Author Topic: Cars  (Read 38132 times)

random axe

  • Concerned Netizen
  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 34,733
  • Karma: +92/-20
  • Concern Intensifies
Cars
« on: January 12, 2010, 06:39:04 PM »
The big winners at the Detroit car show seem to be the Ford Fusion Hybrid and the Chevy Volt.  I'm more surprised about the Volt, which I'd been hearing was kind of crappy.

The Fusion is a hybrid that's less obsessed with fuel economy and more with being a 'regular' car that gets better mileage and has that green marketing mojo.  It's reportedly a lot more pleasant to drive than a Prius -- much snappier, for one thing -- but equally smooth.  It doesn't get the mileage of the Prius, or quite that of the Honda Civic or Insight hybrids, but it easily beats the hybrid versions of the Camry, Altima, and Malibu.  The EPA rating for it is 41 MPG city / 36 MPG highway in normal driving, which gives it an urban range of around 700 miles.  Best mileage ever (ultra-careful driving) was over 80 MPG in tests.  It basically doesn't drive in all-electric mode; it'll go a couple of miles at low speed, and that's it.

The Chevy Volt went through some awkward design incarnations but has turned out a pleasant surprise.  It's got a 150 HP motor that drives the wheels and a small gasoline engine to run a generator as needed, and it also recharges from any normal electrical outlet.  Apparently you can hook up an electric dryer-style heavy-duty outlet to recharge faster at home.  It'll reportedly do 40 miles of urban driving on a single charge, which means most people can drive to work and back every day without using any gas.  That's pretty awesome.

With the engine and generator, a full tank only boosts you to 300 miles, though.  That means you get an extra 270 miles out of 12 gallons of gas, which is not impressive.  In fact, I don't understand that -- it's a small (71 HP) engine that should be running at the same RPM anytime it's on, and they can't do better than the equivalent of 22.5 MPG?  I know there are some losses from engine to generator to battery and drivetrain, but come on.  Of course, what would really be efficient, probably, is a small turbine.  A biodiesel engine might be nice in there, too.  I suspect the engine will be the subject of the fastest improvement.  I mean, the Civic Hybrid has a slightly smaller engine that's more efficient and produces almost 20% more power.

Unfortunately, the Volt will cost around $40k, so even with a $7500 federal rebate it'll be around $7k too much.  Still, you could easily save $1200 a year on fuel costs if you use it to commute, and it's apparently got more useful room than a Prius, so maybe it'll be worth the cost differential.  But even with the federal rebate, it's like $10k more than the Civic Hybrid. 

If you've got to have a plug-in hybrid . . . and you don't want to shell out the money and take the risk of having your Civic or Prius converted by a third party . . . the Volt is the way to go, for now.  It's not perfect, but it's a lot better than I was led to expect.

random axe

  • Concerned Netizen
  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 34,733
  • Karma: +92/-20
  • Concern Intensifies
Re: Cars
« Reply #1 on: January 13, 2010, 11:15:34 PM »
I can't afford any of these things, but I still find the concept cars fascinating.  The marketing gunk doesn't get me, but any thinking outside the (SUV) box has potential.  Of course, the really cool stuff rarely makes it to market, but still.


Anyway, on the electric grill front, it looks like maybe Tesla Motors is going to hang around after all.  They rolled out their 1000th Roadster, which is a good sign.  Much better, even, is their new car, the Model S, allegedly due out maybe by sometime late this year.  Reports vary -- for instance, some are saying that the price will be around $50k before the federal rebate, and some are saying it'll be $50k after the rebate.

Pricey.  BUT.  This is a four-door, five-seat full-size car that looks kind of like an Aston Martin station wagon.  (Er, shooting brake.  Estate wagon, at worst.  Terribly sorry, Aston.)  It's meant as more of a BMW competitor, with a 0-60 time of well under 6 seconds.  It reportedly has a swap-out battery pack in three sizes, with ranges of 160 miles, 230 miles, and 300 miles.  By 'swap-out', they mean a garage can do it for you, since these battery packs weigh 1200 lb and up.  The base battery pack can reportedly be charged overnight from a regular outlet or in just two hours from a three-phase home outlet.  That's pretty damned good.

Tesla's saying they already have $5000 deposits from 1000 buyers for this car.  If it's successful, it shouldn't be difficult for Tesla to make a smaller, lighter car with a shorter range for substantially less money.  They're apparently working with Smart to make a tiny electric car and working on an electric urban delivery van.  The logic on the van is (A) it's a fleet vehicle, so a delivery service could buy many identical vans, which would be extremely low-maintenance, and (B) the vehicles travel relatively short distances and return to base every night, where they could easily be recharged.  

UPS did a study this year and found they could save some ridiculous amount of money on fuel by switching to electric vans, even if the vans cost like twice what their current vans cost, and I know their current vans (which are custom made) aren't cheap.  

flipper

  • Ultimate Pick Up Line
  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 12,255
  • Karma: +128/-54
  • Criticism Completes Me
    • Myspace
Re: Cars
« Reply #2 on: January 14, 2010, 01:17:11 PM »
The way things are looking, I might never be able to afford a car again.
"It all trickles down from the hot sex. I'm not saying you don't need cheese, just that if you concentrate on the hot sex, the cheese will follow. Naturally."--PsiDefect 03-19-2002 11:28 AM

random axe

  • Concerned Netizen
  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 34,733
  • Karma: +92/-20
  • Concern Intensifies
Re: Cars
« Reply #3 on: January 14, 2010, 03:04:55 PM »
Yarly, but I still sometimes read the car magazines.  I get annoyed at 95% of cars that are over about $35k, largely because there are so many of them, and it just seems like people are begging for the guillotine.  But the engineering often interests me -- even if the same engineering effort could produce elegant solutions to problems that actually need solving, instead.

I've only bought one new car myself, ever, and that was a Toyota Tercel back when you could get one for $10k.  Right now, I'm considering buying an old Civic that's in great shape, but I'd need a loan . . . and it's the insurance that might make it impossible.  This 'car state' isn't a state where you can get one blanket policy and one set of plates and just drive whichever car the plates are on at the moment.


The stuff being built right now is hampered by car companies not being able to quite decide, by and large, how non-traditional they want to go.  They tried really hard in the 60s through the early 80s to consider alternative designs (turbines, rotary engines, vapor engines, atomic power sources, etc), and it was almost universally a huge financial loss.  A few companies (mostly Japanese and German) kept at it, with smaller budgets, smaller plans, and smaller marketing campaigns.  That's why the Germans (Mercedes and VW) developed awesome diesel engines and the Japanese developed advanced gas engines (Mazda's rotary and Miller-cycle beasts, Honda and Toyota's insanely low-emission engines).

In the US, there's a far greater preference to stick with the same thing decade after decade and just refine it.  The current push-rod engines are amazing . . . versions of the old ones.  And the thing is, if you try to make a hybrid that's as similar to a non-hybrid as possible, you're going to be adding a lot of complexity but not necessarily make a lot of difference.  The new 'low-compromise' hybrids are impressive but don't represent a huge change.  If Detroit and the GOP hadn't generally fought CAFE standards every step of the way, we'd already be driving non-hybrids that got better mileage than the mild hybrids that are available.

Meanwhile, the European hybrids we get are mostly luxury cars.  (Lexus is doing the same thing.  Efficiency, after all, can mean more power per gallon, not just more miles per gallon.)  The European manufacturers don't seem to want to bring out mass-market hybrids until they have the mix just right.  In the next five years or so, I'd expect low-emission pure-electric hybrids from VW, for instance -- imagine a Golf with 75 HP motors at each front wheel and a tiny 100 HP three-cylinder turbo diesel running a generator at an equivalent of 80 MPG.

Similar things have already been done, and there are experimental / custom micro-turbine hybrids, like the sports car that guy from EA Games drives, a Ferrari-like monster that I hear gets around 50 MPG from biodiesel at 0-60 in 4 seconds.  That's not world-beating mileage, but it's three times the mileage of the same model-year Ferrari F430.  And it has a better power curve.  That beast is a bit silly -- you don't need such a high-speed turbine with so much wear and tear, but even so it's got enormously fewer moving parts than a normal car, and with mass production that turbine wouldn't be implausibly expensive.

Meanwhile, battery technology is improving so rapidly that the biggest stumbling block is going to be retooling factories to mass-produce whatever the next generation is.  There are already four or five battery workable technologies that kick lithium-ion's ass up and down the block.  Nobody's set up to mass-produce them yet, but some will almost immediately be cheaper.

Which is good, because, yeah, I won't be able to afford a sexy hybrid or electric car until I get can a five-year-old one off of Craigslist.  :lol:

mybabysmomma

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2,063
  • Karma: +19/-1
  • and a shark shall eat them
Re: Cars
« Reply #4 on: January 16, 2010, 09:07:05 AM »
I read a review the other day about a hybrid VW is working on,,,love me some VW's but HATE the local dealer!,,,sounds pretty good, although I wish they would push beyond the lithium ion,,,I'm soon to be in the market for a "new" vehicle myself,,,kind of need something AWD or 4WD,,,on the small side but big enough for 2 adults, a car seat and 2 large dogs,,,any suggestions?
I need this done ASAP, or whenever you can get around to it.  Tomorrow is fine.

Axe, he hates EVERYTHING

random axe

  • Concerned Netizen
  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 34,733
  • Karma: +92/-20
  • Concern Intensifies
Re: Cars
« Reply #5 on: January 16, 2010, 10:56:18 AM »
Personally, I'd go with an Outback or Forester, but I'm fond of Subarus.  If you can find an AWD Pontiac Vibe, it's usually a bargain.  Not the fastest thing on the road, but it's basically got all-Toyota mechanicals in a cheaper package (same as the Toyota Matrix).

The Vibe's been discontinued, along with the rest of Pontiac, but I don't know if that's pushed prices up or down.

stormneedle

  • Trusted
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7,746
  • Karma: +118/-42
  • Nonsense Stuffer
    • Your page here!
Re: Cars
« Reply #6 on: January 16, 2010, 11:22:48 AM »
*pimps for Honda Element*
I'm generalizing from one example here, but everyone generalizes from one example. At least, I do.

mybabysmomma

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2,063
  • Karma: +19/-1
  • and a shark shall eat them
Re: Cars
« Reply #7 on: January 16, 2010, 11:39:09 AM »
Yeah,,,Honda,,,was one of my choices but I'm not a huge fan of their 4 cyl,,,feels like I need get out and help push...I like the Subarus alot, but I am wary of their
AC issues,,,I do live in the south, and I have been told they have road noise issues,,,I'm thinking alot about the Rav and possibly the Equinox  although I might would have to move up to a V6 for those and I don't really want to do that.
I need this done ASAP, or whenever you can get around to it.  Tomorrow is fine.

Axe, he hates EVERYTHING

random axe

  • Concerned Netizen
  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 34,733
  • Karma: +92/-20
  • Concern Intensifies
Re: Cars
« Reply #8 on: January 16, 2010, 11:55:40 AM »
The Element is pretty awesome but is already outside of my concept of fairly small vehicles.  The CR-V is smaller, but the 4WD version does have some torque issues.  The RAV is on the cusp.  It wins all the awards, but I always think of it as being a bit pricey, although actually I have no idea what its sticker is like these days.

Hedaira

  • Trusted
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 9,032
  • Karma: +72/-11
  • Tit Critic
Re: Cars
« Reply #9 on: January 16, 2010, 12:19:52 PM »
My mom has a RAV. It's got stiff suspension and is blind-spotty. It doesn't suck, but I didn't like it enough to want one. Roomy considering the size.

The only car that I ever owned that was truly comfortable was the Evil Green Car. It was an Accord. Dampened outside noise nicely, went through gas like Henry the 8th went through wives, had comfy seats and awesome climate control. It was difficult to tell how fast it was moving and road bumps weren't even noticeable. The flip side was that it should have been Lemon Law'd. I had more problems with that car.... ugh. When the electrical died and I couldn't roll my window up on a sub-freezing night (I had to look out the window to see on 64 b/c the wipers were dead - good thing traffic was extra-light at 6AM) I kind of had enough of its failures. All of the electrical was dead, except the lights, until late that afternoon.

*edit for apostrophe catastrophe*
"After walking away from the other people backstage, Justin Bieber found a place where we could be alone -- a bathroom. We went inside and immediately his personality changed drastically. He began touching me and repeatedly said he wanted to fuck the shit out of me."

mybabysmomma

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2,063
  • Karma: +19/-1
  • and a shark shall eat them
Re: Cars
« Reply #10 on: January 16, 2010, 12:32:31 PM »
I haven't test driven anything but the Rogue yet,,,I don't mind a stiff suspension ( :knotty:) but things that will bother me are,,,how much driver's seat adjusting I can do (I'm fairly little) excessive road noise, crappy power for the engine size, alot of blind spots, not enough interior room for all my peeps, and crappy stereo system.  I have to admit I am a little spoiled having owned 2 really wonderful VW's for the past 16 years.  I'm expecting to waste around 26-27,000 on something "new" because of my vehicle expectations,,,I like a little bit of perks, I'm not the base model kind of girl.  I am hoping to tone down my "needs' when I get out and really look at some things.
I need this done ASAP, or whenever you can get around to it.  Tomorrow is fine.

Axe, he hates EVERYTHING

random axe

  • Concerned Netizen
  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 34,733
  • Karma: +92/-20
  • Concern Intensifies
Re: Cars
« Reply #11 on: January 16, 2010, 03:52:57 PM »
Accords are weirdly variable, in my experience.  I used to drive a 1994 model, I think it was, and it was great -- basically a bigger, slightly more powerful Civic, although I wish it somehow could've been a hatchback.

Actually, Stoatse, I recently learned that they're still building that VW Quantum Synchro like your folks used to have . . . in China, under another name.  Some Chinese company leased the rights to the design from VW when VW discontinued it.  I'm not sure if they build the little wagon or just the sedan, and apparently they changed the bodywork slightly, but it's almost identical.  Man, they should export that with a few airbags.


A lot of Asian car manufacturers give you engines that are meant to be revved like hell.  A lot of US drivers don't like to rev them that high.  A lot of Asian car manufacturers don't seem to 100% get this.  American cars have traditionally been large and lower-revving.  My brother's Civic coupe redlined at 7700 RPM, whereas the Ford Focus wanted you to keep it under 6000 RPM, and their power bands were quite different.  A lot of bigger American cars make their maximum power under 5000 RPM, but those little VTECH engines make it up near the line.

Some of those cars, like my old Tercel, are fine up near the redline, but some are screaming and -- whether they can put up with it or not -- they just sound like they're about to blow up.  And not that many people want to thrash a small SUV.


Hey, with a federal rebate and/or dealer desperation, mybabysmomma, you ought to be able to get a Ford Escape Hybrid AWD in your price range.  It's got significantly more power than the regular Escape, gets around 30 MPG in regular driving, and has decent mechanicals.  The hybrid system is based on Toyota's.  It's not huge, as SUVs go, but it's a lot bigger than a sedan on the inside.

Tripper

  • Trusted
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 944
  • Karma: +84/-21
  • Go ahead, make my millennium
    • Benson-Photo
Re: Cars
« Reply #12 on: January 16, 2010, 09:37:37 PM »
We traded my 96 Civic in for the van, 07 Odyssey, and still have the 99 CRV.  We looked at the RAV 4 before the CRV and decided against it because it felt cramped.  The windows and top angled in making it feel more like a cockpit rather than a car interior.  We're far from buying a "new" car, but there isn't much out there that will make us move away from Honda's.  There's just something about going from the van to the CRV and all the basic controls are in almost exactly the same spot.  And both vehicles "behave" in a similar way, except when you stomp the gas in the van you KNOW you hit the gas.  The CRV is more "eh...  I'll get there."

random axe

  • Concerned Netizen
  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 34,733
  • Karma: +92/-20
  • Concern Intensifies
Re: Cars
« Reply #13 on: January 16, 2010, 11:22:22 PM »
Honda's obsession with details, and its section obsession with no vehicle being a weak link, led to the Odyssey becoming a ridiculously good vehicle.  Maybe not exciting, but who the hell expects a minivan to have better road-noise control than a $100k Mercedes?

Toyota . . . I was a huge Toyota fan for a long time, just because I drove several indestructible vehicles of theirs that had great mileage and were never dull.  But a lot of Japan's styling has taken a HUGE turn for the worse, for my money, and Toyotas are all too often just plain ugly to me, now.  Nissan and Mitsubishi are often even worse. 

Hondas have lost their distinctive sheet-metal edges, but they mostly look generic at worst.  Still, for me, the magic Honda right now is still the Fit, which is just an amazing little car, even if I prefer a lower driving position.  (Of course, I can't see anything, with all the trucks and SUVs out there now.)

BMW and Mercedes are turning out some desperately ugly cars nowadays, too, but it's not like I'm going to own one.

random axe

  • Concerned Netizen
  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 34,733
  • Karma: +92/-20
  • Concern Intensifies
Re: Cars
« Reply #14 on: February 03, 2010, 11:13:10 PM »
The Toyota gas-pedal problem . . . here's all I got to say about that:

- The feds should stay out of it until or unless they've decided what they're going to say about it.  Making a statement and then backpedaling makes them look stupid and just kicks Toyota when they're down.  I think that, unfortunately, there's a good chance Toyota tried to minimize bad publicity last summer when they should've been already issuing a recall, but I don't think we know for certain yet.

- The reporting on this by the mass media has been typically retarded.  I saw two separate stories, one at CNN and one by the AP, that named the Accord as one of the suspect models.  That ain't even a Toyota.

- A lot of the accidents the media has ascribed to the gas-pedal issue were probably driver error.  (In panic situations, people very frequently stomp on the gas but think they're stomping on the brake.  It's a well-known problem.)  The media and the feds are simultaneously exaggerating the threat and failing to alert people to the potential dangers and how to deal with the problem.  That's as big a bag of Fail as how Toyota's handled this.  Toyota, at least, seems to be manning up now.

- If your car ever has a sticky-throttle problem, ignore the advice the mass media is giving, and do this:

STEP ON THE BRAKES.  Step on them hard, and keep stepping on them until the car stops.  When it's slowed to almost a crawl, pull over, but keep stepping on the brakes.  Keep stepping on the brakes until you have the car shut off.  Not in Park, but shut off.

There is probably no car legally sold in the US or Canada today that does not have brakes that can overpower the engine quite handily.  This was tested a month or two ago by a car magazine that even got a pumped-up specialty-shop hot-rod Mustang with the big engine and something like 600 HP.  Still, even from the upper end of highway speeds, the brakes could easily bring the car to a halt over a reasonable distance and under the driver's control.  Even with the engine revving its brains out the whole time.  The noise will be scary, but the car will stop.  And then you can shut it off.

Most people will not keep the brake pedal down if the throttle is stuck open.  That's because they normally never have to do that, and when things get really weird . . . people panic.  In the early 1970s, in a proper muscle car with crappy drum brakes and a huge engine, no ABS, etc, this stomp-the-brakes strategy might not have worked as smoothly as it will on any modern car, but even then it would be your best primary option.

Turning the ignition off is NOT a great idea if you're going fast.  You will lose power steering and power brakes, and if you're not careful you may lock the steering wheel.  Just hit the brakes.  The mass media is recommending shutting off the ignition even on fancy cars that use ignition buttons, where you have to hold the button continuously for 3-5 seconds to force the engine to shut down.  Yeah, hold that awkward button for 3-5 seconds while the car is accelerating out of control.  That's probably not a good plan for the average driver.

Shifting into Neutral is a good idea.  Not as good as tromping on the brakes, which is an easy, super-fast, and reliable method, but still good.  You can do it immediately or while stepping on the brakes.

Shifting into Park in a modern car will not destroy the transmission (probably) and not send the car out of control (probably), but it will not bring the car to a rapid controlled halt, either, and it will make a godawful noise that will make a hell of a lot of drivers panic.  So, once again, that's not too helpful.

But, christ, how hard is it to just say STEP ON THE BRAKES AND DON'T QUIT.?  I mean, really.  CNN is currently recommending an awkward sequence of actions that has stepping on the brake last

Retards.