An Array of Choices Are Available
With environmental concerns and economic worries, many people have made the decision to buy green vehicles. Cars that are labeled “green” are either those that are environmentally friendly and provide less harm to the environment than similar internal combustion engine cars or those that use alternative fuels.
Purchasing and driving a green car provides a few benefits to both the driver and the environment. First of all, green cars leave a smaller carbon footprint on the environment by releasing fewer emissions. In addition to keeping the air cleaner, these vehicles also offer better gas efficiency, sometimes better than 40 miles per gallon, and a lower lifetime cost for the car. Although the initial purchase price may be higher for a green car, owners often receive government incentives, and the benefits of buying less gas make this car a more economical choice over time.
When choosing to purchase a green car, a new buyer must first evaluate his or her vehicle needs and budget to determine the best type of car. Next, a buyer should consider the vehicles with the highest green scores among cars and trucks that meet his or her requirements, taking into account fuel efficiency and emissions.
There are a few different categories of green vehicles that should be considered in any car purchase.
Clean Diesel Cars
2016 BMW 328d xDrive Sports Wagon–a diesel option
A combination of cleaner, ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel, advanced engines and effective emissions control, results in clean diesel cars that achieve nearly zero emissions. These vehicles typically burn less fuel overall, which means that the cost per mile of driving a clean diesel vehicle is lower than that of typical cars.
In addition to less fuel burned and lower gas costs, clean diesel is also responsible for fewer greenhouse emissions per mile in comparison to normal gas-powered cars. This distinction is important because many modern diesel engines are currently under intense scrutiny by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other governing bodies after Volkswagen was found to have cheated federal emissions tests since 2009.
Additional “green” diesel options are renewable diesel fuel and biodiesel, which offer a renewable and clean-burning replacement fuel for traditional diesel. Most diesel engines can run on these bio-based diesel fuels with little modifications needed, although buyers should note that biodiesel cannot be used other than in low blends (5 to 20 percent) in most modern diesel vehicles. Renewable diesel, because it meets the same specification as petroleum diesel, can be run at higher blends.
Although clean diesel and bio-based diesel vehicles are more expensive than traditional gas-powered vehicles, their total cost of ownership is usually lower. They offer their owners the possibility to drive many highway miles thanks to their excellent gas mileage and torque.
Natural Gas Cars
Natural gas vehicles run on Compressed Natural Gas (CNG), which is mostly methane stored at high pressure. It is generally considered that they produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions than
The last CNG standing
most cars with traditional engines. However, buyers should note that since methane is a high GHG pollutant, this potentially negates the tailpipe emissions benefits of CNG when upstream emissions are considered.
While many consider natural gas vehicles to be greener and better for the environment than gasoline-powered vehicles, they face several obstacles that make them less popular. There are very few natural car options for consumers to choose. Natural gas is mostly used to power work trucks, while the only car model currently available is bi-fuel Chevy Impala. Much of this market stagnation is because fuel is difficult to find, and the vehicles do not always perform the same as those using traditional gasoline.
In addition, some drivers see using such natural gas as fuel as unethical due to the use of fracking to obtain the fuel. When hydraulic rigs pump water and chemicals down into an oil or gas well, high pressure is created that forms cracks in the rock protecting the underground oil or gas. Once those rocks are cracked open, the resources can be recovered more easily. The process itself has caused controversy because it has led to horizontal drilling rather than vertical, putting water sources and areas sitting on top of these horizontal lines at risk. Because of this unsafe practice, some eco-conscious consumers are opposed to using natural gas vehicles.
Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles (FCVs)
A car for the future–the Toyota Mirai
A type of vehicle that relies on a fuel cell system rather than a traditional engine is known as a fuel cell vehicle (FCV). These vehicles use a combination of hydrogen and oxygen to power an electric motor. Because FCV technology is still relatively new in its automotive applications, there are currently only a few vehicle models available for purchase, and they are only available in limited areas where a fueling infrastructure is available.
Like other electric vehicles, these have no smog or greenhouse gas tailpipe emissions; however, there may be pollutant emissions that come from the process of producing and transporting hydrogen fuel to the vehicle. It does not take long to fill a hydrogen vehicle, but the new technology has not yet resulted in many public hydrogen filling stations, making the use of this type of car difficult at this time.
Hybrid cars developed as a nice fuel combination for those who are interested in improving a vehicle’s environmental impact while also having the ease of a traditional car. Hybrids contain both a gas engine and an electric motor, and usually the vehicle’s system chooses which is used at which time to propel the car.
The poster child of hybrids–the Toyota Prius
Because of their ability to use electricity, hybrids are able to cut fuel consumption in comparison to many of their gasoline-only competitors. The use of electricity also means that pollution and emissions can be reduced.
Whereas hybrids were once seen as a cutting-edge vehicle option, purchasing a hybrid today is a relatively conservative choice. The longer time on the market has made hybrid cars reliable. They essentially work like a traditional car, so most mechanical issues have been resolved and many mechanics know how to repair them. There are no major lifestyle changes necessary in order to purchase or drive a hybrid vehicle.
The initial purchase price of a hybrid car can be more expensive than a gas-only vehicle because of the more sophisticated technology involved. While these cars can pay for themselves in time based on the number of miles the buyer drives, some may never fully recoup the purchase price. However, hybrids are an excellent choice for people who want a simple, well-established green car with few lifestyle changes.
A plug-in hybrid car usually uses both the gas and electric motor to turn its wheels, either at different times or together. The electric motor uses rechargeable batteries that can be plugged in to
The Chevy Volt is the best-known plug-in hybrid
recharge. This method of powering the vehicle allows the car to run for many miles efficiently and inexpensively until the batteries are run down. At that point, the driver has the option to refuel at a gas station if necessary to continue driving.
Many of the same issues that plague electric cars hinder the popularity of plug-in hybrids as well. Although the number of plug-in hybrid vehicles is constantly growing, there are currently only few of these vehicles available. This makes it difficult to shop for and purchase one, and tax incentives are at a lower rate than for pure electric cars. The initial purchase price of a plug-in hybrid is typically lower than that of an electric car because the battery pack is somewhat smaller. These are nice vehicles for car owners who are not ready for an electric car, but who are interested in a green alternative.
Nissan’s Leaf has led the way in affordable pure electrics
Electric cars run purely on electric motors, or more specifically on electricity stored in their rechargeable batteries or another energy storage option.
As with many green vehicles, there are some financial incentives for purchasing an electric car. Depending on how far the car is driven daily, it may only need to be plugged in and charged at home each night. In that case owners might need 240-volt charging equipment to keep the vehicle ready to drive daily. With fewer moving parts than gas cars, servicing an electric car is usually more affordable.
Buyers should keep in mind that electric cars are more expensive than gas-powered cars, and that there are not that many recharging stations available nationwide. However, their appeal will certainly increase over time as supportive infrastructure for electric cars increases and prices come down. At this time, electric vehicles are best suited for buyers who are committed to making an environmental difference and to dealing with the driving and charging limitations.
The choice of which green car to buy really comes down to the preferences and the lifestyle of the buyer. Deep-green buyers who want zero emissions should choose an electric car charged with solar electricity or some other type of low-carbon power source, such as hydroelectric or wind power. Light-green buyers may be more interested in gas-only vehicles that get high miles-per-gallon gas mileage using new technologies like advanced transmissions, improved aerodynamics and turbochargers.
Although many of these alternative energy cars began as niche products, interest in them has expanded quickly due to federal emissions regulations and policies, as well as an overall awareness of the need to protect the environment from damaging vehicle emissions. As more car buyers continue to turn to green choices, more environmentally friendly designs and productions will become necessary from the automakers.
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With Cummins Diesel Power, Titan Carves Out A New Pickup Niche
The key to the new diesel Titan–it works
What’s the difference between 65 and 85 mph? In the 2016 Nissan Titan XD Pro-4X, it’s certainly not the effort it takes to get to the higher speed nor the confidence in road control when cruising somewhat over the posted speed limit. Spoiler Alert: I like this truck.
Nissan took a look at the truck market and found what they called a “white space” between half-ton and three-quarter ton pickups. Its research showed that 75,000 half-ton truck buyers needed just a bit more towing and hauling capability and were forced to buy a much larger, heavier and more expensive pickup, while the same number of three-quarter ton truck buyers really did not want or need this size vehicle when a smaller truck would get the job done for them, whether for work or recreation. What Nissan came up with is a truck midway between a half and three-quarter ton that it is hoping will appeal to those 150,000 buyers who were not pleased buying either too much or too little truck.
Clean Fleet Report drove the 2016 Nissan Titan XD Crew Cab Pro-4X with the 5.0-liter two-stage turbo Cummins V8 diesel, putting out 310 hp and 555 lb-ft of torque. (The Titan also comes with a gasoline V8 engine.) The one we tested had an Aisin six-speed automatic transmission and a dash-mounted selector to choose between RWD, 4H and 4LO. The EPA does not rate fuel economy for vehicles weighing more than 8,000 lbs., but Nissan has stated that the Titan XD with the Cummins diesel gets, under load, hauling or towing, a “20-percent increase in fuel economy over a comparable gas V8-powered vehicle.” During our week in the Titan XD, we drove 350 miles and averaged 15.2 mpg.
Driving Experience: On the Road
Nissan first introduced its Titan pickup in 2004 and, for the most part, it did not change much during a period when Ford, Chevrolet, Dodge/Ram and Toyota were constantly improving their trucks and having robust sales as a result. Hitting Nissan dealers in late 2015 was the all-new 2016 Titan XD with the Cummins diesel. The Titan XD discussed here is rated as a medium-duty truck, one step below the size truck identified with the letters “HD,” or Heavy Duty.
Similar to the old Titan, but bulked up
To get a feel for the capability, ride and handling of the 2016 Titan XD, we drove throughout Southern California on a variety of street, highway and a bit of off-roading. It became clear pretty quickly that the horsepower, torque and weight of the Titan XD were well-matched, resulting in a pickup that is exactly what Nissan wanted.
Diesel pickup truck owners are not as concerned with horsepower, as it equates to driving fast on the highway, which is not the pacing item for pickups. Diesel owners are more concerned with the Titan XD’s torque for pulling trailers, hauling heavy loads and driving on unpaved ranch land.
The Titan’s specially designed and exclusive Cummins V8 turbo diesel slots between the V6 VM Motori diesel in the Ram 1500 and big Cummins six-cylinder found in Ram’s 2500 and 3500 trucks. More horsepower and torque than the 3.0L turbo in the Ram 1500 and less horsepower and torque than the Ram 2500 with the 6.7L. This is sounding a bit like Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Nissan is confident they have designed an engine and truck combination that, for many buyers, will also be “just right.”
With Cummins’ help, Nissan steps up to play with the big boys
The 2016 Nissan Titan XD is built on a fully boxed, full-length ladder frame that has been reinforced for added stiffness and rigidity. The suspension is double-wishbone front and rigid rear axle, with leaf springs and bushings along with Bilstein monotube coil-over shock absorbers. All this rigidity and stiffness could lead to an unpleasant ride, but Nissan designed-in hydraulic cab mounts to isolate passengers from ride harshness and cabin noise. Vibration has been reduced through the use of laminated front and rear side glass, and the body has been sealed so engine and road noise are isolated outside of the cabin.
I found the Titan XD to be stable, accelerate smoothly and handle freeway onramps and corners with good control and little body roll. It was helped by the 275/65/R18 all-terrain off-road tires. The Titan XD, rated at 12,314 lbs. for towing and a 2,091 payload, has trailer sway control and trailer brake control. They work along with the hydraulic power-assisted front and rear ventilated discs that have noise and shudder control designed into the system. The standard, speed-sensitive variable assisted power steering provided good road feel through the leather-wrapped steering wheel (with contrasting stitching, which came on the Convenience Package).
Driving Experience: Exterior
Available in Crew, King and Single Cabs with three bed lengths, Nissan says the new Titan’s look is as if the previous model grew up, worked out in the gym and became more physical and expressive. Designed at Nissan Design America in La Jolla, CA, Nissan says the Titan has a feeling of athletic strength and a bold presence that easily goes between tough work and a night on the town.
Distinctive headlights lead the way in the new Titan
The signature look of the Titan XD is its LED headlights wrapping the distinctive large mesh grill and fog lamps in the lower fascia. This total integration delivers a front end that results in a well finished truck. The new Titan XD is taller than the outgoing Titan but still shorter in height than competitor’s three-quarter ton pickups.
The 18-inch aluminum wheels, with a dark painted finish, were attractive and nicely filled the wheel openings that had fender-edge protection. Clean Fleet Report was driving the Pro-4X model, which is designed for off-roading. It did not have the optional aluminum running boards that run the full length from wheel well to wheel well. Running boards are functional, but tend to get beat-up when rock crawling.
A nice feature is the removable and lockable tailgate and the fold-down step to access the bed and Nissan’s Utili-track Channel System. Integrated into the bed floor, this system allows for tie-downs to be slid along a track, making securing cargo easy work. Also available or standard on the Titan XD are spray-in bed liner, dual lockable in-bed storage boxes, tie-down hooks, moveable aluminum cleats, 100-volt power outlet, cargo bed lights, LED under bed rail lights, receiver hitch, seven-pin wiring harness receptacle, front tow hooks and integrated gooseneck hitch.
Driving Experience: Interior
All the comforts of a rolling office
Multi-functional is a good way to describe the 2016 Nissan Titan XD Pro-4X interior. It can double as both an office and place of comfort and style with a good level of luxury appointments. A tasteful combination of soft and hard black surfaces on the dash and doors were accented by leather top stitching and aluminum pieces. All the expected comfort and convenience features were present with heated leather front seats. The driver gets eight-way power adjustments (including lumbar and memory) with the passenger getting four-way. Comfort continues with heated leather rear seats, power exterior mirrors with the driver side being auto-dimming, cruise control, remote keyless entry and starting, tilt/telescoping steering wheel, dual zone automatic climate control with rear vents, one touch up-and-down power windows, power door locks, heated steering wheel with audio and telephone controls, power rear window, USB and 12V power ports. Adding utility to the interior is a second row, floor-mounted, under seat storage system that also becomes a flat surface when closed. This way when you bring home that 55-inch flat screen it can be stored inside the cabin, away from the elements and nefarious strangers.
For infotainment in our Titan XD Pro-4X model was a seven-inch color touch screen display with Nissan Connect and navigation. Sounds were by an excellent 12-speaker Rockford-Fosgate system with subwoofer that powered SiriusXM, AM/FM/CD/USB with Aux Jacks and MP3/WMA playback. Also, to help keep your eyes on the road, is Bluetooth telephone connection with hands-free text messaging.
Safety and Convenience
The dash now can function as a helper in your tasks
The 2016 Nissan Titan XD Pro-4X comes with multiple airbags, front passenger knee bolsters, anti-lock braking, vehicle dynamic and traction control, blind spot warning and rear cross traffic alert. Of special note and available on many Nissan models is the Around View Monitor system, which is a series of cameras strategically located on the exterior of the truck that allow the driver to see completely around the vehicle, as if looking down from above. For driving off road it has a very cool feature, accessed by pushing the camera button on the dash, to a camera mounted at the right front tire that shows obstacles such as boulders, ruts and other nasty things that can get in your way when cruising off pavement.
Using the RearView Monitor Camera, you can align your tow ball with the trailer receptor, making a one-person connection possible. Once you have made that connection and plugged-in the seven-pin wiring harness, it is time to check the trailer lights. This is usually a two person job, but Nissan has a patented technology where with a few pushes of buttons on the key FOB, you can go through the turn signals, brake and running lights.
Observations: 2016 Nissan Titan XD Pro-4X – Powered by Cummins Diesel
The need for Nissan to bring out a completely new Titan was obvious and necessary. Merely rolling out a new pickup and saying, “come buy it” would not do for a company that considers
Nosing its way into a new niche
innovation one of its key elements. Then there was the reality that in calendar year 2015 Nissan sold about 12,000 Titans while Chevrolet, GMC, Ford, Toyota and Ram combined sold more than two million pickup trucks. Nissan is not taking a chance on the 2016 Nissan Titan XD because the truck segment is hot and showing no signs of cooling off.
Brand loyalty of truck owners, and even more so of diesel truck owners, is well known. This group probably researches their next purchase more than any other vehicle segment buyer, whether this is for vocational use or the trailer-towing weekend warrior. Since Nissan says it is not creating a new truck segment, but are letting the consumer have a choice of a truck they have not had before, they are hoping you will visit your local dealer with an open mind and check out what could become the next pickup in your driveway.
Whatever you buy, Happy Driving!
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Software Optimizes Fleet Power and Economy
In the fleet world, every penny counts, so it’s not surprising that a company that offers a cost-effective way to increase vehicle efficiency without performance penalties is thriving. Derive Systems says that’s the case with its custom software tweaks.
The company was created when its predecessor, which made a name with software designed solely to increase muscle car performance, merged with a similar company that specialized in trucks and big rigs. The combined software expertise led to a company that offered consumers performance-enhancing software and fleets software based on some of the same technologies, but designed to deliver the best possible fuel economy.
Applies To Gas and Diesel Engines
Plugging In & Dialing Down Fuel Use
As an example, Derive’s software applied to Ford’s Powerstroke diesel engine governs top speeds, reduces idle speeds and adjusts performance parameters to deliver a 10 percent fuel economy improvement.
Clean Fleet Report observed the Derive Systems software in operation and noted that the idle reductions were evident while the performance of the vehicle was not negatively affected in a short test drive.
Derive Systems currently has software designed to enhance efficiency on 21 different models from Ford, General Motors and Isuzu, covering the majority of fleet applications with a heavy emphasis on light-duty truck platforms. The 160-person tech company is working to expand its offerings and says it experienced 100 percent growth in its economy offerings last year and is seeing a similar growth rate this year.
All About Demystification
Company representative Amy Goldman said the company’s goal was “demystifying automotive technology” with its engineers designing custom calibrations for each fleet customers, often making hundreds of engine management system changes while still keeping engines within EPA and CARB specifications.
Goodman reported that fleets average 12 percent annual fuel economy savings and see a payback time of less than six months, even at today’s lower fuel prices.
The basic package includes:
- Speed limiters that can set a vehicle’s maximum speed
- Idle RPM reduction of 10-30 percent
- Throttle response reprograming that can moderate acceleration levels
- Active fuel management that can activate and deactivate cylinders on the fly
- Transmission shift point changes at lower speeds
Installation is just a plug-in
Inputs are made via a vehicle’s OBDII diagnostic port with a Derive programming tool. A side benefit of the new software programming, according to Derive, is that a fleet vehicle’s working life is often extended since it is subject to less taxing operation. Each fleet can set the parameters of software for its unique situation. Derive also employs a data logger so operational data can be gathered to continue to optimize the system while in use.
One market in which Derive Systems has been successful is law enforcement. In different situations, the software may be used to increase horsepower and throttle response or boost limit top speeds and increase fuel efficiency.
Pricing for the system is based on the fleet size with a flat fee per vehicle upgraded plus a subscription price to cover ongoing support and updates.
The Wagon Owns This Niche–Add AWD & Great Fuel Economy & Go
By Michael Coates and John Addison
Superstorm Sandy, “Snowmegeddon,” El Nino. You need a safe car or crossover SUV when that 100-year storm hits. These new all-wheel drive (AWD) wagons have the best mileage in the United States in 2016. They range from fun, yet thrifty, from gas-powered Subarus to BMW and and Audi luxury turbo diesels (although we’ve got some footnotes on the latter) to ultra-luxury Teslas. The line between hatchback sedans and wagons is sometimes a thin one, but we’ve opted here to exclude most of those identified by automakers as SUVs, although we realize that can be an arbitrary distinction these days of crossovers and car-based SUVs. Of course, you can also get a variety of AWD sedans. But even with these limitations–the space of a wagon, up to four wheels of traction and great fuel economy, the choices are great. It’s a fun time to shop.
AWD Wagons with Best MPG in USA
Tesla Model X can now be ordered with three varieties, all with All-Wheel Drive. Range for this luxury crossover, which is based on the Model S sedan,
goes from 220 miles for the 70D up to 257 for the 90D. The car’s two-motor system enables more than all-weather, all-road capabilities: it increases torque by 50%. Model X Performance can 0-60 mph in 3.2 seconds if you opt for the P90D with a Ludicrous Speed upgrade. It can haul seven people and gear as well. Pricing starts at around $70,000 and can range well north of $100,000 with all the bells and whistles available. Tesla likes to call the Model X an SUV but even with its “falcon-wing” doors, it’s still a wagon to us. Tesla Model X details.
BMW 328d xDrive Sports Wagon leads the mileage pack for all-wheel-drive wagons with its turbocharged clean diesel 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. It will deliver 43 mpg on the highway, 31 in the city and a combined 35 mpg. Along with that fuel economy comes tons of torque for pulling up mountain peaks or anywhere you want to take this compact wagon. We were very impressed when we tested one. Another model (the 328i) features a turbocharged 2.0-liter gas engine that will bring home 33 mpg on the highway, 22 in city and 26 combined mpg. BMW Sports Wagon details.
Subaru Impreza Wagon AWD delivers some of the best mileage of any all-wheel drive vehicle sold in the U.S. with 37 miles per gallon city highway, 28 city and 31 combined (with the
The little wagon that can
automatic transmission). The Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive and balanced weight results in handling designed to get you to winter resorts, off-road hike and bike spots in the summer, and get to school and work when the rain is pounding. The 5-door Impreza has a base price of about $19,000 wagon with a five-speed stick (though you lose 1 mpg). The Lineartronic automatic CVT (continuously variable transmission) adds about $1,000 more (all prices in this article are starting points for negotiation, are subject to change, and can be higher due to destination, handling, and options). Subarus can be found clustered in areas where the weather can be challenging. With all-time all-wheel-drive, they’re well suited to deal with sudden rain, snow or sleet. Subaru Impreza details
This is the Juke with the hot sauce
Nissan Juke AWD delivers good mileage in a four-door subcompact crossover. Some find the styling fun and hip, others don’t like the looks. Because of the slopping roof, the back seat will not be popular with anyone over 5’10”. The cargo is limited to 10 cubic feet, but you can lower the backseat for 36 cubic feet. The Juke AWD, starts at around $22,100 and is rated at 31 highway mpg, 26 city and 28 mpg combined. In addition to the standard models in three trim levels, the Juke offers Nismo and Nismo RS models that bump up the fun and turbocharged horsepower of this cute ute while only sacrificing an mpg or two. We test two different versions of the Juke and liked them both ways. Nissan Juke details.
Subaru Outback AWD is a popular wagon in Subaru’s all all-wheel-drive lineup. It is designed to deliver mileage without needed a hybrid system (Subaru does offer that on its more SUV-like CrossTrek) and optimizes safe handling on icy roads. This wagon has seen its fuel economy bump up in recent years, which has probably been a factor in its ongoing popularity in colder climates. The wagon configured with a 2.5L four-cylinder engine and automatic delivers 33 mpg on the highway, 28 combined and, 25 mpg in city driving. Starting at $24,995 this five-door wagon features Subaru’s Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive, vehicle dynamics control and a traction control system, all great add-ons. Subaru Outback details.
Mercedes-Benz GLA250 4Matic is Mercedes latest entry-level SUVish wagon. Based off of the marque’s new entry-level sedan, the GLA is wrapped in an contemporary aero look. The AWD
Mercedes adds a high-riding wagon
version starts at $34,500 and will give you 35 mpg on the highway and 25 in the city from its 208 horsepower turbocharged direct-injection four-cylinder gas engine. The 258 pound-feet of torque helps it to accelerate from 0-to-60 in a little more than seven seconds. Its 10 airbags and variety of safety technology add to the image of a more impregnable vehicle. Of course, since it’s a Mercedes a long line of luxury accessories and upgrades are available, including an AMG model that bumps the horsepower of the engine up to 375 and adds some styling and functional fetures while sacrificing a few mpg. Mercedes GLA250 details.
This model marks Volvo’s move into new territory (with a familiar package)
Volvo V60 AWD continues a long tradition of the Swedish manufacturer with wagons and all-wheel-drive. The V60 is a little smaller than some recent Volvo wagons, but it fits right in and features an efficient powerplant that can deliver more than 30 mpg (31 on the highway) from its 2.0-liter turbocharged and supercharged four-cylinder. Volvo offers several different AWD models with the best fuel economy coming from the T6 Drive-E R-Design, which starts at almost $47,000. In the city it is rated at 22 mpg and combined is 25. A larger five-cylinder engine is offered in the Cross Country version of the wagon, but that also drops 2-3 mpg from this model’s excellent fuel economy. The V60 does retain all of the traditional Swedish wagon values of spacious cargo space and a comfortable space for passenger. Volvo V60 details. You could also throw the XC90 T8 Plug-in Hybrid into this mix; it’s still a Volvo wagon although it rides high enough to pass itself off as an SUV. We drove one recently.
Audi Allroad Quattro conveys prestige and elegance in this luxury sedan that seats 5 and can leave the road without fear. German engineering now brings the efficiency and performance of turbocharged gas engine that is just under 30-mpg. Audi has a long history with all-wheel-drive (which it terms quattro or four) as well as with turbocharging and the Allroad gives them a chance to combine the two for a cruiser with a slightly higher ride height. The 2.0-liter TFSI turbo engine promises 28 mpg highway, 21 city and 24 mpg combined. A eight-speed Tiptronic automatic aides on the fuel economy side. The Allroad starts at $42,700 with a variety of luxury features. We also expect Audi will have some of its turbodiesel models back on the market soon after getting caught up the in Volkswagen emissions cheating scandal. Audi Allroad Quattro details.
Fiat 500X is the kind of vehicle we expect to see more of in the coming years. Small but spacious, fuel efficient but peppy and available in all-wheel drive. This diminutive crossover is powered by a turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder Multiair engine that puts out 160 horsepower and allows the vehicle to get 34 mpg on the highway and 25 in the city, but unfortunately you only get that full economy in two-wheel drive. Also, that’s with a six-speed manual transmission. Other models offer larger, less efficient engines and automatic transmissions that drop about 3 mpg. The 500X starts at an even $20,000, but all-wheel drive is an option on most models. We tested the 500X recently. More Fiat 500X info.
Better Mileage for All-Wheel-Drive
For millions who face snow and icy roads 10, 20, or even 40 percent of the year, the all-wheel drive wagons listed about help you safely navigate dangerous conditions and still deliver good fuel economy. Winter storms and expectation of rising fuel costs are making these dual demands more important.
All-wheel drive provides better traction on ice by delivering power to all four wheels when the driver selects or more often whenever the car senses a lack of traction. All-wheel-drive vehicles (AWD) automatically deliver power to all wheels. Winter and mountain safety is further improved with snow tires or good all-weather radials. Added vehicle weight can help. Now you can have AWD that still deliver good fuel economy. Whether you are taking your kids to school in Chicago, getting to work in Washington D.C., or running a taxi fleet in New York, an AWD may help you through the storm.
Yes, the best mileage on this list delivered by an all-electric wagon, but it also carries a hefty price tag. You do not need to spend the extra dollars to get good mileage. Improved designs and more efficient gasoline and diesel engines give you a number of great wagons to evaluate with rough winter driving.
This list was developed by first searching the U.S. EPA and DOE’s valuable fueleconomy.gov, then reviewing details on the vehicle maker websites. The EPA combined miles per gallon rating is based on 45 percent highway and 55 percent city driving, which of course does not reflect the real-world driving of most drivers. According to the Department of Transportation, the average driver does just the opposite–55 percent highway and 45 percent city, which is why we emphasize the highway numbers.
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All Wheel Drive Cars with the Best Mileage
Another Tool for Fleets
Make sure your money goes in the tank
If you are someone who manages a commercial fleet of vehicles, whether that is trucks, tankers, ambulances or taxis, managing the amount of fuel you use is incredibly important, especially with the volatile nature of the price of oil and the limited resources. However, managing, checking and storing fuel for an entire fleet of vehicles can be quite difficult to maintain over a long period of time.
Fuel management systems like those from FuelTek are not only an effective way of monitoring your fuel, but the benefits of adopting one will also mean that you can help the environment at the same time.
One problem faced by fleet managers is that of fuel leaks. Leak prevention is essential as the detection is not always easy, particularly during long-haul journeys where fuel consumption is greater. Leaking fuel is incredibly harmful to the environment and local wildlife, as we’ve seen in the news with the infamous BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
By controlling your fuel, you can detect whether a leak has occurred or if a leak is likely to occur, and can act accordingly. If you store fuel on site, you can also detect if anyone has attempted to break in and steal your fuel or check to see if water has entered the fuel storage unit; something you need to prevent at all costs.
Manage Fuel Consumption
You need to keep track of fuel in the yard and on the road
Another important thing to consider is managing fuel consumption. When delivering goods, drivers often face the prospect of reaching their destination late. This can lead to speeding, which, aside from the fact that this is dangerous and illegal, can also lead to an increase in fuel consumption, meaning that not only is the company losing money, but there is also a negative impact on the environment because of increased greenhouse gas production.
By monitoring fuel consumption, you can identify vehicles with issues and schedule repairs. Equally, you can also identify inefficient routes taken by your drivers and plan more effectively; monitoring in this way also means you can spot poor driving habits, enabling you to train and educate your drivers accordingly.
Diesel Exhaust Fluids
Fuel management systems are becoming increasingly popular in diesel fleets. A new fluid found in modern diesels, diesel exhaust fluid, adds another critical item to be monitored by conscientious fleets.
Diesel exhaust fluid converts the nitrogen oxides emitted from the engine to harmless steam and nitrogen, further reducing the emission that are the precursors of smog.
A more environmentally friendly fleet not only serves to present a company in a more positive light to the public, customers, shareholders and the board, but also has the added bonus of actually limiting an organisation’s negative impact on the environment; everybody wins!
Plans for Buy-backs and Penalties Announced
A tarnished image
So, those of us in the U.S. who love diesels can finally exhale. And those of who think EVs are the cars of the future (in this case the same person), some applause is in order. The U.S. Department of Justice, the state of California and the Federal Trade Commission announced that they have a deal to resolve the 475,000 2.0L TDI-equipped vehicles sold in the U.S. with software that allowed them to meet emissions regulations during testing, but exceed those standards in normal operation.
The deal, which affects 2009-15 Volkswagen TDI diesel models of Jettas, Passats, Golfs and Beetles as well as the TDI Audi A3, means VW will buy-back or repair those models and pay into two separate funds—one to subsidize the purchase of clean diesel, alternative fuel or electric heavy-duty trucks, and a second one to fund electric vehicle marketing and infrastructure. The total tab to VW could end up around $15 billion.
TDI Owners Get Options
TDI owners will be able to have their cars repurchased by VW at their September 2015 retail value or may opt to get them repaired by VW (with a fix that
The fix is not in–yet–but dollars are coming
has not yet been announced or approved) so they are up to current emissions standards and also get a cash settlement because of VW’s malfeasance.
Volkswagen will set aside $10.03 billion for buy-backs, lease terminations or compensation along with repairs. Because the cheating software meant the TDIs were violating the Clean Air Act, VW will put $2.7 billion into a fund that truckers and trucking companies can tap into to upgrade their trucks to current emissions standard models. An additional $2 billion goes into funds to be used for electric vehicle infrastructure and marketing programs to build awareness and sales of zero emission vehicles.
As we said when we first wrote about this scandal, we don’t consider this an indictment of modern diesel technology, but it certainly has had an impact. VW’s diesel sales in the U.S. stopped and VW brand sales have suffered overall during the past nine months. Interestingly, Audi seems not to have been touched by all this in spite of being a heavily invested in TDI technology.
The Next Steps Are Unknown
VW in America has meant TDI–will it mean it again?
The next step is the long road back. VW has been touting its gasoline technology in the interim and also has what we consider the best EV for the money on the market in the e-Golf. It remains to be seen what is possible to get the older TDIs up to current emissions standards—the question for consumers is what the changes will mean to fuel economy and performance, the twin selling points for diesels. And, although VW says it has a fix for its 3.0L V-6 TDI engines, that fix has not been approved by either the federal EPA or CARB.
We think that whatever Volkswagen does with its future TDIs (and they’ve said they remain committed to diesel technology), diesel engines are going to remain a potent tool for automakers to use to reach ever-increasing fuel economy standards during the next decade. BMW, Land Rover and Mercedes are proving that every day. While diesels clearly aren’t up to the California zero emission mandate, it would be interesting to see how some of the plug-in diesel models currently available in Europe would do over here.
We’re ready for another chapter to begin—and promise to continue to cover it for Clean Fleet Report readers.
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Clean Fleet Report staff have worked for in the past and retain close relations with Volkswagen and other companies and organizations in the diesel industry. The views expressed here are the personal ones of the author related to this issue.