Prius is STILL the Most Fuel-Efficient Car

Well, here’s some car-related news that’s worthy of attention.
Last week, United States’ E.P.A. (Environmental Protection Agency) has released its latest list of fuel-efficient vehicles. And guess what car won first place in the list of top 10 economical cars? The Toyota Prius… again! According to the Japanese article at carview.co.jp, this is the 4th consecutive year in which the Prius has emerged victorious among a multitude of green cars.

Amazingly enough, the latest Prius has managed to run 21.68km per litre in the city (that’s 51MPG!) and 20.4km/l (48MPG) on the highway.

EPA's Greenest Car

EPA's Greenest Car: Toyota Prius

Here is the top 10 list:

1:Toyota Prius
2:Ford Fusion Hybrid
3:Honda Civic Hybrid
4:Honda Insight
5:Lexus HS250h
6:Nissan Altima Hybrid
7:Ford Escape Hybrid
8:Smart ForTwo
9:Toyota Camry Hybrid
10:Lexus RX450h

It’s interesting to note that 9 of the top 10 vehicles are hybrids, cars that move by means of an electric motor as well as an engine. The only non-hybrid car in there is the tiny Smart ForTwo (which I am personally quite fond of, because it’s so cute). Even better is the fact that 7 of the cars are Japanese: 4 Toyota/Lexus, 2 Hondas, and a Nissan.

For a more detailed list, check out this link: Most and Least Fuel-Efficient Cars.

As you can see on that link, on the other end of the fuel-efficiency scale are big expensive supercars like the Lamborghini Murcielago, Ferrari 612 Scaglietti and the Bentley Continental. While the MPG figures for those cars are pretty depressing to look at, I guess that if people can afford those cars in the first place, they won’t have any trouble keeping their gas tanks filled. I wish I were one of them!

On another note, I must mention that I have fallen in love with the 10th car on the list: Lexus RX450h. Without a doubt, this is one of the most beautiful luxury SUVs I have ever set eyes on!

Lexus RX450h

Lexus RX450h

広告

The Smallest Car in the World?

Hi everyone, it’s Maki here again. This is my first post on this blog in a few weeks, so let’s hope I can make this at least a little interesting to read.

These days, with fuel price and the prices of so many other things on the rise, many people are turning their attention to cost-efficient small cars. In fact, there are so many small hatchbacks in Japan today that it’s practically impossible to keep track of all their names.

And actually, these cars actually make a lot of sense: most of them can seat up to 5 people, carry luggage in the back (albeit not very large ones), require a refill only once in a blue moon, can effortlessly conquer narrow roads, and most importantly, will get you where you want to go. So, unless you need to drive on muddy hills, carry tons of luggage or have a large family, there is no need to own a big car; for many people, a small hatch can be just the kind of car they need.

Let me show you a few examples of popular small Japanese cars that are commonly found in stock at Autocom Japan. (To see the entire stock list click here)

Toyota Vitz

Toyota Vitz

KSP90

Honda Fit

Honda Fit

GD1

Nissan March

Nissan March

AK12

Toyota Ist

Toyota Ist

NCP61

Suzuki Swift

Suzuki Swift

ZC11S

They are all good, reliable machines.
My intent today, however, is not to show you every little detail of these cars to show you how good they are; I don’t know well enough about them to do that. Instead, I’d like to show you how small cars can possibly get and still be functional as… well, a car.

So which of the cars above is the smallest? To be honest, none of them are.They are, in fact, giants compared to what is known today as “the smallest car ever to go into production”: the Peel P50.

And here’s a photo of it. Isn’t it the cutest thing?

Peel-P50

It looks like a cyclops with its single headlamp. Ok, so I have to tell you first that this is NOT a Japanese car, it is 100% British, manufactured by Peel in the Isle of Man during the early 1960’s. (People often say that we Japanese are the best at making small things, but it looks like the Brits have beaten us to it this time)
The car seats only one adult, weighs less than 60kg, and its engine capacity is no more than 49cc.
Instead of writing about this as if I know everything, I should just refer you to its wikipedia article here, from where I got all the info.
I did not know of this vehicle’s existence until I happened upon a video of famed British TV show Top Gear, in which presenter Jeremy Clarkson, who is 6ft5in tall, crammed himself into this tiny little car and drove himself around London. In my honest opinion, it’s one of the best Top Gear features ever, and a timeless classic.

Here is that famous Top Gear video clip for everyone to see:

According to Wikipedia, the Peel P50 can do 100MPG(!!). I’d say that’s more than economical enough for me! Of course, a car of this size is way too small to drive around safely in these days, and I’m sure everyone wants cars that seat more than a single person. Still, it’s interesting to see the kinds of small cars that people have been making decades ago, and how they have changed over the years.

By the way, this little Peel is now a vintage car and costs many, many times more than any of the Japanese cars pictured above. Amazing!

Amazing Nissan Patrol Hill Climb!

Today I’m just gonna keep it short and share with you a great video I found the other day on Youtube featuring a souped up Nissan Patrol (aka Nissan Safari). Check this out:

Too bad the car failed to get to the top, but the driver’s slip-second action near the end is absolutely amazing… it saved his car and most likely his neck too!
All I know is that this is some kind of crazy hill climb race event somewhere in Saudi Arabia… correct me if I’m wrong. There are several other vids of this insane event floating around on the internet, but this one is by far the most epic!

Mahalo(thank you) for reading. Have a nice rest-of-the-week!

Maki

Why the superb Toyota Harrier Hybrid is not the car for me

Since this is my first post on this blog, I will introduce myself: my name is Maki, and I am the accountant here at Autocom Japan. I handle all the money that goes in and out the company, and occasionally dabble in other work such as advertisement design.
I am also a petrolhead; I love all things with an engine and four wheels, especially those rare, expensive metals loaded with tons of horsepower.
So, today I would like to talk about my experience in the most technically advanced car I have ever driven: the Toyota Harrier Hybrid 2008 (or Lexus RX Hybrid).

Harrier Hybrid, the most sophisticated car I've ever driven

Harrier Hybrid, the most sophisticated car I've ever driven

First and foremost of all, let me inform you that I do not own a Harrier. A huge luxury SUV is not the kind of car a 22-year-old girl should be driving, much less be able to afford. But I got to drive it at a test-driving course set aside specifically for that purpose by Toyota. And what a car!
Here are a few of the things that impressed me:

1. It’s so eerily quiet to drive. That is of course due to the car being a hybrid, running entirely on its electric motor during the course of my drive without the use of its powerful 3000cc engine. It’s so silent, in fact, that I think it could possibly be a health hazard to unwary pedestrians crossing the road!

2. It’s very, very comfortable inside… not very surprising in a heavy luxury car, but the ride was so smooth that it almost felt like the car was floating and gliding over the road. It’s great as long as the driver doesn’t fall asleep from being too comfortable.

3. All of the interior – especially the dashboard – look awesome! It has enough cool buttons and gadgets to keep any driver or passenger entertained during long drives.

I now understand why the Harrier is so popular among men: it looks cool, sporty and luxurious at the same time, and when you’re driving it you start to feel invincible, as if you were in a heavily armored tank.

However, as I was climbing out the car after my drive, I could not help thinking “was I really driving it?” Sure, I was behind the wheel, making turns, signalling, pressing down the gas and the break. Only it did not feel like I was in direct control of the car, but more like I was telling its in-built computer what to do, and that computer was in turn directing the car. So, when asked how the driving experience was, I wasn’t sure how to answer.

Now, let me take you back a couple years back in my lifetime, back to a time when I lived on the island of Hawaii. The car I and my roommates drove back then was an old gray Nissan Maxima. I don’t know exactly how old the car was, only that the model was first produced in 1989. And what can I say… the car was like the exact opposite of the afore-mentioned Harrier: a plain, old, half-broken-down car. Here’s why…

The Nissan Maxima, in one of its better days

The Nissan Maxima, on one of its better days

1. The air-conditioner never worked correctly so that the windows often had to be opened to let in the fresh tropical breeze… along with all the noxious fumes from surrounding cars and lorries. Oh, joy.

2. The steering was crooked so that if I let go of the wheel, the car would automatically veer to the left and into the opposing lane (this is in America, with right-side lanes).

3. No matter how diligently we washed and cleaned it, it always looked as if someone had poured acid over its bonnet.

4. Occasionally, the car stubbornly refused to start its engine at all and was therefore completely useless.

However, when the old Maxima did obey its driver, despite the hot, humid air, despite the coughing engine noise and the crooked steering, and despite its shabby looks, it could sometimes create a truly wonderful driving experience. I could feel each part of the car working hard, moving and responding directly to me, and it gave me a sense of freedom.
After driving the new Harrier Hybrid, I realized that that was what was missing from my driving experience in it. I could not “feel” the car like I could in the Maxima.

So, you might ask, what’s my point in comparing these two vastly different cars? One is an epitome of modern Japanese engineering, while the Maxima is just a plain, out-dated car by today’s standards.
My point is this: modern, technologically-advanced cars can sometimes be so sophisticated that there is very little left for the driver to do, and therefore lose a lot of that “connection” between car and driver. Don’t get me wrong, the Toyota Harrier Hybrid is an excellent car. I strongly recommend it to anyone who wants a sporty SUV that is both luxurious and economical at the same time. Toyota really does some amazing things.

…but sometimes, depending on time and place, and if I could choose between the two, I would much rather go out for a drive in an old beaten-up Maxima.

– Speaking of Toyota Harriers, though, we usually have a few for sale on our website… somewhat older and definitely not hybrids, but Harriers none the less. Please feel free to take a look and see other cars as well if you’re interested. Click here to see our stock list