We Could See a Track Worthy Lexus LS in the Future

May 2, 2017 lacarguy Uncategorized Tags: , , ,

Lexus has long been a vehicle that focuses more on luxury features and comfort than it does performance. Lexus vehicles aren’t the first choice or even the third choice for most tuners or race track fanatics, but that could all be changing in the future. There hasn’t been an official announcement saying that Lexus is going to release a powerful track car, but there was a patent filed that indicates it’s possible. The LS-FC concept was shown off at the New York Auto Show last month, and that hints at a more performance focused Lexus, but it was the LS-F concept name patent filed by Lexus that showed the possibility for something more.

2017 Lexus LS

The LS-F

The LS-F seems like an unlikely release in the near future because Lexus already claimed that they were not going to come out with a LC-F vehicle, which would be the more obvious performance car, but that doesn’t mean that an LS-F is off the table either. There are some good reasons for making a high-performance variant of the LS before the LC, the most obvious of which is that it would be more affordable. Performance enthusiasts don’t mind spending more for their vehicles, but they don’t want to spend top-end prices either. Mid-range performance vehicles like the lower AMG variants are selling at high numbers, and this could be exactly what Lexus is trying to achieve as well. By tuning up its LS variant, buyers could pick up an affordable track-worthy vehicle to play with, and that could be just the thing to get Lexus recognized as a serious performance brand.

It Could Mean a Hydrogen Fuel Cell Variant Instead

While it’s possible that the LS sedan could receive a major performance variant, it’s also possible that the LS-F vehicle could actually be for a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle. If that’s the case it would be the first hydrogen-powered luxury sedan, and it could be another major step in the right direction for Toyota while trying to get the tech out there and increase its popularity. If that’s the case it could be just the thing needed to increase widespread adoption of hydrogen fuel cells.

Either way, it seems likely that Lexus is putting out a variant of its LS sedan, and that variant could be something pretty exciting if we’re interpreting the patent information properly. It’s also possible that Toyota is just covering itself and that no variation will be released for the LS at all. That’s why enthusiasts are encouraged to keep an eye over Lexus during the next few months to see what they are really up to.

Porsche Using Stickers to Censor 2018 Macan

May 1, 2017 lacarguy Porsche Tags: , , , , ,

The Porsche Macan went from being a strange idea that many Porsche fans rejected, to a popular mainstay of the brand. The Macan has already been through a few evolutions since being released, but Porsche is clearly trying out another one as we speak. The interesting thing isn’t the changes the Macan is receiving, but how Porsche has decided to mask the next vehicle, with stickers.

2018 Porsche Macan Spy

Sticker Covers

That’s right, Porsche has placed stickers over top of the 2018 Macan in order to make it look like a 2017 version of the vehicle. By looking where the stickers have been placed, it’s easy to see what changes are coming on the latest model and what you can expect from the automaker overall. The stickers are actually pretty difficult to notice in pictures, and they’re a brilliant way to block distinctive features on the latest Macan while still getting it out there for testing.

Only Minor Changes are Coming

On the front of the Macan the headlights are clearly being changed up in some way, but it’s tough to see exactly what the change is from a picture alone. It also looks like the Macan is getting a new bumper and fog lights, and it’s very likely that it’s going to have an LED across the entire back, or at least that’s what the full-sized rear sticker would suggest. Overall the cosmetic changes are all just speculation, but there are quite a few modifications coming.

Expect Interior and Engine Upgrades

Not only is the exterior of the 2018 Macan getting some changes here and there, but buyers should expect the interior to be notably changed, and for there to be different engine options than what is currently offered on the Macan. There could even be a plug-in hybrid version of the popular sports SUV offered by Porsche, which would be very interesting.

While the 2018 Porsche Macan doesn’t look like it will be a revolutionary vehicle, it will come with quite a few changes to its front and rear, and it will be interesting to see exactly what those are. Don’t expect to have to wait months to hear about them though, it’s likely that Porsche will put out an announcement and show off the vehicle before the end of summer.

Toyota is Considering Natural Gas Fuel Cells

April 25, 2017 lacarguy Toyota Tags: , , , ,

By now most people have heard of hydrogen fuel cells being used in vehicles like the Toyota Mirai to move them around the road without utilizing fossil fuels to do the job. This technology is pretty cool, and it works surprisingly well, but so far it isn’t’ all that practical on a wide-scale. That’s because hydrogen isn’t widely available just yet, and it could be quite a while before there are enough hydrogen refueling facilities to keep cars running all over the world. That’s one of the reasons that Toyota has been toying with the idea of a natural gas fuel cell instead.

Natural Gas Fuel Cell

A Natural Gas Fuel Cell

Just like the hydrogen fuel cell, a natural gas fuel cell would be used to generate electricity to drive a vehicle down the road. The main difference is that it will use natural gas rather than pure hydrogen. The natural gas would be split into hydrogen and carbon monoxide, and both substances would be used to generate electricity for the vehicle. The fuel cell stack on its own will generate electricity at around 53 percent efficiency, but by putting a heat reclaimer in the system Toyota is able to reach efficiency levels around 65 percent, which is better than its current hydrogen fuel cell.

Not as Helpful to Climate change

One of the major criticisms of this new technology is that burning natural gas is not as good for the environment as hydrogen fuel could be if it was produced using renewable resources, and that’s absolutely true. AT the moment hydrogen isn’t being produced with renewable resources though, and it’s being created with fossil fuels. In other words, relying on a natural gas fuel cell over a hydrogen fuel cell could actually be better for the environment currently. That’s because natural gas contributes less to climate change than gas or diesel fuel does. Making the switch to another fossil fuel might not seem like the right move to help mitigate climate change, but at the moment it’s a step that actually makes quite a bit of sense.

Maybe Not for Vehicle Use

While Toyota is experimenting with this new technology, at the moment it only seems like it’s destined for businesses and residential use to generate power for local energy needs. It isn’t being tested for vehicle use just yet, and it’s possible that the tech will never be used in vehicles. Even still, it’s interesting to look at different technologies and ways of doing things.

New Advanced Volkswagen Powertrain Options on the Horizon

April 24, 2017 lacarguy Volkswagen Tags: , , , ,

Volkswagen is hard at work trying to make more sustainable vehicles that drivers are going to want to operate in the future. To help create those high-tech vehicles that won’t release as many fossil fuels into the atmosphere, Volkswagen is working on advanced engine tech, like a costing internal combustion engine, they’re perfecting their hybrid technology and also trying out different fuel sources such as compressed natural gas to get around.

2017 volkswagen jetta

Driving without the Engine

One of the biggest wastes of fuel is running the engine when it’s not being utilized to drive the wheels down the road. Today most engines run even when they aren’t being used to drive the tires of the vehicle, and that burns up fuel just like driving does. That’s why most engines get significantly worse fuel efficiency in slow stop-and-go traffic than it does out on the highway where the engine is being fully engaged at all times.

To answer this issue Volkswagen developed an engine that does away with this problem. The engine relies on what it dubs as micro-hybrid technology to start and stop it depending on need. In other words, for situations where you are sitting in traffic and not moving, or where you are able to let off the gas to do something like coast down a hill, the engine would shut off entirely and save all that fuel that would otherwise be burnt. The small electric power system built into the engine would help it get started up again where it left off, and you would never even realize that it wasn’t running to begin with.

This advanced engine is going to be released in a few Volkswagen vehicles to start with and the overall offerings are due to expand over time. It’s a pretty cool idea though, and it’s more affordable to implement than say a full hybrid electric setup like you would find in the Prius.

A More Powerful Full Electric Setup

Volkswagen is working hard to make full-electric vehicles more capable. One of the major changes the automaker made to facilitate that is a new electric-architecture. The system will first show up in 2020 in the Budd-e5 and should offer an increased range with powerful and efficient driving mechanics. The more potent battery used in the vehicle will allow ranges up to 185 miles, which is pretty significant compared to most electric vehicles out on the road today.

Testing out Compressed Natural Gas

Volkswagen is also looking closely at compressed natural gas as a fuel source. The company wants to test out relying on this type of fuel to drive vehicles down the road because it’s a good way to reduce emissions over standard gasoline or diesel. Compressed natural gas produced by fossil fuels is more efficient and better for the environment than gasoline or diesel are. The fuel can be produced from biomethane though, and when the fuel is made in that manner it’s much better for the environment overall than the other fossil fuels are.

It’s a good time to be looking into alternative fuel sources, which is why it makes so much sense for Volkswagen to be experimenting with hybrid, full electric and natural gas technologies to make vehicles more efficient and sustainable.

The Differences Between the Prius and Prius Prime

April 21, 2017 lacarguy Uncategorized Tags: , , , , , ,

If you’re like many people shopping around for a hybrid car, you have to decide whether the Prius Prime or the standard Prius is the right vehicle for you. Both options offer some benefits and have some downsides. Ultimately, the one that’s best for you depends on what your priorities are and what you want out of a vehicle. That’s why we’re going to break down the differences between the two vehicles so you can make the decision for yourself.

Prius on the left Prius Prime on the right
Prius – Prius Prime pictured

Storage Space

If you value storage space and you frequently fill up the trunk of your vehicle currently, you probably won’t want to go for the Prius Prime, that is unless you can use the back seat of the vehicle for your storage needs. That’s because the Prius Prime has little trunk space. Toyota shoved all the batteries necessary for the extended full-electric driving range into the trunk of the vehicle, so it’s very shallow.

Fuel Efficiency

If you value fuel efficiency above all else, the Prius Prime is likely the vehicle for you. It comes equipped with battery packs that allow you to get up to 25 miles on a single charge before you start burning up gas at all. That means that you can charge up your car, head out on the trip and kick in the full-electric driving power whenever you hit a city portion of your trip. You can get over 100 MPG when using the full-electric mode to drive, and you’ll likely get over 70 or 80 MPG combined by the end of your trip if you aren’t travelling too far away. That’s a pretty big increase over the 50 to 60 MPG that you could expect from the standard Prius.

Sporty Handling

Neither Prius is known for very sporty handling, but the Prius Prime is even worse when it comes to driving mechanics. That’s because the batteries add around 300 pounds to the back of the vehicle and give it a heavy weighted feeling. This is especially obvious when going around corners and you’ll have a somewhat uninspired driving experience when taking the Prius Prime out for a spin. If driving mechanics are most important to you, the Prime is likely not the option for you, and the standard Prius is going to offer a slightly more satisfying experience overall.

Streamlined Media System

If you want a nice streamlined tech setup, the Prius is ahead of the Prius Prime. That’s because the new system used in the Prime is a bit overcomplicated and it can be difficult to learn to use. That doesn’t mean you won’t be able to get the hang of things, it just means you’ll have to spend some extra time mastering the features than you would have to if you were learning on the standard Prius. If you don’t mind taking the time, the media system works well, you’ll just be a bit more overwhelmed when starting out.

Tech and Features

If tech and features are important to you, the standard Prius Prime comes packed with quite a bit more than the standard Prius. You’ll enjoy a powerful adaptive cruise setup that works all the way down to start and stop traffic. The car also comes with parallel parking assist making it a bit easier to get into those tight spaces will parking in the city.

Overall both vehicles have a lot to offer. The Prius Prime offers more efficiency and more tech. The standard Prius offers more storage space, slightly better performance and a simpler tech experience. Both are highly efficient, but it’s up to you which one is the right fit for your needs.

Porsche is Planning a Different Kind of Self Driving Car

April 20, 2017 lacarguy Porsche Tags: ,

Autonomous driving is a feature that’s coming soon, or at least that’s what most of the experts in the auto industry are predicting. Most major car companies are hard at work trying to get a car to safely drive you around the road, and through extensive research tests are getting closer and closer to successfully doing just that. Many automakers want to make it so that drivers never have to drive again. So that they can lounge peacefully behind the wheel of the car, or even without a wheel at all, and get transported to the final destination. This isn’t want performance brands like Porsche or Mazda want though. They’re more interested in meeting somewhere in the middle.

2017 Porsche 911

Why Porsche Doesn’t Want Always on Auto Driving

Porsche isn’t interested in autonomous driving features that are always on for vehicle owners. That’s because Porsche is a performance brand and most Porsche owners have the vehicles for the driving experience. In other words, Porsche owners wouldn’t have a reason to buy a Porsche if they weren’t going to be driving it.

Instead Porsche wants to create vehicles with autonomous driving that you can switch on and off as you see fit. These systems would give you control over the auto features, but still make driving safer at the same time.

Autonomous Driving Standard in Every Porsche

According to Klaus Zellmer, the North American CEO of Porsche, autonomous driving will be like cruise control is today. It’s a tech that will soon be standard in every Porsche, but something that you’ll be able to pick and choose when you use it. This means that Porsche owners will have the option if they don’t feel like driving, but there’s no need to use an autonomous driving feature, just as there isn’t a need to use cruise control today.

A Behind the Scenes Nanny

Porsche understands that autonomous driving is a way to make driving safer, and Zellmer believes that the best answer is to create safety features that run in the background without taking away from the driving experience. In other words, a computer would be running with a series of sensors that detect any danger, and correct errors that the driver makes without even worrying the driver about the errors. You could safely enjoy the thrill of driving your Porsche, while operating it under much safer circumstances than is possible today with this tech.

Autonomous driving is exciting for car owners and it’s a feature nearly everyone wants to implement, Porsche just wants to make sure that the act of driving remains enjoyable and that aficionados can drive to their heart’s desire without being taxied around all the time.

Audi is Planning an Exciting EV for 2019

April 19, 2017 lacarguy Audi Tags: , ,

Audi is planning to release a powerful full-electric vehicle by 2019. This car will have a sporty look and performance to match. It will do 0 to 60 in just 4.5 seconds and has an approximate driving range of 300 miles on a full charge. It’s going to be a capable EV and a good second step toward creating a capable lineup of electric vehicles.

audi etron sportback concept car

How the Range is Possible

In order to make the 300 mile range possible, Audi is equipping the vehicle with a 95 kWh battery pack that will hold up over an extended period when it’s finally charged up all the way. That’s a pretty serious battery pack, and it’s going to add some weight to the ride, but the Audi should still feel quick and powerful during regular operation.

Brimming with Futuristic Tech

The latest full-electric Audi coupe is going to come stocked with plenty of cool tech features that will make owning the vehicle even more rewarding. It’s going to come with a set of Matrix LED lights as well as laser lighting and OLEDs to create brilliant light on the outside of the vehicle and to offer communication with other drivers around the vehicle to keep it safer when inn congested driving conditions.

The car is going to get rid of blind spots as well. That’s because a series of real-time cameras will show you exactly what’s on the other side of the vehicle so you can move from lane to lane with confidence that you aren’t going to have any problems.

Audi’s Electric Future

The two full electric vehicles planned within the next couple years from Audi won’t be it for the company. The automaker has big plans to implement even more electrified vehicles in the coming future to go along with Volkswagen’s plans to move toward an EV future. Audi wants to fit at least a quarter of its lineup with batteries by 2025, and release at least three electric vehicles by 2020.

EV fans will soon have plenty of luxury options to choose from, and eventually it’s likely that much of Audi’s lineup will either be a hybrid or full electric vehicle. That’s pretty exciting for anyone that’s sick of inefficient vehicles, and it’s a good direction for Audi to move toward to help modernize the brand more.

The Highlander Hybrid offers Some Useful Benefits to Drivers

April 18, 2017 lacarguy Uncategorized Tags: , , , , ,

The Toyota Highlander is a well-known kid hauler that offers utility, space and power for most day-to-day driving. Few buyers consider the difference between the hybrid and the standard gas version of the SUV though, and there are a few notable differences that might make you want to consider one over the other. The Hybrid is slightly more efficient, but you’ll notice the differences more when you are speeding up or performing maintenance

2017 toyota highlander hybrid

Fuel Efficiency

If you’re looking for a fuel efficient vehicle you shouldn’t spend money on an SUV. Even still, the Highlander Hybrid does offer better fuel-efficiency than the stock model, making it a good move if you’re looking for a large SUV that does a bit better on gas.

The base LE model gets 29 MPG combined and that’s the most efficient you can get with the hybrid. It gets 30 in the city and 28 out on the highway. Fuel efficiency dips down by one if you go for one of the upgraded versions of the vehicle. Efficiency levels of nearly 30 MPG aren’t too shabby for a full-sized SUV, but when you consider that the latest non-hybrid Highlander is just 4 MPG or so shy of that mark, it stops being quite so impressive. The hybrid option isn’t a large price increase though, and deciding on the hybrid Highlander over the all-wheel drive LE Highlander will only set you back an added $2,130, which isn’t too bad for the added efficiency, power and the other perks that the vehicle has to offer.

It’s Quick

The 2017 Highlander Hybrid can travel from 0 to 50 in just 7.0 seconds, which is a speed increase of .6 seconds over the older hybrid, and a .3 second increase over the standard 2017 Highlander. During acceleration you’ll feel all the power of the V6 and the electric motors. The vehicle loses some of its hybrid edge at higher speeds though, because the V6 is doing most of the work at that point. Even still, it’s faster than the standard Highlander, which could be a good reason for buyers to consider making the bump up to the higher priced vehicle.

Regenerative Braking

Another big benefit of the hybrid Highlander is that it comes with regenerative braking. Sure it doesn’t offer as good a feel as standard braking does, but it helps preserve your brake pads so when it comes time to swap them out you’ll have put thousands more miles on the pads than a standard highlander owner could get away with.

Same Interior

Whether you get the standard Highlander or the hybrid variation, you’re going to get around the same interior with similar features. Both have around the same interior space offering plenty of seating for a full family and space to haul your goodies. The interior comes with a capable media system and there are plenty of other tech goodies like the LED lightning accents, upscale finishes within, and high quality controls.

Overall you probably don’t want to invest in the hybrid version just to save on gas money. Fuel is too cheap and the difference is pretty minor. Still, there are enough other perks to the hybrid Highlander that you still might want to consider getting one in place of the standard gas version of the vehicle.

Volkswagen Has Plans for another SUV after the Atlas

April 17, 2017 lacarguy Uncategorized Tags: , , ,

Volkswagen is mixing up its strategy lately to be more family-friendly and what that ultimately means is producing larger vehicles that can accommodate more people and more luggage comfortably. That’s why the 7-seat Atlas went into production, but it’s not the only vehicle that’s slated for release. The Atlas is an exciting creation that gets Volkswagen into the large family game, but the automaker is also planning to release a mid-sized 5-seat SUV as well, and it’s going to be produced in the same exactly location as the Atlas.

volkswagen cross coupe concept

Based on the Cross Coupe GTE Concept

Back in 2015 Volkswagen showed off the Cross Coupe GTE concept at the Detroit Auto Show and it’s believed that the 5-seat SUV that Volkswagen is about to begin producing is based off that concept. That vehicle had a plug-in charge feature, and with VW trying to improve its lineup efficiency, there’s a good chance that there will be a plug-in option for the buyers that are interested in that sort of thing.

Built in Tennessee

The second SUV produced by Volkswagen is going to be built in the Chattanooga Tennessee plant alongside the Passat and the Atlas. This gives workers at the plant another reason to be confident in their job security, and it means that the vehicles will be readily available without shipping times once they’re produced. This is all good news for buyers that are interested in buying domestic vehicles. Each SUV produced by Volkswagen results in steady jobs for Americans.

The Details

There currently aren’t many details about the second VW SUV. It’s going to have five seats and will be quite a bit smaller than the Atlas. It’s going to be built on the MQB platform that so many VW vehicles are based on these days, and it’s likely to prioritize tech features, interior space and appearance to create the best driver experience overall.

Volkswagen is moving in a whole new direction for the brand, and that’s an exciting thing for buyers with an interest in SUVs. We’ll have to wait and see exactly what the next SUV is going to be like, but so far it looks like a pretty promising vehicle overall.

The 2017 Toyota Prius is Named the World Green Car

April 13, 2017 lacarguy Toyota Tags: , , , ,

Most vehicles out on the road today aren’t considered environmentally friendly, but that’s all about to change with some help from Toyota. The automaker is hard at work developing vehicles that use less fuel and drive around while producing fewer pollutants, which is exactly why the automaker received the World Green Car title for the second year in a row. It’s a pretty major achievement, and something to be proud of.

The 2017 Toyota Prius

Choosing the Prius Prime

It wasn’t simple deciding on the Prius Prime, there were several quality options to consider when making the decision. A total of 12 different vehicles from around the world were considered. When making a decision, things like fuel consumption, tailpipe emissions and the level of technology in the engine were all considered. These considerations helped the reviewers decide which vehicle was most worth rewarding and it was a model from Toyota yet again.

During the review process, a set of 75 automotive journalists from 23 different countries were asked to come together and judge the different vehicles being considered. It was only after through research and deliberation that the Prius {rime was determined to be the most environmentally friendly production vehicle sold in 2017. It’s an exciting victory and something that Toyota is undoubtedly excited about. This is what Jack Hollis, group vice president of the Toyota division had to say about the award.

“It is a great honor to see the Prius Prime named the World Green Car,” “For global automakers like Toyota, this award is a testament to our focus on developing products that both stir the emotions and meet the mobility needs of our customers in all corners of the world. “

Two Years in a Row

In 2016 Toyota received the very same award for its Mirai hydrogen fuel cell vehicle. That just goes to show that the automaker is interested in awards and achievements and in alternative energy vehicles. The cars are both well-known for being positive changes for the environment, and that could be exactly why they both qualified for the award.