Category: Car Reviews

“Hottie” Fuel Efficient Cars From Toyota, Honda and Volkswagen

As we see the numbers roll up on the gas pump and our pockets drain out, we are experiencing daily cardiac arrest. We want to blame the Senate for not passing oil price freezes or the big oil companies who are sucking up the highest profits in decades. We criticize the President of the United States and vow to buy a bicyle to get to and from work, school, the mall and church.

Then we start asking questions:

  1.  Why are gasoline prices so high?
  2.  When will they come down?
  3.  How can I pay for a tank of gas this week?

But questions like these do not have definitive answers. There may not be answers to these questions but there are solutions to fuel efficiency while the powers that be are battling with rising gas prices.

Around 15% of the energy from fuel that we put into our vehicles is used to drive down the road and to run accessories such as air conditioning. That leaves 85% of the energy lost, yes, LOST to engine inefficiencies, driveline timing inaccuracies and improper idling of engines. Today, there are technologies which can increase engine efficiency 5% to 13% then ultimately, promote fuel conservation.

Cylinder Deactivation increases efficiency around 7%. Cylinder Deactivation is simply deactivating cylinders when they are not needed to run the car. So a 8 or 6 cylinder engine temporarily will convert to a 4 or 3 cylinder. Direct Fuel Injection increases efficiency by 12% and creates a $3,200 saving over the life of a vehicle. These technologies are basically for the manufacturers to develop and implement in the vehicles we will drive one day. In the meantime, we need to know the “hottie” cars with the best fuel efficiency.

Toyota has six models that are listed in the top 10 fuel efficiency vehicles. The Toyota models range from 29 miles per gallon (MPG) – Toyota Celica to 60 MPG for the Toyota Prius. The Toyota Echo comes in 2nd at 35 MPG for city driving, right along with the Scion XA and Corolla at 32 MPG. The Scion XB finishes the list of Toyota fuel efficient cars, at 31 MPG. The highway miles per gallon for each of the Toyota vehicles is 6 MPG more, except for the Toyota Prius.

The Toyota Prius actually drops to 51 MPG on highway driving. This particular vehicle has a variable automatic transmission (CVT). The CVT does not have the traditional fixed set of gear cominations but rather allows an almost limitless number of engine speeds to vehicle speed ratios. Complicated? Well, maybe it is, but what we want to know is that CVT improves fuel efficiency because there is a seamless acceleration from a complete stop up to highway cruising speed.

The last 3 “hottie” fuel efficiency vehicles are the Honda Insight checking in at 60 MPG and the Honda Hybrid with 48 MPG in the city and 47 MPG for highway miles. Last, but not least, is the vehicle we fondly refer to as the “Beetle” or the “Bug”. Volkswagen checks in at 38 MPG for city miles and 46 for highway miles.

Hybrids are the all time “hottie” fuel efficient cars that are filling the car lots and driving right into our garages. Hybrid cars combine a gasoline engine and a battery powered electric motor to suck up less gas and release less polution.

In days gone by, we purchased vehicles according to their eye appeal. Today, the sleek bodies and “wow” colors may still be on the list but the real “hottie” vehicles are those that consume the least amount of $3 per gallon gas. Fuel efficiency is in the new equation when we set out car shopping.

All About The BMW 7 Series 730i Sedan

The BMW 7 series 730i sedan is one of BMW’s larger cars and also one of the most luxurious. But this does not take away from the fact that it is still a high performance vehicle. The engine of the 730i is an inline 6-cylinder engine that has good pickup accelerating from 0-60 in 7.8 seconds and good power with 258.00 PS with 258 horsepower at 6600 RPM.

The engine is made up of aluminum and magnesium composites and features a technologically advanced six-speed automatic gearbox. This type of gearbox gives better spread of gears ratios and the acceleration is improved while making the engine more quiet and improving fuel economy. There are Steptronic buttons on the steering wheel of the 730i that give the driver the option of manually overriding the gearbox so that they can have more control.

The 730i has great traction for such a high performance car with traction control using Electronic stabilization program (ESP). This system allows the 730i to hug the road even when taking corners at accelerated speeds.

There are ventilated disc brakes on the front and rear wheel and it has an Antilock Breaking System (ABS) that allows the car to stop on a dime. The 730i is one of BMW’s larger sedans and the ABS brake system is one of the better features as the car still brakes like a car that is much smaller.

The steering is easy with the 730i and very responsive but there is the sport option for even better handling with the Adaptive drive feature. This blends the Dynamic Drive active anti roll bar and Electronic Damper Control. This keeps the body from rolling when the car is going through hard turns as it converts the energy of the roll into hydraulic pressure. The electronic Damper Control gives the driver three option settings of sport, comfort, and normal.

The 730i sedan is one of the most luxurious sedans in the 7 series with upholstered leather seats and a simple yet elegant dashboard design. The 730i has the feature of BMW’s iDrive computer system.

This is just a rotary dial to perform the functions for the car as the LCD screen can give the driver all the options to control the car. The iDrive system has a help system that will help the driver as well which makes the interface simpler.

Smart For Two Pure Coupe Review Of 2008 Model

A friend let me borrow his 2008 Smart for Two Pure Coupe to test drive and see how these ride and handle. After taking a trip though town to run errands with a short jaunt down the highway, I am convinced that these will make excellent little electric cars.

These are brilliant little cars which were really intended for city driving, and that is exactly what they excel at. Quick from the light, nimble and easy to park with a decent fuel economy rating, these are hard to beat for that particular duty. If you have to take the highway for more than ten minutes a day you may not be the happiest customer the Smart for two ever had.

This little car is really fun to drive on surface streets with speed limits up to 50 mph. There is a bit of trepidation for me when taking a car this small onto a high speed motorway. I see no safety reasons why you should not go on the highway with your Smart for two, however I felt more in control of the little car at 50 mph or less.

Specifications have not changed much over the years, and it still sports a frugal 1.0 Liter three cylinder gas propelled engine. The output is rated at 70 brake horsepower, and 68 foot pounds of torque. This propels the 1800 pound overgrown golf cart up to cruising speed of 60 miles per hour in just over 13 seconds.

Cargo space is specified at 7.7 cubic feet with seats in their normal upright position. The leg room and hip room are fairly generous considering the short overall length of this car. In fact to give some perspective this car is 61.4″ wide, 60.7″ tall and only 106.1″ long. That makes it shorter than a Mini Cooper by three feet and longer than an “EZ-GO” golf cart by only a foot!

Fuel economy is a respectable 33 mpg city, and 41 highway and these have been verified to be within 1-2 mpg by the owner. He only drives a few miles to work each day and does not go on the freeway, and he averages 45 mph on the longest straight part of his trip.

One of the downsides I saw is that the cargo space is not sufficient to hold things like your golf clubs, or a big load of groceries. The front passenger seat is helpful with these, but if you have a passenger then your cargo area is limited.

The car is definitely less efficient when hauling around two guys with a combined weight near four hundred pounds, though there is definitely plenty of legroom and it is easy to get in and out of.

Back in 2008 you could get a base smart for two coupe for about $11,590 and if you added two essential items, a radio and air conditioning, then you would spend another $1000.

Other things to consider would be the fact that as a car for teens learning to drive you will hardly find a better deal. The fact that it can only carry two people makes it inherently safer for your child to own and drive since they simply cannot fit more than one friend in the car at a time, and there is no backseat to get them into any trouble. This car will keep your kid safer in the long run.

Overall my friend is very happy with his Smart for two and he was checking out the 2011 model, but he found it was too similar to the 2008. Now he is waiting to see the 2012 electric model. They finally began shipping 250 test market electric Smart for two cars in January 2011.

Chrysler Recalls Close To 500,000 Vehicles

Nearly 500,000 vehicles were recalled Friday by Chrysler, citing dozens of reports of fires in the Dodge Durano and Jeep Liberty. There have been sixty-six reported fires so far, all coming from the Dodge Durango, model years 2004-2006.

In addition to the 328,424 Durangos affected by the recall, an additional 149,605 Jeep Liberty SUV’s were recalled. These vehicles, from 2006-2007, were called back to the factory in order to fix the heating/cooling/ventilation blower motor. There had been reports of this catching fire as well.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration had initiated investigations into the problems with both Chrysler-made sport utility vehicles last year. In at least two cases, Liberty drivers suffered minor burns resulting from fires caused by the blower motor in the SUV’s air-conditioning system.

And nearly 11,000 Dodge Avengers from the upcoming 2008 model year were pulled back as well, due to front door latches on both the driver and passenger side. This was purely mechanical, as according to Chrysler, no accidents or injuries have yet been reported due to the faulty latches.

According to Max Gates, a spokesman for Chrysler, if drivers notice issues with the Durango’s interior lights, they should immediately take the car back to the dealer to have it inspected. This is a sign that a circuit in the instrument panel has overloaded and overheated.

“Obviously we would prefer not to do this, but we feel this is an important part of our business,” Gates said. “So we do this when we have to.

Owners of the Jeep Liberty should take caution if they smell overheated plastic. In this case, owners are cautioned to keep their blower at less than full power until it is serviced.

Durango owners will be officially notified of the recall in April, and Liberty owners will get their information in May. The Avenger recall is just underway, and owners will be notified when replacement parts become available.

This recall is the second such move by Chrysler in the past two weeks. Nearly 51,000 vehicles were called back to the factory in late February, in order to reprogram the vehicle’s anti-lock brake software. But Gates cautioned potential buyers to look at more than a two-week chunk of time in order to form an opinion about the company. “I think it’s important not to read too much into the short term,” he said.

Chrysler, which is facing a possible sale by Daimler, the German ownership group, has fallen to the fourth most popular U.S. car manufacturer. After sales plummeted in 2006, a year in which the company lost nearly $1.5 billion, Chrysler laid of 13,000 workers in an attempt to make a profit by 2008.

Top Five Cars Of The 2011 Detroit Auto Show

The 2011 Detroit Auto Show has come and gone and though it didn’t have the real wow factor of other shows of the past with their outrageous concept cars and over-hyped launches it did have some noteworthy introductions. Here are some of the top highlights from the show.

Porsche 918 RSR

Porsche had teased that something big was in store for the Detroit show and they fulfilled their promise with the 918 RSR. Based on the 918 Spyder Concept that made the rounds at last year’s auto shows, the 918 RSR is a single seat hardtop racing version of the Spyder. It features a 563 horsepower 6.2 liter V8 that revs to a screaming 10,300 rpm. If that’s not enough, Porsche has also added two electric motors at the front wheels which bring the total output to an amazing 767 horsepower.

2012 BMW 1 Series M Coupe

Designed as an “entry level” M car, BMW says they drew inspiration from the original 1988 M3 which was a lightweight racecar for the street. The 1 Series M Coupe sports a high output 3.0 liter turbocharged inline 6 cylinder engine with 340 horsepower routed through a traditional 6 speed manual transmission. The car is expected to show up in dealer showrooms sometime in the spring of this year at a starting price of $47,010 which would make it the most affordable M car BMW has ever produced.

2012 Hyundai Veloster

Hyundai has fully transformed itself from a company that made cheap boring cars to one with a full stable of critically acclaimed, stylish and fun cars. Their latest addition to the lineup, the 2012 Veloster, debuted at the 2011 Detroit show and looks to continue Hyundai’s recent string of successful models. The Veloster’s overall design is fresh and funky and it’s most unique feature is a third half door on the passenger side to ease entry into the rear seats. Power comes from a 1.6 liter 4 cylinder engine making 138 horsepower so it won’t be a high speed screamer but it should still be sufficiently fun to toss around. The big thing is that the estimated mileage should come in around 40MPG so it has the potential to be fun and frugal. A traditional 6 speed manual is standard and a Hyundai developed 6 speed dual-clutch transmission will be an option. Hyundai is shooting for a base price of around $17,000.

Toyota Prius C Concept

Toyota has plans to develop an entire line of Prius models and this one, slated to enter production in 2012, looks to be the most exciting and possibly most affordable of the bunch. They’ve gone with a smaller size and weight to further increase the efficiency of the hybrid powertrain. Toyota claims it will be the most fuel-efficient and the most affordable hybrid in the U.S. If they can keep the styling the way it is, it should be a hit with younger buyers.

2012 BMW 650i Convertible

BMW unveiled the newly redesigned 650i Convertible at this year’s Detroit Auto Show and it looks great. Powered by a 400 horsepower twin-turbo V8, the big cruiser should have plenty of get up and go. Transmission choices will be either a 6 speed manual or eight speed automatic. Sadly, t here is no folding hardtop for you fans of mechanical complexity. Instead, the 650i makes due with a fabric top that can be deployed in just 19 seconds. The car is scheduled to go on sale in the spring at a starting price of $91,375.

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