Car Reviews

Is Toyota RAV4 Prime The Automaker's Best Vehicle Yet? Test Drive Review

The Toyota RAV4 Prime is the closest you can get to a true Toyota electric car, plus it’s built on an American favorite.

According to The Fast Lane Car, the Toyota RAV4 Prime plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) is “by far” the most interesting Toyota sold today, as well as the best new Toyota you can buy (though you may not actually be able to buy it). 

We haven’t yet spent time with the Prime, but based on what we know so far, we agree with The Fast Lane Car. This is why we’re so saddened by the fact that Toyota isn’t planning to sell many of these in the U.S., not to mention dealerships already price gouging the SUV. However, having waiting lists and massive price increases supports the fact that it’s already a popular Toyota product.

So what makes the RAV4 Prime the best Toyota? If it were readily available, would the automaker sell it in droves? The Fast Lane Car shares its observations and opinions after test driving the new Toyota.

The simple fact that the RAV4 Prime boasts 42 miles of all-electric range is arguably the most compelling feature. The Prime is also highly efficient, even when you’re not driving on electricity alone. Early on, we were afraid Toyota might skimp as it did with the Prius Prime, which is a fantastic car, but it only has 25 miles of electric range. 

Today’s PHEVs typically have much less range than we would like to see. The discontinued Chevrolet Volt was the only EV to get it right (at least in our opinion), with an impressive 53 miles of range on its battery alone. The only current PHEV to nearly match that is the Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid with 48 miles. The RAV4 is a larger and more practical compact SUV, and still, it offers enough miles for most people’s daily driving.

The Fast Lane Car has a whole lot more input that we don’t yet have, since they’re actually out driving the brand-new SUV. They say it’s quick and fun to drive, which isn’t always true of SUVs, and especially not most of Toyota’s hybrids.

Check out the video for all the interesting details. Then, scroll down and leave us a comment.

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The Bend makes Supercars hub offer

The Bend Motorsport Park managing director Dr Sam Shahin is willing to put his spat with Supercars aside and form a hub for the series, as a fresh coronavirus outbreak threatens the current revised schedule.

The South Australian circuit was left off the latest version of the 2020 calendar, unveiled last month, in favour of Sandown Raceway in Melbourne, sparking a scathing open letter to Supercars from Shahin.

Since then, however, Australia’s COVID-19 picture has changed drastically, with Melbourne back to Stage 3 restrictions and all Melbourne-based teams out of Victoria and on the road indefinitely due to a fresh outbreak in the state capital.

While the current six-week lockdown in Melbourne will be over before the scheduled date for Sandown, September 19-20, its understood Supercars is looking at other options for that event.

They include Winton in the north of Victoria, or, as first flagged by, a reprieve for The Bend on its original date.

Despite the recent spat with Supercars, Shahin says The Bend is ‘willing and able’ to welcome Supercars back in the coming months – and perhaps not just for a single sprint round.

He says the on-site hotel and holiday park opens the door for The Bend to become a hub, where multiple rounds could be held in quick succession to ensure a 2020 season can be completed.

“The Bend is ready, willing, and able to step up and assist at short notice should Supercars require additional rounds this year, in light of the current situation in Victoria,” Shahin told The Race Torque.

“We have the ability to make the Rydges Pit Lane hotel available to the teams and the garages and our broader facilities are there for them to operate out of for as long as required.

“We have all the provisions in place to provide the social distancing or complete isolation of the teams from the public if required.

“The track itself is ready to go and if they wanted to run multiple rounds in quick succession, they could do that as well – using different circuit layouts if they wished.

“We have no doubt that South Australian motorsport fans would welcome Supercars back to The Bend this year.”

The five Victorian teams have all relocated to New South Wales after a dramatic border run on Monday evening.

Most are already set up at Sydney Motorsport Park ahead of next weekend’s round, while Kelly Racing has based itself at the Kelly family farm in Mildura.

It’s currently not clear how long the teams will need to stay out of Victoria, however it’s likely to include the upcoming trips to Darwin and Townsville.

It could even be extended to take in The Bend should that plan come to fruition.

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Car Reviews

How To Adapt To The Unique Demands Of Formula E

The inside line from a Formula E veteran racer.

Find out what it takes to be a true racer in the high-performance, all-electric world of Formula E in the latest episode of Mahindra Blueprints.

Since Formula E took the world stage by storm in 2014, its cast of city circuits and electric-powered cars posed an all-new challenge to the drivers who dared to enter.

Mahindra reserve and development driver and ex-Formula E driver Nick Heidfeld answers the most frequently asked questions about how to drive successfully in the championship.

He talks about how to best manage energy in the course of a race, and how Formula E’s demands are unique compared to other series.

Tune in to find out what makes a Formula E driver tick, and how it feels to tackle some of the world’s most recognizable circuits.


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Car Reviews

Can The Rivian R1T Beat The Tesla Cybertruck When Off-Roading?

This video offers interesting answers and makes pertinent questions.

We have never seen the Tesla Cybertruck tackling trails or any sort of off-road activity. While we wait for that, Rivian did not let that happen to the R1T with “Long Way Up” – which will premiere this week on Apple TV Plus – a diary at its website, and its latest video. The Cyber Truck, Truck Guy YouTube channel got that very video to ask: “Can the R1T beat the Cybertruck when off-roading?”

As you may imagine, that will only be adequately answered when both trucks hit the market. What is possible at this point is to analyze the Rivian video and try to get info from it to compare it with what we already know about the Cybertruck. And that is precisely what the video above did.

The presenter got really impressed with the R1T capabilities in the trails shown in the video. He reminds his viewers that fishtailing and going over rocks is something off-roading offers better conditions to perform. In case you still have not watched it, we have spoken about it on June 29. 

When the R1T crosses a path full of stones, the presenter wonders if the Rivian electric pickup truck presents any underbody armor. If it is important in regular off-road vehicles, it is especially sensitive to electric vehicles. The battery packs are almost always installed there. Any damage in that area could be catastrophic.

The presenter also wonders about servicing. Considering most off-road tracks are in remote places, any sort of issue in these areas would demand a strong maintenance network. Tesla is still developing its service centers, and Rivian plans to follow the same path. Will it be strong enough from the start? Let us know what you think below. 

Source: Cyber Truck, Truck Guy

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Car Reviews

Norwegian Capital Oslo Has The Most EVs Per Capita In The World, Report Says

This is not surprising in the country where EVs have boomed in popularity in the last few years.

Oslo, Norway’s capital capital, is now reportedly the world leader in terms of electric vehicles per capita (along with the country’s second largest city, Bergen). This comes as no surprise since Norway leads the way in EV adoption, and its capital has set itself a very ambitious target to be near-zero emissions by 2030.

According to a local report quoted by TheDriven, as many as 60 percent of all cars purchased in Oslo in the first quarter of 2020 were fully electric or electrified. Another 16 percent were plug-in hybrids, while gasoline- and diesel-burning cars hovered around 15 percent.

Currently, around 18 percent of all passenger cars operating in the city are fully electric, 9 percent are plug-in hybrids and 5 percent are regular hybrids. And this shift isn’t only in the passenger car segment; electric vans have also gone up in popularity too, with 23 percent of all new vans bought in Q1 2020 being fully electric.

So unlike many countries in Europe (or the rest of the continent) that have self-imposed emissions targets they want to reach in coming years, it looks like Norway is actually well on its way to achieve its own. And while in other cities in Europe, a reduction of 95 percent in the total emissions from vehicles in the next 10 years seems far fetched, Oslo might just make it.

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Lando Norris the 'obvious heir to Lewis Hamilton's crown'

Trevor Carlin has backed Lando Norris to take over from Lewis Hamilton’s reign as Britain’s top Formula 1 driver.

Norris came through the ranks with the Carlin team, winning the MSA Formula Championship and the Formula 3 European Championship before finishing runner-up behind George Russell in the Formula 2 Championship back in 2018.

After making his Formula 1 debut in 2019 with McLaren, Norris’ career scaled to new heights in the 2020 season opener in Austria as he finished on the podium for the first time.

Norris, on the final lap, set the fast lap of the race to get to within five seconds of Hamilton, who had a time penalty for causing a collision with Alex Albon.

Hamilton dropped to P4 as a result with Norris joining Valtteri Bottas and Charles Leclerc for the podium celebrations.

And Carlin feels that once Hamilton steps away from Formula 1, Norris can become Britian’s leading talent.

“Lando is the obvious heir to Lewis’ crown as the top British driver,” Carlin told The Sun.

“When Lewis achieves everything he needs to achieve and steps down, Lando will be at the helm.

“He needs the correct package but McLaren have made incredible steps over the last few months and who’s to say that they cannot be a force in 12 months’ time?

“He is doing everything right and the results are coming and I am very proud of him.”

FU*KKKK YEAHHHHH!! 🍾 P3 and my first every Podium!! 🍾 😁😁😁😁😁😁😁😁😁

— Lando Norris (@LandoNorris) July 5, 2020

Head on over to the Formula 1 shop for all your official Lando Norris merchandise

Carlin is also not expecting podiums, and possibly race wins in the future, changing Norris for the worse.

“Will he change from a lifestyle point of view? Absolutely not. He is not that sort of guy,” he added.

“A great example is Sebastian Vettel because he was racing with us in 2006 and 2007.

“I saw him at Hockenheim two years ago when his younger brother was doing an Audi support race and Seb was doing his brother’s pit board.

“I went over and asked him how he was doing and I said, ‘hey Seb, mind if I tell you something?’ He said ‘what?’

“I said ‘you have never changed’. Now, it has been years since he drove for me and is a four time world champion and has all the money in the world.

“He just looked at me and replied ‘why would I need to?’ and I see Lando being exactly the same.

“Lando is the nicest person you could ever meet. I am chuffed to bits for him.

“He is not flash or big headed. He basically always delivers. It is as simple as that.”

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Car Reviews

MIROS urges the government to enact a new law banning the sale of dangerous vehicle accessories –

The Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research (MIROS) wants the government to enact a new law banning the sale of dangerous vehicle accessories that could pose a fatal risk in the event of an accident. An example of just such accessories are dummy or decoy seat belt clips, which are relative affordable and readily available everywhere.

Such clips are mainly purchased and installed by motorists who opt not to wear their seat belts while driving for whatever reason, but don’t want to put up with the constant chime emitted by the car’s seat belt warning system.

Suffice to say, it doesn’t take a genius to know just how unsafe it is not to wear a seat belt while driving, given that there’s nothing to restrain you during a crash. Even so, it still happens despite constant warnings and reminders posed to motorists.

Currently, there is now law that prohibits the sale of such products, but MIROS wants to change that. “Such accessories were never deemed illegal and can be sold in the market, including at convenience stores, even though it is obviously dangerous when used by motorists,” said MIROS director-general Dr Khairil Anwar Abu Kassim in a report by Berita Harian.

“Therefore, I feel that there should be a law that can control or restrict the sale of dangerous vehicle accessories to consumers,” he continued, adding that MIROS plans to meet with the ministry of domestic trade and consumer affairs (KPDNHEP) to discuss the issue, particular on enforcement. Khairil also suggested that enforcement could be done in advance to ensure that these dangerous accessories were not sold openly, as drafting a new law could take some time.

In another report by Berita Harian, it was revealed that out of 1,000 road accident cases investigated by MIROS from 2017 until this year, 30% involved drivers and passengers using dummy or decoy seat belt clip in vehicles.

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Auto News

Watch: The RS4 and the RS7 Go Head to Head

Why would you race an RS4 Avant against an RS7? Well, first of all if you had them both and access to an airstrip, wouldn’t you? Secondly, you might discover something interesting, like the RS4 can beat the RS7 under the right circumstances.

In three standing quarter-mile drag races, the RS4 wins twice. This seems to come down to the reaction times of the RS7’s driver, but under acceleration, the RS4 Avant is really impressively quick.

That’s despite making about 150 fewer hp. Mind you, despite being a wagon, the RS4 weighs nearly 300 lbs less than the RS7, which might explain why the performance gulf doesn’t appear to be as big as the power gulf.

As you’d expect, though, in the rolling race, the RS7 takes off and flexes its muscle.

first published on

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Tuning and Technology

The Sentinel A50 Welding Helmet Looks Amazing, But Is It Good?

The $299 Sentinel A50

Straight away, if your welding helmet is more than five years old, you are going to benefit from the improved optics of a new one. If your helmet predates auto-darkening technology, you will be amazed what it can do for speed and convenience.

We have both fixed-glass and early auto helmets at the shop and have been eye-hustling the A50 for quite a while. Eventually, the Google ad hooked us, and we grabbed a new A50 from ESAB.

Out of the box, we were happy to see four extra front cover lenses and an additional inside cover lens, a bag, a head cover, and a pair of batteries. After we installed the batteries, we found that the helmet’s shade, sensitivity, and delay were preset so we could lay down some MIG beads right away.

The head gear has adjustments for raising and lowering the headband, so the helmet doesn’t sit too low on your head. It also slides forward and back to adjust the distance between the helmet and your face if you are fogging the lens or want to wear a respirator while you work. It also appears that ESAB scienced-out the view-angle position adjustment, so the helmet stays up when you want it to and doesn’t hit you on the nose when you flip it down. All these adjustments have locks, so they stay put. After using the A50 for several weeks, we retired the other helmets in the shop.

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Shade, Sensitivity, and Delay

The display illuminates when the helmet is picked up and turned ove—or by simply pressing the display button. There are three welding settings, plus a memory and grind option. Shade is the amount of light that enters the helmet while you are welding. The recommendations are for protection vs visibility depending on the process. The range for cutting is 59 and welding 913.

The range for sensitivity is the same as shade. The idea is to back off the adjustment until the filter reacts only to the arc strike and not sunlight, shop lights, or other hot spots.

Some welds glow after you have run the bead, exposing you to bright “after rays.” The delay setting holds the shade from 0.1 to 1.0 second before changing from dark to light. For spot welding, use the shorter delay; for high current, make it longer.

All these settings can be saved to one of eight sets of parameters. If you switch from MIG to TIG, or from a spot weld to a long bead frequently, the memory option saves time.

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The Grind Button

After you make a mess with your MIG welder, you will need grind mode, which is activated using the ultra-handy grind button on the side of the helmet. In grind mode, the shade default is 4, and the sensitivity is non-adjustable. A flashing grind icon will remind you to reset the helmet before you resume welding.

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ESAB Welders
Miller Welders

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Auto News

230 HP Mazda 3 Coming for the GTI?

Although not explicitly a performance version, the much-anticipated Mazda 3 turbo will give the new Mazda 3 a welcome boot in the root when it comes to performance. And thanks to a video uploaded too soon(?) by Mazda Mexico, we now have some specs on the compact hatch.

The headline, of course, is that the 2.5-liter four-cylinder turbo will be making a satisfactory 227 hp and an impressive 310 lb-ft of torque. The Mk8 GTI will make 14 more hp (241), but 37 fewer lb-ft of torque.

The video makes no mention of a manual model, but the standard 3 is offered with a standard transmission, so a manual turbo doesn’t seem impossible.

It will also come with 18-inch aluminum wheels, a 12-speaker Bose sound system, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and fine leather seats. The Mk8 GTI is supposed to be a tech showpiece, so the Mazda 3 won’t run away with the tech, but Mazda is focusing on premium. As a result, the 3 may be more of a competitor for the Golf R, when it comes to interior styling.

Unfortunately, it’s hard to determine what the 3’s price will be at this point since this is a video from a different market. As a car that kind of straddles the line between the GTI and R, though, it’ll be interesting to see if the 3 finds its niche or if it struggles to thread the needle.

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