by Todd Todd Bianco ACarIsNotARefrigerator.com
In any constellation, some stars appear brighter than others. In the constellation of Fuji Heavy Industries, Ltd. – one of Japan’s largest industrial companies – its subsidiary, Subaru, is that shining star.
Literally and figuratively, Subaru, which is the Japanese word for the Pleaides – has been a rock star in the depressed auto sales environment spawned by the collapse of the economy in 2008. Over the past few years, Subaru has seen double-digit sales increases and 2011 was its best year ever.
Perhaps it’s Subaru’s legendary reliability or perhaps its just that the company stayed laser-focused on its core “outdoor lifestyle vehicles” for its rabidly-loyal customers. Whatever the reason, there is no argument that Subaru has hit a successful formula that continues to resonate with hard-core enthusiasts as well as more recent members of the Subaru family.
If you know nothing about Subaru, you should know that it has two defining traits. First, it’s the only mass-market auto manufacturer that uses flat boxer engines in all its vehicles. (Porsche uses boxer engines in its sports cars, but not its other products.) And that boxer engine always drives all four wheels to form what Subaru calls symmetrical all-wheel drive.
Here’s an animation of how the Subaru boxer engine and symmetrical all-wheel drive work:
While Subaru is a popular niche brand in the Southland, you really need to drive up to Big Bear, Mammoth or anywhere in the Pacific Northwest to appreciate how many people choose a Subaru over other AWD cars. The first time I went to Jackson Hole, I was amazed by the number of people (full-time residents) who had a big 4-wheel drive pickup or SUV and a Subaru wagon in their driveways.
The Impreza has been Subaru’s humble entry-level car for many years. For 2012, while Honda and Toyota played it safe with subtle evolutions of their core products, Subaru took a quantum leap with the Impreza. The body, while remaining almost identical in size to the outgoing model, received new creased and crisp sheet metal and the interior lost much of the cheap-looking plastics in favor of more tailored, textured and soft-touch materials.
Beneath the handsome new metal (with nicely detailed wheel wells) is Subaru’s new 2.0L boxer engine making a relatively modest 148 hp 145 lb-ft of torque. The new engine sheds half a liter and 22 horsepower, but you’d never know it because its power and torque is managed much more efficiently by the new Lineartronic CVT (continuously variable transmission) that replaces the old-school four-speed automatic. Both a 5-speed manual and the CVT are available, but the CVT is the only transmission offered on the top-line Limited model.
Subaru claims a zero to 60 mpg time of 9.8 seconds, 0.3 seconds faster than the last Impreza that had a more powerful engine. While it’s not glacial, it’s 1/10th of a second slower than a standard Prius. It did seem quick off the line, but it takes a bit more time and effort for the engine to achieve highway speed.
The big news, however, is that fuel economy jumped from a decidedly uncompetitive 20 mpg city, 26 mpg highway to 27 mpg city, 36 mpg highway. That stunning 30% increase instantly makes Subaru competitive with other subcompact cars, even while sporting the heavier AWD hardware not available on any competitor like the Honda Civic or Ford Focus.
The new Impreza has a smaller gas tank (14.5 gallons), but with the boosted fuel economy, it still has a potential cruising range of more than 500 miles.
The base 2012 Impreza 2.0i sedan is $17,495. Additional trim levels are Premium and Limited. Add $500 for the 5-door version and $1,000 for the 5-door Sport. I wanted to test the much more rakish and desirable 5-door Sport Limited model; but those are so popular, dealers can’t keep them in stock.
My gracious host at Subaru Pacific had a loaded Limited sedan (MSRP $24,895) ready for me to test. The standard Lineartronic CVT produces the best fuel economy. The sedan is identical to the 5-door/Sport model from the B-pillar forward, so both should have the same driving characteristics.
First, I’d like to state for the record that I’m not a big fan of CVTs. CVTs are a bit buzzy and the mechanical shifts I like to feel when driving are missing. That said, Subaru’s CVT is pretty advanced and civilized. Humming and complaining was reserved for heavy acceleration. However, in normal stop-and-go city traffic and highway speed cruising, the transmission works well and is unobtrusive.
The Lineartronic’s “M” mode gives the driver the feel and control of a 6-speed automatic. Handsome silver paddle shifters behind the steering wheel engage the fun. The LCD information screen between the analog gauges displays the number corresponding to the “gear” you feel you’re in. Slick stuff, but it’s more of a gimmick than useful. You’ll find yourself just leaving it in Drive and saving the manual mode for a steep decline.
The four-wheel independent suspension with double wishbones in the rear and MacPherson struts up front absorb rough surfaces better than in the past and the overall architecture is 110 pounds lighter (mostly from engine weight) and more rigid. Subaru added some sound-deadening materials that makes the cabin a place where you can hold a normal conversation at highway speeds, even if there is some road noise.
Standard 4-wheel antilock disc brakes (ABS) with Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) grab the wheels with assurance. Some cars in this class are still cutting costs with rear drum brakes. Of course, there are loads of airbags and the standard electronic nannies of traction control (TCS) and vehicle dynamics control (VDC) and the IIHS awarded the 2012 Impreza its Top Safety Pick rating.
Driving the new Impreza is an uncomplicated experience. As I discussed above, it’s not fast, but it is quick off the line which is good for city driving. There is no torque steer, thanks to the AWD and the 50/50 split torque management system. The electric power steering is light and easy, if a bit vague. It tracked dead straight with my hands off the wheel. It also had a great turning radius (34.8 feet) that allowed me to do doughnuts in the Porsche Pacific parking lot.
The little Subie’s low CG and stiffer structure help keep it flat and controlled in corners — this is no Costa Concordia. Visibility was excellent due to a low belt-line and the new higher seating position.
Creature features are present too. There is the usual power windows, mirrors and remote locking. Leather trimmed seats are standard on the Limited model, as is the effective single-zone automatic climate control, automatic headlights and two-level heated front seats for those chilly mornings.
The back-lit analog instruments are easy to read and a vertical LCD screen between the two gauge displays the gear and fuel level was well as information from the multi-function trip computer including ambient temperature, average fuel economy and time. A 4.3″ horizontal LCD screen centered on top of the dash also displays information from the mufti-function trip computer.
The Limited trim level includes a 6-speaker single-CD audio system with USB/iPod/AUX and power port (under the armrest) and Bluetooth hands-free connectivity.
The $2,000 Moonroof + Navigation Package on my tester added a power moonroof, GPS touch-screen navigation, an upgraded audio system with HD radio, iTunes tagging, XM Satellite Radio, XM Real-Time Traffic, Bluetooth 2.0 audio streaming, an SD card reader (music only) and SMS text messaging capabilities.
The center dash console is decidedly uncluttered and mercifully free of fake plastic wood. I liked the dark graphite plastic surround and the aluminum-look horizontal blades on either side.
Only three buttons adorn the left side of the navigation screen Audio, Voice Control and Map. Simple, yes, but I was looking for a dedicated telephone button. All radio functions are performed through the touch-screen, but I think physical shortcut buttons for AM/FM/Sat/Aux would be helpful. Redundant audio and telephone controls are on the steering.
My car was equipped with the optional $250 auto-dimming rearview mirror with digital compass and HomeLink garage opener. I love the compass and ditching the garage door opener clipped to the visor tidies things up. It can be factory-ordered or dealer-installed.
Of course, I have a few gripes. I would have liked more legroom and additional driver’s seat adjustments. The good news is that I was able to sit behind myself, and I had the front seat as far back as could go for my 6 foot 1 inch frame. In fact, the 2012 Impreza added one inch to the wheelbase which helped engineers add two inches of rear leg room. This is much appreciated space in a small car.
The door plastics were still hard, although textured. The dash cowl was covered with softer plastic, more in line with the competition. I give Subaru props for the effort, but compared to the competition, there is room for improvement.
The 6.1 inch navigation screen looks small compared to the 7 inch screen in the Hyundai Elantra and the 8 inch one in the Focus. However, the full color graphics were sharp and the touch screen was responsive. I’d also like a backup camera.
So here’s the deal: A fully-loaded Impreza is just slightly more than a similar Civic or Elantra. But only Subaru delivers as standard equipment, its reliable, proven symmetrical all-wheel drive with a new, efficient boxer engine and a CVT.
The Verdict: The 2012 Impreza is a fun, economical and versatile little car that can take you places no other subcompact dare go. And based on 2012 Impreza sales – a 58% increase in December 2011 alone – I’d say the secret is out.
Note: If you want something with more ground clearance, something in the crossover category, the 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek, based on the 2012 Impreza platform and drivetrain, is coming in a few months.
As you may know, Toyota is growing its Prius family line of vehicles in hopes that a few variations on our most successful battery-powered recipe will offer buyers solutions that the conventional Prius simply couldn’t match. Have you been considering a Prius but felt that the standard vehicle would not accommodate your growing family? Or do you lead a more active lifestyle and require something that will easily carry all your gear without you having to master the art of packing? Well, do we have the vehicle for you.
When it came to designing the Prius V, Toyota’s designers wanted to make sure that the newcomer would still be instantly recognized as a member of the Prius dynasty. Up front, the vehicle wears both stylized head lamps and a rounded front fascia that’s remarkably similar to the 2011 Prius. It also worth noting that the front fenders and hood are completely new sheetmetal. Also, the headlight housing has been altered to incorporate a new ridge that reduces wind turbulence around the side view mirrors. As a result, the small change has a huge impact on interior noise.
From the side, the wagon-like presence of the Prius V is inescapable with its long roof, similarly lengthy rear doors, and an extended cargo area. The rear offers a fairly sizable hatch that terminates in a unique rear spoiler which serves an aerodynamic purpose. Toyota designers and engineers made an effort to decrease the vehicle’s coefficient of drag as much as possible to increase fuel efficiency. Enhancements include touches like protrusions from the front and rear bumper, specially designed side skirts and extensive underbody cladding that help the Prius V return its .29 coefficient of drag.
Engineers essentially stretched the Prius floorplan to give the Prius V an extra three inches of wheelbase and six inches of overall length. Combined with a taller roof, additional glass and large rear hatch, this newcomer weighs 3,274 lb. Opting to skip throwing extra horsepower to all that weight, engineers simply changed the axle ratio from 3.268:1 to 3.704:1. As a result, the Prius V feels just as adequate on the road as the third-generation Prius. The new gear ratio means that acceleration is perfectly acceptable for matching wits with traffic in town or on the highway with 0-60 mph sprints taking an estimated 10.4 seconds. A total of four drive modes are accessible via buttons mounted on the center console, including EV, Eco, Power, and Normal modes.
Under the hood, the same 2ZR-FXE 1.8-liter Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder engine found in the base Prius supplies power in conjunction with a pair of liquid-cooled motor generators. Engineers designed the transaxle case in the Prius V with integrated water jackets for the first time to keep the motors at a steady temperature, thereby increasing longevity and performance at the same time. Combined output sits at 134 hp at 5,200 rpm and 105 lb-ft of torque at 4,000 rpm. The exhaust recirculation system was also redesigned to decrease the drivetrain’s warm-up period, as a result, the Prius V can reach optimum operating temperature up to a minute sooner than vehicles equipped with the old system.
As most other automakers are flocking to lithium-ion batteries, Toyota has decided that there is no need to pursue the added cost of the technology for the Prius V. Instead, the hybrid wagon uses a modified version of the same nickel-metal hydride battery pack found in the third-gen Prius. Total output has been boosted slightly to 650 volts, and the more compact battery configuration keeps from impeding on interior room. Additionally, the battery pack’s cooling duct now draws ambient air from a hidden location under the second-row seats.
If you’re looking toward a small SUV, a crossover, or a wagon, the Prius V has all the functionality of those vehicles with the fuel economy and panache that only the Prius name can offer. With improved functionality, the Prius V can be the vehicle to accommodate a growing family with an active lifestyle. Contact us to book your test drive today and we will notify you as soon as the vehicle hits our showroom. Follow us on Twitter and join our Facebook community to keep up with the latest updates.
For some there is still a stigma with buying a pre-owned car. “Why do I want to buy someone else’s problems? They got rid of that car for a REASON!” are the most oft heard reasons for only buying new. And yet the other side of that coin is you often can get much more value for your dollar buy buying a car that is only a couple years old. Couple that with a car that has gone through a 160+ point inspection by a Certified Toyota trained technician, and you have a Toyota Certified Pre-Owned car that looks and feels showroom new!
At Toyota Santa Monica we take the time to put a personal touch on every certified pre-owned Toyota. Not only do we a have dedicated technician go over the car, but our Pre-Owned Manager Michael Edelstein goes over them as well. Every ding, every dent, every scratch has been removed. Every car not only comes with the checklist of 160+ items we’ve inspected for, but it also comes with a Carfax report so you can see the full history of the car as well.
It is quite fitting that HSH Prince Albert of Monaco was the one to put the Fisker Karma through its paces at the Formula One Monaco Grand Prix. His Serene Highness is known for his commitment to the environment and has always expressed a strong interest in encouraging innovative solutions for environmental protection and sustainable development around the world.
According to Henrik Fisker, it was actually the Sovereign Prince that was the inspiration behind the development of the Karma. Fisker commented: “The Fisker Karma project has a distinct Monaco link. Prince Albert was one of the people who inspired me to create the Fisker Karma. When I met him at the Top Marques Show in Monaco in 2006 he commented that he would love to see a fuel-efficient luxury car, and from that small seed grew the concept of what became Fisker Automotive and our focus on premium EVer cars that deliver pure driving passion.” We want to thank both the principality of Monaco and Prince Albert for not only being the inspiration, but also a great support for our groundbreaking automotive green initiative,” continued Fisker.
Visitors to the world’s most prestigious motorsport event were among the first to see the first Fisker Karma off the production line as it made its European driving debut on the famous street circuit. On Saturday 28 May 2011, before official race qualifying began, the first European production version of the Fisker Karma, the world’s first true Electric Vehicle with extended range, took to the streets of Monaco, completing a couple of laps.
The Fisker Karma is the first American-designed and engineered luxury vehicle specifically developed to appeal to world markets, inspired by Henrik’s paradigm of Responsible Luxury. It is the only luxury sedan in the world that meets future fuel consumption and emission requirements, making it suitable for any international city. It is the only true Electric Vehicle with extended range where its rear wheels are powered using two rear-mounted 201.5 horsepower (150 kW) electric traction motors that draw energy from the lithium-ion battery pack for up to 50 miles (80 km.) The gasoline engine drives a 175 kW electric generator to power the motors and there is no mechanical link between this engine and the drive motors.
The Fisker Karma is unique in that it can operate in two separate modes: Stealth and Sport. Stealth Mode maximizes efficiency, giving it the greatest range on battery power before having to activate the gasoline engine-driven generator to sustain the battery charge. In this mode, the Karma is capable of accelerating from 0 to 60 mph in 7.9 seconds and tops out at 95 mph. In Sport Mode, the gasoline engine drives the generator to provide enough electricity for 403 total system horsepower, which accelerates the Karma from 0 to 60 mph in just 5.9 seconds, topping out at 125 mph.
The Fisker Karma was designed to be a true driver’s car. Its proprietary aluminum space frame gives it the necessary rigidity and strength that enable world-class ride and handling characteristics. It is the first production car that has been specifically tuned to run on standard 22-inch aluminum wheels, giving it that final air of sophistication.
Fisker plans on delivering vehicles to all current deposit holders during the 2011 model year. We invite you to come in for a test drive as soon as the first vehicles hit showrooms. Follow us on Twitter and join our Facebook community to stay in the loop of the latest updates.
The starting MSRP of $19,995 for the all-new 2012 Volkswagen Passat will definitely make it a strong contender in the highly competitive midsize segment. “The 2012 Passat is a true Volkswagen, offering German engineering, class-leading standard features, and superior fuel economy, all for a remarkable value,” said Jonathan Browning, President and CEO, Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. “Demonstrating our commitment to the American market, the car will be produced at one of the newest, most advanced, and environmentally responsible auto assembly plants in the world in Chattanooga, Tennessee.” The 2012 Passat offers exceptional standard features and premium options and will be available in three powertrains with multiple trim options, all at an equally impressive price.
The starting price of $19,995 will get you into the 2.5L with a six-speed manual transmission, giving you 170 horsepower. There are eight, count ‘em eight trim levels and standard are automatic dual-zone climate control, Bluetooth connectivity, steering wheel audio controls, and Volkswagen’s no-charge three-year/36,000 mile schedule Carefree Maintenance Program.
At the next level, we have the SE that starts at $23,725 and it includes additional equipment such as 17-inch alloy wheels, 8-way power driver seat, heated front seats, touchscreen Premium VIII radio, and a multi-function leather-wrapped steering wheel. See the pricing chart below for more details and additional model information.
Returning to the Passat lineup for 2012 is the TDI variant that comes equipped with VW’s 2.0L turbo diesel engine that is expected to deliver 43 mpg highway, with a range of nearly 800 miles. The TDI’s base package, the SE, comes standard with 17-inch alloy wheels, heated front seats, Volkswagen’s touchscreen Premium VIII radio and six-speed manual transmission. Volkswagen’s highly regarded DSG dual-clutch gearbox is an option.
Topping the range is the powerful 3.6L VR6 that has three trim levels with a starting MSRP of $28,995. Standard is the DSG gearbox that puts out 280 horsepower. Additional standard premium features include 18-inch alloy wheels, comfort sport seats, a sunroof, and a class exclusive Fender Premium Audio System.
Specifically designed for North America, the new Passat is much larger with more rear-seat legroom. It was designed to provide premium features unique to the U.S. market but at the same time, retaining the dynamic character that is expected of the Volkswagen.
Premium options include leather seating surfaces, leather-trimmed multifunction steering wheel, wood decor, ambiance lighting, memory driver’s seat, power passenger seat, a choice of Volkswagen’s RNS 315 or RNS 510 navigation systems, front fog lights with static cornering lights, and keyless access with push button start. Also available is the new Fender Premium Audio System that will combine the raw emotion of live music with the driving experience.
|2012 Passat Pricing|
|2.5L – S (man)||$19,995||16” steel wheels, six-speed manual transmission, Automatic dual-zone climate control, power locks & windows, body color mirror and door handles, Bluetooth connectivity, steering wheel audio controls, 8-way manual driver seat, center armrest w/integrated storage box|
|2.5L – S w Appearance(auto)||$22,690||+ Six-speed automatic transmission, 16” alloy wheels, rear center armrest w/storage|
|2.5L – SE (man)||$23,725||17” alloy wheels, V-Tex leatherette, 8-way power driver seat, heated front seats, touchscreen Premium VIII radio, Multi-Function leather-wrapped steering wheel, aluminum trim dash and middle console, exterior chrome window trim, sliding front center armrest|
|2.5L – SE (auto)||$24,825||+ Six-speed automatic transmission|
|2.5L – SE w Sunroof||$25,625||+ Sunroof|
|2.5L – SE w Sunroof/Nav||$26,795||+ RNS 315 Navigation with Mobile Device Interface (MDI)|
|2.5L – SEL||$28,395||+ RNS 510 Navigation, Fender Premium Audio System, Homelink, comfort sport seats, interior chrome accents, wood grain interior décor, exterior chrome accents|
|2.5L – SEL Premium||$29,895||+ leather seating surfaces, keyless access and remote start, fog lights, driver seat memory, 8-way power passenger seat|
|TDI – SE||$25,995||17” alloy wheels, V-Tex leatherette seating, 8-way power driver seat, heated front seats, touchscreen Premium VIII radio, Multi-Function leather-wrapped steering wheel, aluminum trim dash and middle console, exterior chrome window trim, sliding front center armrest|
|TDI – SE w Sunroof||$27,895||+ Six-speed DSG automatic transmission, sunroof|
|TDI – SE w Sunroof/Nav||$29,495||+ 18” alloy wheels, RNS 315 Navigation, Mobile Device Interface (MDI), fog lights, exterior chrome accents|
|TDI – SEL Premium||$32,195||+ Leather seating surfaces, comfort sport seats, keyless access and remote start, RNS 510 Navigation, Fender Premium Audio System, driver seat memory, wood grain interior décor, 8-way power passenger seat, interior chrome accents|
|3.6L – SE w Sunroof||$28,995||Six-speed DSG automatic transmission18” alloy wheels, V-Tex leatherette seating, sunroof, 8-way power driver seat, heated front seats, comfort sports seats, touchscreen Premium VIII radio, Fender Premium Audio System, Multi-Function leather-wrapped steering wheel, aluminum trim dash and middle console, exterior chrome window trim, chrome dual exhaust, fog lights, sliding front center armrest|
|3.6L – SE w Sunroof/Nav||$30,595||+ RNS 315 Navigation, MDI, exterior chrome accents|
|3.6L – SEL Premium||$32,950||Leather seating surfaces, keyless entry with remote start, RNS 510 navigation, driver seat memory, wood grain interior décor, 8-way power passenger seat, interior chrome accents|
|Destination||$770||All prices exclude destination|
As many of you know that LAcarGUY expanded it’s relationship with Heal the Bay by sponsoring the Beach Report Cards. The latest report has just come out and it looks at the health of the water and beaches of the West Coast, from Washington to California.
Overall beach water quality at Los Angeles County beaches dipped in 2010-11, according to Heal the Bay’s 21st annual Beach Report Card , which the environmental group released yesterday.
Heal the Bay analysts assigned A-to-F letter grades to 92 beaches in the county for the dry-weather period from March 2010 through April 2011 based on levels of weekly bacterial pollution. Some 75% of sites earned A or B grades, compared to an 80% tally in last year’s report.
The decline can be attributed to a number of factors, most notably higher than usual rainfall totals during the reporting period. Notably, some chronically polluted L.A. County beaches that had seen marked improvement reverted to poor form this year despite millions of dollars being spent on water quality improvements.
The 75% figure for L.A. beaches receiving A or B grades is well below the statewide average of 90%. Despite significant improvements over the course of two decades, Los Angeles County continues to have the greatest number of beaches with poor water quality grades of any county in the state.
“Despite numerous individual beach success stories, this year demonstrated that there hasn’t been progress reducing major beach pollution sources like the Los Angeles River, Malibu Creek and Topanga Creek,” said Dr. Mark Gold, president of Heal the Bay.
The Beach Report Card is a comprehensive evaluation of coastal water quality based on daily and weekly samples taken from sites along the entire coast of California. A poor grade means beachgoers face a higher risk of contracting illnesses such as stomach flu, ear infections, upper respiratory infections and skin rashes than swimmers at cleaner beaches.
(Ocean goers can check updated grades for their local beach each Friday at beachreportcard.org. Later this summer, Heal the Bay will launch an application for mobile devices that will allow beachgoers to access the latest water grades instantly)
A handful of significantly polluted beaches helped drag down the county’s overall grades, including those in Avalon and Malibu. Long Beach also played a major role. After three years of improved water quality during summer dry weather, Long Beach water quality fell an alarming 40% from last year.
Eight beaches in the county received year-round F grades. And Los Angeles County leads Heal the Bay’s annual Top 10 Beach Bummer List, with four locations in the ranking of the state’s most polluted beaches.
Avalon Beach in Catalina continues its reign as the most polluted beach in Los Angeles County. However after several years of delay, the city of Avalon granted $5.1 million toward sewer improvements, which will hopefully get underway this summer.
Other county sites on the state’s top 10 Beach Bummer list: Cabrillo Beach in San Pedro, Topanga State Beach and Colorado Lagoon in Long Beach.
On the positive side, seven beaches in Los Angeles County were placed on Heal the Bay’s Honor Roll, meaning they scored perfect A+ grades by not having any bacterial exceedances in year-round dry weather.
After spending more than $2 million and years of staff time to improve water quality at the Santa Monica Pier, city officials can take pride in a an annual A grade for the beach south of the pier. The dramatic swing removes the pier from its historical spot on the top 10 Beach Bummer list.
Meanwhile, Orange County beaches once again recorded excellent water quality grades, well above the state average. Some 96% of 84 locations monitored year-round during dry weather received an A or B during the summer, steady with last year’s report.
Despite the generally excellent water quality, Orange County had two historically troubled locales join the Top 10 Beach Bummer List: Poche Beach and Doheny Beach. A dry weather filtration-disinfection plant completed last year at Poche Beach has yet to meet performance specifications. County officials continue an ongoing effort to improve surf zone water quality, however, and are actively working to identify lingering causes of pollution.
Wet weather water quality in Orange County this past year was poor with 64% of monitoring locations receiving A or B grades. That figure compares with 42% in 2009-10, an improvement that benefits the county’s sizable population of year-round surfers.
Ventura County also enjoyed excellent water quality in 2010-11. All of the 40 beaches monitored during summer dry weather received A grades. There were no F grades during any reporting period. However, D grades were assigned to the following wet-weather locales: Surfer’s Point, Promenade Park, San Buenaventura Beach at San Jon Road, Surfer’s Knoll and Channel Islands Harbor Beach Park.
One of the reasons that Los Angeles County lags in water quality is the fact that its monitoring agencies – unlike most others in the state — collect samples directly in front of flowing storm drains and creeks. Orange and Ventura counties monitor 25 yards or more away from flowing drains and creeks.
Monitoring at “point zero” locations, where polluted runoff often pools, is the best way to ensure that health risks to swimmers are captured in water quality data.
However, not all water quality problems in Los Angeles County can be attributed to more stringent testing.
Year-round dry-weather water quality in Long Beach fell dramatically, with only 33% of its monitored beaches receiving A or B grades during the period. That rate lags significantly behind L.A. County’s 76% A or B total.
Long Beach’s water quality is poor overall because it sits at the terminus of the pollution-choked L.A. River. The nearly 1,000-square-mile drainage area is the predominant source of fecal bacteria to Long Beach waters.
The city is to be commended for investigating and fixing leaking or disconnected sewage pump lines and improperly working diversions. But ultimately the city’s water quality is directly tied to the rainfall amounts and enormous runoff volumes from the L.A. River.
Summertime water quality in Santa Monica Bay beaches was excellent, with 91% of the beaches from Palos Verdes to Leo Carillo receiving A or B grades. The figure is markedly better than the seven-year average of 82% and just edged out the statewide average of 80%.
On a more downbeat note, infrastructure improvements at Malibu’s Paradise Cove and Marie Canyon and Los Angeles’ Cabrillo Beach failed to yield similar results as Santa Monica Pier. These sites still earn D and F grades.
Wet weather water quality in L.A. County in 2010-11 fell significantly, with only 29% of beaches receiving A or B grades compared to 50% last year. Wet weather grades were 7% below the county’s seven-year average, with 40 out of 87 sites receiving an F grade.
Cities continue to grapple with storm water runoff and the harmful effects it has on year-round ocean users. Heal the Bay recommends that no one swim in the ocean during, and for at least three days after, a significant rainstorm.
Statewide, most California beaches had very good water quality this past year during year-round dry weather, with 284 of 324 (88%) locations receiving A and B grades. That marks a 2% dip from the previous report.
Overall, 28 of the beaches (9%) monitored statewide received D or F grades during year-round dry weather. Eighteen beaches statewide received an overall F grade during the busy summer beach-going season for the 2010-11 Beach Report Card.
Numerous California beaches vied for the monitoring location with the consistently poorest dry-weather water quality.
Here are the Top 10 “Beach Bummers” in California (starting with the worst):
The Top 10 Beach Bummers
1. Cowell Beach – at the wharf (Santa Cruz County)
2. Avalon Harbor Beach on Catalina Island (L.A. County)
3. Cabrillo Beach harborside (Los Angeles County)
4. Topanga State Beach at creek mouth (L.A. County)
5. Poche Beach (Orange County)
6. North Beach/Doheny (Orange County)
7. Arroyo Burro Beach (Santa Barbara County)
8. Baker Beach at Lobos Creek (San Francisco County)
9. Colorado Lagoon (Los Angeles County)
10. Capitola Beach — west of the jetty (Santa Cruz County)
Some 68 of the 324 (21%) beaches with year-round dry weather grades this year scored a perfect A+. These beaches had zero exceedances of state bacterial standards for ocean water quality throughout the entire time frame of this report. Heal the Bay proudly places these beaches on our Beach Report Card Honor Roll. A list of these locations in Los Angeles, Orange and Ventura counties can be found in the full report.
Uncertain Funding Statewide for Beach Monitoring
County monitoring agencies continue to feel the effects of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 2008 line-item veto of state beach monitoring funds. The governor axed funds that supported the collection and processing of ocean water samples as well as the posting of signs to notify swimmers of health risks.
Fortunately, some local governments have temporarily allocated additional funding to provide this invaluable service to the beach-going public. The State Water Resources Control Board also provided major stop-gap funding through 2011.
There is no secured state funding for ongoing testing of ocean water quality in 2012, placing public health at risk. If the situation does not improve, over half of the beach monitoring in the state will stop. Heal the Bay will continue to work with state and local governments to ensure that ongoing funding is secured.
For a detailed look at beach results for each county and report methodology, please refer to our complete report. A PDF version is available at www.healthebay.org.
About the Beach Report Card
All county health departments are required to test beach water quality samples for three types of indicator bacteria at least once a week. Heal the Bay compiles the complex shoreline data, analyzes it and assigns an easy-to-understand letter grade. We analyzed 445 beaches, from San Diego to Humboldt counties, based on levels of weekly bacterial pollution reported from April 2010 through March 2011.
The summary includes an analysis of water quality during four time periods: summer dry season (April through October), year-round dry weather, winter dry weather, and year-round wet weather. The grading methodology is endorsed by the State Water Resources Control Board.
Heal the Bay’s Beach Report Card is made possible through the generous support of The Diller – von Furstenberg Family Foundation, simplehuman, LAcarGUY, SIMA, and Grousbeck Family Foundation
LAcarGUY is proud to announce that they will be honored with the grand prize at the 2011 Sustainable Quality Awards (SQA) at the Sheraton Santa Monica from 11am – 2pm on Wednesday, April 27th. The SQAs, a partnership between the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce, Sustainable Works and the City of Santa Monica, celebrates local business achievement in economic development, social responsibility, and stewardship of the environment.
LAcarGUY is the first automotive dealership to win an SQA grand prize reinforcing the company’s leadership in an industry not known for its earth friendly practices. The grand prize was based on a number of factors including:
• LAcarGUY is #1 Hybrid dealer in the world, and Toyota Santa Monica is the #1 Prius dealership in the world.
• LAcarGUY offers vehicles at varied price points that utilize different energy sources (gasoline, hybrid, electric) lending itself to all economic conditions and customer choice.
• Toyota Santa Monica won the coveted Environmental Sustainability Award presented by Senator Pavley’s office.
• LAcarGUY was the first automotive dealership in the country to install the “Level 2” SAE J-1772 EV chargers for the new plug-in hybrid and battery electric vehicles.
• LAcarGUY is providing open access to the chargers at no cost in order to facilitate the adoption of electric vehicles.
• Lexus Santa Monica is the #1 Lexus Hybrid Dealer in the U.S.
• LAcarGUY spent close to $15 million renovating the Lexus Santa Monica dealership instead of tearing it down.
• In January 2011, a major LED retrofit was executed at Lexus Santa Monica.
• LAcarGUY created the position of Manager of the Environment, a Green Team and a Green Newsletter that includes tips for employees on how to conserve energy in the office and at home.
• LAcarGUY has a long history of giving back to the community, and in 2010 employees volunteered at 15 events for a total of 650+ pro-bono hours.
• In 2010 LAcarGUY donated $200k to a side range of environmental charities including Heal the Bay, Environmental Media Association, Global Green, Tree People and Sustainable Works.
The 16th Annual Sustainable Quality Awards are Santa Monica’s most prestigious environmental event, and will be presented by LACarGUY and Morley Builders at the Sheraton Santa Monica on April 27th, 2011. Sarah Backhouse, host of Discovery’s “Planet 100″ show is the emcee, and Evan Kleiman, host of Good Food on KCRW will give the luncheon keynote.
Please take a few minutes and enjoy some of the photos from a few of our events:
After several delays, production of the Fisker Karma finally began last week. Based in Orange County, California, Fisker builds the Karma at the Valmet Automotive plant in Finland, who also builds cars under contract for Porsche. Deliveries are expected within the next month which is fantastic news. Read more
The long racing season for the Audi Sports Team Joest begins in March at the 12 Hours of Sebring. On the agenda for the season that runs up to November are seven races, the Le Mans test weekend and numerous tests with the Audi R15 TDI and the new Audi R18, which does not race at Sebring. In order not to interrupt preparations for the 24 Hours of Le Mans on June 11/12, the test and development program with the R18 continues to run in parallel to the opening round of the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup 2011 (ILMC) season.
As a result, one car in particular will bid its farewell at the 12 Hours of Sebring, a car that made its debut here two years ago: the Audi R15 TDI. It celebrated its 2009 premier with a victory which was the ninth for Audi in this traditional event in the U.S. state of Florida since 2000.
For this second appearance at Sebring, the diesel racing sports car will be competing under completely different conditions due to the new technical regulations announced by the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO.) To comply, Audi has developed the “closed cockpit” R18. Older models like the R15 TDI may only compete in heavily modified forms with greatly restricted engine power. Just how these cars will fare against the new models remains to be seen.
Drastic cuts in technology
The new LMP1 prototype regulations limit engine displacement for new models such as the Audi R18 to 3.7 liters. For older vehicles like the Audi R15 TDI, the 5.5 liter V10 must now draw intake-air restrictors of 33.5 mm diameter—this is 4 mm less than before. At the same time, boost pressure is reduced by 23 percent to 2,000 millibar—2,590 millibar was allowed previously. The fuel tank will only contain 65 rather than 81 liters of diesel and the fuel flow restrictor in the autonomous refuelling tank has also been reduced by 5 mm to 28 mm.
“The drivers felt the engine restrictions very early during the test in Florida. They miss several dozen horsepower,” explains Ralf Jüttner, technical director of Audi Sport Team Joest. “The reduction in tank volume sounds drastic at first, but the engine obviously also consumes less. The slower flow rate from the external tank means that pit stops will certainly not be any shorter despite the smaller fuel tank volume.”
Proven drivers, new partners
The Audi R15 TDI makes its farewell appearance in Florida in the hands of two successful driver lineups; Timo Bernhard and Romain Dumas, who won at Sebring in 2008, share the car with start number “1” with Mike Rockenfeller. Dindo Capello, Tom Kristensen, and Allan McNish, the Sebring winners in 2009, drive the number “2” numbered Audi.
Two new corporate partners are also part of the team for the first time at Sebring. Alongside Bosch, Mahle, Michelin, and TAG Heuer, partnering with the Audi sports car program for 2011 are Alpinestars, specialists for motorsport and extreme sports clothing as well as street wear and, the return of familiar face to Audi Sport, lubricant manufacturer, Castrol.
Questions that people will be looking to answer race weekend:
• How fast is the R15 TDI, which should actually be called “R15 plus minus” after being modified to comply with the new regulations?
• Can Audi exploit the reliability of the established R15 TDI around the tough Sebring track with its experienced drivers on board?
• How will the balance differ between the modified 2010 cars, the Audi R15 TDI and new LMP1 models?
The 2011 12 Hours of Sebring race begins at 10:30AM EDT on Saturday March 19th.
There’s a lot of buzz around alternatives. Actually, around here, there’s always buzz. So how do you get away from the buzz and get into reality? Hop into a 2011 Porsche Cayenne Hybrid and go in (green) style! Pacific Porsche and LAcarGUY welcome to the only true performance vehicle in the utility class that carries a light footprint and can kick pavement between the eyes…
Yes, the Cayenne Hybrid is different. While it is not the highest performance Cayenne in the lineup, it’s other attributes are very evident and welcome. Carrying all of the same highlights of the completely redesigned Cayenne gas versions, this new model goes way beyond what you’d expect. Its Hybrid system is unlike any other on the market. While there is nothing subtle about the Porsche performance, the only giveaway of this car’s Hybrid status is the two badges just behind the front wheel wells.
Check out this quick video and see for yourself how Porsche has set the bar high on the perfect SUV. In our opinion!