Monday, February 25, 2008

Manual Versus Automatic Transmission

The age old debate of manual vs. automatic can be simply concluded in one word: preference. Choosing between the two has always remained the great debate unless we get cars with transmission that allows them to shift automatically.

Starting with automatic, they are simple, fun and easy to handle. The driver just has to keep one foot on gas pedal and rest of job is done by car, while you sit back and enjoy the ride. Manuals on other hand, give the driver total control on the car and a great feeling knowing that you have all the power on the car and its going your way. In technical terms feature a driver-operated clutch and a movable gear selector, which can change gear ratios automatically as the vehicle moves, and doesn’t require the driver to change gears automatically. The big question is which one of the two is better? Comparison between manual and automatic are general guidelines depending on what on a driver wants and may not apply in certain conditions.

Manuals are known to give better fuel economy as compared to autos. Increased fuel economy in manual transmission is raised by 5 to 15 percent as compared to autos. The mechanical efficiency of autos is cut down by driving the high pressure hydraulic pumps required for its operation. Manual transmissions are still more efficient than belt-driven continuously-variable transmissions. Manuals do not lose much power in as heat through the transmission. The control given to driver in a manual is important for a driver who knows the correct procedure for executing a driving maneuver. Driving a manual requires more involvement from the driver and concentration since the driver is multi-tasking by shifting gears, monitoring traffic and anticipating events. And if the driver fails to multi task then the machine will soon end up in an incorrect gear, which will be obvious from excessive or insufficient engine RPM. Autos require regular servicing and you won’t find diesel versions around. On other hand driving a manual can be a tedious job since it requires continuous shifting and you will never see both hands on steering wheel. If a driver feels a distraction from source like cell phones while driving a manual it can get dangerous, while autos allow flexibility with multi tasking. A manual requires its driver to be adept or practice with car since one must develop a feel for properly engaging the clutch and good accelerator pedal application and clutch control when starting the car from a standstill. . Autos however are more popular among women for its ease and convenience. Manuals can pose a problem when started from a rest at a steep position. There is less wear and tear on gear box transmission and vehicle body due to automatic gear changes. Keeping in view advantages and disadvantages mentioned above, let us consider some other factors which may decide which transmission you require.

If the driver wants most power from his car then going for a manual will surely be the best bet.

Is fuel economy an issue for you? If so, then manual is your choice since autos are known to be more fuel thirsty then manuals. This will be more pronounced if you do a lot of highway or country road driving and less important if you do a lot of city driving. In addition to this small car with small engines, the power exhausted by an automatic transmission is more evident.

Automatics have good resale values and will benefit you if you consider the resale factor. Manual however should be your premiere choice, when buying a car if you have a tight budget. Moreover you will get added features with a manual transmission in a limited budget. Manuals are known to have better mileage and price range with greater accessories, making it ideal choice for people with limited resources.

Though the maintenance factor is not very important but one should consider it especially when buying a car with high mileage and questionable owner history. Automatic transmissions are more prone to wear and tear and thus require space in your budget. Plus its maintenance requires additional care.

And last but not the least comes the fun factor, where manuals definitely take over autos. Manual transmissions give the driver a feel of power and authority over the car engine and you can get maximum power from it. However driving a manual can be a tedious job if you drive in heavy traffic everyday.

I hope you find the information useful, but I again emphasize on the fact there is no good or bad when it comes to transmission and it all depends on one's individual preferences.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Comprehensive Review on the Toyota RAV 4

The Toyota RAV4 is a compact crossover SUV built and marketed by the Toyota Motor Corporation. It was originally built to provide to consumers a vehicle that had most of the benefits of SUVs, such as increased cargo room, higher visibility, and the option of four wheel drive, along with the maneuverability and fuel economy of a smaller car. Its name stands for "Recreational Activity Vehicle, 4-wheel drive," although not all models have four wheel drives.


Undergoing changes, the Toyota RAV4 has been upgraded for 12 years and unveiled the third generation in 2006.The Toyota RAV4 was completely redesigned for the 2006 model year, on an all-new platform. It still has the 2AZ-FE 2.4 L four-cylinder engine, which now produces 166 hp, up five from the previous year. The North American RAV4 is also fitted with the 2GR-FE 3.5 L V6 engine, boosting its power to 269-hp. The Australian RAV4, fitted with only the 2.4L four-cylinder engine, was introduced with the 2GR-FE V6 engine towards the end of 2007. The new RAV4 topped Toyota SUV sales in the United States for the first time. It is also the first generation of RAV4 to be offered in regular (for Asian and European markets) and extended (for American and Australian markets) versions. Not only is it the first compact SUV to offer third-row seating, but it now has improved aerodynamics, interior space and cabin noise reduction.

The extended-length RAV4 is larger by 21% in interior volume from the last generation and now has an available third-row seat for two small children (US and Canada only). The RAV4 can still be had in either two-wheel-drive or four-wheel-drive in the United States; however, most countries, but you will find only the four wheel version in countries like Canada.

JDM models are X, G, and Sport. The X and G can be ordered with either front-drive or 4WD. The Sport model with over fender is 4WD only. In Australia, the RAV4 is sold in base CV, mid-range Cruiser, and top of the line Cruiser L trim levels. The extended-length RAV4 is sold in Japan as the Toyota Vanguard.

Currently, the RAV4 is produced in two locations in Japan: Toyota's Tahara, Aichi assembly plant, and under contract by Toyota Industries in its Nagakusa, Obu, and Aichi plant. However, when Toyota's Woodstock, Ontario, Canada assembly plant comes online in 2008, models sold in North America will be assembled exclusively there (effective May 2009).

For 2008, Rav cross sport was added in line by Toyota. The Cross Sport is based on the Sol, with several changes and additions to the standard equipment. The Cross Sports comes with newly styled 17-inch alloys, shielding plates under the bumpers, LED tail-lamps, an audio and a DVD navigation structure with a parking assistance and anthracite coloured seats. A 152 Hp 2.0-Liter-VVT-i petrol unit a 136 HP strong 2.2-liter D-4D diesel unit will be seen in Europe by mid September.

Styles and Major Options

The 2006 Toyota RAV4 is available in the following 3 trims: Base, Sport, and Limited.

Base

Following options are available in Rav4 Base:
* 17-inch 5-spoke styled steel wheels with P225/65R17 tires and full-size spare tire on 17-in. steel wheel
* 17-inch 5-spoke aluminium alloy wheels with P225/65R17 tires and full-size spare tire on 17-in. steel wheel
* Tonneau covers with multi-purpose cargo net with support poles
* AM/FM 6-disc in-dash CD changer, MP3/WMA capability and six speakers
* Roof is black with rails and cross bars
* Air bags in driver and front passenger seats and sensing air bags in back seats
* It has DRL instilled
* Fabric-trimmed 50/50 Split ∧ they come with height adjustable head rests
* Tow Prep Package (V6 models only) with 3500-lb. towing competence – includes upgraded radiator

Sport

Options available on the RAV4 Sport are:
* Tonneau covers with multi-purpose cargo net with support poles
AM/FM 6-disc in-dash CD changer, MP3/WMA capability and six speakers
* JBL® AM/FM 6-disc in-dash CD changer, MP3/WMA capability and nine speakers (includes subwoofer and steering wheel audio controls)
* Driver and front passenger front seat-mounted side airbags and front- and second-row roll-sensing side curtain airbags (RSCA)
* Daytime Running Lights (DRL)
* Power tilt/slide moon roof with sunshade
* Tow Prep Package (V6 models only) with 3500-lb. towing capacity – includes upgraded radiator, fan coupling, and alternator

Limited

Options available on the RAV4 Limited are:
* AM/FM 6-disc in-dash CD changer, MP3/WMA capability with sub woofers
* Rear-seat DVD entertainment system with rear-seat audio and two wireless headphones (includes 115V power outlet and RCA jacks)
* Air bags for both front driver and front passenger and RSCA for back seats
* Heated seats for both driver and front passenger
* Leather-trimmed seats
* Instilled with DRL
* Sliding roof with sun shade
* Fabric-trimmed 50/50 Split & Stow 3rd Row TM seats with fold-flat-into-floor capability and height-adjustable headrests
* Tow Prep Package (V6 models only) with 3500-lb. towing capacity – includes upgraded radiator, fan coupling, and alternator

Interior and Comforts
* Dual Zone A/C that can filtrate air and remove dust/pollen
* AM/FM in-Dash 6-including 6 speakers
* Auxiliary Audio Jack available
* Steering wheel is wrapped in leather and allows you to control audio as well
* Manual Tilting/Telescopic Adjusting Steering Wheel
* Fabric-trimmed Interior with power-adjustable driver's seat and manually-adjustable passenger's seat
* Fabric-trimmed multi-adjustable front seats with driver's height adjustment
* Centre console with 2 illuminated cup holders, cell phone storage, upper storage tray, and lower console box
* 2nd Row 60/40 split, recline, fold flat with slide forward capability with centre armrest and 2 cup holders
* It has dual glove box, power windows and locks, remote entry and a digital clock
* Cargo area second row seat with one touch fold-flat lever
* comes with storage for cargo in rear

Colors
Colors can be varied by trim

Exterior
* Super White
* Savannah Metallic
* Classic Silver Metallic
* Barcelona Red Metallic
* Pacific Blue Metallic
* Black
* Flint Mica
* Blizzard White Pearl
* Everglade Metallic
* Nautical Blue Metallic

Criticisms
Toyota Rav was originally developed for Japanese consumers where conventionally driving is done on left side of road, the door hinges are on the passenger side and the door of the rear trunk sways horizontally only. This features poses problem in international market as the door blocks path to control when it is opened. A smaller gas tank very much destroyed the original purpose of Rav with fuel economy and it ends up becoming more of a problem for the owner. Even with a low base price the RAV4 does not turn out to be economical if the buyer plump for extra perquisite as the price increases significantly with options such as the side and side-curtain airbags. The third row seats were a new innovation by company but proved very uncomfortable for adults.

Hybrid/Electric Models
Toyota RAV is also available in an all-electric version called the RAV4 EV from 1997-2002. It is powered exclusively by 24 12-volt batteries which can be fully charged in 5 hours. Top speed of RAV4EV is 80 miles per hour, and a range of 80-120 miles when fully charged. The RAV4EV has proven to outperform the traditional RAV4 in acceleration tests, and has shown impressive performance with the flow of traffic at any posted speed limit in the United States.

Wear and tear of RAV4EV battery approximately costs US$26,000 to replace, due to short supply. The remaining systems in the RAV4EV are same as gas-powered RAV4, like power brakes, power steering and air conditioning. Maintenance cost of these systems is also same as that of gas powered RAV4.

Toyota has not expressed interest in refreshing the RAV4 EV line. Proponents for the RAV4 EV are hopeful low-cost batteries capable of being powerful enough for the RAV4 EV drive system, will allow consumers to own and afford it.

To find a pre-owned Toyota Rav 4, visit One Stop Motors, where you can find thousands of Toyota Rav 4s and other used cars for sale.