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The 2018 Toyota Sequoia is Thirsty

The 2018 Toyota Sequoia is Thirsty

The ole 5.7-liter V-8 has a drinking problem

The Toyota Sequoia has undergone a mild refresh for 2018, bringing a slightly different front fascia, a slightly revised dash, and the Toyota Safety Sense-P as standard equipment. But unfortunately, the rest of this full-size SUV dates back to 2008. Yep, that’s a full decade without change. That includes the 5.7-liter V-8, six-speed automatic transmission, and the optional part-time 4WD system.

Now, the 5.7-liter isn’t a bad engine. Its dual overhead camshafts use variable valve timing on both the intake and exhaust sides to offer better low-speed efficiency with high-end power. The engine generates 381 horsepower at 5,600 rpm and 401 pound-feet of torque at 3,600 rpm. And like all good V-8s, the engine makes plenty of torque down low; Toyota says the 5.7-liter makes 90 percent of peak torque at just 2,200 rpm. That certainly helps with off-the-line power and allowing the six-speed automatic to up-shift sooner and hold gears longer.

Nevertheless, the V-8 does not have modern features like cylinder deactivation or direct fuel injection. And these days, eight- and 10-speed automatic transmissions continue to squeeze more and more from a gallon of gas.

The Sequoia, on the other hand, is EPA-estimated to only achieve 13 mpg city, 17 mpg highway, and 14 mpg combined. Over the last few days of mixed driving, I’m only averaging 13.3 mpg. Ouch.

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Cummins Will Now Sell You A Turbodiesel Crate Engine

Cummins Will Now Sell You A Turbodiesel Crate Engine

The new “Cummins Repower” program kicks off with a 2.8-liter four-cylinder TD

Cummins, a big name in the turbodiesel world and supplier of the venerable and highly praised inline six-cylinder turbodiesels used in Ram’s heavy-duty pickups, is now launching a crate engine program called Cummins Repower. The program allows the general public to purchase brand new turbodiesels directly from Cummins. Before, salvage yards were the only way to acquire a Cummins not attached to a brand new pickup or piece of machinery. The Repower program’s first crate engine is the R2.8, a 2.8-liter four-cylinder turbodiesel with 161 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque.

Cummins is marketing the R2.8 as a cleaner and more fuel-efficient alternative to restoring an older gasoline or diesel engine in classic trucks and SUVs. The turbodiesel uses modern electronics and fly-by-wire connections and meets the EPA’s Tier 1 emissions standards. The R2.8 is derived from Cummins’ global platform engine, which is used in small pickups, chassis cabs, vans, and SUVs worldwide. But Cummins didn’t leave it alone. Updates and emissions modifications were made for the R2.8 with an eye on the North American enthusiast market. Impressively, the heavy-duty turbodiesel weighs only 503 pounds, which is roughly 75 pounds lighter than the classic, all-iron 350 cubic-inch small block Chevy V-8. While the R2.8’s power output isn’t as robust as a modified 350 V-8, the Cummins offers better fuel economy, and its direct-injection fuel system is more reliable than a carburetor could ever hope to be. Of course, there are plenty of downsides, but we’ll cover that below.

Continue reading for more on the Cummins R2.8 turbodiesel.

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Will Thermal Nuclear Propulsion be the Way to Mars and Beyond?

Will Thermal Nuclear Propulsion be the Way to Mars and Beyond?

NASA is looking into it yet again, more than 40 years later

From the 1950s all the way until the early 1970s, NASA was on a mission to send Mankind to Mars and, as such, was considering different forms of propulsion. The most promising was a nuclear-powered rocket. Of course, the plans to go to Mars were shelved around the same time of the last Apollo mission, and Man hasn’t been out past the international space station (to the best of our unclassified knowledge) since. Sure, we’ve sent a number of unmanned probes, but outside of that, we’ve stuck pretty close to home. But, technology has improved drastically over the years, and the phone in your hand is now more powerful than the computers that helped Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin land on the moon while Michael Collins piloted the command module and observed from lunar orbit on July 20, 1969. Now we’ve got guys like Elon Musk pressing the issue and wanting to colonize Mars in the near future, so it’s only fitting that NASA step its game up and prepare for a journey to the red rock.

With that in mind, it should come as no surprise that NASA is considering thermal nuclear propulsion once again. While this may sound inherently dangerous, it’s really not that bad. This type of propulsion works by taking a liquid fuel like hydrogen and heating it inside a nuclear reactor. The fuel is then forced out of rocket nozzles at high speed, ultimately creating thrust. It was previously found that this kind of propulsion is nearly twice as efficient as the typical rocket that relies on a chemical reaction for thrust. This would allow the nuclear craft to carry less fuel (which means less weight) and a give a quicker trip to our destination, wherever it may be. Estimates place the travel time from earth to Mars at about four months, which is nearly 70 percent of the time it would take with a conventional rocket. It’s not quite Warp Drive, but it’s a step in the right direction, right Scotty?

With that all in mind, NASA has contracted a company known as BWXT Nuclear Energy to again explore the potential of this type of propulsion. Keep reading to learn a little more about it.

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Cool Device Could Turn Your Truck Or SUV Into A Mobile Gas Station

Cool Device Could Turn Your Truck Or SUV Into A Mobile Gas Station

How do you feel about being able to pump gas from your own vehicle? Is it cool, dangerous, or asking to have your gas stolen?

So you’re getting ready to cut your grass or maybe even take the quad out for a fun ride. There’s one problem, however. You go to grab your gas can, just to find that all three you own are bone dry. Now you’ve got to spend the next half hour getting to the gas station filling up and getting back home before you can proceed with your plans for the day. Well maybe not, if you have the Fuel Tool installed on your truck or SUV.

With the Fuel Tool, the need of going to the gas station to fill a gas can could be a thing of the past. It would make filling up the lawn mower, quad, tossing your kid a little gas, or fueling up your generator as simple as starting your truck and pumping a little bit of gas right there on the spot. What’s more, the guys behind Fuel Tool have showcased this new system to three major automakers in Detroit, MI.

According to Mike McAvey from Fuel Tool, Alan Mulally, the former President and CEO of Ford has admitted that the system is great, and the Ford should introduce it to the world. Of course, that only holds so much weight, but if the guys behind Fuel Tool have their way, the new Ford Ranger could very well come equipped with a Fuel Tool.

With that said, a few questions come to mind about this Fuel Tool system. First, is it safe? Second, how does it work? Third, will people be able to steal my gas if I have a fuel tool? Well, Let’s take a look at a couple of videos from Fuel Tool and talk a little about it.

Continue reading for the full story.

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Chevrolet Silverado Chassis Cab Gets CNG Capability

Chevrolet Silverado Chassis Cab Gets CNG Capability

Chevrolet has just announced it will continue offering its bi-fuel option on the 2016 Silverado 3500. The setup allows customers to power the truck using either Compressed Natural Gas or standard gasoline. Directed at fleet customers, the bi-fuel option is only available on regular cab Silverado Chassis Cabs but can be had with either 2WD or 4WD.

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Chevrolet Silverado Chassis Cab Gets CNG Capability

Chevrolet Silverado Chassis Cab Gets CNG Capability

Chevrolet has just announced it will continue offering its bi-fuel option on the 2016 Silverado 3500. The setup allows customers to power the truck using either Compressed Natural Gas or standard gasoline. Directed at fleet customers, the bi-fuel option is only available on regular cab Silverado Chassis Cabs but can be had with either 2WD or 4WD.

The bi-fuel option is also only available with the standard 6.0-liter V-8 engine. The V-8 makes 322 horsepower at 4,400 rpm and 380 pound-feet of torque at 4,200 rpm and is mated to GM’s Hydra-Matic six-speed automatic transmission.

Once example of a possible chassis configuration is the utility box as seen here. In the front of the box lies the high-strength, 24.5-gallon CNG tank. This easy-access door allows for quick fill-up of CNG, while fill-ups with gasoline happen the conventional way. The standard gasoline tank still resides between the Silverado’s frame rails and holds 23.5 gallons.

Though the Silverado bi-fuel option is limited in its cab configurations, Chevy does make it easy for buyers of CNG trucks – the trucks completely outfitted by Chevrolet. Ford, on the other hand, only offers a CNG prep package for its F-Series trucks, requiring the customer to turn to a third party supplier to complete the conversion.

“CNG burns cleaner and costs less at the pump than gasoline, making it an appealing option for fleets,” said Ed Peper, U.S. vice president of GM Fleet and Commercial. “Expanding our CNG lineup furthers our commitment to provide a diverse lineup of alternative fuel vehicles for our customers.”
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Audi Produces Its First Batch Of e-diesel

Audi Produces Its First Batch Of e-diesel

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, carbon dioxide levels are at an 800,000-year high, but what if we could pluck CO2 particles out of thin air to use as a raw material for a carbon-neutral fuel? It’s not a pipe dream, because it’s exactly what Audi is doing at a research facility in Dresden, Germany. Called e-diesel, the fuel is currently being produced (following an incredibly rapid commissioning phase of just four months) and already powering an A8 3.0 TDI.

Researched and produced in partnership with Dresden-based energy company Sunfire, the only raw materials needed to make e-diesel are CO2 and water. The method works using the power-to-liquid principle and primarily uses CO2 supplied by a biogas company. The secondary source of CO2 is even more impressive: Another Audi partner, Climeworks in Zurich, has developed a way to capture CO2 particles from ambient air. That means CO2 emitted from e-diesel cars (and anything else that emits CO2, including humans) can potentially be recaptured and reused as fuel, making it a carbon neutral energy source.

Continue reading to learn more about the Audi e-diesel.

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Powertrain Showdown, Part I: Conventional Powertrains

Powertrain Showdown, Part I: Conventional Powertrains

Meet “The Neverending Article.” Sure, it seems like a pretty straightforward proposition: Compare and contrast the major motivators out there today. No problem, right? And it probably wouldn’t have been 30 years ago, when powertrain options were limited to your choice of either gas or diesel. However, the 21st century isn’t like the 20th. Here in the future, the minute you think you’re done writing about one kind of powertrain, another one comes along, and you’re right back to re-drafting your fifth introductory paragraph.

Keeping up is a Sisyphean task indeed; every time you think you’ve got that boulder to the top of the hill, a hydraulically driven spring accumulator shoves it right back down to the bottom. For as many times as we’ve run over the different methods of motivating an automobile, I’m pretty sure they’re halved compared to the number of times I’ve been run over by that boulder. But, that’s exactly what makes today so exciting.

In this article, I’m going to go over the pros and cons of the major powertrains on offer today: internal combustion (gas and diesel), hybrid and electric. Of course, these days, those are far from the only options on the table. With internal combustion engines having hit a likely impassable developmental wall (see “Seven Unexpected Reasons Why Electric Cars Are The Future”), we’re right back to the Wild West days of blue-sky thinking and anything-goes engineering. For a few of those, check out Part II of this article, “The Ultimate Powertrain Showdown – Weird and Wonderful.” That was originally the second half of this one, but it seems certain editors aren’t too fond of 4,700-word articles.

Still…what are you gonna do? Like the future itself, this is the article that never really ends. Like Sisyphus pushing his boulder up the hill, or writers on their fifth page-one rewrites, it seems we’ve all got a load to push if we’re going to undo the mistakes of the past. But it’s a welcome burden. When you’re finished with this one, make sure to check out Part II…to watch that rock roll downhill again.

Continue Reading for the whole story

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2015 Daimler SuperTruck

2015 Daimler SuperTruck

Passenger cars and trucks aren’t the only road-going vehicles undergoing a fuel-saving transformation. Daimler has just announced its Freightliner SuperTruck has surpassed the Department of Energy’s criteria for the SuperTruck Challenge that began back in 2009. And surpass it did.

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2015 Daimler SuperTruck

2015 Daimler SuperTruck

Passenger cars and trucks aren’t the only road-going vehicles undergoing a fuel-saving transformation. Daimler has just announced its Freightliner SuperTruck has surpassed the Department of Energy’s criteria for the SuperTruck Challenge that began back in 2009. And surpass it did – the Freightliner SuperTruck beat the DOE goal of a 50 percent improvement, surpassing the fuel economy averages of a 2009 baseline truck by a whopping 115 percent. That translates to an average of 12.2 mpg.

While that might not seem too impressive, consider the truck and its cargo weigh 65,000 pounds and was moving an average speed of 65 mph over a 312-mile test loop on the open interstate. Oh, and it’s powered by a 10.7-liter turbodiesel that makes 390 horsepower and 1,400 pound-feet of torque. Yep, I’m impressed.

This is all part of a corporate challenged issued by the DOE back in 2009 to raise fuel economy levels of transfer trucks. The challenge set forth the goal of a 50 percent improvement in fuel economy and a 50 percent improvement in brake thermal efficiency. While two other truck makers are in the competition, neither of their entries come close to touching the Freightliner’s advancements.

Continue reading to learn more about the Daimler SuperTruck.

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Volvo Reveals 450 HP Drive-E Powertrain Concept

Volvo Reveals 450 HP Drive-E Powertrain Concept

Volvo has revealed its latest motor concept, and if you didn’t consider the Swedish brand to be particularly sporty or cutting edge, prepare to reevaluate your opinions. This 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine before you comes with no less than three turbines, and should put out at least 450 horsepower, all with squeaky clean emissions and top-notch fuel efficiency.

If you didn’t know, Volvo is a leader in modern twin-charging; that is, equipping an engine with both a supercharger and a turbocharger. The idea goes like this, a supercharger provides low-rev grunt as the turbo spools up. Once the boost is built, a turbo takes over, providing high-end punch, essentially yielding a super-efficient engine with a broader powerband.

This particular powerplant is an evolution of the previous Drive-E twin-charged engine, but instead of using a supercharger to build boost, Volvo uses an electrically powered turbo compressor. This feeds compressed air to two parallel turbochargers, and voila, the triple boosted engine is born.

Click past the jump to read more about Volvo’s New 450 HP Drive-E Powertrain Concept.

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These are your wheels in the new Mad Max game: The Magnum Opus

These are your wheels in the new Mad Max game: The Magnum Opus

The Mad Max series of movies are one of those unique points in the history of film and car fans. From a truly critical standpoint the movies are not that great, but for some reason all three films have garnered a dedicated following.

Perhaps it is the idea that our future could be a rough and inhospitable land filled with hooligans, miscreants, raiders, and other terrible ilk. Perhaps we as a nation built on the automotive fear what may happen if there was a true gasoline crisis.

It could just also be that there are lots of awesome cars and explosions, and hell yes we want more of that.

Whatever the case, the Mad Max universe has proved to be ripe for the picking, and there is a new video game coming for all of us to enjoy. The game is simply titled Mad Max, and thankfully it has very little to do with any movie. Rather, the game is simply set in the world of Mad Max, and Avalanche Studios has used that world as their blank canvas.

The game itself is very car heavy, and while we are sad that you don’t get to cruise around in a kitted out Ford Falcon, Avalanche has given us a pretty bad-ass car to use and modify. They call it the Magnum Opus, and West Coast Customs has built one in real life.

See the new game trailer and learn more about the WCC Magnum Opus after the jump.

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The MPG Battle Could Spell the Death of the Sports Car

The MPG Battle Could Spell the Death of the Sports Car

For the vast majority of the automobile’s life, horsepower has reigned supreme as the bragging right of most car owners. Torque snuck its way in through the 1980s and is now a little more relevant, but it was all about that almighty HP for the most part. Well, as the emission standards and fuel crisis of just about every decade emasculated muscle cars more and more, a new spec started rearing its wallet-friendly little head: miles per gallon.

With the price per gallon of gas tickling Abraham Lincoln’s feet in some areas of the U.S., mpg is becoming more and more important. In fact, just months ago, Consumer Reports did a survey that showed 37 percent of car buyers actually make their car-buying decision based on the mpg of a car. The next highest percentage chose build quality, and that tallied up to only 17 percent of the people polled.

It has gotten to the point now that even Lamborghini has introduced a start-stop feature on the 2013 Aventador, Ferrari and Porsche are building hybrids, and there is an electric-powered sedan hat hits 60 mph in 4.4 seconds while getting 90 mpg equivalent. This leads us to the inevitable, the sports car world is the next thing that has to change or die off altogether, as the supercar world is already rolling toward the mpg side.

There is mention of the Mustang and Camaro both switching over to turbocharged V-6 or, god forbid, 4-cylinder engines. If the pony cars can do it, chances are the sports cars of the world – Nissan 370Z, Porsche Boxster, Mazda Miata, etc. – are all going to have to push their mpg to extremes to remain competitive. This could ultimately increase sticker prices significantly and might result in buyers having no problems saying, “yeah, my car only has 100 horsepower and looks like a shoe, but it gets 75 mpg!”

The UK has been dealing with terrible gas prices for ages and you can see it in its cars. For example, the Nissan 370Z costs $33,120 in the U.S. and gets 26 mpg highway. In the UK, however, Nissan had to tweak it to meet the EU’s more stringent fuel economy regulations, raising its highway mpg to 36, but bringing the 370Z’s cost to an astronomical £29,975 ($48,202 at the current exchange rates). Would you pay nearly $50K for a base 370Z? I know I wouldn’t.

This may very well result in the death of the sports car, what a scary thought. Ultimately it is a change-inexpensively-or-die situation for the sports car as we know it in next 10 years…

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