Junkyard Find: 2003 Toyota Prius

It took many years before the first (non-wrecked) Toyota Priuses began showing up in the big self-service car graveyards I frequent, partly because Toyotas tend to hold together pretty well and partly because buyers of early Priuses seem to be the kind of car owners who obsess over the proper care and feeding of their vehicles. This ’03 Prius in Denver, painted in I Love Gaia Green™ (actually, it’s Electric Green Mica), appears to be one of those well-loved cars that finally just wore out.

Read more
Adventures in Marketing: The Toyota Venza Attempts to Steal Subaru's Thunder

Toyota’s all-new Venza fills a two-row, crossover-sized void between the smaller RAV4 and the larger Highlander, and is essentially a return to what the Highlander was originally. To help draw in buyers to its resurrected nameplate, Toyota decided to use a long-standing Subaru ad trope: the family pet.

Read more
Nissan Launches Punchier E-Powered Note Nismo S for Japan

Nissan’s performance arm, Nismo, is wetting its beak on electrified powertrains. Last week, the company launched the Note e-Power Nismo S — upping the model’s performance output by roughly 25 percent. Sold in Japan since December of 2016, the Note e-Power Nismo offered 109 horsepower and 187 lb-ft. The new Nismo S brings those specs to 134 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque, which Nissan attributes to a tweaked inverter, modified vehicle control module, increased electrical output and an improved reduction drive.

While it’s likely never going to come to North America, there’s a good reason for it to remain on your radar. Nissan is aiming for 1 million sales of fully electric and e-Power vehicles annually by 2022. It’s also going to expand its e-Power system to Infiniti in 2021 and intends to start sending them in our general direction.

Read more
Is the New Honda Insight the Perfect Honda Hybrid Two Decades Too Late?

Attractive. Well received. A winner on paper. Technologically advanced. Badged with a logo that keeps producing record sales numbers.

One would assume that this is all that’s needed for the Honda Insight to be a raging marketplace success, at least in 1999.

1999 this is most certainly not, which highlights one glaring problem: the 2019 Insight is an attractive, well-received, impressive-on-paper, technologically-advanced Honda sedan.

Sedan. Sedan? Yes, sedan.

Read more
Is This Really a Big Deal? BMW Praises Itself for Selling 100,000 Electrified Cars

In a flagrant exercise of self-congratulation, BMW announced it met its sales goal of 100,000 electrified vehicles in 2017 “as promised.” Saying that this “underlines the company’s leadership role when it comes to electro-mobility,” BMW installed a battery-themed light installation on the side of its world headquarters in Munich, Germany, that announces “the future is electric.”

While this may be true, mainstream news outlets have muddled the brand’s message by framing the EV aspect all wrong — which is probably exactly what the automaker hoped for. We’re not going to slander the company’s achievement outright; the volume does represent a nearly 60-percent increase over last year. But these aren’t just battery-electric cars, they’re hybrids, mild-hybrids, and BEVs.

Read more
Automakers Formally Take Aim at California's Zero-emission Vehicle Mandate

Compared to the rest of the United States, California is on the bleeding edge of government-appointed environmentalism. When the Trump administration suggested reexamining Obama-era fuel economy and emissions standards, The Golden State was the first to complain, saying it would not be adjusting its goals just because the rest of the country may. It also has pretty serious mandate on zero-emission vehicles — one that forces 15 percent of all new vehicles sold in the state to use zero-emission powertrains by 2025.

While California isn’t alone — nine other states have followed its lead since Trump took office — it is the keystone star on America’s flag pushing to maintain expand fuel regulations. Automakers have noticed and, despite previously having agreed with President Obama’s emission standards several years back, they’re launching a counter-offensive.

Arguing before a U.S. House panel, the Association of Global Automakers complained that California’s ZEV mandate threatens a single national standard for fuel economy.

Read more
Five Island Beaches, One 2017 Ford Fusion Energi – Can It Be Done on EV Power Alone?

The planning session was brief. At TTAC’s virtual HQ, also known as TTAC Slack, Steph Willems, Corey Lewis, and Adam Tonge were busy formulating an idea.

Fascinated by the Cain family’s recent move to rural Prince Edward Island, the guys wondered if, on electric power alone, Ford’s plug-in hybrid 2017 Fusion Energi SE could cross Prince Edward Island from the north side’s Gulf of St. Lawrence to the south side’s Northumberland Strait, which separates Prince Edward Island from mainland Canada.

Sure it can, I said, but that’s too easy. There are many narrow parts of Prince Edward Island. Crossing Rte. 308’s nine miles from Naufrage to Rollo Bay wouldn’t be much of a challenge.

Building on that idea, however, we developed a plan that would grant yours truly a midday office reprieve, or so I thought. From the Cain homestead in Margate, just outside the bustling metropolis of Kensington, I would depart with a fully charged 2017 Ford Fusion Energi and attempt to reach five spectacular beaches along the Gulf of St. Lawrence on PEI’s so-called Green Gables Shore.

Google Maps said I would need to travel 22 miles. The 2017 Ford Fusion Energi has 23 miles of pure EV range. This’ll be a breeze, I thought to myself, and I fled my office and TTAC’s virtual HQ minutes later, thoroughly unprepared for what came next.

Read more
The Lexus CT200h Is Dead, Though It Was Way More Popular Than the HS250h You Forgot Existed

The current 2017 model year will be the last for the Lexus CT200h.

An indirect successor to the Lexus HS250h sedan, the Lexus CT200h will end a seven-year model run in the United States that resulted in more than 90,000 sales.

Imported from Miyawaka, Japan, the Lexus CT has seen its average U.S. monthly output fall 58 percent over the last three years. Never a tremendously popular entry-level luxury car, the hybrid-only Lexus was forced to compete against very successful luxury sedans from Mercedes-Benz and Audi — CLA and A3, respectively — in the latter portion of its tenure.

The Lexus couldn’t compete.

Read more
2017 Kia Optima Hybrid Review - By No Means Perfect, But Largely Free From Imperfection

Automobile manufacturers send a new car to my driveway every week. Last week, the manufacturer was Kia. The vehicle, an Optima Hybrid.

Spending a full week with a vehicle should expose a vehicle’s positive attributes, not only the most obvious traits but those hidden under the surface at a first-drive event in an exotic location or during a test drive where a yammering salesman regales you with tales of J.D. Power awards.

Spending a full week with a vehicle should also expose a vehicle’s faults, not just the glaring flaws. The kind of blunders only made evident when you truly get to know a car.

That’s my job. I’m given time to spot everything, because you won’t be afforded the same privilege. So what happens when a vehicle is unable to incite any passion in the automotive enthusiast erogenous zones while also avoiding the exposure of any intrinsic weaknesses? What happens when there’s nothing to spot?

Writer’s block.

Read more
2017 Toyota Camry Hybrid LE Review - That's Me, Mr. Dependable

Gil’s my next-door neighbor. We live in very similar homes, we share a fondness for canine companions, and we would both happily live on pizza alone.

But Gil and I couldn’t be more different. Gil is cool, you see.

Gil’s young; I’m not not as young as I used to be. Gil can change the alternator on an old Ford Explorer in mere minutes; I can change a lightbulb if given time. Gil goes out on Friday nights; I have little children to put to bed.

And while I spent the last week driving a basic version of the outgoing 2017 Toyota Camry Hybrid, Gil pulled his Suzuki Katana out of storage. Yes, Gil drives a motorcycle. I drive a silver Camry Hybrid LE.

But who does Gil call in the middle of a workday when his Suzuki breaks down?

Camry Man, naturally. Mr. Dependable.

Read more
2017 Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid Limited Review - Cheaper, More Attractive, And Better Than The Obvious Choice

If you want to beat Roger Federer or Novak Djokovic or Andy Murray or Rafael Nadal, you have to be better than Roger, Novak, Andy, and Rafa.

It doesn’t matter if it costs less to train you. It won’t matter if you’re better looking. It will never be sufficient to merely stack up better on paper; to be taller and stronger and younger.

You have to be better.

Sorry to have to break it to you this way, but, you’re not.

To upset a paradigm that’s been in place for two decades, the 2017 Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid can’t merely be less expensive than the Toyota Prius. People are willing to pay a premium for a superior known entity. The Hyundai Ioniq can’t merely be more attractive. Indeed, how could the Ioniq not be more attractive than the 2017 Toyota Prius? Moreover, the Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid won’t succeed simply because of superior on-paper achievements; of greater cargo space or hiproom or horsepower.

If the Ioniq Hybrid is to succeed at weaning green car buyers off their beloved Prii, the Hyundai Ioniq must be a better Prius.

It is. Mostly.

Read more
All Ferraris to Become Hybrids as Marchionne Chases Mondo Volume

Ferrari CEO Sergio Marchionne — who’s also the CEO of some other company — says the Italian automaker’s stable will be full of hybrid technology in three short years.

This isn’t an initiative designed to take Ferrari from red to green. Rather, it’s the only way it can boost sales without running afoul of the law. There’s cash to be made, and Sergio’s on the case.

Read more
2017 Lincoln MKZ Reserve Hybrid Review - Makes Me Want A Fusion

With your left hand’s thumb, scroll through the steering wheel-mounted controls and select Settings. Move up to Driver Assist. Proceed to Drive Control. Then select Comfort.

Now your 2017 Lincoln MKZ Reserve Hybrid is a good ol’ fashioned barge of an American car, with enough rear end float to make pregnant women seasick. Firm? Far from it. That dip in the pavement half a mile ago is still causing the rear occupants’ bellies to teeter-totter as the MKZ attempts to locate its equilibrium.

Pair this menu selection with a prod of the Eco button to the right of the central touchscreen and you now have a modern Lincoln that mostly ignores throttle input, steers with remarkable lightness, and turns potholes into pillows. That sounds like the perfect Lincoln for a customer base that has all but gone extinct.

Fortunately, the refreshed MKZ Hybrid does not need to be driven in Comfort/Eco mode. In fact, the 2017 MKZ is at its best when, as is often the case, Lincoln allows the MKZ to manifest its deep-seated Ford Fusion roots.

So why not buy a Ford Fusion instead?

Read more
Christian Koenigsegg Is a Genius Who Builds Amazing Cars, But Is Koenigsegg a Real Car Company?

Considering I’ve driven hundreds of miles to attend music concerts and recently spent Memorial Day driving across three states to buy a guitar not far from Memphis, I suppose driving 600 miles or so to New York on the odd chance that I’d get to interview Christian von Koenigsegg wasn’t actually that odd.

The Koenigsegg car company scheduled a press conference at the New York Auto Show, and I wanted to shake the hand of a man who — along with just a few dozen of his fellow Swedes — managed to show that Ferdinand Piech and the VW empire’s Bugattis aren’t necessarily the biggest BSD s in the automotive world.

Read more
New York 2015: Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Debuts

Toyota is set to debut a hybrid RAV4. I’m not sure what’s taken them so long.

Read more
  • Tassos Holding cellphones in one hand while driving and being distracted by them is the idiot's recipe for disaster.And there are millions and millions of such morons. As Mark Twain said, the average American is not very smart, and half of all Americans are even dumber than that. I believe this is true of most other nations as well.
  • Tassos I am not paying $25,000, even in worthless biden dollars, for a 7-year old, unreliable, non-luxury used small wagon. Are you kidding me?
  • Dukeisduke I was behind a guy in a Nissan Frontier this morning, and he was driving about 10 under the speed limit. I passed the guy, and he was looking at his phone, scrolling.
  • Marty S Crazy that there are 20 year old airbags out there. Have had airbag recalls on 2 of our cars (only one on each car), but how long do airbags remain safe? I always wondered why there was a recall on the passenger airbag on one of our cars, but not the drivers.Also had the airbag stolen from a 2003 Honda, and it was a nightmare to get it properly replaced by the insurance company.
  • El scotto The Horror! The Horror! Former Scirocco owner with VW PTSD. It cost more to maintain than the BMW it got traded for. The BMW cost more to maintain than the Mustang GT ragtop it got traded for.Will a used Jaguar F type ragtop lead to more counseling?