sized prototype that manages an impressive level of energy density compared to current lithium-ion batteries. The battery manages an energy density of around 400 Watt-hours per liter, or 400 Wh/L. This is currently close to two times as dense as lithium batteries being used today, which could do great things for electronics in general outside of the automotive industry. On top of offering more energy storage capabilities, this battery can also put out a power stream about five times as powerful as lithium-ion batteries are capable of doing. That means more powerful motors can be driven using fewer batteries. This technology is expected to be released in 2020 and should be perfected enough to hit between 600 and 700 Wh/L by 2025. What Makes them Different Solid state batteries are known as such because they rely on a solid electrolyte in place of the liquid electrolyte that’s used in lithium ion batteries. Instead of nickel-metal hydride or a lithium ion, solid ceramic or a polymer is used instead. This packs more energy into a smaller area allowing for a greater storage capacity. What the Batteries Can Do With solid state batteries being at the current energy density of the prototype in development a family sedan would be able to drive for around 300 miles on a single charge. While this is quite a ways off from the 600 miles that many automakers are shooting for, this is still a huge step forward for the industry overall and something to get excited about. Lithium Air Batteries Toyota is also developing lithium air batteries, but they expect these to take about five to ten years longer to develop than solid state batteries. These batteries rely on a small cathode that interacts with oxygen and requires less materials overall. This makes it possible to squeeze even more energy into a tiny area and could allow up to 1,000 Wh/L of storage by 2030. These two advances represent major breakthroughs for the electronics industry and will make it possible to produce long-distance electric vehicles that are much more efficient than the ones we see today. It’s hard to say if they are simply hedging their bet on Hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles with this technology or if they plan to incorporate it into future vehicles to create something even more sophisticated for drivers to rely on.

First Look At The 2014 Toyota Corolla

October 21, 2013 lacarguy High MPG Vehicles, Toyota, Toyota of Hollywood, Toyota Santa Monica Tags: , , , , , , 0 Comments

With the 2014 Corolla, Toyota brings to market a completely updated version of its bread and butter car.  Besides the Camry, the Corolla is the highest selling vehicle in the Toyota lineup with approximately 300,000 units sold per year.  Since entering the market in 1968, Toyota has sold 10 million Corolla’s worldwide. Meanwhile, Corolla is responsible for 38% of the company’s overall U.S. sales.
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The appeal of the Corolla crosses demographic lines. While its modest price makes it a desirable buy among younger shoppers, the Corolla’s inherent value has made the car a favorite among older buyers, as well as Hispanic and African American buyers, who have made the Corolla the #1 vehicle sold to both communities.

With the 2014 model, Toyota has done a 180 with the Corolla, turning the car into a purchase made out of passion and not just necessity.  This starts with an exterior design that is more dramatic than the 2013 model. It certainly makes a statement, as the Corolla will no longer blend in to the background of mall parking lots. Different trim lines are accompanied by different appearance packages.  The S model has a unique shape to the grill, grill inserts and fog lamps.  The LE Eco model offers a rear spoiler, low rolling resistance tires, and a smoothed out under tray to lessen aerodynamic drag.  LED headlights are standard across all models – a first for the compact segment.

The S model, with it’s blacked-out trim and grill, makes for a very striking vehicle, particularly in silver or blue.  Other trim lines are more conservative in their style, but still maintain a handsome look.

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The wheelbase of the 2014 Corolla has been stretched 3.9 inches, which leads to an additional 5 inches of rear legroom, giving the 2014 Corolla more legroom than some midsize sedans.  This added space means two adults will be able to fit very comfortably in the back, with enough headroom for a 6-foot tall person.

The dash area is all-new as well, with a horizontal design and a significant upgrade in materials.  While hard plastics are used throughout  most of the cabin, each piece has a solid look and feel to it.  The steering wheel has a nice thick design that’s very comfortable to grip, meanwhile S models come with a leather-wrapped wheel that gives a more premium feel compared to the standard steering wheel.

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Seat materials are also well done. The standard cloth seats offer a nice thickness that leads one to believe the material will stand up to the test of time.  Higher-end models use Toyota’s Tex Leather that also has a solid look and feel to it.

Bluetooth is standard on all models, as well as eight airbags, power windows, and the aforementioned first-in-class LED headlights.  LE trimmed Corolla’s add Entune audio with a 6.1-inch touchscreen, as well as a backup camera with dynamic glide slope guidance.  For 2014 Entune has been upgraded with a simpler user interface, an improved voice recognition system, and additional apps. Unlike in previous years, Entune is now a subscription-free service, allowing all 2014 Corolla owners to enjoy the service.
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There are three transmissions available on the 2014 Corolla.  Base L model’s come with a standard six-speed manual transmission or optional four-speed automatic transmission.  LE and LE Eco models come only with a CVT that is available on the sportier S model with integrated paddle shifters. A six-speed manual is standard fare on Corolla S models.

The CVT transmission is a Toyota designed and built unit that is programed to simulate a seven-speed gearbox.  Most of the “shifting” is felt only under heavy throttle settings, otherwise the transmission provides the seamless drive and feel associated with CVTs.

From behind the wheel, the Corolla offers a rather firm but very comfortable ride that soaks up bumps and potholes well at normal city speeds.  As you approach highway speeds, the suspension transmits more road imperfections into the cabin. It’s not jarring, but it is noticeable.
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One item that drivers will immediately take note of is that the Corolla gives you the feeling of going much slower than the speed you are actually traveling at.  Going 70 mph, gives you have the perception that you are actually going 50-55 mph.  This speaks to the quality of the Corolla’s chassis and sound deadening materials.

This also translates to the feeling of acceleration in the 2014 Corolla. Between the quiet cabin and the dynamics of the CVT, the perception is that the Corolla is accelerating rather slow; however while not quick, Corolla’s available power is more than adequate for all driving situations.

The LE Eco is unique over other Corolla models in that it employs Toyota’s Valvetronic system.  While the standard VVT system adjust the opening and closing of the valves for maximum efficiency, Valvetronic goes one step further in adjusting valve lift and allows Toyota to maximize the engine’s efficiency. The net result is a Corolla with 8 extra horsepower and an EPA-rated 42 mpg on the highway.

The 2014 Corolla will come with two additional airbags over the outgoing model, raising the number to eight.  Toyota has also increased side impact resistance by incorporating a new support beam for additional safety protection.

Available in four trim levels, the 2014 Corolla L has a base price of $16,800, while the LE stickers at $18,300, the LE Eco at $18,700, and the S at $19,000.  Option packages have been simplified into two categories: Plus and Premium. Toyota made the decision to simplify the Corolla’s option packages from customer feedback and observed buying dynamics.

Toyota knows its customers very well, and the latest Corolla will appeal strongly to them.  The core essentials that have made the Corolla so popular are still the cornerstones of the 2014 model; however the car’s dramatic new styling and modern interior that challenges that of the Sentra, Civic, and Forte, give the car a newfound glory.  The Corolla continues to fall short of being an all-out “driver’s car” but it is a very competent compact car. With the Corolla entering dealership lots, Toyota’s challenge is to see if the 2014 model can increase the car’s customer base, as Toyota wants to increase Corolla sales by 10%.

Volkswagen XL1 Makes U.S. Debut in Chattanooga

October 15, 2013 lacarguy Green Auto Technology, High MPG Vehicles, Hybrid Vehicles, Volkswagen Tags: , , 0 Comments

Original source VW USA

The Volkswagen XL1, the most fuel-efficient and aerodynamic production car in the world, made its U.S. debut at the 23rd Annual Society of Environmental Journalists (SEJ) Conference at the Chattanooga Convention Center today. The XL1 offers an estimated European combined fuel consumption rating of 261 mpg (more than 200 mpg estimated in the U.S. cycle) and can cover up to 32 miles as a zero-emissions vehicle in all-electric mode.

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“The XL1 offers a glimpse into Volkswagen’s present and future eco-mobility capabilities, and highlights the ultimate successes of ‘Thinking Blue’,” said Oliver Schmidt, General Manager of the Engineering and Environmental Office (EEO), Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. “Volkswagen is proud to debut this ultra-fuel-efficient vehicle before the Society of Environmental Journalists, a group that shares in our commitment to environmental stewardship.”

In addition to the XL1 display, Volkswagen’s participation in the SEJ Conference included a tour of its LEED® Platinum-certified Chattanooga manufacturing plant and solar park; test-drives in its line of eco-friendly cars, such as the e-Golf, Passat TDI Clean Diesel and Jetta Hybrid; and a bird-watching expedition on Volkswagen Chattanooga’s sanctuary grounds.

The XL1 is an automotive standout that follows pure sports-car design principles: light weight (1753 pounds), exceptional aerodynamics (Cd 0.19), and a low center of gravity. This super-efficient Volkswagen has the ability to cruise down the road at a constant 62 mph while using just 8.4 PS (6.2kW) horsepower. In all-electric mode, the XL1 requires less than 0.1 kWh to cover more than a kilometer.

The XL1 emits just 21 g/km of CO2, thanks to its high-tech lightweight design, aerodynamic efficiency, and a plug-in hybrid system consisting of a 48 PS (35kW) two-cylinder TDI® engine, a 27-hp electric motor, a seven-speed DSG® dual-clutch automatic transmission, and a lithium-ion battery.

The estimated European driving cycle of 261 mpg fuel consumption figure is a record that has not been achieved by any other vehicle to date, showing that Volkswagen is redefining what is technically feasible in the automotive industry. The XL1 also has a top speed of 99 mph and can accelerate from 0 to 62 mph in 12.7 seconds.

Conceptually, the XL1 represents the third evolutionary stage of Volkswagen’s 1-liter car strategy. When the new millennium was ushered in, Prof. Dr. Ferdinand Piëch, now Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Volkswagen AG, formulated the visionary goal of putting into production a practical car that had combined fuel consumption of one liter per 100 km (235 mpg). In the two-seat XL1, this vision has become reality.

Despite the tremendous efficiency of the XL1, the engineers and designers successfully came up with a body design which delivers more everyday utility than the two previous prototypes. In the L1, the 1-liter car that was shown in 2002 and 2009, the driver and passenger sat in a tandem arrangement for optimal aerodynamics; in the XL1, the two occupants sit slightly offset, side by side, almost like a conventional vehicle.

The XL1 is 153.1 inches long, 65.6 inches wide, and just 45.4 inches tall. By comparison, a Volkswagen Polo is slightly longer (156.3 in) and wider (66.2 in), but is significantly taller (57.6 in). Even a purebred sports car like today’s Porsche Boxster is 5.1 inches taller. The XL1 will look spectacular going down the highway—a car of the future, built for today.

Newest Audi TDI® models powering “Truth in 48” challenge to drive from L.A. to N.Y. in 48 hours on four tanks of clean diesel fuel

September 6, 2013 lacarguy Audi, Diesel Vehicles, High MPG Vehicles, Pacific Audi Tags: , , , , , , 0 Comments

A team of 12 drivers will embark this weekend on “Truth in 48,” a bid to drive 2,800-plus miles from Audi Pacific to New York in 48 hours or less.  The team will be driving the 2014 Audi A6 TDI and 2014 Audi A7 TDI sedans, with the 2014 Audi Q5 TDI as a support vehicle in the challenge to demonstrate the extended range and fuel economy provided by Audi clean diesel technology.

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The rally, led by Wayne Gerdes of CleanMPG.com, will make only four refueling stops. They will depart from the Audi Pacific dealership in Torrance, CA the morning of the Saturday, Sept. 7, with plans to conclude the drive at the Audi Manhattan dealership the afternoon of Monday, Sept. 9.

Throughout the drive, the CleanMPG team will swap seats with members of the media, including Christian Moe of Road & Track, Damon Bell of Consumer Guide Automotive, Jill Ciminillo of Chicago Tribune and Sebastian Blanco of Autoblog Green.

Each Audi TDI clean diesel vehicle delivers up to 30% better fuel economy and 30% lower carbon dioxide emissions than gasoline engines, resulting in longer range and fewer trips to the fuel pump. By having more density than gasoline, diesel packs more energy in the same amount of fuel which helps maximize the miles per gallon. The 2014 Audi A6, A7 and Q5 TDI clean diesel engine vehicles adds to Audi’s list of advanced technologies that help enhance fuel efficiency, including Audi ultra® lightweight technology, Audi quattro and Audi e-tron.

To follow along the “Truth in 48” cross-country drive challenge visit Audi’s Twitter and Facebook pages utilizing the hashtag #audiTDI.

First Drive: Toyota Prius c

February 23, 2012 lacarguy Green Auto Technology, High MPG Vehicles, Hybrid Vehicles, Prius c, Toyota Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , 0 Comments

It’s been twelve years since the Toyota Prius first came on to the American stage. Thought of as a science experiment then, and in many ways it was, now in it’s third generation the Prius Liftback IS the face of Toyota.

While the hybrid and plugin electric market may only be 2.5% of all vehicle sales in the U.S., the Prius accounts for more than 50% of those sales. The most shocking statistic is that 96% of all Prius’ sold, are still on the road today. Looking to expand the sales of the Prius, Toyota have expanded the sub-brand of Prius into four models, with the goal of the Prius family of vehicles surpassing Camry in sales.

The first expansion of the Prius family was the v, not quite a crossover, yet more than a wagon, it was Toyota’s move to get growing and active families more space to fit their lifestyle without compromising fuel economy or the integrity of the Prius name. The Plugin Prius will be the current Liftback model that will have the ability to drive 15 miles on pure electric, then revert back to a standard Prius Hybrid once the charge has been depleted. The last component is the source of our review, and that is the Prius c. It is a B-segment car, which will be competing against the likes of Toyota’s own Yaris and iQ, along with the Mazda2, Ford Fiesta, Chevy Spark, Honda Fit, Nissan Versa, Kia Rio and Hyundai Accent.

Powering the Prius c is an updated version of the venerable 1.5 liter inline four cylinder engine. It has been updated to improve efficiency with lighter weight valve springs, lighter tension weight piston rings along with a few other items like the elimination of an accessory belt so now that the power steering, air conditioning and water pump are all driven via electric motors to reduce drag and friction and improve fuel economy. This is paired with a Ni-MH battery pack that is about 2/3rds the size of the one found in the Liftback, which provides an additional 25.9 horsepower to the 73 horsepower engine. The transaxle in the Prius c is an all electric unit that has no belts.

Fuel economy is the raison d’etre in the Prius family and the Prius c will deliver that in spades. Rated by the EPA 53 city, 46 highway and 50 combined. We had the opportunity to drive for a short 25 mile loop that was an equal mix of surface roads and highway. On the surface roads we pulled down 63.5 mpg without really making an effort to maximize fuel economy, and at the end of the loop we had a combined 54.7 mpg, and that was while driving highway speeds of 70-75 mph. Keeping with the rest if the Prius family, the c also has start/stop technology, so that the car is running only when it needs to when stopped in traffic. If you are in stop and go driving, this is an excellent way to save a few extras drops of fuel.

Lest you think this B-segment car is cramped inside, it is not. Front seat passengers have plenty of room, no fear of rubbing shoulders with your passenger. For back seat passengers, two normal sized adults will be able to ride comfortably. We had the drivers seat set for us at 5’11”, then jumped in the back seat behind and were able to get in and out with no problem, and our knees were not touching the back of the driver seat either.

The rear seats do fold in a 60/40 arrangement allowing for good load flexibility, bicycles and snowboards will have no problem fitting inside. With the seats up there is 17.1 cubic feet of space in the hatch area, which should be more than enough room for day to day items, or runs to the grocery store.

In the upper trim levels Toyota have made Softex synthetic leather an option. Listening to their consumers, Toyota have eliminated the use of natural leather in the Prius family of cars. The Softext in our test car, was comfortable, had a quality feel to it, and was grippy so that we did not slide around in the seat.

There will be four trim levels to the Prius c, One, Two, Three and Four. Stepping up to trim level’s Three and Four will net you a smart key, which offers the ability to not have to take the key out of your pocket to get in the car, or need it for starting. The upper two levels also get you the top end audio system with navigation. It has a 6.1 in touch screen with AM/FM/SirusXM/HD Radio and also will play CD’s along with MP3 and WMA files through a six speaker system.

All trim levels have bluetooth as standard but trim levels Three and Four allow for advanced voice recognition. The top end audio system also includes Entune. Entune is a system that Toyota have developed that works with the data connection on your smart phone to supply Pandora, iHeart Radio, OpenTable, MovieTickets.com along with real time traffic, weather, fuel prices, sports scores and weather to you.

You register on a specific Toyota website with your cars VIN number, and then you can assign up to four different phones to the system so that everyone can taylor the system to themselves, if multiple people in a household share the car.

The Prius c also contains a 3.5 inch TFT display to the right of the offset digital speedometer. There are multiple levels of menus to explore within. Items like energy monitors, drive information, scoring the last 100 drives and how economical the current one is, 5 minute consumption. There is an ECO Savings level where you can program the current cost of gas in, and also the mpg of another vehicle to see how much you are saving with the Prius c. It also calculates the current cost of your current trip, and past trips, and brake it down into a cost per mile. It will also grade you on how economically you are driving and braking on a scale of 1-5 and display it in a bar graph.

Many people worry about safety in cars that are as small as the Prius c. To address this Toyota is including nine standard airbags along with items like ABS, traction control, vehicle stability control, brake assist, brake force distribution and smart stop.

Smart stop is a system that intervenes when both the brake and gas peddles are pressed at the same time. In a panic situation one might press down hard on both peddles without meaning to. The system senses this, and disengages the gas, it also incorporates a hill assist into the system so that if you are on a hill and stopped, you do not roll backwards when transferring from the brake peddle to the gas peddle.

Pricing for the Prius c in trim level One starts at $19,710, Level Two is $20,760, Level Three is $22,395 and Level Four is $23,990, all prices include the $760 destination fee. While this is certainly on the higher end of the B-Segment price structure, cars like Ford’s Fiesta can quickly top $20,000 as well once they are optioned up. The base price of the Prius c is about a $2,000 premium over the Yaris to give some context.

Out on the road the Prius c drives very well. While the handling can’t be called sporty, it is very competent. It is very agile, has a better ride quality than the Prius Liftback or v, and also transmits less road noise through the tires than the Liftback or v as well. The Prius c engineers took extra time to mitigate as much NVH from the car as possible and their work shows.

Acceleration in city traffic from 0-40 miles an hour is good, though not quick. Merging onto the highway the power can be best described as adequate. It is able to get on to freeways and merge without drama, and while you may feel you need to be going faster or accelerating quicker, once you look at the speedometer, you will see you’ve already gotten up to the speed of surrounding traffic. The car can engage an EV mode where it can run up to a mile with a max speed of 25 miles an hour.

The Prius c was able to run 75 miles an hour on the highway with no issues, it was not moved around by semi’s going past, it felt very stable, and the interior is quiet enough to hold a conversation in a normal tone of voice.

While the other versions of the Prius have never excited us all that much, we feel that the c is the first Prius that we can get behind. It truly was a fun and satisfying car to drive. In a time when gas is again approaching $4/gallon in the U.S., having a car that can pull down 50 mpg is an attractive proposition. And when that proposition asks very few compromises from you, it’s even more so. No the car is not a sports car, or a sporty car, what it is, is a small car that gets the job done, can be well equipped, and you don’t mind driving. While in the past, and even now with the Liftback and the v, the Prius’ could be described as automotive appliances, the c does not have that vibe, it feels like a car first, a hybrid second.

Fisker Karma Named Automobile Magazine's 2012 'Design of the Year'

November 10, 2011 lacarguy Electric Vehicle Extended Range, Fisker, Green Auto Technology, High MPG Vehicles Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , 0 Comments

By Zack McDonald from HybridCars.com

The Fisker Karma has faced some tough press lately, including a brief, misinformed outrage surrounding the fact that the car will be manufactured in Finland despite the Fisker’s receipt of a $529 million loan guarantee from the Department of Energy. As those who have followed the company over the years know, Fisker intended to build the Karma in Finland long before it received any federal loan guarantees, and still plans to manufacture its next vehicle at a factory in Delaware.

Recently though, the headlines have begun to tilt in the Karma’s favor. On Wednesday, it was announced that Automobile magazine had named the car “Design of the Year” for 2012, calling it “a beautiful and highly dramatic automobile, unlike anything else on the road today and yet very much like dozens of the most beloved sports cars of the past.”

The accolade underscores an important point about the Karma that tends to get lost in a flood of often politically-tinged reactions: the Karma is a $96,000 luxury sports sedan and as such, it deserves to be evaluated on different terms from the Chevy Volt or Toyota Prius Plug-in. Emissions-conscious purchasers of luxury performance vehicles haven’t traditionally had many offerings to choose from. The Karma gives this relatively untested market a new option, and according to Automobile magazine-and nearly everyone else who’s driven and reviewed the vehicle-it’s a pretty impressive one at that.

Over in Europe, the Karma got some more good news last week from independent fuel efficiency tests carried out by the German regulatory body Technischer Überwachungs Verein (TÜV). The results of those tests prove that the Fisker Karma is one of the most capable—at least among plug-in hybrid vehicles—electric-only-mode performers in the world. The TÜV’s thorough “real-world urban” tests show that the plug-in returned an impressive 51.6-mile range in electric-only mode. This figure beats the Karma’s official EPA rating by a substantial 19.6 miles.

Of the results, Henrik Fisker, chief executive officer of Fisker Automotive, stated, “We are delighted that the TÜV has confirmed that most owners will achieve a 50-mile range running purely on electric during their daily commute.”

The 2012 Fisker Karma is currently on sale in the US, though production volume is extremely limited and all Karmas to be sold in 2011 have already been spoken for. Come next year, Fisker aims to ramp up production and sell approximately 15,000 Karmas in the US and Europe.

The Prius V Is Here, See It In Action

November 7, 2011 lacarguy Green Auto Technology, High MPG Vehicles, Hybrid Vehicles, Toyota Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , 0 Comments

We’ve talked about it for quite some time, and now it’s finally here, the first new model of the Prius line, it’s the Prius V. V is for Versatility! The Prius V has as much cargo capacity as most CUV’s on the market today, yet returns the superior fuel economy you would expect from a Prius. As you may remember we had a chance to drive a Prius V back in June and wrote about it here on the blog.

Now, the Prius V’s are here, and we have them available at both the Toyota Santa Monica and Toyota Hollywood stores! We showed the Prius V off at the AltCar Expo, and we also shot this test drive video for you, have a look.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BqteH35POGI?rel=0&hd=1&w=853&h=480]