By on November 21, 2013

2014 Honda Civic Coupe 04
The current Honda Civic has experienced a refresh cycle last seen in the 1950s from the Big Three, and the 2014 model year is no exception with the introduction of the CVT in response to Toyota’s action with the new Corolla.

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By on November 11, 2013

Dirty-and-Clean-Air-Filter

The contrarian in me loves it when conventional wisdom is proven to be not so wise. For decades, even before the first oil crisis of the 1970s, motorists have been told that making sure that your air filter is clean is one of the ways that you can improve  your fuel economy. It’s intuitive to think that a clogged air filter will affect the way an engine “breathes”, how efficiently it can get gases in and out of the combustion chamber and how that might decrease fuel economy. That may have made sense decades ago, however it turns out that two different studies, one on gasoline engines and the other on diesels, performed by a team at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, show that the fuel economy of modern, digitally controlled fuel injected engines isn’t significantly affected by the state of their air cleaners’ cleanliness. What made sense in the era or carburetors may no longer be applicable today. Apparently the engines’ ECUs working to keep emissions in spec are capable of leaning out the fuel mixture to account for a dirty air filter restricting airflow into the engine, resulting in insignificant drops in fuel economy. Though dirty air filters didn’t materially affect fuel economy in the modern cars, they did experience a decrease in acceleration performance so it’s still a good idea to replace a dirty air filter.

Abstracts of the studies after the jump. (Read More…)

By on November 5, 2013

2014 Lexus IS 250 Exterior

After taking a sales hit due to tsunami-related production woes, Lexus has been trying to regain their mojo with a new product offensive. Things started out with the new Lexus GS sedan that Jack Baruth and I loved on and off the track, followed by a revised RX. With the redesigned IS, the bulk of their lineup has been overhauled. Initially, I was a little concerned that the Lexus IS sedan would receive nothing more than a new nose and some LED lights for 2014 but the Japanese 3-Series fighter came out swinging when we were invited to the launch event earlier in the year. I came away impressed with the IS 350′s road manners, but most buyers will be shopping for the less powerful IS 250 and it’s taken us this long to get our hands on one.

(Read More…)

By on October 30, 2013

2014-Ford-Fiesta-1-liter-EcoBoost-engine-

The U.S. EPA has released its latest fuel economy ratings and the 2014 Ford Fiesta SE with the 1 liter 3 cylinder EcoBoost engine and a 5 speed manual transmission had the highest mpg rating of any non-hybrid gasoline powered car, 45 mpg highway, 32 city and 37 mpg combined. Both three and five door models had the same rating. Interestingly, Ford will still offer the Fiesta SFE (Super Fuel Economy), which actually gets poorer gas mileage than the 1 liter EcoBoost SE, 30 city/41 highway. (Read More…)

By on October 26, 2013

2014 Acura ILX 2.4 Exterior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

The Acura ILX has been derided as being nothing more than a gussied-up Honda Civic, an analogy that I too applied to the compact Acura when it first arrived. But then our own Brendan McAleer caused me to question my dismissal of the ILX. How many shoppers out there are willing to option-up a base model by 50% and don’t think twice about the fact their “limited” model looks just like the base model? All of a sudden the ILX, especially the 2.4L model we tested made sense to me. What was the revelation? Click through the jump to find out.

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By on October 21, 2013

Landscape

Forty years ago this month, the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (consisting of OPEC’s Arab members plus Egypt, Syria and Tunisia) began an oil embargo that would last through March of 1974.

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By on October 19, 2013

2014 Mazda3 Sedan Exterior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

The mainstream compact car segment is the perfect example of the infamous “driving appliance.” The Corolla and Civic sell in enormous volume because they are the middle-of-the-road “white bread” option, not in-spite of the vanilla. Unlike many in the automotive press, I don’t find anything wrong with that. In fact, I love me some Wonder Bread. But sometimes you feel like a pumpernickel, and that’s where the 2014 Mazda3 comes in. Mazda was so excited about their new loaf that they invited me to spend the day with them in San Diego. Want to know if you should spend 5+ years with one? Click through the jump.

(Read More…)

By on October 14, 2013

2014 Toyota Corolla Exterior, Front, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Calling the Corolla “Toyota’s most important car” would be an understatement. This single model accounts for 38 percent of all Toyotas ever sold in the USA and they expect to shift 330,000 next year alone. If the sheer quantity wasn’t amazing enough, ponder this reality: 75% of sales will be split between just four different configurations. If you’re in a 2014 Corolla, the odds are about one in five that the Corolla next to you is identical save for paint color. Often derided by the automotive press as a “driving appliance,” is there more to the 2014 Corolla or is it just a toaster with wheels? Let’s find out.

(Read More…)

By on October 9, 2013

2014 Honda Accord Hybrid Exterior-007

As of October, the most fuel-efficient mid-sized sedan in America is the Honda Accord. Or so Honda says. After all, Ford has been trumpeting a matching 47 MPG combined from their Fusion. Who is right? And more importantly, can the Accord get Honda back into the hybrid game after having lost the initial hybrid battles with their maligned Integrated Motor Assist system? Honda invited us to sample the 2014 Accord Hybrid as well as a smorgasbord of competitive products to find out.

(Read More…)

By on September 11, 2013

2014 Toyota Tundra Exterior-002

We don’t just love pickup trucks in America, we practically worship them. The half ton pickup truck is an American icon embedded into our music, our entertainment and almost the core of our culture. If you haven’t owned or wanted to own a pickup truck, you’re probably a communist infiltrating American society and should be stopped. Despite inroads from the Japanese competition, the full-size truck market is a solidly American segment that isn’t just led by the big three, it’s dominated by them. In August, RAM took third place with 33,009 pickups sold in the US of A, more than three times the number four player: this week’s Toyota Tundra. Why is this gap so large when Toyota crushes the big three in so many other segments? Let’s explore that while we look at Toyota’s refreshed 2014 Tundra.

(Read More…)

By on August 27, 2013

cmaxhybrid

Following Ford’s announcement that they will revise downward their advertised fuel economy ratings for the C-Max Hybrid, the United States Environmental Protection Agency said that the discrepancy between rated and real world fuel mileage was not the agency’s fault and appeared to be placing the blame on Ford for relying on the agency’s own rules, substituting data derived from the Fusion Hybrid because it shares a drivetrain with the hybrid C-Max. The EPA’s chief automotive regulator, Christopher Grundler, said that when they tested the Toyota Prius and Hyundai Sonata hybrids this summer, “It was fall quite reassuring.”
(Read More…)

By on August 16, 2013

Low_Fuel_Graphic_on_the_FCD

The revised fuel economy ratings for the Ford C-Max aren’t the first time that an auto maker has been forced to backtrack on fuel economy claims – nor will it be the last unless meaningful reform is undertaken to ensure that fuel economy figures more accurately reflect the way motorists drive their cars in the real world.

(Read More…)

By on July 17, 2013

fordcmax47mpg

Some buyers of Ford’s gas/electric hybrids have expressed disappointment the their 2013 Ford C-Max, Fusion and Lincoln MKZ hybrids have not returned those cars’ EPA rated fuel economy. Some have even sued.

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By on July 9, 2013

450x298x2014-chevrolet-corvette-reveal-1358126136-450x298.jpg.pagespeed.ic.wKcmAobK1t

17/29 mpg city/highway. That’s what the C7 Chevrolet Corvette is expected to return as far as fuel economy figures go. When the C7′s “Eco” mode is selected, it will apparently be capable of the magic 30 mpg mark.

(Read More…)

By on June 1, 2013

 

Fiat 500e LCD Gauges, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Day three dawned with a nearly full battery, the exact level seemed unimportant to me. Perhaps it’s the Range Anxiety patch I ordered online for three easy payments of $9.99, or my new-found confidence in tripping across EV stations. Either way I decided bold action was required. I set the climate control to 68 and headed up the hill.

(Read More…)

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