Tag: Hybrid

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?

(Read More…)

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.

(Read More…)

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…)

By on December 10, 2018

Jack Hollis, Toyota North America’s general manager, was quite forthcoming during a roundtable discussion at the L.A. Auto Show. After unveiling the brand’s upcoming all-wheel drive Toyota Prius and hybrid Corolla sedan, he speculated on what else might be coming down the product pipe.

We already know that Toyota wants to TRD-ify as many models as possible (the Camry and Avalon aren’t an end point, apparently), but AWD and hybrid power serve the purposes of practicality, not style. There’s more reason to desire a vehicle that sips gas or blasts through snowbanks with aplomb.

That’s why an AWD, hybrid Corolla isn’t off the table. Upon hearing this, this writer’s mind drifted to the new-for-2019 Corolla Hatch and a small crossover that, strangely, isn’t offered with AWD. What would a would-be C-HR buyer be giving up if Toyota went ahead and electrified the rear axle of the Corolla Hatch? (Read More…)

By on December 5, 2018

2018 Kia Niro PHEV front quarter

Life gets in the way. No matter how much you plan, there will always be circumstances that, at the very least, interfere with that plan — if not throw it completely out the window.

For instance, when I test a car that specifically touts efficiency, I always plan a relatively rigorous regimen of fuel economy measurements, including filling and refilling the tank at the same pump, and maintaining a consistent driving style. But then a school bus is late and I have to rush to the office, keeping me from the fuel pump before the car goes away — and keeping my foot to the floor a bit more than ideal. Or a charging plug falls out of the wall socket you’ve been meaning to replace for a decade.

But this time, as I tested the 2018 Kia Niro PHEV, everything went right. I was able to drive and charge this plug-in hybrid like a normal person who has to keep it for more than a week. Full charges greeted me each morning. And, at the end of my test, some seriously impressive fuel economy blew my mind.

(Read More…)

By on December 3, 2018

For two decades, the name “Prius” was all a committed Toyota buyer needed to know when searching for a compact hybrid vehicle. Soon, there’ll be two options, not counting the plug-in Prius Prime.

The automaker’s decision to offer a hybrid version of the still strong-selling Corolla was not made to usher its famed hybrid model into the shadows; rather, there’s two key reasons for it. Sure, the Corolla nameplate carries an enviable reputation and boatloads of name recognition, but Toyota’s also willing to admit that the Prius’ attributes just weren’t resonating with a certain segment of the American public.  (Read More…)

By on November 20, 2018

Crosstrek Hybrid

The stereotypical Subaru customer has always been overly concerned with Johnny Polar Bear, so it’s been a bit of a surprise that the company hasn’t had a plug-in hybrid offering in their lineup.

That changes next year, with the introduction of the 2019 Crosstrek Hybrid. Subaru must be employing a few wizards in the engineering department because despite the new hybrid producing less power and weighing more (a lot more), the company is claiming the electrified Crosstrek is a full second quicker to sixty than the standard car.

(Read More…)

By on October 19, 2018

Image: Ford/YouTube

Ford Motor Company dropped its first Bryan Cranston-filled “Built Ford Proud” commercial today, offering the Breaking Bad alumnus an opportunity to cast aspersions at the company’s rivals, including industry startups. It’s filled with Ted Talk-bashing, futurespeak-trashing bravado linked together with a thread of get ‘er done, implying that talk is cheap, and real progress takes hard work.

You can count on Ford to build the future — that’s the message here.

Halfway through the ad, a 1960s Mustang blasting through a desert landscape morphs into a contemporary model, then morphs again into something else. But what is it? (Read More…)

By on September 28, 2018

Image: Infiniti

Infiniti doesn’t want you to look at the Project Black S prototype and ooh and ah over its looks. It’s a Q60 with an aero makeover. No, Infiniti created the Project Black S as a technological showpiece, due to be revealed Monday in the periphery of the Paris auto show.

Beneath its hood is what Infiniti’s mulling for the sportier side of its electrified future. The prototype incorporates a hybrid system that finds energy at every turn — not just from regenerative braking, but exhaust gasses, too. While mashing the throttle of an internal combustion vehicle is hardly the greenest way to generate electricity, drivers looking for added boost likely won’t mind. (Read More…)

By on July 27, 2018

2018 Volvo XC60 front quarter

One of the downsides of doing this job is adapting to a new car every week. While the joy of never actually performing maintenance on your daily driver makes up for it, I struggle with basic tasks at times that should be second nature. Various cars have different locations for parking brakes, for example — I once stomped toward what I thought was a pedal-actuated parking brake, and instead caught my toe on the hood release.

That struggle extends to plug-in hybrids like this 2018 Volvo XC60 T8 — I simply forget to plug the darned thing in. Volvo quotes up to 17 miles of all-electric range. My commute to the office is right around 8 miles. I rather like the idea of not using a drop of gasoline to get to the day job, but two things conspired to keep me from that goal: my general idiocy, and the intoxicating torque supplied by this innovative powertrain.

(Read More…)

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