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Found 15 results

  1. William Maley Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com December 21, 2012 The folks at Camaro5.org got their hands on General Motors service document on decoding VIN number on 2014 model year vehicles for dealers and found some interesting information. First is the 2014 Camaro which features a listing of the 7.0L LS7 V8 engine from the current Corvette Z06 (505 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque). Speculation has it being for a new Camaro model, the rumored Z28 model. Next, the document references a LF3 engine which is noted as "ENGINE GAS, 6 CYL, 3.6L, SIDI, DOHC, VVT, ALUM, TWIN TURBO". In plain English, it could be the long rumored 3.6L twin-turbo V6. The document doesn't list the 3.6L twin-turbo in any of the models. Other items the document notes is the 2014 Buick Verano looks be dropping its base 2.4L four-cylinder and going towards a 1.6L turbo-four. The 2.0L turbo model will stick around. Source: Camaro5.org William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.
  2. William Maley Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com June 26, 2012 Toyota has revealed the powertrain details on the new 2013 Avalon. As expected, the new Avalon will still use the 3.5L V6 from the previous Avalon. The V6 is rated at 268 HP and 248 lb-ft. of torque and will go through a six-speed automatic. EPA rates the V6 at 21 City/31 Highway/25 Combined. Toyota has equipped the Avalon V6 with three different power modes (Eco, Normal, Sport) and certain models get paddle-shifters for a more “sporty” experience. The new Avalon will also come in a hybrid model. The hybrid comes equipped with a 2.5L four-cylinder engine and electric motor producing a combined 200 HP. EPA rates the Avalon Hybrid at 40 City/39 Highway/40 Combined. The new Avalon goes on sale later this year. William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster. Press Release is on Page 2 All-New 2013 Toyota Avalon Features Both Gasoline and Hybrid Powertrains TORRANCE, Calif. (June 26, 2012) – When the all-new, North American designed and engineered 2013 Avalon goes on sale later this year, consumers can choose between a powerful V6 gasoline powertrain and Toyota’s proven Hybrid Synergy Drive. The efficiency offered by the new hybrid model will help the all-new premium mid-size sedan achieve excellent fuel economy with an EPA-rating of 40 mpg combined. In addition to offering a hybrid powertrain, the new Avalon features a stunning design, improved dynamic performance, a greater degree of refinement, and a highly spacious, comfortable interior experience with an abundance of outstanding convenience technologies. Powerful, Efficient V6 Engine The 2013 Avalon will feature a proven 3.5-liter, DOHC V6 engine coupled with a six-speed automatic transaxle, which has been enhanced to offer more responsive and efficient performance. The all-aluminum six-cylinder engine will produce 268 horsepower and 248 lbs. ft. of torque, which will propel the new sedan to 60 mph in under seven seconds. Compared to the previous-generation Avalon, this 2013 powertrain combination offers improved fuel economy, performance, superior shift feel and response, with upgraded drivability and quietness. This enhanced powertrain’s programming has been updated to offer ECO, NORMAL, and SPORT Modes. The ECO mode prioritizes fuel efficiency by reducing power application at lower speeds and reducing energy consumed by the air-conditioning system. The SPORT Mode provides increased acceleration responses though altered engine control unit (ECU) programming, and it offers a more direct and responsive EPS programming to enhance steering feel. In addition, the new transaxle is equipped with a numerically lower differential gear drive ratio (3.23), designed to help improve fuel economy. The V6-powered 2013 Avalon achieves an EPA-rated 25 mpg combined (21 city/ 31 hwy). The transmission operation has been made more efficient and responsive with the adoption of a flex-start control feature lock-up clutch. With lock-up control, the transmission’s torque converter fully engages at a lower RPM during standing starts to improve acceleration response and help suppress unnecessary engine revolutions. The new transmission is also kept at an optimal temperature with an automatic-transmission fluid warmer, helping enhance efficiency. The multi-mode automatic transmission console shifter offers a D range and can be moved into an S-mode gate, which allows manually operated sequential shifting using the console shifter or available (Touring and Limited models) steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters. The gear can be selected by moving the shifter up to (+) position or lower using the (-) position to experience highly responsive shifts. By using the paddles or in S-range, the transmission uses a quick responding shift-logic that includes throttle blipping for downshifts. The gear changes and range-of-gear selections are displayed in the color multi-information display. Avalon Adds Toyota Hybrid Synergy Drive For consumers seeking a premium mid-size sedan with excellent fuel economy ratings and an environmental message, the new Avalon features a full power-split hybrid system. Coupled with reductions in vehicle weight and improvements in aerodynamics, the Avalon Hybrid is expects to achieve impressive fuel economy ratings. The 2013 Avalon incorporates the latest advances in Toyota Hybrid Synergy Drive technology, building upon Toyota’s 14 years of hybrid-development experience. The Avalon Hybrid features a 2.5-liter, Atkinson-cycle, four-cylinder engine, a 244.8-volt nickel-metal hydride battery pack, and a pair of electric motor/generators within the transaxle. A power-control unit located in the engine compartment houses an inverter, a DC-DC converter, a step-up converter (raises voltage to a maximum of 650 volts) and the hybrid-drive ECU, which governs the seamless operation of electric-motor power application and regenerative braking. The power control unit relies on liquid cooling to maintain an efficient temperature. The Avalon Hybrid achieves a total system output of 200 horsepower and offers three unique modes of operation: EV, ECO and SPORT. The Avalon Hybrid models achieve an EPA-rated 40 mpg in the city, and a 39 mpg on the highway for a combined 40 mpg EPA-rating. The 2013 Avalon Hybrid offers an EV mode that, under certain conditions, allows the vehicle to operate solely on electric propulsion. EV mode can be engaged, provided other conditions are correct, for up to one mile at speeds up to 25 mph, providing an all-electric option that is convenient in residential areas or parking garages. The ECO drive mode engages the gasoline motor, but reduces throttle response and HVAC output to help improve overall efficiency. The SPORT Mode takes full advantage of the new Avalon’s dynamic character, improved chassis, and enhanced suspension by altering the engine’s throttle response and enhancing steering feel. The Avalon’s hybrid’s battery pack is comprised of 204 cells and is located in the vehicle trunk behind the rear seats, while still providing ample trunk space. The scroll casing for the battery cooling system’s blower fan has been designed to produce extremely quiet and efficient airflow, helping reduce interior noise and elevating refinement. The power-control unit, located in the engine bay, houses the inverter, DC-DC converter. The efficient hybrid transaxle in the new Avalon contains two high-output electric motor/generators, a power-split device, an open differential and the final drive ratio. Motor/Generator 1 (MG1) is used to start the gasoline engine and generate the energy that is returned to the battery to power the system. Motor/Generator 2 (MG2) is primarily responsible for electric drivetrain propulsion and regenerative braking. The hybrid vehicle transaxle also incorporates a flywheel-damper design that helps reduce noise and vibration during engine engagement. Captivating Styling with a Spacious, Luxurious Interior Experience The new 2013 Avalon is the product of a North American-focused design and engineering effort. The new sedan’s striking exterior and luxurious interior design was conceived by a youthful, talented team at the Calty Design Research Inc., facilities in Southern California and Michigan. The car’s engineering development was led by a passionate and dedicated group based at Toyota Technical Center in Ann Arbor, Mich. Continuing a North American focus, the 2013 Avalon will be assembled at the award-winning Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky (TMMK) facility in Georgetown, Ky. True to the future product mission set forth by Toyota Motor Corporation President Akio Toyoda, the new Avalon’s more stylish, bold, sporty exterior design and luxurious interior styling are matched by an enhanced dynamic package, a combination that foreshadows the more compelling and passionate nature of future Toyota products. Powertrain Specs Avalon V6 Avalon Hybrid Gasoline Engine Type/Displacement 2GR-FE / 3.5L 2AR-FXE / 2.5L Max Horsepower 268 hp 154 hp Max Torque 248 lbs.-ft. 153 lbs.-ft. Transaxle Type 6-speed AT E-CVT Electric Motor Max Output - 140 hp Max Torque - 200 ft. lbs. Battery Type - Nickel-Metal Hydride Nominal Voltage - 245 volts Number of Cells - 204 Cells Max Output - 34 kw or 45.6 hp Total System Output - 149 kw 200hp Key Dimensional Comparison 2013 Avalon 2012 Avalon Overall Length 195.3 in. 197.6 in. Overall Width 72.2 in. 72.8 in. Overall Height 57.5 in. 58.5 in. Wheelbase 111 in. 111 in. Front Tread 62.6 in. 62.2 in. Rear Tread 62.2 in. 61.6 in. Front Overhang 38.8 in. 39.4 in. Rear Overhang 45.5 in. 47.2 in. Curb Weight 3,497 lbs. (V6), 3594 lbs. (Hybrid XLE) 3,616 lbs.
  3. William Maley Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com June 21, 2012 The saga of what will power the next BMW M3 soliders on. So far, the leading contender is a twin-turbo V6. However, German website BimmerToday says the inline-six will be under the hood. Sources tell BimmerToday that BMW will equip the next M3 with 3.2L inline-six delivering 450 HP (480 HP with a performance package) and reach a top speed of 300 KPH (186 MPH). The fundamentals of the new engine come from the current M3’s 4.0L V8. Sources also reveal that BMW had built some prototype V6 engines for testing under the codename of "Apollo". We’ll see if the next M3 comes with a V6, inline-six, or something completely different when the production model is shown next year. Source: BimmerToday via BMWBlog William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.
  4. William Maley Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com July 31, 2013 Ford announced today that the 2014 F-150 pickup equipped with the 3.7L V6 will come with a CNG/LPG Prep package, making it the first light-duty pickup in the class to come with this feature. The package includes hardened valves, valve seats, pistons and rings. The CNG/LPG Prep package will set you back $315. That doesn't mean you can head to your nearest CNG/LPG station and fill up though. You will need to visit a Ford Qualified Vehicle Modifier which will install the CNG/LPG-specific fuel tanks, fuel lines and fuel injectors. When all is said and done, the conversion will set you back $7,500 to $9,500. Ford says an F-150 running on CNG/LPG gets 23 MPG on the highway and has a range of more than 750 Miles. “Businesses and fleet customers have been asking Ford to make F-150 available with CNG capability to take advantage of the fuel’s low price and clean emissions. With the money saved using CNG, customers could start to see payback on their investment in as little as 24 to 36 months,” said Jon Coleman, Ford fleet sustainability and technology manager. Source: Ford William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.comor you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster. Press Release is on Page 2 JUL 31, 2013 | DEARBORN, MICH. FORD F-150 TO OFFER ABILITY TO RUN ON COMPRESSED NATURAL GAS; SALES OF FORD CNG-PREPPED VEHICLES CONTINUE GROWTH 2014 Ford F-150 will offer a gaseous-fuel prep option on the 3.7-liter V6 engine; it will be able to run on compressed natural gas or liquefied petroleum gas With the addition of F-150, Ford will have eight vehicles available to run on clean-burning, inexpensive CNG/LPG. Sales continue to grow rapidly, with Ford expecting to sell more than 15,000 CNG/LPG-prepped vehicles this year Ford Qualified Vehicle Modifiers offer a wide variety of CNG options to help customers find the best, most cost-effective solution to their diverse operating needs Ford, America’s truck leader, will offer the 2014 F-150 with the ability to run on compressed natural gas, making Ford the only manufacturer with an available CNG/LPG-capable half-ton pickup. The 2014 Ford F-150 with 3.7-liter V6 engine will be available this fall with a factory-installed, gaseous-fuel prep package that includes hardened valves, valve seats, pistons and rings so it can operate on either natural gas or gasoline through separate fuel systems. When the 3.7-liter V6 F-150 is equipped with a CNG/LPG engine package, it is capable of achieving more than 750 miles on one tank of gas, depending on the tank size selected. The Ford F-150 averages 23 mpg on the highway. “Businesses and fleet customers have been asking Ford to make F-150 available with CNG capability to take advantage of the fuel’s low price and clean emissions,” said Jon Coleman, Ford fleet sustainability and technology manager. “With the money saved using CNG, customers could start to see payback on their investment in as little as 24 to 36 months.” CNG/LPG engine prep from the factory costs approximately $315 before the customer chooses a Ford Qualified Vehicle Modifier to supply fuel tanks, fuel lines and unique fuel injectors. Upfits run approximately $7,500 to $9,500 depending on fuel tank capacity. CNG conversions can provide stability against fluctuating fuel prices as well as lower vehicle operating costs for fleet administrators. CNG sells for an average of $2.11 per gallon of gasoline equivalent, and is as low as $1 in some parts of the country, representing a significant savings over unleaded regular fuel. The national average for unleaded regular fuel is $3.66 per gallon. In the next year, Ford will offer eight commercial vehicles with a gaseous-prep option, a number no other full-line manufacturer can match: Transit Connect van and wagon Transit van, wagon, cutaway and chassis cab E-Series van, wagon, cutaway and stripped chassis F-Series Super Duty pickup and F-350 chassis cab F-Series Super Duty chassis cab (F-450, F-550) F-650 medium-duty truck F53 and F59 stripped chassis 2014 F-150 light-duty pickup Customers are enthusiastically responding to this powerful array of choices. Since reintroducing the option in 2009, Ford has established itself as the leader in CNG/LPG engine sales. Ford is on pace to sell more than 15,000 CNG/LPG-prepped vehicles this year, an increase of more than 25 percent from 2012. AT&T is one of many Ford customers that are finding value in CNG. The communications giant recently purchased 650 F-350 chassis cabs with the CNG-prep option. “We’re almost halfway to our company-wide goal of deploying 15,000 alternative-fuel vehicles by the end of year 2018,” said Jerome Webber, AT&T vice president, global fleet operations. “Vehicles such as CNG F-350s from Ford have helped us avoid purchasing 7.7 million gallons of gasoline over the past five years while reducing our fleet’s emissions.” Qualified Vehicle Modifiers Ford has established a rigorous qualification program for alternative-fuel vehicle modifiers. The QVM program is intended to help modifiers achieve greater levels of customer satisfaction and product acceptance through the manufacture of high-quality vehicles. QVMs offer a wide variety of CNG/LPG options to help customers find the best, most cost-effective solution to their diverse operating needs. Ford maintains the engine and powertrain limited warranty (five years or 60,000 miles); the modifier is responsible for the system component warranty. Compressed natural gas Compressed natural gas is mainly composed of methane. It is stored and distributed in hard containers at a pressure of approximately 3,600 psi. About 85 percent of the CNG used in the United States is produced domestically. Another benefit of this alternative fuel: Cleaner emissions. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency certifies CNG usage can result in up to 30 percent less greenhouse gas emissions.
  5. By William Maley Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com April 23, 2013 Well, that didn't go quite as planned… By the time you are reading this review, Toyota has introduced the new 2014 Highlander. I should have realized this when I was scheduling vehicles about a month ago, since this current generation of Highlander has been with us for about six years. But alas, I didn’t. Here’s the thing though: the current Toyota Highlander doesn’t look or even feel like its six years old. It still feels pretty new. Now it may seem a bit odd to do a review on a vehicle that’s destined to be replaced. But it’s the perfect time to spot the differences between the outgoing and new Highlander, and decided whether it’s a good idea to pick one up now or wait. The current Highlander’s styling is pretty plain when compared to other crossovers in the marketplace. Up front, Toyota designers placed a hexagonal grill and an aggressive air dam underneath. Around the back, there is a set of reworked taillights and name of the model around the license plate. There is a hint of 4Runner and Sequoia in the overall design, but it really doesn’t help give the Highlander an identity of its own. Moving inside, the Highlander shows its base model credentials very clearly. Hard plastics are used throughout the interior and the dashboard. Also the sea of grey plastics and cloth seats could make anyone feel like they are in a ‘50 Shades of Grey’ novel. Thankfully, fit and finish on this base Highlander is at the high standard Toyota is known for. The Highlander delivers top marks in passenger comfort and space. The cloth seats provide the right balance of comfort and support for all passengers. Second row passengers will appreciate the generous amount of head and legroom. The second row also features a clever trick where the center part can be folded down and stowed under the front console. This gives you two captain chairs and a storage cubby in its place. There is a third-row, but I would recommend that either small kids sit there or fold it down since it’s a bit tight on legroom for adults. My only real concerns with the interior were with the radio. For 2013, Toyota has installed a touchscreen unit on all trim levels for the Highlander. I found the screen to be very responsive when pressed and was easy to read at a glance, except when the sunlight hits the screen and makes it unreadable. Another problem for the radio deals with the control layout of the center stack. On either side of the radio are giant these ‘knobs’ and your first thought would be, “oh these are the volume and tune knobs”. Uh no, those ‘knobs’ are the hazard lights and the airbag lights. The volume and tune ‘knobs’ are microscopic in comparison as they sit on top of the radio. Putting the Highlander to work are two engines: a 2.7L four-cylinder or, what my Highlander came equipped with, a 3.5L V6 engine. The 3.5L produces 270 horsepower and 248 pound-feet of torque, which is mated to a five-speed automatic. Power delivery is very smooth and effortless, moving this 4,266 lb vehicle without a sweat. The five-speed automatic is a bit of an oddity considering most of the competition. Even the four-cylinder Highlander comes equipped with a six-speed automatic. Toyota‘s engineers’ deserve some credit for making the five-speed work by providing seamless shifts. My Highlander was equipped with the optional 4WD system and it provided excellent traction when Mother Nature decided to drop a few inches of snow during the week. You could feel the 4WD system working when driving through the snow, making sure to keep you moving. Fuel economy on the 2013 Highlander V6 4WD stands at 17 City/22 Highway/19 Combined. During my week, I averaged 19.2 MPG which is on par for the class. On the highway, I got 21.2 MPG. On the road the Highlander coddles its passengers with a very a smooth ride. The suspension setup feels like it was made up of pillows and down comforters filled with feathers. This is perfect tuning for the Michigan roads the Highlander drove on since they are very decrepit. The tradeoff for the soft ride is poor handling and the Highlander exhibits this very well. The Highlander rolls and wobbles while braking or taking sharp turns. Some people may be turned off this, but most won’t care. What most people will care about is the amount of road and wind noise the Highlander exhibits. Driving in the city and suburbia, the Highlander is decent at keeping the noise out. On the highway, there is abundance of wind and road noise in the cabin. I don’t know if the higher trim levels have this problem as well. The 2013 Highlander proved to be a very solid offering in the crossover market. While it might not be the newest, quietest, or fun to drive, the Highlander provides the comfort, power, and value that most buyers are looking for. Now comes the question of whether you should you should go out and buy one now or wait for the new one? On one hand, the new Highlander does bring forth [a] new exterior that stands out and an interior that, in pictures, looks to bring in some new style and materials. On the other hand, the powertrains are carried over from this model with the only real change is a six-speed automatic for the V6. At the end of the day, I would say you would be happy going with either the old or new Highlander. The decision just rests on whether you want spend the money on the new shiny vehicle or save a few bucks on the old one. Either way, you're getting a very solid crossover. Disclaimer: Toyota provided the vehicle, insurance, and one tank of gasoline. Year - 2013 Make – Toyota Model – Highlander Trim – V6 4WD Engine – 3.5L DOHC VVT-i V6 Driveline – Full-Time Four-Wheel Drive, Five-Speed Automatic Horsepower @ RPM – 270 @ 6,200 RPM Torque @ RPM – 248 @ 4,700 RPM Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 17/22/19 Curb Weight – 4,266 lbs Location of Manufacture – Princeton, IN Base Price - $31,845.00 As Tested Price - $33,757.00 (Includes $845.00 destination charge) Options: Running Boards - $649.00 Carpet and Cargo Mats - $280.00 Cold Weather Package - $60.00 Cargo Net - $49.00 First Aid Kit - $29.00 William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.
  6. By William Maley Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com February 8, 2013 At one time in the U.S. auto market, you had a wide variety of compact pickups to choose from. You could get a Chevrolet S-10, Ford Ranger, Nissan Hardbody, or a number of other pickups. But now there isn’t such a thing as a compact pickup. The last compact pickup truck, the Ford Ranger, said farewell in 2011. Other compact pickups have grown into what we now call the midsize class. That brings us to the current crop of midsize pickups; the Nissan Frontier and Toyota Tacoma. These two models make up the current selection of midsize pickups. But is that a good thing? Why are there only two models in the midsize pickups class? I recently had a 2013 Toyota Tacoma Access Cab to find out. Variety is the Spice of Life The 2013 Tacoma comes in a variety of configurations to suit your needs. Whether you need a single cab with a four-cylinder engine or a crew cab with a V6 and off-road package, Toyota probably has a Tacoma for you. Our test Tacoma was a SR5 Access Cab, Toyota’s name for extended cab. Toyota has made some tweaks the Tacoma’s exterior in 2012, mostly in the front. There is a new grille, headlights, and bumper that help make the Tacoma’s 2005 design look somewhat newer. The Tacoma’s standard truck bed measures out at 73.5 inches long, which means the truck can handle a run to the hardware store to pick up supplies with no problem. Stepping inside the Tacoma Access Cab, you do notice that it hasn’t aged very well. Despite Toyota’s best efforts to spruce it up by installing a new steering wheel, revising the graphics on the gauges, and changing the colors on the center stack, the interior feels like it has just rolled off the assembly line back in 2005. Materials are what you would usually find in most mid-size trucks, hard plastics in the usual places. However, the Tacoma’s interior does have some positive points. For starters, the dash layout is simple and the controls are within easy reach. The front seats are very comfortable with a good amount of adjustments and bolstering. Then there is the Access Cab which increases interior space and provides additional space. You can fit two people in the back in the jump seats, but only if they are small kids. Power? Yes. Fuel Economy and Ride? Umm.. The Tacoma can be equipped with either a 2.7L four-cylinder or what our test Tacoma was equipped with, a 4.0L V6. I should explain Toyota uses two variations of the 4.0L in their Trucks and SUVs. For the Tundra and 4Runner, Toyota employs a 4.0L producing 270 horsepower and 278 pound-feet of torque. In the Tacoma, Toyota uses the same 4.0L producing less power at 236 horsepower and 266 pound-feet torque. Transmission choices for the Tacoma include a six-speed manual or five-speed automatic. The 4.0L V6 feels faster than what is indicated on the speedometer thanks to the bulk of torque being on the low-end and the automatic’s gearing spaced out to provide more performance. With an empty bed and dry payment, you can easily get a squeal from the rear tires. On the expressway, the V6 was able get up to speed very quickly and make passes with no sweat. I never thought that I needed the higher performing 4.0L in the week I had the Tacoma. One item Toyota does need to address with the Tacoma’s 4.0L V6 is fuel economy. The EPA rates the 2013 Toyota Tacoma Access Cab SR5 V6 4WD at 16 City/21 Highway/18 Combined, which is similar to full-size pickups equipped V8 engines. During my time with the Tacoma, I averaged about 17.6 MPG. The Tacoma’s suspension uses a double wishbone with gas-filled shocks in the front and leaf springs in the back. This setup provided a soft, yet very bouncy ride. I kept wondering if I was riding a mechanical bull and not a truck. I’m sure if the bed had a load, the bounciness would subside a bit. One surprise of the Tacoma was its steering. Toyota uses a variable assist rack and pinion system and it provided an excellent amount of feel and weight. Combine it with smaller dimensions of the Tacoma and it is a breeze to maneuver around tight spaces. There’s A Good Truck Here, But Needs Some Drastic Changes The 2013 Tacoma Access Cab SR5 V6 has left me torn. On one hand, the Tacoma has a comfortable and straightforward interior layout, a punchy V6, and good maneuverability. On the other hand, the Tacoma gets about the same fuel economy as full-size trucks, an interior that feels very old, and the bouncy ride. There’s another nail in the Tacoma’s coffin and that is the price. As tested, the Tacoma Access Cab SR5 V6 stickers at $30,580.00. At a glance, this seems somewhat reasonable. However with that same amount of cash, you could head down to your local Chevrolet, Ford, Ram dealer and get a full-size truck that is equipped similar to the Tacoma. Toyota is now at a point with the Tacoma where it has two options; either leave the Tacoma as-is or begin making some changes to full unleash the potential of this truck. Those changes include swapping the five-speed automatic for a six-speed automatic and seeing if they can squeeze some more fuel economy out of the 4.0L V6. I hope Toyota goes with the latter option since the midsize truck market could use a kick in the pants. Album: 2013 Toyota Tacoma Access Cab SR5 V6 4WD 18 images 0 comments Disclaimer: Toyota provided the vehicle, insurance, and one tank of gasoline. Year - 2013 Make – Toyota Model – Tacoma Access Cab Trim – SR5 V6 Engine – 4.0L DOHC 24V VVT-i V6 Driveline – Part Time Four-Wheel Drive, Five-Speed Automatic Horsepower @ RPM – 236 @ 5,200 RPM Torque @ RPM – 266 @ 4,000 RPM Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 16/21/18 Curb Weight – 4,100 lbs Location of Manufacture – San Antonio, TX Base Price - $26,185.00 As Tested Price - $30,580.00 (Includes $895.00 destination charge) Options: SR5 Value Package - $2,335.00 V6 Tow Package - $650.00 Running Boards - $376.00 Six-Speaker, AM/FM/SirusXM/CD/MP3/WMA/Bluetooth/Aux/iPod Sound System - $300.00 Floor Mats and Door Sill Protector -$195.00 Exhaust Tip - $85.00 Daytime Running Lights - $40.00 First Aid Kit - $39.00 William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.
  7. Just when you thought it was safe to go back onto the racetrack, Chevrolet has announced the return of the 1LE package for the Camaro. Debuting tomorrow at the Chicago Auto Show, the 2017 Camaro 1LE will be available for the V8 and for the first time, the V6. Let us break down what you get with either engine. LT 1LE The V6 1LE - available on the LT - gets some equipment from the SS 1LE. This includes a new fuel system and the FE3 suspension package with stabilizer bars. Other items for LT 1LE include a mechanical limited slip differential, upgraded cooling system four-piston Brembo brakes for the front, 20-inch lightweight aluminum wheels, and set of Goodyear Eagle F1 tires. A black satin hood and suede interior accents dress up the 1LE. Optional will be a set of Recaro seats and Performance Data Recorder. SS 1LE The SS 1LE comes with the new FE4 suspension package with magnetic ride control, electronic limited slip differential, six-piston Brembo brakes on all four corners, 20-inch wheels, and a Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar tires specifically developed for this vehicle. Upgraded cooling systems for the V8 engine, transmission, and differential come standard. A set of Recaro bucket seats and a head-up display finish the interior. “The Camaro 1LE packages follow a recipe any track-day enthusiast will appreciate. Start with a lightweight, stiff structure and then add higher levels of suspension stiffness and damping, more aggressive tires, higher downforce, more powerful brakes and more cooling," said Al Oppenheiser, Camaro chief engineer. “The result delivers better performance in all measures. In our development tests, the V-6 Camaro 1LE delivers lap times comparable with the previous-gen V-8 model. The 2016 Camaro SS 1LE sets the new benchmark for the segment, lapping the Big Willow track at Willow Springs three seconds faster than the standard Camaro SS.” Chevrolet says the 1LE package will be available late this year. Pricing will be announced a later time. Source: Chevrolet You can follow our coverage of 2016 Chicago Auto Show News here. Press Release is on Page 2 New 1LE Packages Elevates Camaro Track Capabilities Track package returns with more technology for V8 models, first time offered on V6 CHICAGO – The Chevrolet Camaro 1LE performance package returns for 2017, poised to set new benchmarks for attainable track performance. The package builds off the success of the previous-generation 1LE, offering increased handling and track performance. In response to customer demand, Chevrolet will offer two distinct 1LE packages, for both V6 and V8 models, each visually distinguished with a satin black hood, specific wheels and more. For the first time, the 1LE package will be available on Camaro 1LT or 2LT coupes equipped with the 3.6L V6. Featuring more aggressive suspension tuning, standard Brembo brakes and Goodyear Eagle F1 tires, the LT 1LE delivers an estimated 0.97G in cornering grip. Available Recaro seats will keep you planted through the corners, and an available Performance Data Recorder will allow you to view and share your track experience. The new 1LE package for Camaro 1SS models includes magnetic ride control, with a new FE4 suspension tuning and a new, segment-exclusive electronic limited slip differential (eLSD). Paired with massive Goodyear Eagle F1 tires, lateral acceleration will exceed 1G. Additional features available on the 1LE package include standard Recaro seats and a Performance Data Recorder (PDR), new to the Camaro lineup. As a result, the 1LE package elevates the award-winning performance that earned Camaro the 2016 Motor Trend Car of the Year and Car and Driver 10Best awards. “The Camaro 1LE packages follow a recipe any track-day enthusiast will appreciate,” said Al Oppenheiser, Camaro chief engineer. “Start with a lightweight, stiff structure and then add higher levels of suspension stiffness and damping, more aggressive tires, higher downforce, more powerful brakes and more cooling. “The result delivers better performance in all measures,” said Oppenheiser. “In our development tests, the V-6 Camaro 1LE delivers lap times comparable with the previous-gen V-8 model. The 2016 Camaro SS 1LE sets the new benchmark for the segment, lapping the Big Willow track at Willow Springs three seconds faster than the standard Camaro SS.” The new 1LE packages are available in late 2016, on 2017 Camaro SS and LT V-6 coupes equipped with manual transmissions. Pricing and performance data will be announced at a later date. Camaro LT 1LE The Camaro LT 1LE was developed to be the most track-capable sports coupe in its price class. Highlights include: 3.6L V-6 rated at 335 horsepower and matched with the six-speed manual transmission FE3 suspension components (from the Camaro SS), including dampers, rear cradle mounts, ball-jointed rear toe links and stabilizer bars Lightweight 20-inch forged aluminum wheels with Goodyear Eagle F1 245/40R20 front tires and 275/35R20 rear tires Brembo 4-piston front brake calipers Mechanical Limited-slip differential with 3.27 ratio Standard track-cooling package, with engine oil, differential and transmission coolers Suede steering wheel and shorter-throw shifter Standard dual mode exhaust system Camaro SS fuel system for higher-load cornering capability Satin black hood, front splitter and unique three-piece rear spoiler Unique high flow upper and lower grille with satin black accents Available Recaro seats and PDR video/data recording system. “With a curb weight under 3,500 pounds, excellent front-to-rear weight balance and the precision of the FE3 suspension, the Camaro LT 1LE offers unmatched capability in its class,” said Oppenheiser. “As a result, it offers incredible performance for Camaro V-6 customers.” Camaro SS 1LE The 2017 Camaro SS 1LE introduces the new FE4 suspension to the Gen Six Camaro – a performance-oriented chassis system with specific tuning for the Magnetic Ride dampers, springs and stabilizer bars. Additional highlights include: 6.2L LT1 V-8 rated at 455 horsepower, and six-speed manual transmission (automatic transmission not available) Magnetic Ride Control Segment-exclusive electronic limited-slip differential with 3.73 ratio Unique forged aluminum wheels with 285/30ZR20 front tires and 305/30ZR20 rear tires Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar tires with a compound and construction developed exclusively for the Camaro – offering exceptional grip on the track Brembo brakes with new six-piston monobloc front red calipers – featuring the 1LE logo – and two-piece rotors. Measuring 14.6 inches (370mm) in diameter, the front rotors are 7 percent larger than Camaro SS Track-cooling package, with engine oil, differential and transmission coolers Suede steering wheel with shorter-throw shifter Dual mode exhaust system Recaro front seats with aggressive bolsters optimized for shifting and steering comfort Satin black hood, front mirrors and unique three-piece rear spoiler Satin Graphite front splitter and rear diffuser Available PDR video/data recording system
  8. William Maley Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com December 21, 2012 The folks at Camaro5.org got their hands on General Motors service document on decoding VIN number on 2014 model year vehicles for dealers and found some interesting information. First is the 2014 Camaro which features a listing of the 7.0L LS7 V8 engine from the current Corvette Z06 (505 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque). Speculation has it being for a new Camaro model, the rumored Z28 model. Next, the document references a LF3 engine which is noted as "ENGINE GAS, 6 CYL, 3.6L, SIDI, DOHC, VVT, ALUM, TWIN TURBO". In plain English, it could be the long rumored 3.6L twin-turbo V6. The document doesn't list the 3.6L twin-turbo in any of the models. Other items the document notes is the 2014 Buick Verano looks be dropping its base 2.4L four-cylinder and going towards a 1.6L turbo-four. The 2.0L turbo model will stick around. Source: Camaro5.org William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster. View full article
  9. By William Maley Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com February 8, 2013 At one time in the U.S. auto market, you had a wide variety of compact pickups to choose from. You could get a Chevrolet S-10, Ford Ranger, Nissan Hardbody, or a number of other pickups. But now there isn’t such a thing as a compact pickup. The last compact pickup truck, the Ford Ranger, said farewell in 2011. Other compact pickups have grown into what we now call the midsize class. That brings us to the current crop of midsize pickups; the Nissan Frontier and Toyota Tacoma. These two models make up the current selection of midsize pickups. But is that a good thing? Why are there only two models in the midsize pickups class? I recently had a 2013 Toyota Tacoma Access Cab to find out. Variety is the Spice of Life The 2013 Tacoma comes in a variety of configurations to suit your needs. Whether you need a single cab with a four-cylinder engine or a crew cab with a V6 and off-road package, Toyota probably has a Tacoma for you. Our test Tacoma was a SR5 Access Cab, Toyota’s name for extended cab. Toyota has made some tweaks the Tacoma’s exterior in 2012, mostly in the front. There is a new grille, headlights, and bumper that help make the Tacoma’s 2005 design look somewhat newer. The Tacoma’s standard truck bed measures out at 73.5 inches long, which means the truck can handle a run to the hardware store to pick up supplies with no problem. Stepping inside the Tacoma Access Cab, you do notice that it hasn’t aged very well. Despite Toyota’s best efforts to spruce it up by installing a new steering wheel, revising the graphics on the gauges, and changing the colors on the center stack, the interior feels like it has just rolled off the assembly line back in 2005. Materials are what you would usually find in most mid-size trucks, hard plastics in the usual places. However, the Tacoma’s interior does have some positive points. For starters, the dash layout is simple and the controls are within easy reach. The front seats are very comfortable with a good amount of adjustments and bolstering. Then there is the Access Cab which increases interior space and provides additional space. You can fit two people in the back in the jump seats, but only if they are small kids. Power? Yes. Fuel Economy and Ride? Umm.. The Tacoma can be equipped with either a 2.7L four-cylinder or what our test Tacoma was equipped with, a 4.0L V6. I should explain Toyota uses two variations of the 4.0L in their Trucks and SUVs. For the Tundra and 4Runner, Toyota employs a 4.0L producing 270 horsepower and 278 pound-feet of torque. In the Tacoma, Toyota uses the same 4.0L producing less power at 236 horsepower and 266 pound-feet torque. Transmission choices for the Tacoma include a six-speed manual or five-speed automatic. The 4.0L V6 feels faster than what is indicated on the speedometer thanks to the bulk of torque being on the low-end and the automatic’s gearing spaced out to provide more performance. With an empty bed and dry payment, you can easily get a squeal from the rear tires. On the expressway, the V6 was able get up to speed very quickly and make passes with no sweat. I never thought that I needed the higher performing 4.0L in the week I had the Tacoma. One item Toyota does need to address with the Tacoma’s 4.0L V6 is fuel economy. The EPA rates the 2013 Toyota Tacoma Access Cab SR5 V6 4WD at 16 City/21 Highway/18 Combined, which is similar to full-size pickups equipped V8 engines. During my time with the Tacoma, I averaged about 17.6 MPG. The Tacoma’s suspension uses a double wishbone with gas-filled shocks in the front and leaf springs in the back. This setup provided a soft, yet very bouncy ride. I kept wondering if I was riding a mechanical bull and not a truck. I’m sure if the bed had a load, the bounciness would subside a bit. One surprise of the Tacoma was its steering. Toyota uses a variable assist rack and pinion system and it provided an excellent amount of feel and weight. Combine it with smaller dimensions of the Tacoma and it is a breeze to maneuver around tight spaces. There’s A Good Truck Here, But Needs Some Drastic Changes The 2013 Tacoma Access Cab SR5 V6 has left me torn. On one hand, the Tacoma has a comfortable and straightforward interior layout, a punchy V6, and good maneuverability. On the other hand, the Tacoma gets about the same fuel economy as full-size trucks, an interior that feels very old, and the bouncy ride. There’s another nail in the Tacoma’s coffin and that is the price. As tested, the Tacoma Access Cab SR5 V6 stickers at $30,580.00. At a glance, this seems somewhat reasonable. However with that same amount of cash, you could head down to your local Chevrolet, Ford, Ram dealer and get a full-size truck that is equipped similar to the Tacoma. Toyota is now at a point with the Tacoma where it has two options; either leave the Tacoma as-is or begin making some changes to full unleash the potential of this truck. Those changes include swapping the five-speed automatic for a six-speed automatic and seeing if they can squeeze some more fuel economy out of the 4.0L V6. I hope Toyota goes with the latter option since the midsize truck market could use a kick in the pants. Album: 2013 Toyota Tacoma Access Cab SR5 V6 4WD 18 images 0 comments Disclaimer: Toyota provided the vehicle, insurance, and one tank of gasoline. Year - 2013 Make – Toyota Model – Tacoma Access Cab Trim – SR5 V6 Engine – 4.0L DOHC 24V VVT-i V6 Driveline – Part Time Four-Wheel Drive, Five-Speed Automatic Horsepower @ RPM – 236 @ 5,200 RPM Torque @ RPM – 266 @ 4,000 RPM Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 16/21/18 Curb Weight – 4,100 lbs Location of Manufacture – San Antonio, TX Base Price - $26,185.00 As Tested Price - $30,580.00 (Includes $895.00 destination charge) Options: SR5 Value Package - $2,335.00 V6 Tow Package - $650.00 Running Boards - $376.00 Six-Speaker, AM/FM/SirusXM/CD/MP3/WMA/Bluetooth/Aux/iPod Sound System - $300.00 Floor Mats and Door Sill Protector -$195.00 Exhaust Tip - $85.00 Daytime Running Lights - $40.00 First Aid Kit - $39.00 William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster. View full article
  10. William Maley Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com June 26, 2012 Toyota has revealed the powertrain details on the new 2013 Avalon. As expected, the new Avalon will still use the 3.5L V6 from the previous Avalon. The V6 is rated at 268 HP and 248 lb-ft. of torque and will go through a six-speed automatic. EPA rates the V6 at 21 City/31 Highway/25 Combined. Toyota has equipped the Avalon V6 with three different power modes (Eco, Normal, Sport) and certain models get paddle-shifters for a more “sporty” experience. The new Avalon will also come in a hybrid model. The hybrid comes equipped with a 2.5L four-cylinder engine and electric motor producing a combined 200 HP. EPA rates the Avalon Hybrid at 40 City/39 Highway/40 Combined. The new Avalon goes on sale later this year. William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster. Press Release is on Page 2 All-New 2013 Toyota Avalon Features Both Gasoline and Hybrid Powertrains TORRANCE, Calif. (June 26, 2012) – When the all-new, North American designed and engineered 2013 Avalon goes on sale later this year, consumers can choose between a powerful V6 gasoline powertrain and Toyota’s proven Hybrid Synergy Drive. The efficiency offered by the new hybrid model will help the all-new premium mid-size sedan achieve excellent fuel economy with an EPA-rating of 40 mpg combined. In addition to offering a hybrid powertrain, the new Avalon features a stunning design, improved dynamic performance, a greater degree of refinement, and a highly spacious, comfortable interior experience with an abundance of outstanding convenience technologies. Powerful, Efficient V6 Engine The 2013 Avalon will feature a proven 3.5-liter, DOHC V6 engine coupled with a six-speed automatic transaxle, which has been enhanced to offer more responsive and efficient performance. The all-aluminum six-cylinder engine will produce 268 horsepower and 248 lbs. ft. of torque, which will propel the new sedan to 60 mph in under seven seconds. Compared to the previous-generation Avalon, this 2013 powertrain combination offers improved fuel economy, performance, superior shift feel and response, with upgraded drivability and quietness. This enhanced powertrain’s programming has been updated to offer ECO, NORMAL, and SPORT Modes. The ECO mode prioritizes fuel efficiency by reducing power application at lower speeds and reducing energy consumed by the air-conditioning system. The SPORT Mode provides increased acceleration responses though altered engine control unit (ECU) programming, and it offers a more direct and responsive EPS programming to enhance steering feel. In addition, the new transaxle is equipped with a numerically lower differential gear drive ratio (3.23), designed to help improve fuel economy. The V6-powered 2013 Avalon achieves an EPA-rated 25 mpg combined (21 city/ 31 hwy). The transmission operation has been made more efficient and responsive with the adoption of a flex-start control feature lock-up clutch. With lock-up control, the transmission’s torque converter fully engages at a lower RPM during standing starts to improve acceleration response and help suppress unnecessary engine revolutions. The new transmission is also kept at an optimal temperature with an automatic-transmission fluid warmer, helping enhance efficiency. The multi-mode automatic transmission console shifter offers a D range and can be moved into an S-mode gate, which allows manually operated sequential shifting using the console shifter or available (Touring and Limited models) steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters. The gear can be selected by moving the shifter up to (+) position or lower using the (-) position to experience highly responsive shifts. By using the paddles or in S-range, the transmission uses a quick responding shift-logic that includes throttle blipping for downshifts. The gear changes and range-of-gear selections are displayed in the color multi-information display. Avalon Adds Toyota Hybrid Synergy Drive For consumers seeking a premium mid-size sedan with excellent fuel economy ratings and an environmental message, the new Avalon features a full power-split hybrid system. Coupled with reductions in vehicle weight and improvements in aerodynamics, the Avalon Hybrid is expects to achieve impressive fuel economy ratings. The 2013 Avalon incorporates the latest advances in Toyota Hybrid Synergy Drive technology, building upon Toyota’s 14 years of hybrid-development experience. The Avalon Hybrid features a 2.5-liter, Atkinson-cycle, four-cylinder engine, a 244.8-volt nickel-metal hydride battery pack, and a pair of electric motor/generators within the transaxle. A power-control unit located in the engine compartment houses an inverter, a DC-DC converter, a step-up converter (raises voltage to a maximum of 650 volts) and the hybrid-drive ECU, which governs the seamless operation of electric-motor power application and regenerative braking. The power control unit relies on liquid cooling to maintain an efficient temperature. The Avalon Hybrid achieves a total system output of 200 horsepower and offers three unique modes of operation: EV, ECO and SPORT. The Avalon Hybrid models achieve an EPA-rated 40 mpg in the city, and a 39 mpg on the highway for a combined 40 mpg EPA-rating. The 2013 Avalon Hybrid offers an EV mode that, under certain conditions, allows the vehicle to operate solely on electric propulsion. EV mode can be engaged, provided other conditions are correct, for up to one mile at speeds up to 25 mph, providing an all-electric option that is convenient in residential areas or parking garages. The ECO drive mode engages the gasoline motor, but reduces throttle response and HVAC output to help improve overall efficiency. The SPORT Mode takes full advantage of the new Avalon’s dynamic character, improved chassis, and enhanced suspension by altering the engine’s throttle response and enhancing steering feel. The Avalon’s hybrid’s battery pack is comprised of 204 cells and is located in the vehicle trunk behind the rear seats, while still providing ample trunk space. The scroll casing for the battery cooling system’s blower fan has been designed to produce extremely quiet and efficient airflow, helping reduce interior noise and elevating refinement. The power-control unit, located in the engine bay, houses the inverter, DC-DC converter. The efficient hybrid transaxle in the new Avalon contains two high-output electric motor/generators, a power-split device, an open differential and the final drive ratio. Motor/Generator 1 (MG1) is used to start the gasoline engine and generate the energy that is returned to the battery to power the system. Motor/Generator 2 (MG2) is primarily responsible for electric drivetrain propulsion and regenerative braking. The hybrid vehicle transaxle also incorporates a flywheel-damper design that helps reduce noise and vibration during engine engagement. Captivating Styling with a Spacious, Luxurious Interior Experience The new 2013 Avalon is the product of a North American-focused design and engineering effort. The new sedan’s striking exterior and luxurious interior design was conceived by a youthful, talented team at the Calty Design Research Inc., facilities in Southern California and Michigan. The car’s engineering development was led by a passionate and dedicated group based at Toyota Technical Center in Ann Arbor, Mich. Continuing a North American focus, the 2013 Avalon will be assembled at the award-winning Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky (TMMK) facility in Georgetown, Ky. True to the future product mission set forth by Toyota Motor Corporation President Akio Toyoda, the new Avalon’s more stylish, bold, sporty exterior design and luxurious interior styling are matched by an enhanced dynamic package, a combination that foreshadows the more compelling and passionate nature of future Toyota products. Powertrain Specs Avalon V6 Avalon Hybrid Gasoline Engine Type/Displacement 2GR-FE / 3.5L 2AR-FXE / 2.5L Max Horsepower 268 hp 154 hp Max Torque 248 lbs.-ft. 153 lbs.-ft. Transaxle Type 6-speed AT E-CVT Electric Motor Max Output - 140 hp Max Torque - 200 ft. lbs. Battery Type - Nickel-Metal Hydride Nominal Voltage - 245 volts Number of Cells - 204 Cells Max Output - 34 kw or 45.6 hp Total System Output - 149 kw 200hp Key Dimensional Comparison 2013 Avalon 2012 Avalon Overall Length 195.3 in. 197.6 in. Overall Width 72.2 in. 72.8 in. Overall Height 57.5 in. 58.5 in. Wheelbase 111 in. 111 in. Front Tread 62.6 in. 62.2 in. Rear Tread 62.2 in. 61.6 in. Front Overhang 38.8 in. 39.4 in. Rear Overhang 45.5 in. 47.2 in. Curb Weight 3,497 lbs. (V6), 3594 lbs. (Hybrid XLE) 3,616 lbs. View full article
  11. William Maley Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com June 21, 2012 The saga of what will power the next BMW M3 soliders on. So far, the leading contender is a twin-turbo V6. However, German website BimmerToday says the inline-six will be under the hood. Sources tell BimmerToday that BMW will equip the next M3 with 3.2L inline-six delivering 450 HP (480 HP with a performance package) and reach a top speed of 300 KPH (186 MPH). The fundamentals of the new engine come from the current M3’s 4.0L V8. Sources also reveal that BMW had built some prototype V6 engines for testing under the codename of "Apollo". We’ll see if the next M3 comes with a V6, inline-six, or something completely different when the production model is shown next year. Source: BimmerToday via BMWBlog William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster. View full article
  12. William Maley Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com July 31, 2013 Ford announced today that the 2014 F-150 pickup equipped with the 3.7L V6 will come with a CNG/LPG Prep package, making it the first light-duty pickup in the class to come with this feature. The package includes hardened valves, valve seats, pistons and rings. The CNG/LPG Prep package will set you back $315. That doesn't mean you can head to your nearest CNG/LPG station and fill up though. You will need to visit a Ford Qualified Vehicle Modifier which will install the CNG/LPG-specific fuel tanks, fuel lines and fuel injectors. When all is said and done, the conversion will set you back $7,500 to $9,500. Ford says an F-150 running on CNG/LPG gets 23 MPG on the highway and has a range of more than 750 Miles. “Businesses and fleet customers have been asking Ford to make F-150 available with CNG capability to take advantage of the fuel’s low price and clean emissions. With the money saved using CNG, customers could start to see payback on their investment in as little as 24 to 36 months,” said Jon Coleman, Ford fleet sustainability and technology manager. Source: Ford William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.comor you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster. Press Release is on Page 2 JUL 31, 2013 | DEARBORN, MICH. FORD F-150 TO OFFER ABILITY TO RUN ON COMPRESSED NATURAL GAS; SALES OF FORD CNG-PREPPED VEHICLES CONTINUE GROWTH 2014 Ford F-150 will offer a gaseous-fuel prep option on the 3.7-liter V6 engine; it will be able to run on compressed natural gas or liquefied petroleum gas With the addition of F-150, Ford will have eight vehicles available to run on clean-burning, inexpensive CNG/LPG. Sales continue to grow rapidly, with Ford expecting to sell more than 15,000 CNG/LPG-prepped vehicles this year Ford Qualified Vehicle Modifiers offer a wide variety of CNG options to help customers find the best, most cost-effective solution to their diverse operating needs Ford, America’s truck leader, will offer the 2014 F-150 with the ability to run on compressed natural gas, making Ford the only manufacturer with an available CNG/LPG-capable half-ton pickup. The 2014 Ford F-150 with 3.7-liter V6 engine will be available this fall with a factory-installed, gaseous-fuel prep package that includes hardened valves, valve seats, pistons and rings so it can operate on either natural gas or gasoline through separate fuel systems. When the 3.7-liter V6 F-150 is equipped with a CNG/LPG engine package, it is capable of achieving more than 750 miles on one tank of gas, depending on the tank size selected. The Ford F-150 averages 23 mpg on the highway. “Businesses and fleet customers have been asking Ford to make F-150 available with CNG capability to take advantage of the fuel’s low price and clean emissions,” said Jon Coleman, Ford fleet sustainability and technology manager. “With the money saved using CNG, customers could start to see payback on their investment in as little as 24 to 36 months.” CNG/LPG engine prep from the factory costs approximately $315 before the customer chooses a Ford Qualified Vehicle Modifier to supply fuel tanks, fuel lines and unique fuel injectors. Upfits run approximately $7,500 to $9,500 depending on fuel tank capacity. CNG conversions can provide stability against fluctuating fuel prices as well as lower vehicle operating costs for fleet administrators. CNG sells for an average of $2.11 per gallon of gasoline equivalent, and is as low as $1 in some parts of the country, representing a significant savings over unleaded regular fuel. The national average for unleaded regular fuel is $3.66 per gallon. In the next year, Ford will offer eight commercial vehicles with a gaseous-prep option, a number no other full-line manufacturer can match: Transit Connect van and wagon Transit van, wagon, cutaway and chassis cab E-Series van, wagon, cutaway and stripped chassis F-Series Super Duty pickup and F-350 chassis cab F-Series Super Duty chassis cab (F-450, F-550) F-650 medium-duty truck F53 and F59 stripped chassis 2014 F-150 light-duty pickup Customers are enthusiastically responding to this powerful array of choices. Since reintroducing the option in 2009, Ford has established itself as the leader in CNG/LPG engine sales. Ford is on pace to sell more than 15,000 CNG/LPG-prepped vehicles this year, an increase of more than 25 percent from 2012. AT&T is one of many Ford customers that are finding value in CNG. The communications giant recently purchased 650 F-350 chassis cabs with the CNG-prep option. “We’re almost halfway to our company-wide goal of deploying 15,000 alternative-fuel vehicles by the end of year 2018,” said Jerome Webber, AT&T vice president, global fleet operations. “Vehicles such as CNG F-350s from Ford have helped us avoid purchasing 7.7 million gallons of gasoline over the past five years while reducing our fleet’s emissions.” Qualified Vehicle Modifiers Ford has established a rigorous qualification program for alternative-fuel vehicle modifiers. The QVM program is intended to help modifiers achieve greater levels of customer satisfaction and product acceptance through the manufacture of high-quality vehicles. QVMs offer a wide variety of CNG/LPG options to help customers find the best, most cost-effective solution to their diverse operating needs. Ford maintains the engine and powertrain limited warranty (five years or 60,000 miles); the modifier is responsible for the system component warranty. Compressed natural gas Compressed natural gas is mainly composed of methane. It is stored and distributed in hard containers at a pressure of approximately 3,600 psi. About 85 percent of the CNG used in the United States is produced domestically. Another benefit of this alternative fuel: Cleaner emissions. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency certifies CNG usage can result in up to 30 percent less greenhouse gas emissions. View full article
  13. By William Maley Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com April 23, 2013 Well, that didn't go quite as planned… By the time you are reading this review, Toyota has introduced the new 2014 Highlander. I should have realized this when I was scheduling vehicles about a month ago, since this current generation of Highlander has been with us for about six years. But alas, I didn’t. Here’s the thing though: the current Toyota Highlander doesn’t look or even feel like its six years old. It still feels pretty new. Now it may seem a bit odd to do a review on a vehicle that’s destined to be replaced. But it’s the perfect time to spot the differences between the outgoing and new Highlander, and decided whether it’s a good idea to pick one up now or wait. The current Highlander’s styling is pretty plain when compared to other crossovers in the marketplace. Up front, Toyota designers placed a hexagonal grill and an aggressive air dam underneath. Around the back, there is a set of reworked taillights and name of the model around the license plate. There is a hint of 4Runner and Sequoia in the overall design, but it really doesn’t help give the Highlander an identity of its own. Moving inside, the Highlander shows its base model credentials very clearly. Hard plastics are used throughout the interior and the dashboard. Also the sea of grey plastics and cloth seats could make anyone feel like they are in a ‘50 Shades of Grey’ novel. Thankfully, fit and finish on this base Highlander is at the high standard Toyota is known for. The Highlander delivers top marks in passenger comfort and space. The cloth seats provide the right balance of comfort and support for all passengers. Second row passengers will appreciate the generous amount of head and legroom. The second row also features a clever trick where the center part can be folded down and stowed under the front console. This gives you two captain chairs and a storage cubby in its place. There is a third-row, but I would recommend that either small kids sit there or fold it down since it’s a bit tight on legroom for adults. My only real concerns with the interior were with the radio. For 2013, Toyota has installed a touchscreen unit on all trim levels for the Highlander. I found the screen to be very responsive when pressed and was easy to read at a glance, except when the sunlight hits the screen and makes it unreadable. Another problem for the radio deals with the control layout of the center stack. On either side of the radio are giant these ‘knobs’ and your first thought would be, “oh these are the volume and tune knobs”. Uh no, those ‘knobs’ are the hazard lights and the airbag lights. The volume and tune ‘knobs’ are microscopic in comparison as they sit on top of the radio. Putting the Highlander to work are two engines: a 2.7L four-cylinder or, what my Highlander came equipped with, a 3.5L V6 engine. The 3.5L produces 270 horsepower and 248 pound-feet of torque, which is mated to a five-speed automatic. Power delivery is very smooth and effortless, moving this 4,266 lb vehicle without a sweat. The five-speed automatic is a bit of an oddity considering most of the competition. Even the four-cylinder Highlander comes equipped with a six-speed automatic. Toyota‘s engineers’ deserve some credit for making the five-speed work by providing seamless shifts. My Highlander was equipped with the optional 4WD system and it provided excellent traction when Mother Nature decided to drop a few inches of snow during the week. You could feel the 4WD system working when driving through the snow, making sure to keep you moving. Fuel economy on the 2013 Highlander V6 4WD stands at 17 City/22 Highway/19 Combined. During my week, I averaged 19.2 MPG which is on par for the class. On the highway, I got 21.2 MPG. On the road the Highlander coddles its passengers with a very a smooth ride. The suspension setup feels like it was made up of pillows and down comforters filled with feathers. This is perfect tuning for the Michigan roads the Highlander drove on since they are very decrepit. The tradeoff for the soft ride is poor handling and the Highlander exhibits this very well. The Highlander rolls and wobbles while braking or taking sharp turns. Some people may be turned off this, but most won’t care. What most people will care about is the amount of road and wind noise the Highlander exhibits. Driving in the city and suburbia, the Highlander is decent at keeping the noise out. On the highway, there is abundance of wind and road noise in the cabin. I don’t know if the higher trim levels have this problem as well. The 2013 Highlander proved to be a very solid offering in the crossover market. While it might not be the newest, quietest, or fun to drive, the Highlander provides the comfort, power, and value that most buyers are looking for. Now comes the question of whether you should you should go out and buy one now or wait for the new one? On one hand, the new Highlander does bring forth [a] new exterior that stands out and an interior that, in pictures, looks to bring in some new style and materials. On the other hand, the powertrains are carried over from this model with the only real change is a six-speed automatic for the V6. At the end of the day, I would say you would be happy going with either the old or new Highlander. The decision just rests on whether you want spend the money on the new shiny vehicle or save a few bucks on the old one. Either way, you're getting a very solid crossover. Disclaimer: Toyota provided the vehicle, insurance, and one tank of gasoline. Year - 2013 Make – Toyota Model – Highlander Trim – V6 4WD Engine – 3.5L DOHC VVT-i V6 Driveline – Full-Time Four-Wheel Drive, Five-Speed Automatic Horsepower @ RPM – 270 @ 6,200 RPM Torque @ RPM – 248 @ 4,700 RPM Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 17/22/19 Curb Weight – 4,266 lbs Location of Manufacture – Princeton, IN Base Price - $31,845.00 As Tested Price - $33,757.00 (Includes $845.00 destination charge) Options: Running Boards - $649.00 Carpet and Cargo Mats - $280.00 Cold Weather Package - $60.00 Cargo Net - $49.00 First Aid Kit - $29.00 William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster. View full article
  14. Mercedes-Benz Future Engine Line Up To Include V8s, 4, and I6s? William Maley - Editor/Reporter - CheersandGears.com October 28, 2011 Mercedes-Benz has just signed off on their new engine line to begin showing up in 2015 and major changes are coming. A new set of three and four cylinder engines from both Mercedes and Nissan/Renault will find their way into the three pointed star. Also, big-bore V8s will be replaced by smaller V8s equipped with turbochargers. The biggest change is with their V6 lineup. According to Car magazine, a source tells them that Mercedes-Benz will be dropping their V6 engines for Inline-6s. The source also says the Inline-6 will be used for their larger vehicles and come in either a single or dual turbo setup. Source: Car Magazine
  15. Just when you thought it was safe to go back onto the racetrack, Chevrolet has announced the return of the 1LE package for the Camaro. Debuting tomorrow at the Chicago Auto Show, the 2017 Camaro 1LE will be available for the V8 and for the first time, the V6. Let us break down what you get with either engine. LT 1LE The V6 1LE - available on the LT - gets some equipment from the SS 1LE. This includes a new fuel system and the FE3 suspension package with stabilizer bars. Other items for LT 1LE include a mechanical limited slip differential, upgraded cooling system four-piston Brembo brakes for the front, 20-inch lightweight aluminum wheels, and set of Goodyear Eagle F1 tires. A black satin hood and suede interior accents dress up the 1LE. Optional will be a set of Recaro seats and Performance Data Recorder. SS 1LE The SS 1LE comes with the new FE4 suspension package with magnetic ride control, electronic limited slip differential, six-piston Brembo brakes on all four corners, 20-inch wheels, and a Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar tires specifically developed for this vehicle. Upgraded cooling systems for the V8 engine, transmission, and differential come standard. A set of Recaro bucket seats and a head-up display finish the interior. “The Camaro 1LE packages follow a recipe any track-day enthusiast will appreciate. Start with a lightweight, stiff structure and then add higher levels of suspension stiffness and damping, more aggressive tires, higher downforce, more powerful brakes and more cooling," said Al Oppenheiser, Camaro chief engineer. “The result delivers better performance in all measures. In our development tests, the V-6 Camaro 1LE delivers lap times comparable with the previous-gen V-8 model. The 2016 Camaro SS 1LE sets the new benchmark for the segment, lapping the Big Willow track at Willow Springs three seconds faster than the standard Camaro SS.” Chevrolet says the 1LE package will be available late this year. Pricing will be announced a later time. Source: Chevrolet You can follow our coverage of 2016 Chicago Auto Show News here. Press Release is on Page 2 New 1LE Packages Elevates Camaro Track Capabilities Track package returns with more technology for V8 models, first time offered on V6 CHICAGO – The Chevrolet Camaro 1LE performance package returns for 2017, poised to set new benchmarks for attainable track performance. The package builds off the success of the previous-generation 1LE, offering increased handling and track performance. In response to customer demand, Chevrolet will offer two distinct 1LE packages, for both V6 and V8 models, each visually distinguished with a satin black hood, specific wheels and more. For the first time, the 1LE package will be available on Camaro 1LT or 2LT coupes equipped with the 3.6L V6. Featuring more aggressive suspension tuning, standard Brembo brakes and Goodyear Eagle F1 tires, the LT 1LE delivers an estimated 0.97G in cornering grip. Available Recaro seats will keep you planted through the corners, and an available Performance Data Recorder will allow you to view and share your track experience. The new 1LE package for Camaro 1SS models includes magnetic ride control, with a new FE4 suspension tuning and a new, segment-exclusive electronic limited slip differential (eLSD). Paired with massive Goodyear Eagle F1 tires, lateral acceleration will exceed 1G. Additional features available on the 1LE package include standard Recaro seats and a Performance Data Recorder (PDR), new to the Camaro lineup. As a result, the 1LE package elevates the award-winning performance that earned Camaro the 2016 Motor Trend Car of the Year and Car and Driver 10Best awards. “The Camaro 1LE packages follow a recipe any track-day enthusiast will appreciate,” said Al Oppenheiser, Camaro chief engineer. “Start with a lightweight, stiff structure and then add higher levels of suspension stiffness and damping, more aggressive tires, higher downforce, more powerful brakes and more cooling. “The result delivers better performance in all measures,” said Oppenheiser. “In our development tests, the V-6 Camaro 1LE delivers lap times comparable with the previous-gen V-8 model. The 2016 Camaro SS 1LE sets the new benchmark for the segment, lapping the Big Willow track at Willow Springs three seconds faster than the standard Camaro SS.” The new 1LE packages are available in late 2016, on 2017 Camaro SS and LT V-6 coupes equipped with manual transmissions. Pricing and performance data will be announced at a later date. Camaro LT 1LE The Camaro LT 1LE was developed to be the most track-capable sports coupe in its price class. Highlights include: 3.6L V-6 rated at 335 horsepower and matched with the six-speed manual transmission FE3 suspension components (from the Camaro SS), including dampers, rear cradle mounts, ball-jointed rear toe links and stabilizer bars Lightweight 20-inch forged aluminum wheels with Goodyear Eagle F1 245/40R20 front tires and 275/35R20 rear tires Brembo 4-piston front brake calipers Mechanical Limited-slip differential with 3.27 ratio Standard track-cooling package, with engine oil, differential and transmission coolers Suede steering wheel and shorter-throw shifter Standard dual mode exhaust system Camaro SS fuel system for higher-load cornering capability Satin black hood, front splitter and unique three-piece rear spoiler Unique high flow upper and lower grille with satin black accents Available Recaro seats and PDR video/data recording system. “With a curb weight under 3,500 pounds, excellent front-to-rear weight balance and the precision of the FE3 suspension, the Camaro LT 1LE offers unmatched capability in its class,” said Oppenheiser. “As a result, it offers incredible performance for Camaro V-6 customers.” Camaro SS 1LE The 2017 Camaro SS 1LE introduces the new FE4 suspension to the Gen Six Camaro – a performance-oriented chassis system with specific tuning for the Magnetic Ride dampers, springs and stabilizer bars. Additional highlights include: 6.2L LT1 V-8 rated at 455 horsepower, and six-speed manual transmission (automatic transmission not available) Magnetic Ride Control Segment-exclusive electronic limited-slip differential with 3.73 ratio Unique forged aluminum wheels with 285/30ZR20 front tires and 305/30ZR20 rear tires Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar tires with a compound and construction developed exclusively for the Camaro – offering exceptional grip on the track Brembo brakes with new six-piston monobloc front red calipers – featuring the 1LE logo – and two-piece rotors. Measuring 14.6 inches (370mm) in diameter, the front rotors are 7 percent larger than Camaro SS Track-cooling package, with engine oil, differential and transmission coolers Suede steering wheel with shorter-throw shifter Dual mode exhaust system Recaro front seats with aggressive bolsters optimized for shifting and steering comfort Satin black hood, front mirrors and unique three-piece rear spoiler Satin Graphite front splitter and rear diffuser Available PDR video/data recording system View full article
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