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Posts Tagged ‘Prius’

BMW’s Electric Engines are Gaining Ground on Tesla


German luxury carmaker BMW reported new sales and profit records in its latest quarterly results, thanks to the steady rollout of well-received new models. One of its highest-profile investments—a new line of electric-powered vehicles—generated only 2,000 unit sales, out of nearly 430,000 BMW-branded cars delivered during the quarter, but analysts are watching the BMWi series very closely. Some consider it the strongest competition yet for Tesla, the electric vehicle market leader.

BMW recently upped its production target for the i3 due to higher-than-expected demand. The $41,350 city car, launched late last year in Europe, has a range of around 100 miles on a full charge, or nearly 200 with an optional gas-powered “range extender.” The i8 (pictured above) goes on sale next month, with a hefty $135,700 price tag. The sports car will travel only 20-odd miles on electric power alone, and a bit more than 300 using its hybrid engine. Gull-wing doors, 357-horsepower, and headlights that literally shoot lasers round out the package.

If you think that neither of these models sounds much like the Tesla Model S, you’d be right. The BMW i3 costs half as much, and travels only half as far on a single charge. The i8 costs twice as much and isn’t electric-only, but boasts more power and high-end supercar features.

At business schools, what BMW is doing to Tesla is known as the “sandwich strategy“—squeezing the competition by offering products pitched both above and below a rival’s offering. A new research note from analysts at Barclays fleshes out this theory, noting that surveys show that most common car brands buyers replace with Teslas are, in order, Toyota, Mercedes, and—yes—BMW.

The Barclays analysts reckon that BMW’s i-series can pick off both Prius partisans and German sedan fans:

The Tesla Model S appeals to both Prius drivers as well as prestige and performance-oriented buyer; its nearest comps are Porsches and Aston Martins. At the same time, the i8 also may appeal to that flashier driver who wants a car the valet will leave parked in front of the high-end restaurant (an important criteria, in our view, in Southern California). The BMW i3 buyer is likely more of a Prius graduate, a bit more motivated by green concerns than by what car the valet chooses to leave in front of the car park stand.

Barclays forecasts that BMW will sell up to a third as many electric vehicles as Tesla in the next few years. The i-series will account for less than 2% of BMW’s overall shipments and a vanishingly small share of its overall profit over this period. But the deep-pocketed German firm dabbling in Tesla’s market represents a risk, at the margin, to the American electric-vehicle maker’s richly valued shares.

A future refresh of the lower end of BMW’s electric range—an i5, perhaps—could aim more directly at the current Model S market. Meanwhile, Tesla’s so-called “Gen III” model, a mass-market car rumored to price at $35,000 and launch in a few years, sounds a bit like the existing BMW i3. In the end, it all adds up to more congestion on the road that Tesla has had mostly to itself.



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Subaru Outback – 2014 Consumer Reports People’s Pick




As Consumer Reports prepares to release its 2014 Autos Spotlight, which includes our highly anticipated Top Picks, we asked our Facebook followers to tell us what’s the best car on the market in the U.S. today.


From the followers’ initial submissions, we asked people to “vote” on the six most popular models*: Ford Mustang, Hyundai Sonata, Subaru Outback, Toyota Camry*, Toyota Prius, and Toyota RAV4.* All have been considered good, safe, reliable models, earning the distinction of a Consumer Reports recommendation. From these, the Subaru Outback won, garnering a quarter of the votes.


Subaru Outback: 25 percent

The genre-bending Outback wagon stood out amid a crowd of popular models. Reading through the comments, it is clear that the Outback’s esteem is elevated by owners like Amy, who wrote, “I love my Outback! The best car I have ever owned.”


In our tests, the Outback has earned a solid overall test score, but there are several higher-rated wagons. The key to its appeal is the rare blend of adventurous styling, frugal fuel economy (for the four-cylinder), generous interior space, and winter-ready features.


Ford Mustang: 22 percent

Celebrating 50 years as a motoring icon, the Mustang is the only American-branded model to make the list. The current car remains at the apex of an impressive performance legacy, staying true to the original concept. One commenter noted, “That’s no contest. Make mine a Mustang!”


With prices beginning under $23,000, the Mustang starts with 305 horsepower and climbs seemingly to the stratosphere with 662 hp. Available as a coupe or convertible, the Mustang can be configured to suit many personalities and budgets, remaining engaging and entertaining throughout its product line. Look for a redesigned Mustang in late 2014.


Toyota Camry: 17 percent

A perennial hot-selling sedan, the Camry is roomy, quiet, refined, fuel efficient, and reliable, earning it a high rank among our ratings, and placing it in high-esteem among drivers. As Chris wrote on our wall, “All great choices, but my pick is the Camry.” The same can be said in the marketplace, which is currently crowded with smart choices in the segment and yet routinely sees the Camry as the most popular.


Toyota Prius: 17 percent

Even after all these years on the market, the Prius remains a revolutionary car, and its recognition as such is clear. The key is that the Prius is no one-trick pony. As Al points out about his Prius, “Best car I have ever owned—fuel efficient and reliable.” Fuel economy is excellent at 44 mpg overall and 55 mpg on the highway in our tests. And despite its hybrid complexity, the Prius remains one of the most reliable cars in our annual survey. Plus, for a small car, it is relatively roomy, with a large back seat and good cargo space. Yes, there is much to like, especially at today’s gas prices.


Hyundai Sonata: 10 percent

That this curvaceous sedan made the cut is further proof that Hyundai has risen to be tough mainstream competitor. No question: the Sonata delivers a lot for the money. Its 200-hp four-cylinder engine is smooth and responsive, yet delivers an impressive 27 mpg overall. Good handling, a supple ride, and comfortable seats are other pluses. (We’d suggest skipping the hybrid version, which didn’t score as well in our tests and returns relatively mediocre fuel economy for a hybrid.)


Toyota RAV4: 10 percent

A popular choice among the vibrant small SUV contenders, the Toyota RAV4 stood out to our Facebook followers. As we have seen in recent surveys, small SUVs represent a sweet spot in the marketplace that small car owners aspire to and larger vehicle owners are looking to downsize to. While it created this car-based, soft-roader category in the last century, we feel there are better alternatives today.

The people have had their say. Soon it will be our turn.


Consumer Reports will release its 2014 Top Picks at 12:45 p.m. ET on Tuesday, February 25.. Until then, share your thoughts on our Facebook wall and name your dream car. Our staff will be doing the same. See you there!

Jeff Bartlett


The only caveat here is the Toyota RAV4, which had its recommendation revoked after a recent poor performance in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s small-overlap crash test. The Camry also briefly lost its recommendation for the same reason, although modifications to the 2014.5 Camry returned this popular sedan to favor.



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Consumer Reports Names Top Car


The Toyota Prius has earned top honors for the second year in a row in Consumer Reports’ ranking of the best-value cars.


The product-testing organization said Wednesday that the Prius, which retails for $29,230, “has the right combination of performance, reliability and low estimated five-year ownership costs of 47 cents per mile.”


To create its rankings, Consumer Reports tested over 200 vehicles currently on the market, looking at road-test scores, reliability and five-year owner-cost estimates. The Honda Fit, this year’s runner-up, held the number-one spot in the Consumer Reports ranking for four years running before it was unseated by Toyota’s (TM) Prius last year.


The top-performing vehicle among luxury cars was the Lexus ES 300h, while the Honda(HMCRidgeline TRS won out among pickups. The Subaru Legacy 2.5i Premium took the top spot among midsized cars.


Coming in at the bottom of the ranking was the Nissan Armada SUV, which gets only 13 miles per gallon of gas and generated a large number of complaints from Consumer Reports subscribers.




2013 G-Class is in Class of Its Own

 This undated image made available by Mercedes-Benz shows the 2013 G63 AMG. (AP Photo/Mercedes-Benz)

This undated image made available by Mercedes-Benz shows the 2013 G63 AMG. (AP Photo/Mercedes-Benz)Associated Press -


It’s easy to look down on Toyota Prius drivers — if you’re driving the newest and most special Mercedes-Benz G-Class sport utility vehicle.


The unusual-looking G63 AMG, which includes modest design changes made on all G-Class models plus more luxury touches and a more powerful V-8, puts passengers at such seat heights that they tower over minivans, most pickup trucks and, yes, Priuses though gas mileage is another matter entirely.


If the test drive was any indication, plenty of Prius drivers speed up to try to keep the tall, boxy G-Class from getting in front of them in traffic and blocking their views.


Alas, the Priuses, ubiquitous on some California thoroughfares, are no match for the attention-grabbing, powerful G-Class.


Even the old Hummer SUVs that fuel-conscious drivers loved to hate years ago didn’t have the awesome 544 horsepower and whopping 560 foot-pounds of torque that come with the top-of-the-line G63 AMG.


This translates into a federal government fuel economy rating of 12 miles per gallon in city driving and 14 mpg on the highway, though the test G63 AMG managed just 10 mpg in city driving and 12.1 mpg in mixed city/highway travel.


With just 1,330 sold in the United States last year, the swaggering G-Class vehicles are not seen much on our roads. But their road presence, the intoxicating exhaust sounds of the biturbo V-8 in the 2013 AMG and the sumptuous alcantara- and leather-clad interior make these vehicles unforgettable.


They rank as the highest-priced SUVs from Mercedes. The base, 2013 G550 with 388-horsepower V-8 has a starting manufacturer’s suggested retail price, including destination charge, of $113,905. The starting retail price for a 2013 Mercedes G63 AMG is $135,205.


All 2013 G-Class models come standard with seven-speed automatic transmission, trendy light-emitting diode running lamps, blind spot assist and front and rear parking sensors with rearview camera.


Competitors include the 2013 Porsche’s Cayenne SUV, which has a starting retail price of $50,575 with 300-horsepower, six-cylinder engine and goes to $146,975 for a Cayenne Turbo S with 550-horsepower, twin turbo V-8. Note that the 2013 Cayenne S Turbo is rated by the federal governmentat 15/22 mpg.


Another competitor in the high-end, high-power, luxury SUV segment is the 2013 Lexus LX, which has a starting MSRP, including destination charge, of $82.425 with 383-horsepower, naturally aspirated V-8. Government fuel ratings for the LX are 12/17 mpg.


But where the Cayenne and LX look like the more mainstream SUVs on today’s roads, the G-Class retains an old, utilitarian and quirky appearance.


The G-Class isn’t rounded and aerodynamic, for example. It has upright side windows and an upright windshield that with a small amount of glass area, comparatively. The metal pillars at the sides of the windshield are much narrower than those in other SUVs, so they don’t block views the way they do in other SUVs. But the upright side windows also mean it can take some getting used to seeing reflections of the driver, passengers and dashboard appear on the side window glass in certain daylight and at night.


There is a big climb up to get inside, so the test G63 AMG’s side rails, set next to the pretty, shiny and illuminated door sills, got lots of use, as did the big handles at each doorway.


Each of the leather-trimmed front seats had more than eight controls, including bolster and lumbar controls, to make them eminently comfortable.


Passengers sit upright, in chair-like fashion, so front-seat legroom is an amazing 52.5 inches. Back-seat cushions were shorter than expected, but there was good support, a nearly flat floor and 41.9 inches of legroom.


The G-Class does not offer third-row seating. And, despite the fact the test G63 AMG topped out at more than $137.000, it did not include rear-seat entertainment.


The G63 AMG had awesome engine sounds that were readily heard inside the passenger compartment because dual tailpipes — two on the left side of the vehicle and two more on the right — protruded from just below the step rails at the back of the rear doors. These side exhausts were shiny silver-colored and provided a race-car look that’s not expected on an SUV.


The big, 5.5-liter, double overhead cam, biturbo V-8 bristled with power and came to life quickly. But this V-8 also managed slower, city traffic well without requiring the driver to tap the brake pedal often.

The 25.4-gallon gasoline tank didn’t take long to empty, however, and premium is required. There is a 5.3-gallon reserve tank as well.


The seven-speed tranny shifted smoothly in leisurely travel. Upshifts were noticeable during aggressive driving, and the driver can select sport mode, manual without a clutch pedal or eco, which automatically shut down the engine at stoplights to save fuel.


With 20-inch wheels and wide tires, the test G63 AMG transmitted vibrations and impacts sizable potholes to the passenger compartment.


The G-Class is, after all, a capable and durable off-roader, with a healthy amount of ground clearance, three differential locks and a low range transfer case for rugged terrain.


Four-wheel drive is always engaged.


A couple items surprised, though. The rearview camera did not include graphic lines on the display screen showing where the vehicle was being steered. And the driver’s window did not have automatic power up capability.



Toyota Recalls 242,000 Hybrids to Fix Brakes

prius cars toyota

Yesterday it was a Ford recall, and today it’s Toyota.


Toyota is recalling nearly a quarter of a million vehicles because of a braking problem.


The Japanese automaker said Wednesday the global recall would affect 242,000 Prius and Lexus hybrid cars made between March and October 2009.  Toyota (TM) said it had received more than 90 complaints from drivers who said they needed to step more heavily on the brake pedal than they were used to.  A spokeswoman said a flaw was allowing nitrogen gas to leak into the brake fluid, reducing the effectiveness of the brakes.  There were no reports of accidents or injuries, she said.  Most of the cars affected are in Japan, where 117,000 vehicles are being recalled, followed by 91,000 in North America, 30,000 in Europe and smaller numbers in other markets.


Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc., said it would inspect the brake booster pump assembly on recalled Prius and Lexus HS 250h vehicles and replace it if necessary.  Toyota has been struggling to repair its reputation for reliability and safety after a series of recalls affecting millions of vehicles in recent years.


In April, Toyota said it was recalling 1.7 million cars around the world, including some popular Corolla, Matrix and Tundra models, due to problems with airbags.


Last October, the world’s biggest automaker recalled over 7 million cars because of a power window problem that posed a fire risk.




Top Vehicles for 2013 from Consumer Reports



There are a lot of vehicles to choose from this year, but Consumer Reports has made it easier by choosing their top picks in 10 categories.


The selection is based on 3 criteria:


  • Road test. Each must rank at or near the top of its category in overall test score.
  • Reliability. Each must have earned an average or better predicted-reliability Rating, based on the problems Consumer Reports subscribers reported on 1.2 million vehicles in CR’s latest Annual Auto Survey.
  • Safety. Top Picks must perform adequately if tested in crash or rollover tests conducted by the government or insurance industry.


Each model’s overall road-test score, predicted-reliability Rating, overall fuel economy, detailed pricing, and much more is available on their model pages. Prices reflect the sticker prices when we bought our tested cars.


Follow are Consumer Reports’ Top Picks in each category:


Budget CarHyundai Elantra

Compact CarSubaru Impreza

Green Car - Toyota Prius

Luxury CarAudi A6

Midsize SedanHonda Accord

Midsized SUV – Toyota Highlander

Mini Van – Honda Odyssey

Small SUV - Honda CR-V

Sports CarScion FR-S and Subaru BRZ

Sport SedanBMW 328i


And all of these vehicles would look even more sleek and elegant with their windows tinted by Midwest Glass Tinters.  Call us today for a quote or to make an appointment at 847-438-1133.




Chicago Auto Show Alt-Fuel Race Today


TODAY, The Chicago Auto Show is pitching an alt-fuel road rally that’s likely to be far quicker than the one that inspired it more than a century ago.

Thirteen vehicles ranging from the Tesla Model S all-electric to the Ford C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid to the Chevrolet Volt extended-range plug-in to the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid will challenge each other in a rally that will start at the city’s McCormick Place and run about four hours.

The race is inspired by 1895′s Chicago Times-Herald Motor Race, regarded as the first road rally in US history. That “race” featured six vehicles attempting the 50-mile round trip between Chicago and Evanston, IL. Just two of the six vehicles finished, with the winner – a Duryea, pictured – crossing the finish line in about nine hours, according to The Henry Ford Museum website.

For anyone keeping track, That Racing Channel recently staged a drag race with a Model S and a Volt. The Tesla finished a quarter mile almost five seconds (and at 20 miles per hour) faster than the Volt.

Rounding out the Chicago Rally are the Nissan Leaf all-electric; Fisker Karma extended-range plug-in; Tesla Roadster EV; Toyota’s Prius and Prius C hybrids and Prius plug-in hybrid; a Volkswagen Passat TDI diesel; a Via Motors Silverado extended-range plug-in; and a Smith Electric Delivery Vehicle.


Reprinted by Midwest Glass Tinters



9 Cars you won’t see in 2013



Competition within the auto industry continues to be tough.  With rising gas prices and more hybrid and electric choices, some auto makers had to make hard decisions resulting in the discontinuation of at least nine well-known autos for 2013.




Daimler’s Maybach  - Going after the same market at the Rolls Royce, Maybach failed to find an audience, selling only 7 cars in 2012 as compared to 224 for Rolls Royce.

Chevrolet Avalanche - Due to slipping sales over the past  six years, and in the face of higher fuel prices and the greater availability of crew-cab trucks, Chevy has decided not to re-engineer the Avalanche as part of its new collection of full-sized pick-ups.

Mercedes R-Class - Too tall to be a wagon and too short for an SUV, the R-class resembled a hearse when dressed in Mercedes black, and never really took off.

Dodge Caravan/Chrysler Town & Country  - Chrysler will likely eliminate one of their two mini-vans.  Which one remains to be seen.

Jeep Liberty - Regularly roasted by Consumer Reports, as “noisy, cramped, and outdated,” production of the Liberty was halted this month when its production facility was shut down to retool for a new Fiat-based Jeep.

Kia Sedona - Kia’s minivan, which is disappearing for the 2013 model year, is expected to reappear retooled and revived  possibly as soon as the 2014 model year.

Mazda CX-7 - The CX-7 is being discontinued to make way for the smaller CX-5, which is already winning kudos for its efficient use of space and unusually agile handling

Mitsubishi Eclipse  - Although the Eclipse has outlived its twins, all introduced in 1990 as triplets — the Plymouth Laser and Eagle Talon — the last one was produced in 2011.

Volvo C70 - On the market since 2006, and underpowered, handled poorly, and having little trunk space, critics saw the C70, as proof that volvo should stick to making station wagons.

Lexus HS 250h - Viewed by customers as an upgraded Prius, Toyota stopped building this hybrid in January of this year.






Cars the Wealthy Drive

As we mentioned in a previous post, Midwest Glass Tinters of Deer Park has the opportunity to tint some really high-end cars.  We recently tinted a Fiskar Karma, which is a beautiful vehicle, and obviously one that only a select group of wealthy drivers will ever have an opportunity to own.


Aside from Karmas, though, what other vehicles are the wealthy driving?  CNBC recently answered that question based on research done by  While some vehicles, like BMW and Mercedes, were expected, others were somewhat surprising.  Following is a list of the top 10 cars the wealthy in the U.S. are driving:




1.  Mercedes-Benz E-Class – A runaway favorite, the $51,365 E-Class was a top hit in wealthy U.S. cities.


2.  BMW 328i - The $35,795 BMW 328i is also a top pick for discriminating drivers in the U.S.


3.  At $36,095, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class comes in third, particularly in zip codes where residents earn an average income of $659,000.


4.  In fourth position, is the Lexus RX Luxury SUV at $39,950, a big hit in wealthy areas where the average income is $633,000 a year.


5.  Interestingly, the eco-friendly Toyota Prius is one of the most popular cars in three very affluent zip codes where residents’ average income is $672,000 a year.


6.  Coming in sixth place is the Volkswagen Jetta at $26,085.  Despite the fact that residents in the communities where the Jetta is most popular make an average of $782,000 a year, this low-profile, reliable vehicle is a big hit.


7.  In Manhattan’s 10274 zip code, despite the high incomes of residents, many are more than happy to drive the $23,070 Honda Accord, which is one of the most popular cars among Manhattan’s drivers.


8.  The BMW X5 luxury SUV comes in 8th in popularity among wealthy drivers in the U.S.  At $58,595, it’s one of the most popular vehicles in areas where the average income of $5,711,000.


9.  The $25,535 Toyota Camry  has long been Americans’ reasonably-priced mid-size car of choice, even in high income areas such as downtown Chicago, where drivers tend to drive non-luxury vehicles like the Camry, Honda, Volkswagen and Jeep.


10.  Rounding out the top ten is the $29,575 Honda CRV, which is not only one of the most popular cars among the wealthy in Manhattan; it’s driven by working class and middle class Manhattan residents as well.


If you’re driving one of these vehicles, you’re certainly in good company, and if you get your vehicle’s windows tinted by Midwest Glass Tinters of Deer Park, you’ll be even cooler.






2012′s Safest Small Cars

With increased automaker emphasis on safety and stricter seatbelt laws, auto accidents are at an all-time low.   However, fatal crashes still occur — at a national rate of one every 16 minutes according to 2010 statistics.


Trying to find a vehicle that is safe, fuel efficient and works for your lifestyle is always a challenge.  When considering a smaller vehicle, keep in mind that all things being equal, smaller vehicles, due to their lighter weight will usually tend to do worse in a crash than heavier vehicles; so it’s important to really research the safety rating of a small vehicle before buying one.


Fortunately, has provided us with an overview of the 10 Top Safety picks for 2012 in the small car category according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.  To qualify, a car must get top scores in front, side, rollover and rear-end crashes, so it’s not easy to earn the top spot.  Following are 10 that did:


Audi A3

Buick Verano

Chevy Cruze

Chevy Sonic

Chevy Volt

Lexus CT 200h

Mazda 3

Scion tC

Subaru Impreza

Toyota Prius


Along the lines of safety, keep in mind that auto glass tint can even further protect your car in case of a crash.  Window film applied to your auto will hold shattered shards of glass together so they won’t injure  you or your passengers.  Auto tint also protects you and your passengers from over exposure to the sun’s rays, and helps keep your car safe from thieves.  For more information go to