Tag: Hybrid

By on November 22, 2019

2012 Ford Escape Hybrid Taxi front quarter

Do not adjust your dial. Despite all appearances to the contrary, you have not been magically transported back in time to halfway through the Obama administration. Yes, we know the design of this venerable website hasn’t changed significantly since then, but you have to trust us on this one – it is indeed late 2019, and yet I’m driving a cab from 2012.

It’s the 2012 Ford Escape Hybrid Taxi, fresh from service on the mean streets of New York City, and with over four hundred thousand miles on the original hybrid powertrain. It’s been stripped of the meter and medallion, of course – can’t have shrimp-eating journalists trying to double-dip by hacking while being a hack – but otherwise is very close to how it rolled into Ford’s care a few months back.

It’s a marketing stunt, to be certain. Ford is using one of its oldest, highest-mileage hybrids to sell journalists and the general public on the durability of this solution to electrified motoring. I’m here to say that, while I was skeptical of this stunt, I’m now a believer.

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By on October 23, 2019

Image: Honda

Honda last revamped its subcompact Fit hatchback for the 2015 model year, tossing the entry-level model a styling refresh for 2018. Now, there’s a new Fit on the block (or Jazz, depending on market), but its availability in the U.S. remains a question mark.

Sales of most subcompact cars have followed a trajectory traced by their compact and midsize stablemates, and it points nowhere but down. If Honda feels it’s worthwhile shipping the Fit across U.S. borders, what you see here could be yours. (Read More…)

By on September 27, 2019

Image: Subaru

Following a long period of speculation, the future of the Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ — affordable, jointly-developed rear-drive sport coupes that American buyers seem allergic to — has now become clear. Following a joint announcement from the two automakers, we now know the slow-selling Toyobaru twins will live on into a second generation.

Toyota and Subaru announced Friday that their ongoing partnership, birthed in 2005, will broaden into a greater alliance in the coming years. Part of that pact will ensure a new pair of low-end sports cars, though Subaru also stands to gain more hybrid vehicles. (Read More…)

By on August 29, 2019

Barring the development of electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles, the slow march towards better fuel economy, especially in larger vehicles, has been just that: slow. Yet incremental improvements continue, and the latest large family vehicle to see a darker shade of green is Ford’s new-for-2020 Explorer.

Now bearing rear-drive architecture it shares with the Lincoln Aviator, the Explorer drives into its sixth generation with a hybrid and high-performance model in tow. The greenest of the bunch, unlike the Aviator, is not a plug-in proposition, so fuel economy gains are limited. It’s up to buyers to decide if the just-released EPA numbers are worth the extra coin. (Read More…)

By on August 26, 2019

Ford’s Escape has become the bread and butter of many Blue Oval dealership across the nation, usurping Explorer as the default choice for most families that choose to wander onto a Ford lot in search of an SUV or crossover. Sales have routinely hovered around the 300,000 mark for each of the last eight years.

The 2020 rethink, complete with styling apparently inspired by a Salofalk suppository, brings a solid amount of skin to this cutthroat segment, deploying new hybrid tech and all manner of driver assist technology. Its build and price tool is now live, allowing us a peek at what it’ll cost the Smith family to trade up.

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By on June 25, 2019

As part of BMW’s big #NEXTGen event, the Vision M Next concept shows what the future of “The Ultimate Driving Machine” will look like. This comes in conjunction with an announcement that the targeted 25 electrified models are being pulled ahead by 2 years, to 2023.

BMW Group’s latest innovations in areas of design, autonomous driving, connectivity, electrification, and services are being showcased at the #NEXTGen event. According to Adrian van Hooydonk, Senior Vice President BMW Group Design, “the BMW Vision M NEXT demonstrates how state-of-the-art technology can also make the experience of driving yourself purer and more emotionally engaging.” (Read More…)

By on June 18, 2019

This year’s 24 Hours of LeMans was expectedly dominated by the two LMP1 entries from Toyota, but it wasn’t the expected car that won. LMP2 had a huge battle of its own, American-based IMSA teams challenged in GTE Pro, and the heartfelt GTE Am win changed after the end of the race.

After dominating for nearly the whole race and resetting the track record, the #7 Toyota Gazoo Racing TS050 Hybrid of Kamui Kobayashi, Mike Conway, and Jose Maria Lopez came in with a down tire. Upon going back out, they realized that the tire pressure sensor system was reporting the incorrect tire’s pressure and they had to come in once again. Driving the entire track with a low tire cost them dearly. (Read More…)

By on May 29, 2019

While Toyota remains tight-lipped about its next-generation Tundra pickup, the online commentariat is abuzz with rumors these past several months. The automaker holds no aspirations of unseating the Ford F-150 as king of the full-size truck segment, but numerous reports suggest Toyota at least wants to offer something on par with its modern domestic rivals. Perhaps even class-leading.

The rumors include the possibility of the Tundra sharing its new platform with its midsize Tacoma stablemate, the adoption of an air suspension system (or perhaps even an independent rear setup), and now this: a hybrid turbo drivetrain. (Read More…)

By on April 17, 2019

 

2020 Toyota Highlander

While you were sleeping, Toyota rolled out the fourth generation of its three-row Highlander crossover. It is an all-wheel drive box powered by a V6 engine, packed with gadgets, and offering an optional hybrid powertrain. Given the tastes of car buyers in this segment, none of these things are surprising.

What is surprising is that this nameplate has been around for 20 model years. Perhaps it’s because your author has never been in the market for a rig like the Highlander, or that the model’s ubiquity has caused the thing to fade into the background like proverbial wallflowers. Whatever the case, Highlander is nearly old enough to order its own drinks, and it’s put on a new set of clothes for the occasion.

(Read More…)

By on February 18, 2019

It wasn’t too long ago that four-cylinder engines were the domain of miserable econoboxes. Look no further than the wretched-but-reliable Iron Duke for proof of four-pot motoring misery.

These days, it’s a very different story. Four-bangers are found in everything from high performance sports cars to burly half-ton pickup trucks. We’re already in the realm of 400 hp examples of the breed (the new AMG A45, et al), so for today’s question let’s go one step further: who’ll be the first to build a 500 hp four-cylinder engine for the general public?

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By on February 4, 2019

2018 Volkswagen GTI front quarter

Volkswagen has big plans for mild hybrid powertrains and fully electric vehicles, but the perpetually popular Golf GTI’s successor won’t be a point of contention for motoring purists. That’s because VW has reportedly pulled a screeching U-turn on that model’s electrification.

According to Autocar, the eighth-generation Golf’s hot (but not hottest) hatch variant won’t go the hybrid route. Instead, company engineers have concerned themselves with incremental improvements over the current model. No electro-mobility here; just fun hatch.  (Read More…)

By on January 21, 2019

2019 Chevrolet Volt front quarter

Fully electric cars keep popping up, from startups and legacy automakers alike. They are likely the future. But I’m not ready for them, and likely neither are you.

Until nationwide infrastructure and car charging technologies allow for both a 300-mile range (typically the range of a kid’s bladder) and a 10-to-15 minute full recharge time, the internal combustion engine will always find a home in my driveway. I need the flexibility to drive across several states without plugging in.

That’s where a plug-in hybrid, like this 2019 Chevrolet Volt, makes all the difference. While it can run for over 50 miles without using gasoline, the gas engine charges the batteries, allowing for range similar to that of a traditional car. It’s the real-world way to go green.

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By on December 18, 2018

2019 Toyota Prius AWD-e - Image: Toyota

As America’s new vehicle market shifts to vehicles with four driven wheels, greater ride height, and dog-friendly tailgates, it seems more than sensible for the Toyota Prius to take part in some community outreach.

The Prius, America’s 10th-best-selling car just a decade ago, can keep doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results. Or, the Prius can make a significant change – via available “independent electric, magnet-less rear motor” – to offer all-wheel drive, one of the feature sets that’s drawing car buyers away from cars.

And that’s exactly what Toyota has done for the otherwise refreshed 2019 Prius (reviewed last week by our own Matt Posky). In a manner of speaking, Toyota expects big things from the Prius AWD-e: 25 percent of Prius customers, to be precise.

But one-fourth of all Prius volume is not what it used to be. In fact, it’s a far cry from what it used to be. A mere fraction of what it used to be. One-quarter of all Prius volume will make the Prius AWD-e barely more common than the Alfa Romeo Stelvio. (Read More…)

By on December 14, 2018

While an inarguable success for Toyota, the Prius lost considerable clout through some odd styling decisions, a market trending toward crossovers, and smug owners who put a sour taste in everyone else’s mouth. I was never really a fan of the model, but I appreciated what it offered — outstanding economy, sufficient utility, and rather good comfort (especially in the current generation) for a reasonable price.

Hoping to reach new customers living in the snowbelt and restore some of its lost groove, Toyota has updated the Prius and will begin offering the model with all-wheel drive. Well, I say “all-wheel drive,” but things are a little more complicated than that.

The 2019 Prius AWD-e utilizes a small, magnetless motor to drive the rear wheels, while keeping the aft axle completely independent from the existing 1.8-liter hybrid system and its own pair of motor/generators. Fortunately, I had an opportunity to explore the new system in the wintry wilds of Wisconsin to see if it’s any good.

(Read More…)

By on December 11, 2018

2020 Porsche 911

Any measure of change to the 911 reliably sends Porsche purists into a tailspin worthy of the car’s legendary snap-oversteer thirty years ago. It has been suggested that the 911 was the leading cause of death of doctors, lawyers, and – erm – entrepreneurs in the ‘70s and ‘80s than anything else, including cocaine.

Those diabolically catastrophic handling traits have long been exorcised, of course, along with air cooling and church pew seating. With each change, anoraks have wailed into their Porsche Design espresso cups.

What will be said about a hybrid 911? Well, according to one source, they’ll at least be able to say it’s the most powerful 911 ever made.

(Read More…)

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