In Collaboration with Motorpoint: Ford’s EcoBoost

In Collaboration with Motorpoint: Ford’s EcoBoost

How Ford’s EcoBoost Technology Brought Economical Motoring to the Masses

The turbocharged EcoBoost line of direct-injection engines developed by Ford Motor Company has been deployed across their line from the universally praised Fiesta to the Focus, the reliable family run-around, to some vehicles from other manufacturers like Jaguar, Land Rover and Zenos.

Challenging Assumptions

Ford’s Biggest Little EcoBoost–the Fiesta 1.0L[/caption]

The ubiquity of the line has allowed it to put to rest one major misconception about engines that many drivers held. This is the thought that engine displacement—the volume swept by the pistons in the engine’s cylinders in a single move from top to bottom—equals power. We used to see this attitude reflected in motorsport; Formula One engines used to go as high as 4.5L (liters) of displacement but since 2009—the year the EcoBoost was brought onto the market—we’ve seen regulations cap that figure at 1.6L, its lowest ever. Meaning smaller engines are becoming more powerful and more fashionable. Even the Formula Ford series has adopted the EcoBoost engines. And on top of that the LMGTE PRO winning car from the 2016 24hr Le Mans was the racing version of the highly anticipated 2017 Ford GT EcoBoost.

With even large cars like the 2017 Ford Escape boasting relatively compact 1.5 L engines, it’s now clear to anyone just how much punch can be packed into an engine of any size with the right technology. Because it’s in so many of the nation’s favorite cars, the EcoBoost has also spread low-cost motoring to a wider audience than ever.

How It Saves Money

The big jump in fuel efficiency is the most obvious source of savings, with up to 30 percent less fuel consumption making a big difference for personal or business use, especially if your job requires you to be mobile. But there is one other big factor to consider: taxation.

In places where vehicle weight is the primary determiner of road tax, like the state of New York, any way to make the vehicle lighter and more compact will save you money. Even more than that, in places where carbon emissions are the deciding factor (like the UK), they’ll put a vehicle in a much lower tax band than other gasoline engines. Rates are actually set to go up in March of 2017, but you can save by buying a vehicle registered before the new regulations come in through car supermarkets like Motorpoint.

In Collaboration with AA Cars: Buying a Used Green Car

In Collaboration with AA Cars: Buying a Used Green Car

Factors to Consider Before Buying a Used Green Car

Many motorists feel stressed and anxious when in the market for a second-hand car, particularly if they’re after a “green” car that will help reduce their footprint on this planet. This is understandable as it is a huge investment, and you sometimes hear horror stories, but it should be viewed as an exciting purchase and it can be much more enjoyable when you know what you should be looking for. Here are a few important factors to consider before taking the plunge.


Much like any important investment, thorough research is crucial if you are to get a good deal. Read reviews, check forums and compare vehicles to find the one that is best suited to your needs and budget. You may find that there is a cheaper one or one better suited to your needs elsewhere.

Test the Vehicle

Top 10 eco-friendly maintenance tips, air filter

Check the service records–and the obvious results

You should always inspect a vehicle when it is dry and in daylight, as water can hide scratches and the dark makes it difficult to inspect the vehicle. You should also check the tires and inspect the vehicle from all angles. You can find tips for inspecting a car online, but you may also want to bring somebody along for guidance (such as a mechanic). In addition to this, you must test drive the vehicle and make sure that it is a smooth and enjoyable ride and there are not any glaring issues.


You should always shop at reputable dealerships to ensure you are getting a good car with a clean history. Dealerships that have signed up to AA Cars’ Dealer Promise scheme will be the most trustworthy and you can rest assured knowing that you are in good hands.

Service History

Ask to see a full history of the automobile’s service and maintenance. This could factor into the price and also make it easier to spot issues on a test drive. The dealership may provide the service history, but you may want to consider purchasing a vehicle history report. When looking through the service history, look to see if there is a consistent story or a particular problem that keeps arising.

(US Readers)

Every car in the US must be registered. Speaking to your local DMV to work out what paperwork is needed to be completed is a must. Remember some states require you to have registered your car as soon as 10 days after purchase. Some may allow 30 days. Ensure you check this with the DMV you are speaking to.

(UK Readers)

Always ask to see the V5C Registration document. This will show you the previous owners and enable you to contact them if you have any queries about the car.

Keep these things in mind when looking at a second-hand vehicle and it will help you to find the right vehicle and at a reasonable price. You must also not feel pressured into the purchase (salesman can be very good at this) and take your time–it is an important decision to make.

Road Test: 2016 Lexus RX 450h

Road Test: 2016 Lexus RX 450h

The Original Guilt-Free SUV

Americans love crossover sport utilities, and when it comes to luxury brands they have a huge fondness for those with a big L on a spindle grille. The Lexus RX is not only the company’s biggest seller it has run roughshod over rivals such as Acura, Audi, BMW, Cadillac and Mercedes-Benz

Part of the RX’s success is the hybrid model. Even though the luxury hybrid sport utility was somewhat of a novelty when Lexus introduced the RX400h in 2005 as a 2006 model, it quickly followed in its gasoline counterpart’s tire tracks and became a top-selling model.

At the time it was the closest thing to a guilt-free sport-utility vehicle we’d ever seen: luxurious with an impressive assemblage of features and technologies, powerful and more fuel-efficient than the conventional RX 300.

A decade ago Lexus rolled out an all-new RX hybrid, the RX 450h. It not only featured a new exterior and interior design, it offered more power and significantly improved fuel economy.

Fourth Generation

2016 Lexus RX 450h

Fresh from the styling salon

For 2016, Lexus sent the fourth generation RX to the style salon for an extensive makeover. When it rolled out the door it was a longer, wider, taller, roomier and more powerful crossover SUV.

The 2016 RX 450h is available in a front-wheel drive (FWD) model with a base price of $52,235 before a $950 fee, and an all-wheel drive (AWD) version is a relative deal at $53,635. New is the AWD-only F-Sport starting at $57,045.

With an EPA combined fuel economy of 30 mpg—31 city/30 highway—the RX hybrid FWD model is the most fuel-efficient sport utility on the road. And the second best? The all-wheel drive version with a rating of 30 city/28 highway/30 combined.

Aggressive New Look But Still an RX

Since its introduction, Lexus designers have used their metaphoric pencils in a nip-and-tuck manner resulting in an RX that was conservatively upgraded from a sheetmetal standpoint. Apparently the design studio received new pencils for the 2016 restyle. Yet, the new 2016 Lexus RX 450h continues to look like an RX.

Dominating the front is a massive “spindle” grille filled with horizontal bars on the RX 450h, compared to the mesh used on its RX 350 sibling. Sharp new creases and curves on the sides are striking and daring, to say the least. The rear has a sharper look, also, with wrap-around taillights that attempt to increase the look of wideness.

The RX has grown in size with a wheelbase that is almost two inches longer than the previous generation. The overall length is 4.7 inches longer. Width also increased 0.4 inches, while ground clearance went up from 6.9 inches last year to 8.2 inches this year.

Luxury Validated Inside

2016 Lexus RX 450h,interior, luxury

Where luxury lives

It only takes a quick glance inside to know that the Lexus reputation for luxury is valid. From the stitching on the leather to the tactile feel of knobs and the clarity of dials, this is a very well-realized art of design.

Similarly, the optional 12.3-inch infotainment screen has an incredibly sharp display, and for the most part uses logical menus. Lexus’ Enform system has a plethora of functions considered de rigueur and it works well.

Front seats are shaped and cushioned for long-haul comfort. Abundant seat and steering-wheel adjustments make it easy to tailor a comfortable driving position. Rear seats mimic the fronts’ comfort, plus they slide fore and aft as well as recline.

Cargo capacity is respectable with 18 cubic feet or 55.9 cubic feet with 60/40 split seats folded. A unique addition to the electric rear hatch is one may place a hand over the “L” and the door opens.

High-Tech Standard & More Optional

While the 2016 Lexus RX 450h does offer all the high-tech gizmos that have become synonymous with luxury class vehicles, many are an extra cost. Yes, the hybrid does include standard features

2016 Lexus RX 450h,cargo space,mpg

The reason you buy an SUV

such as a power liftgate, power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, 10-way power front seats, automatic dual-zone climate control, a 12-speaker sound system, satellite radio, Bluetooth connectivity and an iPod/USB audio interface.

If you want the full-meal-deal luxury experience, you’ll pay extra. Leather seating is optional as are roof rails that are part of option packages

The RX hybrid offers a long list of option packages; some require the purchase of one to acquire another. Granted, there are some very nifty options: a head-up display, adaptive cruise control, heated and cooled leather seats, a navigation system, dual-screen rear entertainment and the superb 15-speaker Mark Levinson audio system. But it all adds up. Our all-wheel drive test vehicle was equipped with an array of options (but not all) and had a sticker price of $60,370.

Under The Hood

2016 Lexus RX 450h,engine, hybrid,mpg

The source of power & fuel economy

Pop the hood open and an expansive silver engine beauty cover is revealed, embellished with the words, Lexus Hybrid Drive.

Both the conventional and hybrid RX models get a direct-injected 3.5-liter V-6, but in the RX 450h, the engine is modified to run on the more efficient Atkinson cycle, while blending in electric power. The hybrid’s 259 horsepower is lower than the 295 in the non-hybrid RX, but this is more than made up for with electric assist.

Specifically, front-wheel-drive models get two motors, with the primary drive motor generator rated for up to 165 horsepower.

All-wheel drive models add to this a 67-horsepower rear motor generator as the defining feature of Toyota’s E-Four electric AWD system. This setup adds more torque automatically to the rear wheels if wheel spin is detected. It’s entirely independent from the front powertrain with no driveshaft connection as with conventional RX AWD models.

In all, system output is rated at 308 horsepower. Note the “system total” power is not the sum of the electric motor horsepower added to the engine’s, as these two merged sources peak at different operation ranges.

An electronically controlled planetary-type continuously variable transmission (CVT) and nickel-metal hydride battery pack complete the system.

Like other Lexus hybrids, the RX 450h can operate in electric-only or gas-engine-only modes as well as a combination of both. The hybrid system can shut off the engine when the car is stopped, then turn it on again when the brake pedal is released.

On The Road

The hybrid powertrain is seamless in operation, and the engine stop-start function is imperceptible. Overall, the RX 450h delivers a very quiet and a comfortable near car-like feel. The all-

2016 Lexus RX 450h,mpg

At home on the road–ready to take you further

independent suspension’s tuning is firm but absorbent and controlled. The vehicle is stable on the road, regardless of pavement imperfections.

Most hybrids trade power performance for fuel economy; the RX 450h bucks that trend. The quicker AWD version powers to 60 mph in 6.7 seconds, and the quarter mile passes in 14.9 seconds. That translates into a secure feeling when merging into fast traffic or passing.

When it comes to handling, however, the RX hybrid is no corner carver. It is a tall, heavy vehicle with noticeable body roll, even on gentle curves. In other words, exciting performance is absent.

But the “fun factor” isn’t the whole story when it comes to the 2016 Lexus RX 450h. Sure, it’s what gets people who test drive cars for a living out of bed every morning, but most drivers are looking for something smooth, safe and fuel efficient—qualities the RX 450h has in spades.

As for fuel efficiency, we have always found that Lexus hybrids meet and usually exceed the EPA’s estimated fuel economy mpg number. Our 2016 RX hybrid continued that tradition with a combined 30.3 mpg after driving 192 miles, about two thirds of which were highway miles.

In The Marketplace

2016 Lexus RX 450h,hybrid,mpg

The first–and still the top MPG

Lexus pioneered the luxury hybrid crossover sport utility segment, but other luxury makers are joining the fray. If three-row, seven-passenger seating is a must, the Infiniti QX60 Hybrid hits the mark. It has a classy interior that in every way pampers with well-appointed features with a price starting at $53,050. The fusion of gasoline and electrons nets a combined 26 mpg for either front- or all-wheel drive models, a few mpgs shy of the Lexus.

Audi’s 2016 Q5 Hybrid is a tad smaller inside than the RX and its 30-mpg highway fuel economy equals the Lexus. However, city driving in town can only muster 24-mpg. The starting price of $52,825 is $4,280 more than the RX but it comes standard with all-wheel drive, leather interior, navigation and a sunroof—and it’s a hoot to drive.

For those who want off-road prowess and better than average fuel economy, the larger Jeep Grand Cherokee with the EcoDiesel is an excellent choice. It has an EPA 30 mpg highway rating and a starting price of around $40,000. For another $10,000, higher trim levels offer a lavish interior.

Bottom Line: There are more powerful, entertaining and attractive means to transport five people and their gear, but that’s not what the RX hybrid is about.

In general, the 2016 Lexus RX 450h is the perfect all-purpose vehicle as an everyday hauler of full-size adults, kids of all sizes and their stuff. It’s at its best around town, picking up and dropping folks off and doing so in all kinds of weather. Plus, as a highway cruiser, it’s hard to beat.

And then there’s the fuel economy—the best fuel mileage of any crossover sport utility.

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Clean Fleet Report is loaned free test vehicles from automakers to evaluate, typically for a week at a time. Our road tests are based on this one-week drive of a new vehicle. Because of this we don’t address issues such as long-term reliability or total cost of ownership. In addition we are often invited to manufacturer events highlighting new vehicles or technology. As part of these events we may be offered free transportation, lodging or meals. We do our best to present our unvarnished evaluations of vehicles and news irrespective of these inducements.

Our focus is on vehicles that offer the best fuel economy in their class. We also feature those that are among the top mpg vehicles in their class. In addition, we aim to offer reviews and news on advanced technology and the alternative fuel vehicle market. We welcome any feedback from vehicle owners and are dedicated to providing a forum for alternative viewpoints. Please let us know your views at

Road Test: 2016 Kia Soul+

Road Test: 2016 Kia Soul+

Fashionable and Cool and 30+ mpg

The second generation Kia Soul debuted in 2014 as an all-new model and with updates for 2016, Clean Fleet Report wanted to see what the latest was that continues to make this cool small hatchback so popular. We found the 2016 Kia Soul is an affordable fun car that offers a unique style, excellent passenger and storage space, is easy to drive and park, has a great warranty and top safety ratings.


The front-wheel drive 2016 Soul+ is powered by a 2.0L, DOHC inline-four-cylinder engine producing 164 hp and 151 lb.ft. of torque while running on regular 87 octane gasoline. The power gets to the wheels through a six-speed automatic with Sportmatic (for semi-manual shifting) and what Kia calls “Active ECO,” which means that the gearing is naturally set to maximize fuel economy. The 2016 Kia Soul+ has an EPA rating of 24 city/31 highway/27 combined. We averaged 32.5 mpg over two weeks and 1,099 miles of driving throughout Southern California, mostly on highways averaging 65 mph. For comparison, the Base Soul comes with a 1.6L engine putting out 130 hp/118 lb.ft. of torque, but delivers less fuel economy than the 2.0L we tested.

However, if you are interested in not burning any gasoline at all, you should take a look at the 2016 Kia Soul EV that Clean Fleet Report gave high marks to in a recent review.

Driving Experience: On the Road

2016 Kia Soul,mpg

Lacking a little oomph, but otherwise A-OK

The 2016 Kia Soul+ only comes with the 2.0L engine and automatic transmission, which translates into adequate acceleration and performance cruising around town and even better conduct on the open road. There are few drag racing wins to be had unless you are matched against something like the 2017 Mitsubishi Mirage G4.

The six-speed automatic was smooth with up shifts coming at the correct rpms. Occasionally, I found that downshifts weren’t exactly where I would like them, as in quick maneuvering on the highway, so I simply manually shifted to the desired gear using the Sportmatic feature. This is common across all cars since automatic transmissions can’t be programmed for all driving situations, so no knock on Kia.

The Soul+ weighs in at 2,837 lbs. which felt evenly distributed and never heavy during acceleration, stopping or cornering. Contributing to the sprightly handling was a rack-and-pinion-with-an-electric-motor steering system, front independent MacPherson struts and coil springs and a rear coupled torsion beam suspension. Our Soul+ came with optional 18-inch alloy wheels and 235/45 R18 all-season tires.

The Soul is taller than most hatchbacks, but it never felt top heavy during cornering or quick maneuvers at highway speeds, and there was little body roll or leaning feeling that could be expected from a tall-bodied car. There are three steering options, which Kia calls FlexSteer—Comfort, Normal and Sport, with the Sport being the tightest and most responsive of the three. There was not much noticeable difference between the other settings, which was not a problem as the Soul is easy to drive whether at highway speeds or around town. Going against the preconceived idea that a small car can’t deliver a smooth and quiet ride, the Kia Soul does just that with a comfortable ride and low road and wind noise.

Stopping comes from front and rear active hydraulic boost-assisted, vented front and solid rear disc brakes, with ABS, electronic brake-force distribution, electronic stability control, vehicle stability management and traction control. Rear disc brakes on a car of this size is a rarity. The stops were straight and, after repeated stops from 60 mph, there was no pedal fade.

Driving Experience: Exterior

The distinctive Soul has a very recognizable look and profile, with an upright windshield and a flat but slightly slanted roof, that ends in a near-vertical rear hatch, an optional spoiler and large rear taillights. Up front you will find a lower air intake with fog lamps on the outer corners of the fascia. Our Soul+ had the optional projector beam headlights, separated by a narrow grille, that are flush and wrap the fenders. Changes for 2016 include two-toned paint schemes with the roof carrying a different color, as in a white body/red roof or red body/black roof.

Driving Experience: Interior

The Soul is nicely equipped in the base model configuration. The Plus version—which Clean Fleet Report drove—has just the right finishing touches to really make this car complete with technology and comfort features.

2016 Kia Soul,interior,style,mpg

Big features in an entry-level car

Our 2016 Kia Soul+ had the optional Audio Package that came with an excellent six-speaker Infinity audio system (with subwoofer and external amplifier) that included SiriusXM/FM/CD/AMHD with MP3 playback capability, voice-command navigation with an eight-inch screen, rear back-up camera, Bluetooth for hands-free telephone operation and music streaming. Oh, and don’t forget the very cool speaker lights. These lights surround the round, front door speakers and are controlled by a dash knob that allows for a red light to pulse with the audio or multi-colors that change at a regular interval. Necessary, no. Differentiator from the pack, yes.

Our Plus model had comfortable (for four full-size adults) two-toned cloth seats with manual adjustments for the driver and front passenger, which were separated by a large armrest console with storage bin. The rear seat, with a folding armrest and cup holders, splits 60/40. Cup holders abound throughout the cabin and soft-touch dash and upper door panels, with satin chrome and black glossy trim, had a good feel and look.

The cockpit design is driver friendly with the gauges in easy sight, and the controls handy to reach. Convenience features include power windows and outside mirrors, heated and leather-wrapped steering wheel with cruise control and audio/telephone controls, push button start/stop, automatic climate control, tilt and telescopic steering column, carpeted floor mats, cargo cover and Kia’s UVO Infotainment system.

With a high seating position for the driver, outward front and side visibility is very good, while rear sight lines are a bit compromised by the wide rear pillars.


The 2016 Kia Soul comes in four models with these base prices:

2016 Kia Soul,interior, mpg

Surprise–it feels great on the open road

Soul Base – 1.6L with 6-speed M/T – $15,900

Soul Base – 1.6L with 6-speed A/T – $17,400

Soul+ – 2.0L with A/T – $19,400

Soul!  – 2.0L with A/T – $21,300

Clean Fleet Report’s 2016 Soul+ had the Audio and Tarmack Special Edition Packages, bringing the MSRP to $24,420. All prices do not include the freight and handling fee of $850.


Kia has equipped the Soul with active and passive safety features including six air bags, a tire pressure monitoring system, hill start assist control, and the afore-mentioned four-wheel disc with ABS.

The 2016 Kia Soul has an Overall 5-Star National Highway Transportation Safety Association (NHTSA) rating and a Top Safety Pick rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) which is the top ranking from both organizations.


The 2016 Soul comes with these warranties:

  • Powertrain – 10 years/100,000 miles
  • Basic – Five years/60,000 miles
  • Roadside Assistance – Five years/60,000 miles
  • Non-impact paint repairs (fading, cracking, chipping or flaking) – Three years/36,000 miles
  • Anti Perforation – Five years/100,000 miles

Observations: 2016 Kia Soul+

2016 Kia Soul,mg,style

A big little package

The 2016 Kia Soul is an affordable fun car that offers a unique style, excellent passenger and storage space, is easy to drive and park, and has a great warranty and top safety ratings. For an all-around car, the Kia Soul+ gets high marks which are well deserved. Heck, even Kia says they upped the “wow factor for the 2016 model.”

The idea of taking a short wheelbase car on a lengthy road trip is a less-than-pleasant thought. But with the Kia Soul those trepidations went away after a few miles. It was easy to find a comfortable driving position, the ride was smooth and stable, road and wind noise were lower than many larger and more expensive cars and the audio system was top notch. There really wasn’t much to desire other than peppier acceleration, which Kia has addressed with the 2017 Soul that has a turbocharged engine option.

So, if you don’t need to be racy (which we never felt the need to be), then the 2016 Kia Soul will be just right for you. With a very low base price and reasonably priced option packages, you will be able to configure a Kia Soul that fits your lifestyle and won’t break the budget doing so.

Whatever you end up buying, enjoy your new car and as always, Happy Driving!

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Garage Mate for your EV: 2016 Honda Fit

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Road Test: 2015 Chevrolet Trax

Road Test: 2015 Nissan Juke


Clean Fleet Report is loaned free test vehicles from automakers to evaluate, typically for a week at a time. Our road tests are based on this one-week drive of a new vehicle. Because of this we don’t address issues such as long-term reliability or total cost of ownership. In addition we are often invited to manufacturer events highlighting new vehicles or technology. As part of these events we may be offered free transportation, lodging or meals. We do our best to present our unvarnished evaluations of vehicles and news irrespective of these inducements.

Our focus is on vehicles that offer the best fuel economy in their class. We also feature those that are among the top mpg vehicles in their class. In addition, we aim to offer reviews and news on advanced technology and the alternative fuel vehicle market. We welcome any feedback from vehicle owners and are dedicated to providing a forum for alternative viewpoints. Please let us know your views at

Driverless cars could save the US $784 billion

Driverless cars could save the US $784 billion

An Insurance Perspective on Autonomous Technology

Tesla’s Video of its Self-Driving Technology
It goes without saying that preservation of life is the reason to invest in road and car safety technology, but the financial implications that fatal and non-fatal accidents have on the economy areanother factor which cannot be ignored.

According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration the total cost of prevention of reported road accidents is estimated to be $871 billion per year.

Fatal and non-fatal accidents impact financially upon the following elements.

● Medical Care

● Emergency Services

● Market Productivity

● Household Productivity

● Legal Costs

● Insurance Administrative Costs

● Workplace Costs

● Property Damage

● Congestion

Saving Lives

There were an estimated 38,300 people killed on US roads in 2015.

In a 2015 McKinsey Report, researchers estimated autonomous vehicles (AV) and advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) could reduce accidents by up to 90 percent; more than 90 prcent of accidents each year are caused by human error , but with AVs this factor is obviously completely removed.

Using the figures provided by the NHTSA – the widespread adoption of autonomous vehicles could save the US approximately $784 billion per year.

It also means that self-driving cars could save as many as 34,470 lives per year, which over a period of a decade would equate to saving nearly 350,000 people.

‘Current and Future Car Safety Technology’ Resource

Until now, car safety technology development has been about assisting the driver’s manual actions and mitigating the adverse ones. However, we are in an era where autonomous vehicles completely remove the element of human error. In order to showcase these advancements in car safety and the shift from manual, to automated, to autonomous, have created a resource which documents both current and future technologies and their respective influence on making our roads safer. Current and Future Car Safety Technology also highlights which pioneering manufacturers are already incorporating these cutting-edge innovations into some of the more advanced vehicle models.

View the resource in full here.