The 2018 Toyota Highlander is one of its first vehicles in the large family mid-sized SUV segment, and it’s absolutely killing it in that spot. The SUV isn’t giant, but it does pack in enough seating space for eight people to sit somewhat comfortably. As long as some of those passengers are children you’ll have a lot of very happy campers traveling down the road. The 2018 Highlander isn’t a notable vehicle just because it has lots of seating space though, it packs a interior that reeks of versatility, it comes with a quality engine option and it’s one of the safest SUVs that you can pick up today. These are all things that families are going to be looking for, which is exactly what Toyota is banking on.
Industry Leading SUV Safety
There aren’t many SUVs on the market today that come standard with anywhere near the tech features that the 2018 Highlander can boast of. It comes packed with things like auto emergency braking and pedestrian detection to keep drivers out of trouble in a range of conditions. The car is fitted with adaptive cruise, lane control systems and auto high beams. All in all it was able to earn a Top Safety Pick+ designation from the IIHS and a five star safety rating from the FHTSA, making it one of the safest SUVs that you can buy today without spending a bunch on additional safety packages that aren’t included.
Large and Well Made Interior
The inside of the 2018 Highlander is well-suited to carrying around a bunch of kids from place to place. It packs plenty of cargo space in, there are ample cupholders, there’s a shelf for smartphones, there are hidden USB ports all over the place and the Highlander offers adjustable seating positions for the folks in the back. Overall it’s nice looking and very functional inside the 2018 Highlander. It boasts features like faux wood and a clean dash and console layout, but it’s not going to confuse too many people into believing they’re riding in a Cayenne or other upscale luxury SUVs.
As long as you don’t make the mistake of getting the base four-cylinder engine, which isn’t strong enough to offer compelling performance when fully loaded up, you’ll enjoy the smooth and reliable drive of the 2018 Highlander. The V6 engine offers 295 HP and handles everyday tasks with ease. Thanks to the top-level 8-speed automatic transmission the SUV has no trouble speeding up, slowing down and taking on everyday driving tasks. It won’t feel sluggish and will actually be pretty satisfying to drive, but you have to pay to make the upgrade or you’ll suffer with the four-cylinder engine.
The 2018 Highlander has a lot going for it and it’s not too bad looking either. It’s not perfect though and serious off-roaders won’t want to push the vehicle too far, just like buyers after the sexiest looking SUV out there probably won’t be too satisfied either. Overall it’s worth a buy and it’s perfect for families looking for the space that it provides.
There’s always so much criticism about the way that Toyota cars look and function, but in reality Toyota is doing better than all the other automakers out there, at least according to new market research that just came out. According to the annual Brandz report Toyota is the most valuable auto brand out there today. That’s saying something coming from the company that has been evaluating the top 100 brands for years.
A Very Strong Valuation
Toyota managed to obtain a brand valuation of $28.7 million from Brandz this year, that’s stronger than many other brands on the market today, and puts it firmly into the first place position out of all the other automakers. That means that Toyota was able to beat out guys like BMW and Honda.
Reliability and Resale Value
Toyota has been able to maintain a top valuation over the long term thanks to its reputation for building reliable cars that hold their value. That’s something that most auto buyers are interested in, and it’s one of the main reasons that Toyota vehicles continue to sell so well. With that said, Toyota is not one of the fastest growing auto brands on the market today, and is actually shrinking a bit. In order to deal with the shrinking problem Toyota will have to innovate more than it is already.
Bolster Itself through Innovation
In order to foster growth and maintain its top spot into the future Toyota is hard at work on innovations that will help it stand out in a market filling up with automakers that are working on the future. Toyota is hard at work innovating with alternative fuels like hydrogen fuel cells and electric vehicles, as well as working toward autonomous vehicles that are going to play a big part on the market in the years to come. Toyota isn’t just known for reliability, it’s also known as an innovator as one of the first automakers to create widespread hybrid electric vehicles through the Prius, and the auto giant is working hard to do the same thing with hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and the other tech advancements that it’s working toward. Sure it’s tough for a company like Toyota to match the double digit growth that Tesla is enjoying, but at the end of the day Toyota is still at the top, and there are a lot of very good reasons for that.
The old Volkswagen Tiguan is known for being a bit cramped and not all that capable in off-roading situations either. That’s very different from how the 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan 4Motion is. It’s a bigger and better version of the SUV that can handle adverse driving conditions capably If you’re looking for an improved version of the SUV that gives you more space and better handling characteristics, the 2018 Tiguan 4Motion could be just the vehicle for you.
Highly Capable Off Road Handling
The Tiguan 4Motion is clearly targeted toward drivers that like to travel on rougher roads, which is exactly why it comes with such a capable all-wheel drive setup. The all-wheel drive typically puts all the vehicle’s power to the front wheels, but can switch to full power at the rear and any mixture in between to create capable handling characteristics during slippery conditions.
While driving around, all you have to do to take full advantage of the stability systems on the SUV is switch settings over to off-road mode. Doing so gives you smoother acceleration, traction and stability controls that aren’t quite so sensitive, an improved locking ratio and an electronic differential lock and a more ready all-wheel drive system that can take on rougher situations. The change is significant from one drive mode to the other, and it’s immediate. As soon as you switch the dial you’ll feel safer and the vehicle will handle whatever conditions you throw at it a bit more effectively.
Designed for Comfortable Commuting More than Anything
Even though the Tiguan 4Motion is more than capable of heading out onto a dirt track and performing well, that’s not really what it’s key design focus was when it was put together. The vehicle is made for spacious comfortable seating more than anything else. That’s why Volkswagen added on over 10 inches of length to the vehicle, as well as 1.2 inches of width and 4.4 inches to the overall wheelbase. There’s ample room within with plush seats that are a real treat to sit on. The vehicle is also much more efficient than many off-roading vehicles, which is why it lacks some of the power that alternative options have. That just means that you can drive around town without burning through as much fuel, which is probably how most owners will use the Tiguan anyway.
The Tiguan 4-Motiion is an interesting in-betweener vehicle with three-row seating, capable handling characteristics and the interior features you would expect of a modern-day vehicle. It’s a serious upgrade from the old Tiguan and a fun vehicle to own for anyone that likes to get dirty from time to time.
Toyota is well known as being one of the most reliable brands out on the road, as well as a brand that holds its value exceptionally well, and both of those reasons probably have a lot to do with Toyota vehicles being some of the most longest-owned vehicles out on the road today. AutoGuide put together a list of the top 10 vehicles held by owners the longest, and Toyota managed to take 4 of those top 10 positions, which is really impressive if you stop and think about it. Among that list was the 4Runner, the Avalon, the Sequoia and the Land Cruiser with the Camry coming close to hitting the list but not quite making it. So why is it that Toyota vehicles are being held so long, and what about those top four is so special?
One of the main reasons that people replace their vehicles is because of mechanical problems and frequent maintenance. Toyota vehicles are known for being exceptionally reliable, which means that owners have fewer reasons to trade them in for something else. With Toyota vehicles holding on for longer than other models, buyers can continue enjoying their investments for longer without thinking about a costly upgrade.
The Four Toyota’s
- 4Runner – The Toyota 4Runner is known for its reliability and it’s one of the most common SUVs that Toyota owners purchase. The vehicle doesn’t evolve too rapidly and owners aren’t as worried about the new tech features that come out.
- Avalon – the Avalon was the only sedan to make the list of longest held vehicles with 8.8 years of ownership on average. It’s known for being the most upscale vehicle offered in the Toyota lineup and it offers a good mix of value, performance and reliability.
- Sequoia – The Sequoia was kept by owners for an average of 8.9 years. It’s highly reliable, but there’s another reason owners held the vehicle so long, it hasn’t received a major update for nearly a decade and most owners don’t have a good reason to upgrade just yet.
- Land Cruiser – The Land Cruiser topped the list with 10.6 years of average ownership among buyers. It has one of the richest histories of any Toyota vehicle and has been around in one form or another since the 50’s. Like a few of the other models on this list, it hasn’t received a major upgrade just yet, which is probably influencing the lengthy ownership figure.
If length of ownership says anything about the quality of vehicles, and we believe that it does, Toyota has some of the best vehicles out there on offer today. It’s known for being reliable, and we see that reliability coming into play with owners keeping their Toyota’s for longer than owners of other brands.
The same technology that allows Bitcoin to be a viable currency around the world, could be just what Toyota needs to make self-driving vehicles a reality. At least that’s what the automaker and partner MIT now firmly believe.
Gathering the Necessary Data Quickly
Chris Ballinger, the director of mobility services and chief officer of finances at the Toyota research institute said it could take hundreds of billions of miles worth of human driving data in order to come up with a self-driving vehicle model that’s actually capable of handling all the common scenarios that you would encounter while out on the road. The main problem with that is actually gathering all that data without it taking an eternity to do so. One way to get hold of as much data as possible is through blockchain technology. The same tech that’s used to operate Bitcoin today. The massive dynamic ledger system could be used to gather driving data from all sorts of vehicles out on the road if implemented properly.
Using the Technology Immediately
Before Toyota begins using all the data collected from the blockchain tech for self-driving purposes, the automaker is going to utilize it in other ways as well. Toyota plans to use the technology to help create more effective insurance policies and insurance discount programs. Toyota also wants to use the technology to make ride-sharing more effective and to share trip data between vehicles within a fleet.
Involving other Automakers to Speed the Process
It’s important to note that Toyota does not want to keep the blockchain system of information gathering private, and instead wants to get other automakers involved as well. More user-data means more information for everyone involved. The more drivers are connected and sharing their data, the more quickly self-driving cars will become possible. That’s why Toyota is hoping to get other automakers connected into the blockchain network as well in the future.
Blockchain technology isn’t new, but it’s highly efficient for collecting data on a widespread scale, and it could be just the thing needed to make self-driving vehicles a reality.
Audi is hard at work developing self-driving vehicles for itself and all of Volkswagen. The automaker has created the goal of releasing its first fully self-driving vehicle by 2021, and seems to be on track to meet the goal if things go well for the automaker. Not only does Audi already have a well-funded team of engineers working on the task, but it’s about to put out the first sedan with Level 3 self-driving capabilities, just 2 levels off from the ultimate goal of a fully self-driving vehicle.
Likely Not for the Public
Though it’s exciting that Audi has chosen such a close goal for self-driving vehicles, it’s likely that the first batch of cars won’t be available for public sale. Instead the vehicles will probably be part of a testing and publicity fleet that will serve to pave the way for future generations of self-driving vehicles from Audi that do make their way out to the general public. That means that even though Audi may meet it’s goal and produce a self-driving vehicle by 2021, it’s likely that buyers will have to wait quite a bit longer before they can be chauffeured around in their very own self-driving Audi.
The Level 3 A8
Next month Audi plans to unveil an A8 with Level 3 driving capabilities. This vehicle will be able to handle some driving situations all on its own, but will require the driver to remain close at hand to take over in case there is a problem or a situation the vehicle can’t handle. Still, it will allow its owners to enjoy a bit of relaxation during situations that it’s capable of handling all on its own. The Level 3 A8 is an exciting step toward self-driving vehicles and will offer a preview into the future where even cooler tech is going to be available.
Achieving Level 4 by 2021
It’s likely that Audi’s vehicle in 2021 will be a level 4 self-driving vehicle. What that essentially means is that the car will be able to drive around and handle a wide variety of situations, but not everything. If the car encounters a problem that it isn’t capable of handling, it will signal the driver to take over, but if the driver isn’t able to do so the car will just pull over. That’s the major difference between level 4 and level 3, and it isn’t until level 5 that a self-driving vehicle will be able to take on every single situation that it’s presented with without pulling over.
It could be a decade or more until the first fully self-driving vehicle is out on the roads, but Audi is likely to come very close with its car released in 2021, and it’s one of the first automakers to offer self-driving technology to its owners now.
Mike Sullivan has been racing since his teens getting his adrenaline fix on the backs of dirt bikes, but it wasn’t until 2014 that he decided to give Porsche racing a try. After all, they say that racing your brand is an excellent way to connect with it on another level, and that’s absolutely true according to Sullivan. He teamed up with Carl Tofflemire, the Porsche sales manager at LAcarGuy at the time, and they began racing vintage Porsches together.
The moment that Porsche came out with the Cayman GT4 Clubsport racer back in 2015, Sullivan snapped up two of them with a price tag of about $200,000 each. That’s when he decided they were going to take part in more serious races, they would enter the 2016 Pirelli GT3 Cup Trophy USA series of races.
At the start of the series Sullivan decided to film the whole thing, and to his amazement the videos began getting some serious views. Within the first year of release his series had more than 180,000 views to his astonishment, and both drivers did better than expected with third place finishes in their categories.
It Just Made Sense to Create a Video Series
With nearly $20,000 going into each race, it only made sense for Sullivan to use all the racing footage to help promote his brand and bring more attention to Porsche South Bay. LAcarGUY has an in-house video department that’s responsible for creating videos and promoting them on social media, and the team worked hard to create the Behind the Wheel: GT4 Weekend Warriors series showing off everything that occurred during those 2016 races. The videos are all available at the porschesouthbay.com website.
The series had a production budget of about $50,000 with an additional $15,000 dedicated to social media marketing. The racing series was good business for the store though, and many of the racers featured in the video other than Sullivan and Tofflemire were actually customers that purchased their vehicles at the store as well. Nearly 10 vehicles were sold to racers in the series in 2015 and 2016.
Expanding the Store
Sullivan’s foray into more serious Porsche racing occurred at the same time that his old Porsche store was being improved upon with an all-new store in Hawthorne California. The $28 million construction is three times the size of the old store, and makes a real effort to show off the racing heritage of Porsche, with displays of some of Sullivan’s vintage race cars for customers to see upon entering the building.
Not only does the new store offer more space, more inventory and a richer presentation platform for the vehicles, but it’s right down the road from the Porsche Experience Center that promises to draw in interested buyers from all over the world.
Sullivan sees a real opportunity to expand his brand further with the racing and the release of the new store. He understands that it’s a chance to broaden his customer base and take things to a more national level. He wants to become the Porsche guy of more people around the country, and with more than 180,000 views on his racing series that seems like a strong possibility.
In a time when so many automakers out there are working hard to come up with their own tech solutions, Audi is taking the more practical approach and teaming up with Google for the best possible tech experience. Audi is integrating the Google Now personalized voice service into its vehicles more than ever before, making it possible to achieve a whole new level of control using just your voice to do it. This will make it possible to do cool things with your voice while driving down the road, and seems like a pretty good move by Audi to us.
What the Google Service Will Do
while Audi’s HERE service will still handle navigation tasks in the vehicle, Google Assistant will handle a bunch of other voice-controlled activities. Users of the advanced Google service are expected to be able to adjust the temperature settings of the heating and cooling system within the vehicle. They will also be able to roll windows up and down, adjust a sunroof, look up information and do more from behind the wheel of the vehicle. Audi vehicles are becoming more and more integrated with software and this will give voice control users more power as time goes by.
Faster Updates and More Personalization
Audi decided to work with Google for these services because the automaker believes the tech giant will be able to put out faster updates and create more personalized technology for users than Audi could itself. In other words, Audi is interested in releasing the best possible product to its customers, which should help improve the brand and make it more favorable for drivers overall.
Voice control technology is becoming more capable with each passing year, and Audi is teaming up with one of the tech giants that’s pioneering all that new tech. This should result in better technology for everyone driving around an Audi, and exciting updates in the future as Google does even more to innovate.
Volkswagen is working really hard to make its vehicles as efficient as possible, and one of the ways that it has long achieved fuel efficiency improvements is through cylinder activation in its engines. Many Volkswagen vehicles out on the road are capable of turning off half their cylinders while travelling down the road to cut fuel usage. That’s a pretty cool feature and it should be used on most vehicles today. Now Volkswagen is actually taking things a step further though, and releasing an engine that deactivates all its cylinders under certain conditions. This enables even greater fuel savings and should make for improved fuel economy figures in Volkswagen vehicles in the future.
The EVO Engine Disengages Fully During Coasting
The new version of Volkswagen’s EVO engine that is capable of cutting off all its cylinders only does so during periods of coasting. When the driver is going down the road without using the gas or the brake pedal, the engine will disengage itself and allow the vehicle to coast entirely. Since the engine fully decouples, it will not slow driving down at all even though it’s not operating, which should make for a very efficient system, especially when driving in hilly environments or other areas where coasting is common over long distances.
Heading to the Golf First
As one of the most efficient vehicles that Volkswagen offers, it makes a lot of sense that the Golf would be one of the first to receive the revolutionary engine. The engine should help make the Golf lineup more efficient and desirable. Volkswagen plans to install the engine in its Golf lineup first, and then move on to other models in the future as long as it’s successful in the Golf.
Volkswagen is working hard to make more efficient vehicles while building out its electric lineup, and it’s likely to innovate further in its quest for the highly efficient vehicle. This latest engine enhancement seems revolutionary, but buyers should wait for efficiency figures before getting too excited. It’s certainly a technology worth implementing, but without testing figures it’s hard to say exactly how much more efficient such a vehicle would be.
Many Porsche fans have at least heard of a PDK transmission, but there are still many people out there that don’t know quite what the technology is, how it works or why any of that matters. This article is for all you people out there that are interested in the transmission that’s used on nearly every modern Porsche today. It’s impressive tech, and after you understand what’s behind the name you’ll be even more excited to get behind the wheel of one of these modern marvels of engineering.
What is it?
The PDK transmission stands for Porsche Doppel Kupplungs, which means Porsche double-clutch transmission in English. A PDK is a dual-clutch transmission, but it’s a proprietary one developed by the automaker. It works much the same way as any other dual clutch transmission, and offers all the same benefits of that tech.
How a PDK is Setup
A PDK transmission is very similar in construction to a manual transmission with a clutch and flywheel, but there is a second clutch that works at the same time as the first, creating a fluid motion that enables nearly instant gear changes. One clutch handles half the gears and the other handles the other half. This means that while one clutch is disengaging, the other can engage at the same time. A set of specialized valves that are electronically operated handle all the gear changes of the vehicle making gear changes on-the-fly as needed.
No Clutch Wear
There is very minimal clutch wear in this system because Porsche relies on a wet clutch setup. Both clutches of the system are covered with oil to help them maintain nice smooth performance with minimal friction. That’s why you can operate a Porsche vehicle under extreme conditions and do very little to wear out the clutches of the vehicle.
Started in Racing
Like many of Porsche’s best tech, the PDK originated in racing and later migrated to the rest of the Porsche lineup. It was a highly desirable racing solution because the PDK allows for faster shifting. Racers could move around the track faster and with less distraction since they no longer had to worry about shifting. Those are the same benefits offered to Porsche owners today, that and they won’t have to deal with expensive clutch replacements.
The PDK clutch system is pretty cool when you understand what goes into it, but it’s not exclusive to only Porsche. There are other performance vehicles today that rely on a dual clutch setup as well, Porsche is just known for offering one of the most efficient clutch systems and one of the most resilient, making it a good value for buyers.