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Clean Fleet Report Electric, Hybrid, Clean Diesel & High-MPG Vehicles 2014-09-15T04:09:19Z http://www.cleanfleetreport.com/feed/atom/ WordPress John Faulkner <![CDATA[Road Test: 2014 Mitsubishi Mirage ES Hatchback]]> http://www.cleanfleetreport.com/?p=4014 2014-09-12T22:36:33Z 2014-09-11T06:05:30Z Low Cost To Buy And Operate/High MPG On paper the 2014 Mitsubishi Mirage ES Hatchback seems like a good option in the very competitive subcompact and small car segments. And for some, it may be the right car as it gets outstanding fuel economy, is easy to park and above all the list price is […]

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Low Cost To Buy And Operate/High MPG

On paper the 2014 Mitsubishi Mirage ES Hatchback seems like a good option in the very competitive subcompact and small car segments. And for some, it may be the right car as it gets outstanding fuel economy, is easy to park and above all the list price is low. But the questions of how good of a car the Mirage is and what other choices there are might make looking primarily at price a too restrictive way to go car shopping.

Drivetrain

The front-wheel drive Mirage ES Hatchback is powered by a 1.2 Liter, DOHC, 12-valve, inline three-cylinder engine, producing 74 hp through the Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT), delivering an EPA rating of 37 city/44

2014,Mitsubishi,Mirage,fuel economy,40 mpg

Distinctive color; less distinctive car

highway/40 combined mpg. A five-speed manual transmission is standard but drops the fuel economy to 34/42/37.

The gasoline-powered three-cylinder engine sounds like a diesel, but not the quiet 2014 versions found in the Chevrolet Cruze or Volkswagen Jetta. The little Mirage engine was loud, ran and idled rough, and had very poor low-end pulling power with only 74 lb-ft of torque. Add-in any passenger or cargo weight and it is asking too much for the engine to do much more than groan to get up to speed.

In 277 miles of 90-percent/10-percent highway/city driving, the CVT-equipped Clean Fleet Report Mirage ES averaged 43.2 mpg. At our average, the 9.2-gallon fuel tank would get you 397 miles down the road.

Driving Experience: On The Road

The 5-door 2014 Mirage Hatchback with the CVT weighs in at 2,029 lbs. (with the 5-speed manual it’s 1,973 lbs), which are noteworthy numbers since it means the little car weighs around a ton. Mitsubishi’s CVT technology is not equal to the industry leaders from Nissan and Honda, and probably should not be paired with the normally aspirated 3-cylinder engine. Yes, the CVT gets better fuel economy than the 5-speed manual, but the trade-off is slow acceleration and noises I have never heard coming from a CVT-equipped car.

2014,Mitsubishi,Mirage,fuel economy,mpg,powerless

A view you’ll see as you pass by the Mirage

Corner handling around town, at posted speeds and not pushing any limits, was excellent. It shined when negotiating parking lots, parallel parking and other tight maneuver areas. The electrically power-assisted steering made turning the Mirage easy in-town but on the open road the steering feel was missing and numb. If you were even trying to get a little bit sporty, such as something as common as going 10 miles per hour over the posted speed limit on a freeway cloverleaf onramp, the Mirage was a handful. The front struts and rear Torsion beam suspension did not prevent the front drive Mirage from pushing and diving, resulting in significant body roll. Maybe it was the skinny, 14-inch low-resistance tires, but it became apparent that adhering to the speed limit was a good idea.

On the freeway, where you would think Mitsubishi must have designed the Mirage to spend most of its time with the class-leading 44 mpg, it was even more of an adventure. The little three-banger suffered from being buzzy and groaning to get up to speed. Then, when reaching 70 mph, there was a constant droning accompanied by hearing and feeling every bump and crack on the road. Driving the Mirage is akin to driving a go-cart – momentum is the key. Passing cars on the freeway takes forethought and some quick distance-to-speed calculations. The speedometer pegs-out at 105 mph, but when I got it to 80, I knew I had pushed it far enough for my comfort.

The Mirage did cruise along at a steady 65 mph, but you really would not want to do it for long, as the driver and front passenger seats only provide a marginally comfortable seating position. Exiting the car after one hour on the freeway, I felt beat-up as lower back and thigh support is minimal, which are the two biggest factors in driver fatigue. The rear bench seat did fit three adults (though two would be far more realistic) with good head and legroom but offered even less support than the front buckets. Add-in the Mirage’s noisy freeway running and a daily commute would not be a highlight of anyone’s life.

Driving Experience: Exterior

For the most part the 2014 Mitsubishi Mirage is an invisible car. Sure you can see it, but remembering what you saw is like looking at a car in a fog; it doesn’t really have a lasting imprint on your memory. There is nothing

2014,Mitsubishi,Mirage,cargo capacity

Small, but capable of holding its own

distinguishable about the car’s design with the only exception that Mitsubishi for 2014 has allowed the car to be painted in bubblegum shades of Kiwi Green and Plasma Purple along with the standard blue, white black, gray and silver.

Driving Experience: Interior

The dash and center stack, with a piano black panel and silver trim accents, was very easy to use and figure-out. It has an old-school look and feel with a combination of knobs, switches and buttons. A dash screen with navigation and a rearview camera is an option.

2014,Mitsubishi,Mirage,interior

The upscale version of a low-cost car

The Mirage ES Clean Fleet Report was testing is a $1,200 upgrade from the base model DE and had a leather-wrapped, tilt steering wheel with audio (volume and modes), hands-free phone and cruise control buttons. It also had keyless access with an optional engine start/stop button that for some reason the Mitsubishi designers placed on the left side of the steering wheel. Maybe they thought the Mirage was the next Porsche?

The four-speaker, AM/FM/CD player with an aux-in jack included SiriusXM, iPod connectivity and hands-free phone via Bluetooth wireless technology. The voice recognition was good, but it was necessary to speak clearly, directly and loudly at the ceiling-integrated microphone when on the freeway, where road noise is noticeable.

I’ve already mentioned the lack of seat comfort, cabin noise from the engine, weak CVT and road noise, but another factor that would lead to a good driving experience is something as simple as armrests. The

2014,Mitsubishi, Mirage, interior

Missing some key features

armrests in the doors are made of a hard plastic that was uncomfortable, and there isn’t one at all in the center console. Well, to be fair, there isn’t a center console. Therefore, the driver’s right and front passenger’s left arms are left hanging.

The 60/40 split fold-down rear seat, which folds almost flat, provides good storage space and there is a cargo cover.

The Mirage ES is nicely equipped with power windows, door locks and mirrors, rear window wiper/washer, A/C with automatic climate control, floor mats, 12V power outlet and three cup holders.

Safety and Convenience

The 2014 Mitsubishi Mirage ES safety and convenience features include side turn indicators, TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitoring System), anti-theft engine immobilizer, fog lamps and halogen headlights, seven airbags, stability and traction control, ABS with electronic brake distribution and brake assist.

Pricing and Warranties

Base pricing for the 2014 Mitsubishi Mirage:

DE Manual            $12,995

DE CVT                 $13,995

ES Manual             $14,195

ES CVT                  $15.195

The only option is the Navigation Package for $900.

These prices do not include the $795 Destination Charge.

The Mirage ES CVT model we were driving, without the Navigation Package, had a MSRP, including the Destination Charge, of $15,990.

The 2014 Mitsubishi Mirage comes with these warranties:

  • 5-year/60,000-mile  Basic
  • 10-year/100,000-mile  Powertrain
  • 7-year/100,000-mile  Anti-Corrosion

Observations: 2014 Mitsubishi Mirage ES

The 2014 Mitsubishi Mirage (in its first year in the Mitsubishi line-up) is carried-over in features and design for the 2015 model year. In both years you will find a basic transportation, high fuel economy car that is about as inexpensive to get into as anything on the market. It also carries an attractive warranty, meaning that the overall cost of ownership (purchase + insurance + fuel + maintenance) will be low and easily budgeted for many years.

2014,Mitsubishi,Mirage,logo

Hard to ignore; harder to drive daily

Mitsubishi is upfront, saying that the Mirage is not about performance – and is that ever a true statement. The engine is underpowered and the CVT for all its fuel-sipping attributes, is not a good match with the low horsepower engine. The small tires and lack-of-feel electrically assisted steering make it easy to park and scoot around town but on the open road, there is not so much fun or confidence.

2014,Mitsubishi,Mirage,mpg,fuel economy

Straightforward-small, economical, not much else

Within the small car or sub-compact category there are several vehicles to choose from that may cost a bit more and get a few less miles per gallon, but are worth consideration. This would include the Mazda2, Chevrolet Spark, Hyundai Accent, Kia Rio, Toyota Yaris, Ford Fiesta and Nissan Versa.

Clean Fleet Report hopes that Mitsubishi does some retooling on the Mirage to take it up a notch to improve the build quality, horsepower, torque, suspension and handling. Will doing so still make it the least expensive small car to own and operate? Maybe not, but it would probably be worth it in sales and reputation.

Right now the Mirage is Mitsubishi’s #2 selling car, behind their Outlander Sport, which is a 5-seat SUV. For Mitsubishi to gain shopping and buying consideration from consumers, and to move toward the class that includes Chevrolet, Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Mazda and Toyota, the Mirage will need to be a shining light in the competitive field of small cars. We hope they start moving that direction.

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

Related stories you might enjoy:

Road Test: 2014 Nissan Versa Note

First Drive: 2015 Volkswagen Golf

Road Test: 2014 Toyota Prius c

 

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Michael Coates http://www.cleanfleetreport.com <![CDATA[First Drive: 2015 Volkswagen Golf]]> http://www.cleanfleetreport.com/?p=4001 2014-09-10T06:36:55Z 2014-09-08T08:34:49Z The new 2015 Volkswagen Golf. VW is launching the seventh generation of its worldwide best-seller this year and it’s stepping up its game. The Golf has completely redone both gas and diesel engines as well as added a brand-new electric motor in the soon-to-be-on-the-market (finally) e-Golf.

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Now Available Three Spiced-Up Versions–Gas, Diesel or Electric

If variety is the spice of life, anyone with a sensitivity for Sriracha sauce has better step away from the new 2015 Volkswagen Golf. VW is launching the seventh generation of its worldwide best-seller this year and it’s stepping up its game. The Golf has completely redone both gas and diesel engines as well as added a brand-new electric motor in the soon-to-be-on-the-market (finally) e-Golf.

The styling of the Mk 7 Golf is evolutionary, but those who follow the Euro hatchback will notice the changes–it’s bigger, lighter and more fuel-efficient. Golf aficionados might pick up on the two plus longer, ½-inch wider and one-inch

2015 Volkswagen,VW,e-Golf,electric car

Old and new blend in the e-Golf

lower stance, but the rest of us will just appreciate the lower coefficient of drag’s positive impact on its fuel economy.

The variety does mean the Golf buyer will need to make a choice and it is beyond just the different powertrains. However, let’s start with that foundational element, which will define the basic character of your Golf.

New And Different/e-Golf

The e-Golf represents a new foray for Volkswagen–a production pure battery electric car. The company has shown a variety of concepts, including the smaller e-Up!, and the ultra-efficient science project, the XL1. VW decided the Up! is too small for the U.S. market and the XL1 is a very limited production plug-in diesel-electric hybrid.

The e-Golf represents what VW considers the sweet spot of the EV market–a compact yet highly functional five-door hatchback that they’re already producing in large volume (so the basic tooling costs are covered). Clean Fleet Report has driven two previous iterations of the e-Golf, both of which appeared to be ready to enter production. This latest (still pre-production) version continued VW’s tradition of building electric cars that not only deliver zero emissions but some of the expected driving fun that defines the Golf. With real five-passenger seating and functional storage space behind the hatch, Golf ups the ante in the growing EV market.

The e-golf is set to arrive late in 2014 and will deliver 70-90 miles of real-world range (100+ in Eco+ mode) from its 24.2 kWh lithium-ion battery and electric motor with 115 hp/199 pound-feet of torque (which compares favorably with the gas and diesel models). VW claims the e-golf will deliver more interior volume and torque than either the Ford Focus Electric or Nissan Leaf. Its retail price of $36,265 (including destination charge) will place it between the segment sales leading Leaf and the just-introduced German rival BMW i3.

The Driver Gets to Choose

One unique feature of the e-Golf is driver-selected driving profiles and regenerative braking, with three settings for each. The driving profiles range from Normal through Eco to Eco+ with the Eco modes moderating the electric motor output, top speed, A/C output and throttle response to maximize efficiency. The three regen modes range from normal to “B,” which puts on the brake lights when engaged as it actively slows down the car whenever the throttle is lifted. Aggressive doesn’t do justice to describe the intensity of the top regen level, but it could get old if engaged during normal city driving.

2015 VW, volkswagen,Golf GTI

Looking the part-compact performance hatchback

The e-Golf will distinguish itself from its sister ICE Golfs by using LED headlights and low rolling-resistance tires on unique 16-inch aluminum alloy wheels. It also employs a lower coefficient of drag (.028 due to tricks such as reducing the volume of cooling air via a radiator shutter by using a partially enclosed radiator grille; new underbody paneling; a rear spoiler and C-pillar air vanes to better manage airflow at the tail of the car; and cleaning up the airflow around the wheels, largely by ensuring they are flush with the wheel arches).

Like many of its competitors, the e-Golf will only be available in select states (those offering California emissions credits). It will come in an up-level SEL trim, which include a good selection of features such as a touch-screen navigation system, VW’s Car-Net connected services, heated front seats, Bluetooth and a rearview camera.

Diesel Updated

Diesel engines have been a part of the VW repertoire for decades. At one point they had the dubious distinction of being known as the “diesel Rabbit” car company. That was then; this is now. The diesel engines are quieter and cleaner (the 2015 turbocharged 2.0-liter engine has 40 percent lower emissions than its predecessor, which still met California’s strict emissions standards). What remains constant is the combination of power from its low-end torque, fuel economy from its overall efficiency and the durability that comes from a compression ignition engine designed to endure constant explosions within.

For the first time, VW has redesigned its diesel engine to worldwide standards so one engine (in various states of tuning and emissions) will serve markets everywhere. The all-new TDI (for turbo diesel injection) gains in horsepower and fuel economy on its predecessor, albeit in barely noticeable numbers (+10 hp/_1 mpg). The gains flow to VW from the economies of scale derived from a world engine.

Driving the TDI provided no revelations. We tested last year’s engine in the Jetta and came away impressed. What’s not to be impressed when you’ve got all the power you need off-the-line and for passing on the freeway, when it’s accompanied by better-than-EPA fuel economy. For those of us who spend a good portion of our time traversing the Interstate, a TDI is a godsend. The new version just ups the ante.

The Old Standby–Gasoline (With a Boost)

The trick is no sleight-of-hand; in its seventh generation (dating from the Gen I Rabbit in 1974) the Golf boasts that it’s bigger yet lighter and more fuel-efficient. Of course the electric version highlighted earlier is truly groundbreaking.

2015 Volkswagen, VW, Golf TSI, Golf TDI,e-Golf

For 2015 Golf offers fun in three varieties

The diesel is better, but builds incrementally on its past. The gasoline version is somewhere in between, but still not joining the 40 MPG Club.

The gasoline-powered Golf comes in two versions–the basic Golf TSI and the performance-oriented GTI. Life the diesel, its engine received a complete revision. The new turbocharged direct-injected 1.8-liter four-cylinder delivers 6 mpg (20 percent) more on the highway than last year’s 2.5-liter version. Manual transmissions as well as automatics are available, something that is becoming more and more rare.

The more powerful (and very popular) GTI model bumps up the power to 210 hp while losing only a few (3-4 mpg) miles per gallon.

Golf Pricing & Fuel Economy

VW has juggled Golf prices this year, dropping them and setting up a clean stair-step for the different models. Here (including an $820 destination charge) are the entry prices for the different models. With optional trim levels and equipment they can easily move up $8-10,000, a common characteristic for German models.

Golf TSI  $18,815 – 2-door, manual transmission

25 mpg city/37 mpg hwy/30 mpg combined

Golf TDI  $22,815 – 4-door, manual transmission

30 mpg city/45 mpg hwy/36 mpg combined

Golf GTI  $25,215 – 2-door manual transmission

25 mpg city/34 mpg hwy/28 mpg combined

e-Golf   $36,265 – EPA fuel economy not yet set

More Models Coming

In addition to the TSI, TDI and e-Folks, VW will later be bringing a wagon (formerly the Jetta Sportwagen, which will now be known as the Golf Sportwagen in TSI and TDI versions), a hot with 290 horsepower and all-wheel drive known as the Golf R and finally a hybrid, no doubt piggybacking on the Jetta hybrid technology already on the market.

The choices mean you, the consumer, have to figure out how you intend to drive your Golf. Short bursts around town suite the e-Golf, longer commutes point you toward the TSI or TDI. The TSI has a significantly lower purchase price and

2015 VW,Volkswagen,Golf,Golf GTI

Red means go

good fuel economy. The TDI costs more at the outset, but will save you money every mile even if the per gallon cost of diesel Is a few cents higher than gas. Both are run to drive.

If fuel economy is not your main focus, the GTI extracts a maximum amount of fun out of the Golf platform–and doesn’t suffer too much at the pump.

If you need more room, wait for the wagon. If you want the true maximum performance, wait for the the R. The hybrid, may trail the others into the market, should offer TDI-like fuel economy, but at a similar or potentially even higher MSRP.

2015 Volkswagen,VW,e-Golf,Golf TDI,Golf TSI,Golf GTI

Chose your pleasure-no poison pill here

All the Golf variants deliver similar, sporty performance. Road handling in our test drives showed it to be superior to competitive models in this class and price range. Body lean is minimal and the available manual transmission gives the driver the ability to enhance control of the vehicle. Inaide, VW appears to have upped its game, getting back to higher quality materials that look and feel like they come from a more expensive car. Then there’s that German engineering thing. As an example, an engineer shared with Clean Fleet Report that all VW engines are reported in with specifications on the conservative side rather than at the maximum allowable from testing. It may seem like a minor thing, but we see that as a philosophy the means the company will under-promise and over-deliver with its vehicle’s performance. That’s a trait we’ve experienced in our previous testing and one we welcome.

For 2015 Volkswagen has clearly positioned the Golf to be more competitive across the board by lowering prices, boosting performance (both horsepower and fuel economy) and adding content. It’s part of a strategy to push the VW brand into America’s mainstream. Our estimation after some short but vigorous test drives of the new Golf leads us to quote their new marketing mantra–they do define the compact hatchback segment. It’s up to the competition to come up with something to compete, but until then the Golf is our first choice.

Related stories you might enjoy:

First Drive: VW Tiguan Euro-spec TDI

Road Test: 2014 VW Touareg TDI R-Line

Comparison Road Test: 2013 Jetta TDI vs. Jetta Hybrid

 

 

 

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John Faulkner <![CDATA[Road Test: 2014 Nissan Versa Note SV]]> http://www.cleanfleetreport.com/?p=3984 2014-09-03T20:49:06Z 2014-09-03T07:01:45Z Nissan’s Commuter King The average selling price for a new car in 2014 is around $30,300, yet the 2014 Nissan Versa Note has a base price of $13,990. Still with me or have you tuned-out because at that price you are asking, how good can this car be? Being one of the lowest priced new […]

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Nissan’s Commuter King

The average selling price for a new car in 2014 is around $30,300, yet the 2014 Nissan Versa Note has a base price of $13,990. Still with me or have you tuned-out because at that price you are asking, how good can this car be?

Being one of the lowest priced new cars on the market could indicate there isn’t much there, but Nissan has done a good job making sure even the base model is safe, handles and stops well, and is among the leaders among subcompact hatchbacks with 40 mpg out on the highway. We’re not sure what “class” that is (maybe subcompact hatchbacks), but the Nissan Versa Note is a commuter king that won’t cost much going in and to drive. It’s a worthy member of our 40 MPG Club.

Drivetrain

The front-wheel drive 2014 Nissan Versa Note SV is powered by a 1.6-liter, DOHC, 16-valve, four-cylinder engine producing 109 hp through the Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT), delivering an EPA rating of 31

2014,Nissan,Versa,Note,mpg,fuel economy,gas miser

A small car with some style

city/40 highway/35 combined mpg. A five-speed manual is available that drops the fuel economy to 27/36/30.

In 580 miles of 85-percent highway/15-percent city driving, the CVT equipped Clean Fleet Report test Versa Note averaged 37.8 mpg. At our average, the 10.8 gallon fuel tank would get you 400 miles down the road before sputtering to a stop.

Driving Experience: On the Road

The subcompact 5-door Versa Note SV weighs in at well over a ton at 2,482 lbs. with a 60/40 front-to-rear weight distribution. The handling was as expected around town negotiating parking lots, city streets and other tight maneuver areas; all were managed with ease. On the freeway (where a Versa Note will most likely spend most of its driving life, taking advantage of the class-leading 40 mpg) the ride at 65 – 70 mph was rough and at times unpredictable when the 15-inch low-rolling-resistance tires hit a groove or seam in the pavement. Maybe the optional 16-inch Continental all-season tires would improve the freeway ride.

Along with the standard 15-inch alloy wheels, the Versa Note has electric power steering with front struts and a Torsion bar/stabilizer bar in the rear. Brakes are vented discs in the front and drums in the rear. To aid in safe braking, Nissan’s Electronic Brake force Distribution (EBD) system adjusts brake proportioning to compensate for added weight from passengers or cargo and even adjusts as fuel is consumed.

If you read my other reviews you will see I find driving a CVT-equipped car to be a good experience as they are smooth and help deliver higher fuel economy. However, the CVT and the 1.6 liter four-cylinder in the Versa Note made for a loud combination with the CVT not as smooth as others I have driven. When accelerating hard to enter a freeway or climbing a hill, the engine was straining to get to the desired speed. Once there though, it cruised and kept up with traffic easily.

Driving Experience: Exterior

2014,Nissan,Versa Note,mpg,fuel economy, gas miser

A dash of style-less the dash

The Nissan Versa Note was redesigned for 2014 and, in its second generation, it is a significant improvement over the previous car. The 2014 Versa Note has a design flow with a steeply sloped windshield, distinctively sculpted doors and a roofline that has a slight kick at the end acting as a small spoiler. The rear taillights are similar to those found on the 370Z and Juke with what Nissan calls its “boomerang” design that helps guide air away from the body for reduced turbulence, helping to increase fuel economy. Up front Nissan has its first-ever active grill shutter that automatically closes the grill at speeds above 20 miles per hour, reducing air entering the engine compartment, which in-turn reduces drag. Yet another design feature aimed at improving fuel economy.

Overall, the redesigned Versa Note works well, featuring a few details that set it apart in the highly competitive entry-level car segment.

Driving Experience: Interior

Nissan has designed the Versa Note with a best-in-class interior space that is roomy and really does seat five passengers comfortably. Calling it their “Your Door to More” interior, this spacious interior includes a 60/40 split fold-down rear seat, which, when folded flat, provides excellent storage space. Other niceties include multiple cup holders, optional upgraded cloth seats with top stitching and a nifty optional rear cargo feature that

2014,Nissan,Versa Note,cargo,

A cargo space ready to go to work

increases storage space, which Nissan calls Divide-N-Hide.

2014,Nissan,Versa Note,interior

Old school functionality

The front seats in our Versa Note SV came with a 6-way adjustable driver seat and a 4-way adjustable passenger seat. All adjustments are manual and, with a bit of experimenting, we were able to find a comfortable seating position. Sight lines are excellent with large windows and no blind spots.

The dash and center stack have an old-school look and feel with a combination of knobs, switches and buttons combined with a 4.3-inch color screen; in the SV trim, it comes with a rearview camera. With just the right amount of chrome and silver accents, this uncomplicated cockpit goes a long way toward providing a quick familiarization with the controls, which in-turn can lead to a safer driving experience. Everything is within easy reach, easy to understand, so all-in-all, a workable arrangement.

There are three Versa Note models (S, S Plus and SV); Clean Fleet Report had the SV for a week. Standard equipment on the SV included power windows, door locks and outside mirrors, cruise control, remote keyless entry and A/C.

The four-speaker AM/FM/CD player with an Aux-in jack came with SiriusXM, iPod connectivity and hands-free phone via Bluetooth wireless technology (Bluetooth comes only at the SV trim level and above). The voice recognition was as good as any I have tested, but it was necessary to speak clearly and directly at the ceiling-integrated microphone when on the freeway, where road noise in the Versa Note SV is noticeable.

The tilt steering wheel has all the usual audio (volume and modes) and hands-free phone buttons. The cruise control is operated on the right side stalk.

Safety and Convenience

The 2014 Versa Note SV safety and convenience features include remote keyless entry, power door locks and windows, TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitoring System), multi-reflector halogen headlights, eight airbags, cruise control, illuminated entry, 12-volt power outlet, Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC), traction control and ABS with brake assist.

Pricing and Warranties

Base pricing for the three 2014 Nissan Versa Note models:

S                 $13,990

S Plus          $15,240

SV               $15,990

The SV model we were driving had the Convenience Package, carpeted floor mats and cargo mat and rear cargo cover bringing the price to $17,605.

All prices are MSRP and do not include the $810 destination charge.

The 2014 Versa Note SV comes with these warranties:

  • 3-year/36,000-mile Basic
  • 5-year/60,000-mile Drivetrain
  • 5-year/unlimited-mileage Corrosion

Observations: 2014 Nissan Versa Note SV

The Versa Note SV is a comfortable commuter with actual room for four full-size adults (five if some are less than full-size) with excellent fuel economy. The styling stands-out among other entry-level hatchbacks and, if

2014,Nissan,Versa Note,cargo capacity

It will take you–and your bike–there

fully optioned, will deliver all the technological convenience found on far more expensive cars. Handling in town is just what you need for zipping around streets and alleys and in-and-out of parking spaces.

If you are looking for a second car primarily to be a commuter vehicle, then the Versa Note will be among the cheapest per mile to own and operate while also providing a good driving environment. It is a bit louder in the cabin at freeway speeds than is desired, but crank-up the SiriusXM and enjoy that 40 mpg fuel economy all the way down the road. The Versa Note SV is worth checking out next time you are cruising dealerships.

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

Other related stories you might enjoy:

Welcome to the new MPG clubs

Road Test: Toyota Prius c hybrid

Best electric cars and plug-in hybrids of 2014

 

 

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Michael Coates http://www.cleanfleetreport.com <![CDATA[Two Wheels Get Electric Too]]> http://www.cleanfleetreport.com/?p=3958 2014-08-30T22:47:45Z 2014-08-24T07:35:10Z Italian Electric Takes Superbike High Road; Harley Quiets Down & Looks For New Riders It is official. The age of the electric vehicle is here. And it’s now available with two wheels. You need look no further than Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where Harley-Davidson unveiled the LiveWire, its first electric motorcycle. For further validation of the trend, […]

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Italian Electric Takes Superbike High Road; Harley Quiets Down & Looks For New Riders

It is official. The age of the electric vehicle is here. And it’s now available with two wheels. You need look no further than Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where Harley-Davidson unveiled the LiveWire, its first electric motorcycle.

Harley-Davidson,harley,LiveWire,electric motorcycle,electric bike

Harley drives for new riders

For further validation of the trend, step over to the docks in San Francisco, where an Italian high-tech firm is showing off its latest creation, a 240 km/hr (150 mph) superbike appropriately name Ego that’s also electric.

These are just two high-profile examples, which have yet to arrive on the market (Harley-Davidson is just testing its electric concept on the public while the Energica Motor Company is taking orders for the Ego for delivery in 2015). Three current companies are actively marketing electric bikes – Brammo of Oregon and Zero Motorcycles and Mission Motorcycles of California. Their bikes have attracted a small but devoted following, albeit at a lower end of the market than either of these two newcomers.

The two newbies are taking decidedly different approaches, both building on what they see as their core competencies and both targeting a very specific segment of the market.

Energica Fields a True Italian Superbike

The Energica folks enter the arena with a clear goal – they want to deliver the “Tesla of motorcycles” based on some of the technology they have developed for aerospace and motorsports. Headquartered in Modena, Italy

Energica,Energica Ego,CRP,electric motorcycle,electric bike

Italian style and speed-now in electric mode

(home to more than a few supercars), Energica and its parent organization, the CRP Group have built a business supplying parts to Formula 1 racers among others. The company’s expertise in 3D printing was used to build the prototypes of the Ego and will be employed to create some of the limited edition versions that will be the first produced. It will feature printed Windform materials with F1 Zircotec ceramic and metallic coatings. Rounded out the bike is a carbon fiber fairing, 100 KW oil-cooled permanent magnet AC motor, Öhlins front

Energica Ego,Italian motorcycle,electric motorcycle,electric bike

Super brakes are needed to stop a superbike

fork and rear mono shock absorber, Brembo brakes with driver-adjustable regeneration and Bosch ABS as well as forged aluminum wheels.

The Ego45 Limited Edition (for 45 units total production) is stunning and features what the company calls a “strong whistle” noise to ensure that should you hit triple digits you have a sound sensation to go along with the wind whistling past your helmet. Positioned as a superbike, the Ego has a price tag that’s appropriate. It starts at $34,000 and can double with custom features in the limited edition models.

Sales Expected To Grow

Livia Cevolini, CRP COO and granddaughter of the company’s founder, told Clean Fleet Report that the company expected to start deliveries next year and hoped to hit sales of 500 per year worldwide, then more than doubling as a second model is added. She said she also expects major volume manufacturers like Honda to enter the electric motorcycle market as it

Livia Cevolini,Energica,CRP,electric motorcycle,electric bike

Carrying on a family tradition

grows.

The bike has a host of technology beyond its electric powertrain, including an integrated Bluetooth capability that Cevolini says will allow the rider to “talk to your bike” and download the path, torque and driving experience and share it on social networks. The bikes carries an 11.7 kWh lithium-ion battery that is capable of a 3 1/2-hour recharge on a Level II machine or a half-hour pump-up with a DC fast-charger.

Harley Takes a New Road

Harley-Davidson took a more deliberate approach to its electric bike. The 111-year-old company is famous for its crudely traditional, loud and large motorcycles. It unabashedly embraces the “old white guys” that make up its core customers. As the company struggles with declining market share and an aging customer base, it has turned to a project known as Rushmore to find new products and get them to market quickly. The initiative produced the LiveWire, which tries to take the Harley DNA and infuse it into an electric motorcycle.

LiveWire is a bit more sedate than the Energica bike. Its top speed is less than 100 mph and it’s a bit slower than the Ego 0-60 (the Italian bike claims under three seconds), but it does have an undeniable Harley-Davidson

Harley-Davidson,LiveWire,electric motorcycle,electric bike

Harley makes an electric move

presence. With red highlights on a sinister black overall frame, the electric motorcycle looks like it should growth, even if all you hear is a whine at speed.

Harley is taking the LiveWire around to dealers and customers to get first-hand input before committing to production. The bike’s marketing boss, Mark-Hans Richer told TIME Magazine: “If it’s green, it’s badass green. It has character.” Pricing for the LiveWire when it gets to market is expected to be quite a bit less than the Energica bikes, though still a premium of 10 to 20 percent compared to Harley’s regular bikes, probably well above $20,000.

With a range of about 100 miles, it’s unlikely LiveWire will fit the open-road ambitions of some Harley riders. But the company hopes to attract a whole new group of younger, more urban-oriented buyers once the bike hits the market.

Two Goes the Way of Four

It looks like the motorcycle world is following the car market toward electrification. There have been e-bikes for some time, but most of them are fully utilitarian and nowhere near the level of sophistication (and cost) that these electric motorcycles have. Some small companies have led the way and it now appears that some high-end and big name players are getting into the game. The analogy to Tesla and Chevy with its Volt is apt, so we’ll just have to see what kind of shift the two-wheel market will take.

Energica,electric motorcycle,electric bike

Capable of triple digit speeds

Energica,electric motorcycles

It’s Italian so fashion is included

 

 

 

 

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Larry Hall http://MichaelCoates <![CDATA[Road Test: 2014 Subaru Outback]]> http://www.cleanfleetreport.com/?p=3937 2014-08-30T22:48:58Z 2014-08-19T07:59:41Z The 2014 Subaru Outback earns inclusion in our All-Wheel Drive 30 MPG Club. The mainstream 2.5i model has an EPA estimated 30 mpg highway/24 mpg city and a combined rating of 26 mpg when equipped with a continuous variable transmission (CVT). Choose the manual shifter and fuel economy drops to 29/22 highway/city and 24 combined.

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The 2014 Subaru Outback Joins the AWD 30 MPG Club

In our northwest corner of the country, motorists embraced Subarus back when quirky wasn’t hip. We thought Subarus were neat long before Paul Hogan started hauling his “barbie” around in Outbacks or Lance Armstrong cycled his way to becoming the new company spokesman.

We, along with buyers in New England and the Rocky Mountain states, knew for years that Subaru’s all-wheel drive cars and wagons offered superior traction — not just on snowy roads, but on any slippery or uneven surface.

And the decision in 1994 to morph the Legacy wagon into the “world’s first sport-utility wagon” and call it Outback? Brilliant, as

Subaru,Outback,AWD,MPG

Bigger, but still an Outback

consumers in all three markets flocked to dealers.

Over the years Outbacks, and indeed, all Subarus, were known for just so-so fuel economy. The automaker has been working to erase that reputation, and the 2014 Outback earns inclusion in our All-Wheel Drive 30 MPG Club. The mainstream 2.5i model has an EPA estimated 30 mpg highway/24 mpg city and a combined rating of 26 mpg when equipped with a continuous variable transmission (CVT). Choose the manual shifter and fuel economy drops to 29/22 highway/city and 24 combined.

For those willing to forgo some fuel economy in exchange for power, the six-cylinder 3.6R limited is rated at 25/17 highway/city and 20 combined.

A Distinctive Look

The Outback has grown in size over the years and along the way became a nameplate of its own, losing the Legacy badge in 2000. But one thing hasn’t changed, its distinctive look.

Subaru,Outback,off-road,SUV

Off-road dexterity comes standard

In profile, it is still one handsome station wagon with a roofline that sweeps back naturally. Like the original, the SUV-like appearance is maintained with pronounced front and rear fender arches along with body cladding on the doors and rocker panels. The 8.7-inches of ground clearance continues to set it apart from other small crossovers.

A roof rack is still standard but with a clever twist. The roof rail system has noise-reducing crossbars that swing out of the way when not in use. It also makes it easier to secure bikes, kayaks and snowboards.

 

Inner Space

The dash, center console and door panels flow together in a contemporary manner. Materials look and feel rich, and the faux wood trim has a matte finish, not the sheeny look that so many makers prefer.

Unlike far too many vehicles that use tiny controls on the center console, the Outback has large, easy-to-read push selectors for climate control. And kudos to the designer who kept separate rotary audio control knobs rather than absorbing them into the navigation system.

Front bucket seats are supportive with good grip, yet are comfortable. And it’s easy to arrange a just-so driving position, which is a

Subaru,Outlook,interior,

Not the old Outback; this interior looks and feels rich

separate issue from how good the seats themselves feel. Front head- and legroom are excellent.

The rear cabin is a pleasing place to ride. It’s not only comfortable for adults with its reclining seatbacks, it’s a rear seat that adults can climb into without much trouble.

I’m still amazed by the amount of stuff you can cram into the cargo area of the Outback. There’s a generous 34.3 feet of storage space behind the rear seats, which expand to a voluminous 71.3 cubic feet with the seatbacks folded flat.

If you want a variety of choices, go no farther. There are six trim levels of the Outback wagon. Pricing begins at $24,230 including $825 destination charges for the base 2.5i with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and manual transmission. Chosing the continuously variable transmission adds $1,000. The top 3.6 R Limited model starts at $32,920.

Committed To AWD And The Boxer Engine

Subaru introduced its first all-wheel drive vehicle in 1972, the Leone Estate. Called symmetrical all-wheel drive, the system became standard on all Subarus sold in U.S 1996. The lone exception is the rear wheel-drive BRZ sports car.

Engineers have improved the AWD technology over the years and today the system enhances traction, control and balance. What hasn’t changed is its symmetry — a balanced front-to-rear and side-to-side operation.

There are four different symmetrical AWD systems, depending on engine and transmission combinations.

While others have followed Subaru with AWD, it continues to march to its own drummer with its “boxer” engine. The boxer, also used by Porsche, is laid out horizontally rather than vertically, as are conventional in-line and V-engines. The pistons are placed opposite one another, and when the engine is running, it looks like a boxer throwing punches, hence the name.

This piston action allows their movement to cancel out vibration as well as reducing wear. And because it is mounted longitudinally — front-to-rear — it provides a low center of gravity, adding to the Outback’s sticking-to-road capability.

Behind The Steering Wheel

Subaru handed us the keys to an Outback 2.5i Limited to test drive. In addition to the CVT, standard equipment included leather upholstery with heated front seats, heated mirrors, dual-zone automatic climate control and a Harmon Kardon 400-watt audio system that featured hands-free BlueTooth audio and phone along with USB and iPhone ports. Suggested retail was $30,800.

Subaru,Outlook,tech,driver assist

EyeSight to the blind spot

Add to that an option package that bundled special 17-inch wheels, keyless access and start, moonroof, rearview camera, navigation system and Subaru’s EyeSight driver assist system along with other goodies. Total sticker price: $35,260.

A word about EyeSight. The system integrates adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking and lane departure warning. It uses a stereo camera mounted on the inside of the windshield in front of the rearview mirror, and works exceptionally well except when weather conditions, such as heavy rain or snow, obscures the camera’s view.

Weighing in at close to 3,400 pounds, the 173-horsepower four-cylinder is no screamer. It has to work a bit, but it is more than adequate for the tasks we ask vehicles to perform. The payoff is the fuel economy for a vehicle this weighty that totes around an all-wheel drive system.

On paved surfaces, where the Outback spends most of its time, the ride is well isolated with a suspension that’s slightly firm around town, but generally very comfortable. Highway driving has an impressive sedan-like feel, in part because of the low center of gravity.

Steering works well, staying pointed straight ahead without fussing, when that’s your intent. Cornering is easily handled without slop or drama, courtesy of well-matched tires, suspension and AWD. Brakes come on swiftly when summoned, but no one will think they are touchy.

Subaru was an early adopter of the CVT transmission and the one in Outback is as good as they get. There was no annoying run up of engine rpms during heavy throttle application, and simulated gear shifts via paddle shifters resulted in smooth up and down shifts.

I first drove an Outback off-road in 1995, its first model year, when it was known as the Legacy Outback. At Subaru’s request, it was a support vehicle for the second annual “Mudfest,” an event judged by journalists to determine the Northwest Sport-Utility Vehicle of the Year.

Since then I have driven a score of Outbacks off-road. It probably can’t conquer the most rugged routes of the famed Rubicon Trail, but I’ve slogged miles behind Jeep Wranglers and Cherokees, Chevy Trailblazers and original Nissan Pathfinders on some very nasty, rutted, muddy, steep trails and emerged with nary a problem.

My off-road foray with this Outback wasn’t a real test, just a few miles on an old, neglected Forest Service road for a picnic by a scenic stream.

As for fuel economy, the Outback delivered as advertised. Driving most of the time at the legal go-with-the flow pace for 251 miles rewarded us with a 28.9-mpg average, nearly 3 mpg better than the EPA combined estimate. That included nearly 35 miles of some frisky driving on a nearly deserted two-lane country road.

A New 2015 Outback Is Arriving

As you read this, a new 2015 Outback is beginning to arrive at Subaru dealerships. It trades a bit of its rugged appearance for a more sporty appearance, is marginally larger inside, but does offer slightly better fuel economy. As with any new model, there’s a price hike. In this case, the base 2.5i with CVT (the manual shifter isn’t available) jumps less than $500 to $25,745.

If you’ve considering an Outback, the question is, should you buy the new 2015 edition, or opt for the outgoing model?

My youngest son decided to buy the 2014 model, his second Outback. His reason? Price. Dealers still have a fair number of 2014 Outbacks on their lots and want to move the inventory. He not only took advantage of an exceptional closeout price, he also got 1.9 percent financing. For him, that outweighed the slightly larger interior room and small increase in fuel economy.

What’s your decision?

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John Faulkner <![CDATA[Road Test: 2014 Honda Odyssey Touring Elite]]> http://www.cleanfleetreport.com/?p=3907 2014-08-13T01:25:02Z 2014-08-10T07:42:46Z Everything You Want in a Family Van – Including a Vacuum Cleaner! Do you have eight people to haul around and want to do so in comfort, convenience and safety? How about adding best-in-class fuel economy to that functionality? Look no further than the 2014 Honda Odyssey Touring Elite, which will get you around town […]

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Everything You Want in a Family Van – Including a Vacuum Cleaner!

Do you have eight people to haul around and want to do so in comfort, convenience and safety? How about adding best-in-class fuel economy to that functionality? Look no further than the 2014 Honda Odyssey Touring

20114,Honda,Odyssey,HondaVac

One way to get a clean car in your fleet

Elite, which will get you around town or across the country with far better results than the Griswold’s experienced.

Drivetrain

The front-wheel drive 2014 Honda Odyssey is powered by a 3.5-liter, 24-valve single overhead cam (SOHC) V6 rated at 248 hp and 250 lb-ft of torque. This extremely smooth operating engine runs on regular unleaded, uses a 6-speed automatic transmission, drive-by-wire throttle system, variable cylinder management and multi-port fuel injection to deliver 19 mpg city / 28 mpg highway with a combined of 22 mpg, while not needing scheduled tune-ups for 100,000 miles. I put on 365 miles, mostly SoCal freeways, and was consistently getting 29 mpg cruising at speeds around 70 mpg.

2014,Honda,Odyssey,mpg

Honda cancels the minivan noise

So why is Clean Fleet Report reviewing this gasoline-powered minivan as we primarily feature alternative fuel vehicles? We felt the 2014 Honda Odyssey was newsworthy for those of you looking for a large minivan that can seat up-to eight, tow 3,500 lbs. and deliver a respectable fuel economy number of almost 30 mpg on the highway. Clean Fleet Report will feature more of these vehicles when they merit the attention and recognition in the coming months.

[Ed. Note: There hasn’t been an electric minivan since Chrysler’s short-lived TEVan of the early 1990s. The only other alt fuel minivan was a Chrysler factory CNG conversion also offered in the mid-1990s.]

Honda has attempted to maximize fuel economy with its Variable Cylinder Management (VCM) system that allows, based on the power requirements, the V6 engine to run on three or four cylinders. You know the VCM is working when “ECO” lights up on the center gauge. The VCM seamlessly goes in-and-out of operation, but there is no real way of knowing how effective it is in reducing fuel consumption as it cannot be switched off. So for now let’s assume it is helping you sip less gasoline as you fly down the highway and the Odyssey wouldn’t deliver its 19/28/22 without it.

Driving Experience: On the Road

The 2014 Honda Odyssey Touring Elite weighs in at 4,613 lbs. which, considering all the extra options, is only 217 lbs. more than the base model Odyssey LX. I did a few 0 – 60 runs and, in a not-so-scientific test, ran between 9.7 and 10 seconds. Impressively, the weight is nearly evenly distributed, 55 front/45 rear, making cornering relatively flat with minimal nose dive when coming to an aggressive stop.

The Touring Elite package comes with 18-inch alloy wheels and all-season tires, four-wheel power-assisted disc brakes with ABS, variable power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering with front MacPherson struts and stabilizer bar, and a multi-link double wishbone rear suspension also with MacPherson struts and stabilizer bar. This delivers a confident, smooth and quiet highway ride with little wind or tire noise.

Some of that quiet comes because Honda engineers have also included Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) into the Odyssey. Without getting wonky, ANC works by having two microphones in the cabin that capture low-end drivetrain (engine and transmission) frequencies and then automatically sends a reverse frequency through the speakers that cancel-out the drivetrain noise. ANC operates with the audio system on or off and does its job well, as the inside of the Odyssey at freeway speeds was quiet and a pleasure on long trips.

Driving Experience: Interior

Clean Fleet Report was driving the fully optioned 2014 Honda Odyssey Touring Elite. The extremely roomy interior included a power-adjustable ten-way (with two position memory) leather-trimmed heated driver and

2014,Honda,Odyssey,cargo capacity

Fit for 8 people or tons of luggage

four-way leather-trimmed heated passenger seats. Finding a comfortable seating position with the tilting and telescoping steering column was a breeze. The heated, power-adjustable outside mirrors and large windows made for excellent sight lines.

As mentioned earlier, the 2014 Honda Odyssey Touring Elite seats eight. The 2nd and 3rd row seats are multi-functional; they can fold and stow in several configurations. The 3rd row seat splits 60/40 and both it and the 2nd row seats

2014,Honda,Odyssey,Coo Box

Now this is cool!

have center folding arm rests with cup holders. To entertain those rear passengers there is a 16.2-inch DVD rear entertainment system with HDMI for compatible gaming and media players. Also included are two wireless headphones so the rear passengers can enjoy themselves without bugging the front seat occupants.

As for stowing stuff, the Odyssey has cubbies and storage areas that could accommodate a family and their gear on a long trip, but that’s pretty standard in the minivan world.

So, anything else cool on the Odyssey Touring Elite? How about the Cool Box found at the bottom of the center stack that can keep six 12-ounce cans or four 20-ounce bottles chilled. Or, how about the unique built-in vacuum, HondaVac, with a hose long enough to vacuum the complete interior.

As noted, this minivan was fully equipped with a power tailgate, dual power sliding doors, push-button start, power sunroof/moonroof and integrated sunshades in the far rear side glass.

2014,Honda,Odyssey, dash

Everything ready to entertain all

All gauges and controls are in easy sight and reach, with many controls on the steering wheel. The audio and navigation screens are found in the center stack. The navigation screen, top center in the dash, is nicely recessed to eliminate glare.

The Touring Elite model has an entertainment system designed to keep both front and rear seat passengers occupied on long journeys. The centerpiece is the 12-speaker, 650-watt with subwoofer, touchscreen entertainment system that includes AM/FM/CD, HD Radio and SiriusXM with a 3 month initial free service. My one gripe with this radio was it needed simple, no-nonsense knobs to change the channels and a much easier way to go between AM, FM and SiriusXM.

The entertainment system also had Pandora interface, HomeLink, SMS text messaging, a 16GB hard disc drive, 115-volt and 12-volt power outlets, MP3/WMA, USB and an AUX jack. Bluetooth is integrated for the telephone and audio functions. There was no learning curve for the voice recognition and hands-free phone functions.  One of the first things I do when testing a car is to pair my phone, doing so without looking at the owner’s manual to see how intuitive and easy each manufacturer has made their technology. With Honda, as with many car brands, pairing was easy and quick, taking less than a minute.

Safety

All this comfort and convenience is nice, but what if the car isn’t safe? The 2014 Honda Odyssey is well-equipped with active and passive safety features, including 10 air bags, power door locks, TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitoring System), auto-leveling, projector beam Halogen High Intensity Discharge (HID) headlights, adaptive cruise control, integrated back-up camera, parking sensors, blind spot monitor, forward collision and lane departure warning, stability assist with traction control, electronic brake distribution and the previously mentioned four-wheel disc brakes with ABS. The Odyssey also has remote keyless entry with Honda’s immobilizer system that disables the vehicle unless a programmed ignition key is used.

The national Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has rated (out of a 5-star system) the 2014 Odyssey safety as:

Overall                  5 star

Frontal Crash        5 star

Side Crash            5 star

Rollover                 4 star

Pricing

The 2014 Honda Odyssey Touring Elite Clean Fleet Report was driving had a price of $45,280, including the $830 Destination and Handling charge. The 2014 Odyssey comes in five models, but can be ordered with Option Packages that will affect your final price. The base MSRP for the five models, including the $830 Destination and Handling charge:

LX $29,655
EX $32,955

EX-L                                                                   $38,055

Touring                                                             $42,710

Touring Elite                                      $45,280

The 2014 Odyssey comes with these warranties:

• 3 year/36,000 mile       Basic, New Vehicle

• 5 year/60,000 mile       Powertrain

• 3 year/36,000 mile       Honda Genuine Accessories

• 5 year/Unlimited miles  Corrosion

Observations: 2014 Honda Odyssey Touring Elite

Many moms have a thing about not wanting to be seen in a minivan. I am not clear on the stigma they would be suffering, but if I had 2+ children with all their stuff, sports gear and friends, a minivan would be top of my shopping list.

Let’s not talk minivans in general, but specifically the 2014 Honda Odyssey, regardless of the trim level. This car is massively roomy, convenient with five doors (three electrically powered), ample storage space and versatile

2014,Honda,Odyssey,roadworthy

Ready to hit the road

seating configurations, an entertainment system to satisfy front and rear occupants, a top safety rating and best-in-class fuel economy.

The options in the minivan category are dwindling (Volkswagen’s Routan has exited and Chrysler, which still dominates the category, is talking of dropping one of its models). Many former minivan owners seem to have moved on to SUVs or crossovers as a replacement for the much-maligned “soccer mom” vehicles. But the Honda Odyssey remains a strong choice. There are many reasons for this which are worth your time to really see if driving a minivan would be such a bad thing.

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

Competition

Chrysler Town & Country/Dodge Grand Caravan

Toyota Sienna

Nissan Quest

Mazda5

Kia Sedona

Other related stories you might enjoy:  

Welcome to the new MPG clubs

Road Test: 2014 Honda CR-V

Road Test: 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport

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Michael Coates http://www.cleanfleetreport.com <![CDATA[Welcome To the New MPG Clubs]]> http://www.cleanfleetreport.com/?p=3892 2014-08-09T10:20:24Z 2014-08-09T10:03:28Z Clean Fleet Report Introduces Three New “Clubs” We live in amazing automotive times. The best testaments to that are the three new “MPG clubs” that we’re introducing at Clean Fleet Report. We’ve noticed that both the EPA-designated and real-world the fuel economy on the vehicles we love and need are climbing and want to celebrate […]

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Clean Fleet Report Introduces Three New “Clubs”

We live in amazing automotive times. The best testaments to that are the three new “MPG clubs” that we’re introducing at Clean Fleet Report. We’ve noticed that both the EPA-designated and real-world the fuel economy on the vehicles we love and need are climbing and want to celebrate that fact. It also will serve as a handy list for your shopping neeeds if you’re looking for a car or SUV/CUV that will not only do everything you need, but get great fuel economy. A quick note about the SUV/CUV designation: Pick whichever one suits you. These days most of these successors to the station wagon and minivan (and traditional truck-based sport utility) is based on a car chassis, may or may not include all-wheel drive or four-wheel drive, but gives off the aura (if not the actual ability) to go anywhere, haul anything and be the Swiss Army knife of a vehicle that can easily become your trusty friend. So, without further fanfare, let’s introduce something we’ve hinted at in several reviews, along with a new twist. These are the clubs we think every car and SUV/CUV should be striving to join. The good news–it’s getting easier as new and improved technology comes online. These are somewhat exclusive clubs right now, populated by not enough variety of vehicles. That will change in the coming years as we expect these clubs to grow and new ones to come along. For now, welcome to Clean Fleet Reports new categories of cars and SUVs/CUVs.

The 30 MPG Club — for SUVs/CUVs.

We’re really glad to see this club growing and adding new and bigger members. This is where many people live, with one vehicle big enough to handle family chores, major big-box store runs and hauling everyone in the family in comfort, sometimes even leaving the road behind. The 30 MPG mark used to be out of reach for most sport utility or all-wheel drive vehicles, but times have changed. We’ve got a good group of cars (most have little resemblence to trucks any more) that have joined this group based on their EPA or as-tested highway fuel economy. Here’s a list of some of our 10 most recent tests of club members:

2014 Honda CR-V 

2014 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport 

2014 Subaru Forester

2014 Volkswagen Tiguan TDI (Euro Spec)

mitsubishi,outlander sport,awd,mpg, fuel economy

SUVs bump up their MPG to join the club

2014 Toyota RAV4 

2014 Volkswagen Touareg TDI

2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek 

2013 Ford Escape

2013 Lexus RX 450h

2013 Honda CR-V

The 40 MPG Club — variety is the new spice of life in this segment.

Only a few years ago, you had to pony up extra dollars for a hybrid to get into this club. Now, we were tempted to up the ante to make this a 45 or 50 MPG (highway) club, but at this point that would make it a pretty small and fairly expensive club. I’m pretty sure we’ll be raising the bar for this club in a few years, but for now this gives a good variety of options and still promises to deliver great fuel economy at reasonable prices — and most important, not just in miniture vehicles (though there are a few of those). Here’s a list of the Top 10 of this club for 2015 based on EPA ratings with links to our tests of earlier models. We’ll be getting to these guys soon (remember, not everyone has 2015 models on the market yet and there are 20 more members of this club from Mazda, Chevrolet, Volkswagen, Fiat, Nissan, Ford, Audi, Honda, Mitsubishi, Hyundai and Kia–and if we went back to the 2014 models there would be even more members, which were some of the ones we have tested and include links to those tests).

1. 2015 Chevrolet Spark EV – 109 MPGe (electric)

2. 2015 Fiat 500e – 108 MPGe (electric)

3. 2015 Nissan Leaf – 101 MPGe (electric)

4. 2015 Chevrolet Volt – 98 MPGe (plug-in hybrid electric)

VW, Jetta, TDI, clean diesel

Jetta TDI - Planting the MPG flag for diesel

5. 2015 Volkswagen Jetta TDI manual – 46 MPG (diesel)

6. 2015 Volkswagen Golf TDI manual – 45 MPG (diesel)

7. 2015 Volkswagen Jetta TDI automatic – 45 MPG (diesel)

8. 2015 Mitsubishi Mirage automatic – 44 MPG (gasoline)

9. 2015 Volkswagen Passat TDI manual – 44 MPG (diesel)

10. (tie) 2015 Audi A3 TDI – 43 MPG (diesel)

10. (tie) 2015 Ford Fiesta SFE – 43 MPG (gasoline)

10. (tie) 2015 Volkswagen Golf TDI automatic – 43 MPG (diesel)

The 54.5 MPG Club — for the overachievers and early adopters.

This number–54.5 MPG–is not plucked out of the air, of course, but is a significant market. This is the combined fuel economy the average car of 2025 is supposed to get. We already know that the real world fuel economy of cars 10 model years from now will not all be 54.5 and many will probably fall far short and still be counted due to all kinds of archane rules built into the system. Still, we think this is an important club to keep an eye on because it will give us a glimpse at where the leading technologies are taking us, how much they’ll cost, and how they work in the real world. Amazingly, we have quite a few players in this club already, representing two basic approaches to MPG – pure battery electric or plug-in hybrid. fuel cell cars should be showing up soon and expect some conventional but very efficient gas and diesel models to edge up there shortly. Here’s the run-down of club members and a bit about each with links to Clean Fleet Report stories (for this group we’ve included 2014 and 2015 models but have combined models to eliminate variations based on different options).

1. 2014 BMW i3 – 124 MPGe (electric)

2. 2014/5 Chevrolet Spark EV – 119 MPGe (electric)

3. 2014 Honda Fit EV – 118 MPGe (electric)

4. 2014 BMW i3 REX – 117 MPGe (plug-in hybrid)

5. 2014/5 Fiat 500e – 116 MPGe (electric)

6. 2014 Honda Accord Plug-in Hybrid – 115 MPGe (plug-in hybrid)

fiat,500e,electric car

Fiat 500e – Pure Electrics Lead the Way to 54.5 MPG

7. 2014/5 Nissan Leaf - 114 MPGe (electric)

8. 2014 Mitsubishi iMiEV – 112 MPGe (electric)

9. 2014 Smart Fortwo ED coupe/convertible – 107 MPGe (electric)

10. 2014 Ford Focus Electric – 105 MPGe (electric)

11. 2014/5 Chevrolet Volt – 98 MPGe (plug-in hybrid)

12. 2014 Tesla Model S 60/85 kWh battery packs – 95/89 MPGe (electric)

13. 2014 Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid - 95 MPGe (plug-in hybrid)

14. 2014 Ford C-Max Energi – 88 MPGe (plug-in hybrid)

15. 2014/5 Ford Fusion Energi – 88 MPGe (plug-in hybrid)

16. 2014 Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive – 84 MPGe (electric)

17. 2014 Toyota RAV4 EV – 76 MPGe (electric)

18. 2014 BYD e6 – 63 MPGe (electric)

There are many great cars out there now and more on the way. Our job is to keep feeding you all of the latest, but let us know what your priorities are and we’ll make sure we include them in upcoming articles.

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John Faulkner <![CDATA[Road Test: 2014 Toyota Prius c and Prius V Hybrids]]> http://www.cleanfleetreport.com/?p=3857 2014-09-14T07:36:53Z 2014-08-03T06:19:43Z A Goldilocks Tale of the Two Prius Family Bookends [Ed. Note: I guess it’s Goldlocks Plus 1. The Prius family now clocks in with four named members – the original Liftback, a Plug-In version and the two models reviewed here. It appears that Toyota is well on the way to making sure you won’t leave […]

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A Goldilocks Tale of the Two Prius Family Bookends

[Ed. Note: I guess it’s Goldlocks Plus 1. The Prius family now clocks in with four named members – the original Liftback, a Plug-In version and the two models reviewed here. It appears that Toyota is well on the way to making sure you won’t leave the dealership without one that’s “just right” for you–and Clean Fleet Report has driven them all.]

Prius c – The Littlest Prius – Small & Thrifty

The Prius c (the lower-case c is Toyota’s preferred style), first added to Toyota’s Prius Family (Liftback, Plug-in Liftback) and Prius V in 2013, is part of the best-selling hybrid car line in the United States. Various Prius have

Toyota,Prius c,mpg,

The smallest Prius can sneak into your heart

sold more than 1.5 million models in the last 10 years. The Prius was also the best-selling vehicle line in the state of California in 2012 and then backed it up again in 2013, a significant achievement for a hybrid.

The Prius c was introduced as the low-cost entry into this genre, offering excellent fuel economy and a different look from its siblings, since it is the only family member derived a different model (the Toyota Yaris subcompact).

Drivetrain

The front-wheel drive 2014 Prius c is powered by a parallel hybrid drivetrain, which Toyota calls the Hybrid Synergy Drive. In the parallel hybrid system the electric motor can power the car by itself, the gas engine can power the car by itself or they can power the car together.

Toyota,Prius c,mpg,slow

Not a view many will see

The Hybrid Synergy Drive system comprises a 1.5-liter DOHC (double overhead cam), four-cylinder gasoline engine with producing 73 hp through the Continuously Variable Transaxle (CVT), with an additional 26 hp supplied by the electric motor. The system delivers an EPA rating of 53 city/46 highway for a combined 50 mpg. There are three drive modes: Normal; EV, which forces the car to stay in all-electric mode at very low speeds for less than a mile, ECO, which delivers the best economy, but also clamps-down on the power output to sip fuel. ECO works best at a steady speed on a flat highway, where you don’t need to accelerate hard. It actually would not matter too much as the words “fast” and “Prius c” would never be uttered in the same breath. In time while pushing it hard, the Prius c will get up to freeway speeds and easily stay there for as long as you like, but you will hear the engine strain under hard acceleration and at freeway speeds there is considerable wind noise.

In 293 miles of 75-percent/25-percent highway/city driving, Clean Fleet Report achieved an impressive 49.6 mpg, which if we drained the 9.5 gallon tank would have taken us 450+ miles down the road.

Driving Experience: Exterior

At first glance the Prius c is sleeker, lower-slung and more rounded than the other Prius models, making it an eye-appealing design even for those that are not fans of the well-known Prius wedge shape. Its swept-back nose and hood lead to a tail with a wide spoiler, that looks, well, very non-Prius-like. Having recently reviewed the Honda CR-Z I was hoping the Prius c would also be a sporty hybrid to rival the Honda. Unfortunately, this was not the case, and to Toyota’s credit they do not position the c as a sporty car.

Driving Experience: On the Road

The five-door Prius c–or four-door liftback–weighs in at a nimble 2,500 lbs., which is 542 lbs. less than the classic Prius Liftback and 774 lbs. less than the Prius V wagon; this lower weight directly translates into better fuel economy. The weight is well-distributed due to the under-seat battery and fuel tank placement, resulting in a low center of gravity, which lets you toss the car around better than the c’s siblings. The c suffered from a harsher ride than the heaver Prius models, with a particularly rougher ride on the freeway. However, in parking lots, city streets and other tight maneuver areas, the Prius c is a joy to drive. It is agile and feels connected to the road. Toyota calls it “city-friendly size.” Hmm, I wonder of the “c” stands for City? [confirmed--ed.]

Our Prius c had 15-inch alloy wheels, standard on the model we were driving (with 16-inch only available as part of an option package), electrically power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering, front MacPherson struts with stabilizer bar and rear torsion-beam suspension – which all helped the car corner well, with little body roll.

Driving Experience: Interior

The 2014 Prius c has a roomy, airy interior with good sightlines and a more conventional dash and center stack lay-out that the other Prius models. To start with, the gear shift lever is mounted on the floor and the dash has

Toyota,Prius c,mpg

The Prius family dash

an old-school feel with a combination of knobs, switches and buttons. We at Clean Fleet Report drive many different cars and it is nice to get back to a familiar design and system that isn’t all touch- and motion-based.

There are four Prius c models (One, Two, Three and Four) and Clean Fleet Report had the Three for a week. Standard equipment on the Three included automatic climate control, 6.1-inch

Toyota,Prius c,gearshift

The gearshift where you’d expect it

touch-screen with navigation and Toyota’s Entune app suite. The Entune premium service, which is complimentary for three years, includes Bing, iHeartRadio, MovieTickets.com, OpenTable and Pandora; XM Data Services, iNavTraffic, NavWeather, Fuel, and Sports & Stocks.

The six-speaker AM/FM CD player with MP3/WMA playback capability came with SiriusXM (which includes a 90-day trial subscription), HD AM Radio with an auxiliary audio jack, USB port with iPod connectivity and control, hands-free phone, advanced voice recognition and music streaming via Bluetooth wireless technology.

The tilt/telescopic steering wheel has all the usual buttons (audio volume and modes, phone, climate control and Bluetooth) and cruise control is on the right side stalk. Consistent with the other Prius models is that the gauges are off to the right a few degrees, located top-center of the dash, with none being directly in front of the driver. The center console has storage and is positioned well to rest your arm. Everything is within easy reach, easy to understand, so all-in-all, it’s a workable arrangement.

The Prius c comfortably seats four adults, or two adults up front and three children in the back seat. The six-way manual adjustable driver’s seat and front passenger four-way manual adjustable seat, covered in a two-toned cloth fabric with a swirl pattern, were easy to settle into. There are four cup holders and a 12V power outlet up front. With the rear seat folded flat, there is ample storage space, lending the Prius c to most likely being a two-person car where the back seat is rarely used for sitting.

The 2014 Prius c safety and convenience features are remote keyless entry, door handles with touch sensor lock and unlock, power door locks and windows, TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitoring System), VPNS (Vehicle Proximity Notification System), projector beam halogen headlights, nine airbags, adaptive cruise control, heated power outside mirrors, rear window wiper, hill assist, vehicle stability, traction control and ABS with brake assist.

Pricing and Warranties

The 2014 Prius c Model One base price is $19,080; the Model Two $20,030; the Model Four $23,360; and the nicely optioned Prius c Model Three I was driving based-priced at $21,765. All prices are MSRP and do not include the $810 destination charge. The 2014 Prius c comes with these warranties:

  • 3-year/36,000-mile Comprehensive
  • 5-year/60,000-mile  Powertrain
  • 5-year/unlimited-mileage  Corrosion
  • 8-year/100,000-mile Hybrid-related Component Coverage
  • 15-year/150,000-mile Hybrid-related Component Coverage (in CA, MA, NY, NJ, VT, CT, ME, NM and RI) with the exception of the hybrid battery, which is warranted for 10 years/150,000 miles.
  • Toyota Care – Complimentary maintenance plan with the purchase or lease of every new Toyota. For 2 years/25,000 miles, whichever comes first, Toyota pays for maintenance and roadside assistance.

Observations: 2014 Toyota Prius c

The Prius c is a fun small car that has a much larger-car feel once inside.

Toyota,Prius c,mpg

MPG is the key to loving the c

The Prius c is the lowest priced model in the Prius family, but it should not be considered cheap. Its sales in the first half of 2014 were down slightly from 2013, so it remains a viable option for drivers looking for a nimble, high-mileage car that can seat up to four adults.

If you value paying as little as possible for each mile driven, then the Toyota Prius C should be on your shopping list. Yes, you will pay a bit more for a hybrid versus a gasoline or diesel-powered car. But, if you are putting a lot of miles on your car or like the ability to occasionally drive slowly around town in pure electric mode, then the additional initial expense will be worth it to you.

The reliability of the Prius and being the market-leading hybrid should give you confidence that this car will be in your garage for many, many years.

Prius V – The Extra Space Prius

The Prius V is part of Toyota’s Prius Family (Hatchback, Plug-in Hatchback and Prius c) that has made it the best-selling hybrid car line in the United States with more than 1.5 million Prius models sold in the last 10 years. The Prius was also the best-selling vehicle line in the state of California in 2012 and then again in 2013, which was huge for a hybrid.

The Prius V came along in 2011 as a wagon version of the original Prius Hatchback, offering very good fuel economy while delivering more carrying space.

Drivetrain

The front-wheel drive 2014 Prius V is powered by a parallel hybrid drivetrain, which Toyota calls Hybrid Synergy Drive. In the parallel hybrid system the electric motor can power the car by itself, the gas engine can

Toyota,Prius V,wagon,mpg

When you need more Prius

power the car by itself or they can power the car together.

The Hybrid Synergy Drive system combines a 1.8-liter DOHC (double overhead cam), four-cylinder gasoline engine with a 60 kw electric motors to produce 134 hp through the Continuously Variable Transaxle (CVT), delivering 44 city/40 highway for a combined 42 mpg.

In 470 miles of 75-percent/25-percent highway/city driving, Clean Fleet Report achieved 41.6 mpg.

Driving Experience: On The Road

The four-door Prius V wagon weighs in at 3,274 lbs., which is 232 lbs. more than the sibling Prius Hatchback. The increased weight might account for the V getting lower fuel economy than the Hatchback: 44 city/40 highway/ 42 combined vs. 51 city/48 highway/50 combined. However, the weight is well-distributed due to the under-seat battery placement, resulting in a low center of gravity and actually made for a better driving experience. The V felt more balanced than the Hatchback and the freeway confidence level was better, especially when being passed by a semi-truck or in a windy mountain pass.

The electrically power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering, the front MacPherson struts with stabilizer bar and rear torsion-beam suspension delivers a smooth and fairly quiet highway ride. The Prius V had 16-inch alloy

Toyota,Prius V,mpg,wagon

The Prius family workhorse

wheels standard on the model we were driving (with 17-inch only available on the next up-content package) which helped the car corner well with little body roll, but with no sense of feeling sporty. Note: if you are considering buying any Prius as a sporty car, you need to be looking elsewhere. There’s no head snapping going on with a 0 – 60 mph time of around 10 seconds, but, then again, off-the-line drag racing is not why a million and a half of these have been sold. So, expecting a performance level that Toyota never promised is unfair. But let’s get real on what is fair – fuel economy and, in the case of the V, carrying capacity of all your stuff.

Driving Experience: Interior

The 2014 Prius V has a spacious interior with a twin cockpit design – a center stack separating the bucket seats. The tilt/telescopic steering wheel has all the usual control buttons (audio, phone, cruise control, climate, Bluetooth, etc.) including the ability to switch between fuel and battery (hybrid) gauges. Another unique design feature is that the gauges are off to the right a few degrees, top-center of the dash, with none being directly in front of the driver. The gearshift selector pokes out of the dash in a convenient location that allows for storage areas on the console where a shift selector would usually be. All-in-all, it’s a workable arrangement.

Toyota,Prius V,wagon

Room for 4 adults and stuff

The Prius V comfortably seats four full-size adults, five for short trips. The six-way adjustable driver’s seat has power lumbar support, which helped with finding a comfortable driving position. The front passenger seat is four-way manually adjustable (with no lumbar adjustment) and has a convenient fold-flat feature. I thought the front bucket seats could use more thigh bolstering, but otherwise they were easy to settle into for a long trip without leg and back fatigue. Toyota has provided five cup holders in the cabin and there is a 12V power outlet in the front and cargo areas.

Where the Prius V really shines is the ample storage space, with or without the 60/40 rear seats folded flat. Lay them down, and for long items utilize the fold-flat front passenger bucket

Toyota,Prius V,wagon

Room for an active lifestyle

seat, and the V is very versatile whether you are antiquing, making a garden center run or hitting the beach with your surfboard.

The car has good sightlines that are better than the Prius Hatchback as there is no spoiler cutting horizontally midway through the rear window. As in all Prius models, one oddity is that a beeper goes off inside the cabin when shifting into reverse since backing up is usually in EV mode. Odd because as the driver you know you put the car in reverse, the Rearview Camera pops-up on the screen and the beeping is not heard outside of the car where it would be the most useful. Of course, since we live in the Internet age, a quick Google search of “Prius Back-Up Beep” will lead you to a variety of homegrown fixes.

There are three Prius V models (Two, Three and Five) and Clean Fleet Report had the Three for a week. Standard equipment on the Three included a 6.1-inch touch-screen with navigation, back-up camera and Toyota’s Entune app suite. The Entune premium service, which is complimentary for three years, includes Bing, iHeartRadio, MovieTickets.com, OpenTable and Pandora; XM Data Services, iNavTraffic, NavWeather, Fuel, and Sports & Stocks.

The six-speaker AM/FM CD player with MP3/WMA playback capability came with SiriusXM (which includes a 90-day trial subscription), HD AM Radio with an auxiliary audio jack, USB port with iPod connectivity and control, hands-free phone, advanced voice recognition and music streaming via Bluetooth wireless technology.

Safety and Convenience
The 2014 Prius V is well-equipped for safety and convenience with remote keyless entry, power door locks, TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitoring System), projector beam halogen headlights, seven airbags, adaptive cruise control, heated power outside mirrors, rear window wiper, hill assist, vehicle stability, traction control and ABS with brake assist. Upgrading to the Prius V Five model gets as standard equipment, a pre-collision and parking guidance system and Toyota’s Safety Connect service, which has many of the features found on General Motor’s OnStar service.

Driving Experience: Exterior

The Prius Hatchback is probably the most recognizable vehicle on the road with its wedge shape, designed to reduce wind resistance and drag to increase fuel economy. The Prius V wagon shape is more appealing with a more balanced silhouette, and my opinion is the best looking of the Prius models.

Pricing and Warranties The 2014 Prius V Model Two base price is $27,560 with the nicely optioned Prius V Model Three I was driving priced at $28,550. The pricing for the Model Five will top out at around $36,855.

Toyota,Prius V,wagon

Wagging its business end your way

All prices are MSRP and include the $810 destination charge. The 2014 Prius V comes with these warranties:

  • 3-year/36,000-mile  Comprehensive
  • 5-year/60,000-mile Powertrain
  • 5-year/unlimited-mileage Corrosion
  • 8-year/100,000-mile Hybrid-related Component Coverage
  • 15-year/150,000-mile Hybrid-related Component Coverage (applicable states are: CA, MA, NY, NJ, VT, CT, ME, NM and RI) with the exception of the hybrid battery. The hybrid battery is warranted for 10 years/150,000 miles.
  • Toyota Care – Complimentary maintenance plan and roadside assistance with the purchase or lease of every new Toyota. For 2 years or 25,000 miles, whichever comes first.

Observations: 2014 Toyota Prius V

Clean Fleet Report has now reviewed the entire Prius family. We recently reviewed the 2014 Prius Hatchback and Prius Plug-in Hatchback which you can read here.

The bottom line for considering a hybrid is acknowledge the type of driving do you do and whether getting high fuel economy, whether for budgetary or environmental reasons – or both – a key to your decision. With the

Toyota,Prius V,wagon,mpg

The Prius even more practical

Prius V you get to add cargo-stowing functionality to the equation.

Whether you spend your time tooling around in-town or are venturing out on the open road, if you value paying as little as possible for each mile driven, then the Toyota Prius V should be on your shopping list. Not many cars get the outstanding fuel economy of the Prius family.

Yes, you will pay a bit more for a hybrid versus a gasoline-powered car. But, if you are putting a lot of miles on your car or like the ability to occasionally cruise around town in pure electric mode, then the additional initial expense will be worth it to you.

The reliability of the Prius as well as its reputation as the market-leading hybrid should give you confidence that this car will be in your garage for many, many years.

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

Other related stories you might enjoy:

Road test of the Prius cousin, the Camry Hybrid

Best Electric Cars and Plug-ins for 2014

Ford Fusion Hybrid Test Drive          

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Michael Coates http://www.cleanfleetreport.com <![CDATA[Best Electric Cars and Plug-in Hybrids for 2014]]> http://www.cleanfleetreport.com/?p=1976 2014-08-30T22:52:01Z 2014-07-27T16:33:35Z Toyota, Ford, and Tesla have intensified the battle for electric car leadership. How will U.S. electric buyers vote with their pocketbooks for electric cars? See the list of Best Electric Cars and Plug-in Hybrids for 2014.

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Nissan Leaf Update: We’ve linked to the most recent tests or news of these cars, including some 2014 models.

Nissan LEAF is an all-electric car with 70 to 100 mile range. 50,000 have been delivered globally. Nissan delivers great value with the new 2013 price starting at $28,980. Drive it at 30 mph and you might get 140 miles; drive it at 70 mph running the air conditioner, 60 miles. LEAF Test drive. This 5-door, 5-seat, hatchback has the right size and range for many who drive under 100 miles daily, or for households with more than one car. The LEAF is the first electric car to earn five stars from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. The Leaf has had its price dropped since introduction and dealers offer some attractive lease programs. Chevy VOLT

Chevrolet Volt was awarded Car of the Year by Motor Trend and Automobile Magazine and awarded Green Car of the Year by Green Car Journal. General Motors is the current plug-in hybrid leader with the Chevrolet Volt,which has 38 to 40 miles of electric range and total range of 380 to 400 miles by engaging a small gasoline engine that is coupled with an electric generator. GM has a complete Voltec Propulsion System roadmap, which envisions added offerings of pure battery-electric and diesel plug-in hybrids. Our Volt Test Drive showed that this is plug-in hybrid is sportier to drive than regular hybrids and a great 4-door, 4-seat sedan for those who want to minimize fill-ups and avoid range anxiety. The Volt has dropped its retail pricing and typically offers very generous leases. GM has augmented the Volt with a sister model, the much more expensive Cadillac ELR, in 2014 and also introduced the diminutive, but powerful pure electric Chevy Spark EV.   ford focus electric

Ford Focus Electric starts at $39,200 with double the charge speed of the LEAF. You can go online and configure your car, select a dealer and place your order. Although Nissan and Chevrolet have been getting most of the electric car media attention, both automakers are worried about Ford who will give customers the widest choice of electric and plug-in hybrid cars and crossovers. Ford has also partnered with SunPower to offer an affordable rooftop solar system that will allow Focus Electric owners and other electric car drivers to “Drive Green for Life,” and charge with solar. Ford Focus Electric Test Drive

Ford C-Max EnergiFord C-MAX Energi, an exciting new crossover with more room than a small SUV. The 5-seat C-MAX Energi offers 550 miles of overall driving range using the lithium battery, electric motor, and gasoline engine – more than any other plug-in. Ford offers the passenger room and cargo space of the Prius V. Its 20 miles of electric range beats the Prius Plug-in, but falls short of the Chevrolet Volt. The C-MAX Energi starts at $33,745.  Ford C-MAX Energi   2013 Ford Fusion

Ford Fusion Energi SE is a beautiful 5-seat sedan with more safety and telematics features than any other car on this list. Drive this plug-in hybrid for 20 miles of electric range, then a small efficient gasoline engine extends your range by hundreds of miles. The Fusion Energi is a strong contender since its a midsize sedan with a good reputation for handling and reliability. According to EPA testing, the Fusion gets a combined 58 MPGe (combining its electric and gas modes). Models start at $34,700. Toyota Prius Plugin

Toyota Prius Plug-in starts at $32,000. The Prius Plug-in cost about $8,000 less than the Chevrolet Volt, a plug-in hybrid with a 40-mile electric range in comparison to the Prius PHEV’s 15-mile. The Prius Plug-in costs about $8,500 more than the classic Prius Liftback, but the difference narrows to  $6,000 after Federal Tax Credit.  In California, Toyota Motor Corp also offers the all-electric SUV, the RAV4 EV. Toyota Prius Plug-in Test Drive and Review vs. the classic Liftback. Honda Fit EV

 

Honda Fit EV. 2013 Fit EV can be purchased for $36,200 or leased at a rate competitive with other EVs on the market. The new compact 5-door 5-passenger hatchback electric car uses Blue Energy lithium-ion battery pack for a 100-mile all-electric range. The new 2014 Honda Accord Plug-in Hybrid is a premium midsized sedan, also available as a hybrid, which we tested.   Tesla S Sedan

Tesla Model S Sedan has delivered its first 20,000 Model S electric cars and is still going strong, now charging into overseas markets. This luxury all-electric sedan that starts at $69,900 and has an optional battery pack for $20,000 more that gives the car a 265-mile range. Tesla will compete against these less expensive competitors with a luxury interior, electronics like a 17-inch display, 5 + 2 passenger capacity, switchable battery option, and up to triple the electric range of competitors. Tesla is now taking reservations for 2015 delivery of the new Model X SUV with all-wheel drive from two electric motors, breathtaking styling including winged doors, and the same roomy seating capacity as the Model S. Tesla Model S and Model X  

 

Smart Fortwo Electric is driven daily by thousands of Car2Go car sharing members in San Diego and Portland and cities around the world. The new Smart Electric can be purchased for only $25,000 ($17,500 after federal tax credit). The 2-seat Smart Electric has a range of about 70 miles, which is great for dense urban areas, where its small footprint also helps with parking. The new third-generation Smart Electric has a more powerful  55kW EM-motive motor and 17.6kWh ACCUmotive lithium battery.

BMW i8 Electric Sports Coupe BMW is now selling the all-electric i3 (which also comes in a range-extended version) cars. The i3 builds on the company’s experience with the ActiveE (which featured the i3 powertrain in a 1-Series body) in San Francisco’s DriveNow car sharing program and with lease customers. In 2014, you can order the BMW i8 plug-in hybrid sports coupe that dazzled movie audiences in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol. BMW will extend range with innovative super-strong, yet lightweight materials including an aluminum frame and carbon fiber reinforced plastic, or CFRP for short. The i3 body consists of two independent modules: the Drive Module consists of an aluminum chassis and the powertrain with the lithium-ion battery, the performance electronics and a compact but powerful electric motor.   Mitsubishi i

 

Mitsubishi i (official name with small “i”) is bigger and with more zip for the U.S. market compared with its Japanese-market predecessor. This pure-electric city car is selling starting at $29,125. Mitsubishi will challenge the Nissan LEAF, Ford Focus Electric, and Honda Fit Electric. This fun-to-drive 4-seat 5 door, will have a wheel base 5 inches wider for the U.S. market, but the micro-compact will still be able to get those precious city parking spaces that no other car can take except the Smart. The more powerful U.S. version will have an electric range of 62 miles (EPA adjusted) with a 16kWh lithium battery. Mitsubishi Electric Test Drive

Fiat division of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles surprised everyone with the 500e, an all-electric version of the Fiat 500 that is in the

2013 Fiat 500e, fiat, 500e, electric car

2013 Fiat 500e

process of reintroducing the Italian automaker to America. The car surprised everyone because it was so good! While being presented to the media as a compliance car (i.e., the company would only build enough of them to meet California’s zero emission vehicle mandate and only sell them where credits toward that mandate would count), the early returns (including ours) lauded the car as exactly what an electric car should be – full of fun and projecting a personality commensurate with the significance of the vehicle for the environment.  

EV Forecasts and Renewable Energy

Electric car sales will triple in the U.S. each year from 20,000 in 2011 to 60,000 in 2012 to 180,000 in 2013. This report is about freeway-speed U.S. available all-electric and plug-in hybrid light-duty vehicles. Accenture forecasts 1.5 million electric vehicles in the United States by 2015. Over 10 million electric vehicles are possible by 2020, especially if oil prices rise as battery prices fall. Single electric utilities have scenarios for charging over one million electric vehicles in their own service area by 2020. With renewable energy investment required of utilities in 30 states, these utilities are most interested in night time charging of electric vehicles with wind, geothermal, and hydropower. Utilities are also implementing smart grids and incentives for off-peak charging. More than 100 large and small competitors are fighting for share of the U.S. electric car and truck market. Some may be struggle to get significant share due to time delays and cost of safety and other regulatory approvals, delays in funding, or unpleasant surprises from a supplier. It’s a tough business. Even Tesla had to add 700 pounds and two years to get the first Roadsters in customers’ hands. We’ve been impressed with the performance of the VW e-Golfs that we’ve driven over the past few years and it is due to arrive late in 2014. Mercedes is in the process of preparing a B-Class electric for sale in the U.S. Electric cars with range extended by fuel cells continue to make progress. Hyundai is building 1,000 Tucson fuel cell vehicles and they are on sale in Southern California as of mid-2014. Mercedes has put 200 of the new F-Cell B-Class on global streets; Toyota putting 100 of its 400-mile range FCHV into fleet applications and has shown a concept of what the 2015 model will look like when it goes on sale; Honda also has shown its 2015 model in concept form and other auto companies are also moving forward with fuel cells. China could have several EV models delivered to U.S. customers in the near future from BYD or possibly other companies, but Coda’s experience trying to sell an electric version of a dated, poor quality Chinese model was not encouraging.

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Michael Coates http://www.cleanfleetreport.com <![CDATA[Honda Smart Home Integrates EV Into House]]> http://www.cleanfleetreport.com/?p=3838 2014-07-28T06:44:43Z 2014-07-27T00:49:20Z Adding eMobility To Zero Carbon Living Honda has a view of the future that might include not only plugging your electric car into your house, but supplying power to the grid from the car and house when needed. In Honda’s view, that makes it a Honda Smart Home US, since it’s located in Davis, California. […]

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Adding eMobility To Zero Carbon Living

Honda has a view of the future that might include not only plugging your electric car into your house, but supplying power to the grid from the car and house when needed. In Honda’s view, that makes it a Honda Smart Home US, since it’s located in Davis, California.

In a nutshell, this high-efficiency home produces more power than it uses, including enough to power a Honda Fit EV for a daily commute. The prototype version of this home showcases a potential Honda move beyond the automobile into energy management systems. While some companies talk about emobility as their new venture, Honda is taking it a step further by integrating the emobility with zero carbon living.

Honda worked with the University of California, Davis, and local utility PG&E to design a home that showcases the potential of living not off-the-grid, but integrated to the grid in a positive way. The home, which will become the residence of a member of the UC Davis community, is envisioned as a living laboratory for Honda, PG&E and UC Davis to test and evaluate new technologies and business opportunities at what they describe as the intersection of housing, transportation, energy and the environment.

Fit EV Integrated

The home, which will come with a Honda Fit EV, is located in UC Davis’ West Village, a community designed as the country’s largest planned zero net energy housing development. While Honda senior project engineer Michael Koenig described it as an “R&D experiment,” the Honda Smart Home looks like it will provide a road map for the potential of building homes that change not only Honda’s business model, but PG&E’s as well. With the house and car providing as well as using energy, but needing the grid support only in exceptional situations, the utility’s role becomes one of energy management as opposed to supply. Koenig added that one of the key elements to pushing this kind of integrated technology forward is a “distributed renewable (solar) energy system supplying energy to homes and EVs.”

The Honda Smart Home has a variety of features that, when integrated, lead to the exceptional house on display:

  • Honda’s proprietary home energy management system (HEMS), which is a combined hardware and software system, is at the core of the home. It monitors, controls and optimizes electrical generation and consumption throughout the home’s microgrid. It manages a Honda-supplied 10 kWh lithium-ion storage battery on site, which is augmented by the Fit’s 20 KWh battery.
  • The Smart Home has a 9.5 kW solar photovoltaic system on its roof, which by itself will generate more energy than the home and Fit EV consumer annually.
  • To enhance the Fit EV’s charging, the car was modified to accept DC direct charging, enabling a full recharge in about two hours.
  • The home also features geothermal radiant heating and cooling, utilizing a system that employs eight 20-foot deep boreholes in the backyard.
  • The Smart Home used pozzolan-inflused concrete to decrease use of greenhouse-gas intensive concrete.
  • Advanced LED lighting is used throughout the house; it mimics natural light shifts and could potentially have a positive impact on the home’s residents’ health as well as saving energy.
  • The house’s orientation incorporates “passive design,” which takes into account local weather conditions, sun direction and home’s outer shell to optimize heating and cooling.
  • During construction, local and sustainable materials were used, helping the entire project meeting the U.S.’s goal of a net zero energy home, which was set for 2020.

Of course, a key feature of this modern home is its “brains.” Energy data generated by sensors throughout the house will be shared with PG&E and UC Davis. The home has quite a few smarts and hopes to teach others how make homes smarter and more ready to move to an electrified mobility system.

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