As automobile manufacturers strive for greater fuel efficiency, it's the low-hanging fruit proving most effective for immediate gains.
The 2014 Nissan Versa Note achieves EPA gas mileage figures of 31 mpg city, 40 mpg highway and 35 mpg combined. While none embarass a similarly-sized hybrid vehicle like the Toyota Prius C, they're thoroughly respectable numbers for a standard subcompact. The lightly-tweaked Ford Fiesta SFE, by comparison, is 2 mpg down on both city and combined mileage, while matching the Versa Note on the highway.
No witchcraft was required to reach such figures--just good, old-fashioned engineering improvements.
According to Automotive News, those include a significant reduction in weight over the old model--by around 300 pounds--as well as a redesigned continuously-variable transmission and improved aerodynamics. ( Continue… )
Mazda has released gas mileage numbers for its top-of-the-line, mid-size 2014 Mazda6—with the GT Technology Package that arrives in dealerships beginning this month—and they're better than some you'll find in efficiency-minded compacts or subcompacts.
The Mazda6 is the first Mazda globally to pack the automaker's new i-ELOOP (Intelligent Energy Loop) system, designed to work as part of the automaker's SkyActiv engineering initiative, which aims to maximize efficiency through a clean-slate redesign of core components.
While the gasoline version of the 2014 Mazda6 earns 26 mpg city, 38 highway in the EPA cycle, the i-ELOOP version earns 2 mpg better in both the city and highway cycles—for a net 28 mpg city, 40 mpg highway.
32-mpg Combined in a mid-size sedan; no clunky hybrid battery pack
This brings a phenomenal 32-mpg Combined rating and a 656-mile highway range—without weight-adding (and potentially fun-robbing) battery hardware. ( Continue… )
Crossover vehicles suit drivers who ferry people more than cargo--but when it comes to towing and hauling more than the usual load, SUVs like the Chevy Suburban get the call.
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That figure is three million--the cumulative global sales total through June, for all Prius models since the car debuted in Japan in 1997.
Since then, the Prius has gone through three main generations, with other models--the Prius V wagon, Prius C subcompact and Prius Plug-In Hybrid--all adding to its impressive tally.
It's the second significant milestone passed in less than a year, Toyota announcing ain April that it had sold five million Toyota and Lexus hybrids in total, since that first 1997 Prius.
Such a figure puts the Prius' own success into perspective. While Toyota now produces a wide range of hybrid vehicles, it's the core line which still sells in the greatest numbers, and in certain locales--California being a prime example--it counts itself among the highest-selling cars of any type.
The car itself has changed significantly since that original car, first seen in the U.S. in 2000 as a 2001 model-year car. ( Continue… )
Porsche isn't the first name in hybrids, or even in green cars. But the company is leveraging its depth of engineering knowledge to move forward in the field rather quicker than a small company should.
Examples of this include the 918 Spyder supercar and the new 2014 Panamera S E-Hybrid. The 918's 887-horsepower rating and 0-60 mph in 2.8 seconds capabilities are impressive, especially in light of its target gas mileage of 85.6 mpg in the European cycle. But the Panamera S E-Hybrid is the car those closer to ordinary mortal status will be able to attain.
And it's no slouch, either. Porsche estimates fuel consumption at 75.8 mpg in the European cycle (3.1 liters per 100 kilometers), thanks to a set of updates to the engine and hybrid system. What that will translate to in U.S. EPA testing remains to be seen, but it's not likely to be 75 mpg.
Now sporting a 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 engine paired with an electric motor and a 9.4-kWh lithium-ion battery pack, the Panamera S E-Hybrid generates a combined output of 416 horsepower, managing a 5.2-second sprint to 60 mph despite the extra 550 pounds of battery pack compared to a non-hybrid Panamera S. A PDK dual-clutch transmission is skipped in favor of a Tiptronic S eight-speed automatic, chosen because it works more fluidly with the electric side of the powertrain.
That electric side is surprisingly potent, offering up to a claimed 22 miles of all-electric driving at speeds up to 83 mph. In our brief drive of the car last week in Germany, we easily achieved a total electric-only range of 25 miles, and under the right conditions, even farther would be possible. ( Continue… )
If you've kept up with our month-long, up-close coverage of the 2013 Audi Allroad, you probably have a pretty good idea by now of how this stocky wagon fits into the market—and whether it fits you.
But with 2014 Allroad models already arriving to dealerships, you might be wondering if you'd be better off going for one of those.
Rest assured, no matter how the deal pans out, you'll essentially be getting the same vehicle whether you go for the 2013 model or the 2014.
At the base level, prices for the 2014 Audi Allroad have risen $1,100 versus 2013—to $40,700. Although the Convenience Package, with its Audi music interface, HomeLink universal garage-door opener, the so-called driver information system, and Bluetooth connectivity, has been packed in as part of the Allroad's standard equipment for 2014.
If you opt for one of the better-equipped Allroads (like the 2013 Premium Plus we had), you'll get a few more features for 2014, too. All models at the Premium Plus level and higher get the Advanced Key system as standard, while Audi Side Assist, which monitors blind-spot areas and scans for fast-moving vehicles at a range of 150 feet behind the car, is newly offered as a standalone option on the Premium Plus model. Meanwhile, models with the top Prestige package get rear window shades. ( Continue… )
Auto sales had a standout month in June, with industrywide totals reaching their highest levels in six years. As in May, pickup trucks fueled much of the increase, a good indicator for both the auto industry and the US construction sector.
Automakers sold about 1.36 million vehicles in the US last month (a 6 percent increase from 2012), and set a pace to sell 15.5 million vehicles this year if conditions hold steady, according to projections from auto industry website Edmunds.com. The Detroit automakers continued their respective streaks: Ford had the biggest year-over-year gain of the Big Three, with sales rising 13 percent since 2012. Chrysler and General Motors also fared well, with 8.2 percent and 6.5 percent annual gains, respectively. Chrysler extended its streak of monthly year-over-year sales gains to 39 months.
"Once again, American consumers are shrugging off the noise out of Washington about the easing of economic stimulus and potentially higher interest rates, at least for now," Edmunds senior analyst Michelle Krebs said in the report. "June is proving to be a great month for seeming opposites: small cars and utilities, as well as full-size pickup trucks." ( Continue… )
The 2014 BMW i3 electric car is coming... but you knew that already.
Still, it gives BMW a chance to release another video, albeit one that tells us absolutely nothing save for the car's official date of unveiling: July 29th.
Luckily, previous videos, plenty of spy shots and numerous auto show appearances by i3 concepts means we've built up quite a knowledge base on the i3 already, so a video of depressingly beautiful people jumping up and down in a fashion shoot isn't all we have to go on.
What we know is that the i3 is the first official mass-production electric car by BMW, using knowledge gleaned from the MINI E and BMW ActiveE field tests.
It's roughly subcompact-sized and uses a rear-mounted electric motor to power the rear wheels, keeping one of BMW's traditions alive. The rest of the car is very different from anything we've seen of the Bavarian automaker before, a deliberate move as the i3 also launches BMW's i sub-brand. ( Continue… )
Small cargo vans might not be the first vehicle you consider when shopping new, but chances are you've gone for a ride in one already--or will soon.
The NV200 is new to the U.S. market, but it's been on sale in 40 other countries for some time. If you're a world traveler, you've seen it before. The compact van also was chosen as the upcoming New York City "Taxi of Tomorrow," and will hit the streets of the Big Apple later this year, just in time to ferry you from LaGuardia to Times Square.
Function over form
Cargo vans aren't designed to look pretty, they are designed to be functional, and the NV200 doesn't stray from that model. The front end is blunt and sharply angled; the steep rake generates a little aerodynamic help.
Not to spoil the mystery ending, but the rest is...a van. A usefully sized box, the NV200 has 40/60 split-opening rear doors with both 90- and 180-degree opening positions. This makes curbside unloading both easier, and safer. The cargo doors are solid metal, though glass windows are an option.
It's a basic look, with black plastic bumpers even, but upper trim models feature body-colored front and rear bumpers, door handles, outside mirrors, and a chrome grille. ( Continue… )
We're all pressed for time.
Ironically, the many innovations that should've helped us save time -- from washing machines to email to smartphones -- have simply given us more time to be busy with other stuff. "Oh, great, my Roomba can vacuum my house! I think I'll start a blog about fishing." And so it goes.
In the business world, the time crunch has made customer service a battleground where the hearts and minds of consumers are won. The company that resolves our issue the fastest earns our undying loyalty. (Until the next crisis rolls around, anyway.)
On the auto front, this has forced dealerships to spend a lot more time learning to pamper customers and anticipate their every need. Heck, Chevrolet even sent its sales staff to Disney World to grab a few pointers. ( Continue… )