The Friday Five:The Future Toyotas, Microsoft Vee-Dubs, and Fuel-sipping Trucks Edition

Liz Kim | Feb 12, 2021

This week, we reported news about new Ford Bronco Sport accessories, confirmed specifications for the redesigned 2022 Infiniti QX60, and shared information about the Chinese-market Volkswagen ID.6 electric 3-row SUV.

Additionally, we published a list of the best new cars that park themselves, an explainer detailing the differences between all-wheel drive and 4-wheel drive, and an article about how to prevent getting COVID in a Lyft.

Since you might be in the market for a new car, we share the pros and cons of online car buying. We've also reviewed the redesigned 2021 Hyundai Elantra and the more powerful 2021 Mazda CX-30 Turbo, previewed the 2022 Audi e-tron GT, and compared the Chevrolet Traverse vs. the Ford Explorer.

But that's not everything that was happening in the automotive space.

Six New Vehicles on the Toyota and Lexus Horizon - Find the best Toyota deals!

The folks at Toyota remain as busy and efficient as ever. If the tea spilled at a National Auto Dealers Association (NADA) dealer meeting this week is accurate, a slew of new products is headed our way in the next couple of years.

Toyota Electric Vehicles

Toyota announced three new vehicles: an all-electric SUV, another all-electric car, and a plug-in hybrid. Meanwhile, Lexus plans on releasing a big, luxurious SUV to sit at the top of the lineup, a three-row midsize crossover more accommodating than the existing Lexus RX L, and an all-electric vehicle. 

Interestingly, Toyota is bucking the trend of prognosticating a zero-emissions future in the next couple of decades. It says 40% of its lineup will feature electrification by 2025 and nearly 70% by 2035. Otherwise, the current plan is to reduce emissions rather than rid itself of internal combustion engines altogether. 

Report Speed Traps, Hazardous Conditions to Apple Maps 

Unlike most of Apple's other products, Apple Maps has consistently been in catch-up mode when it comes to functionality and user experience, driving navigators to Google Maps for accuracy and Waze for clever hacks. 

But now, Apple Maps updates its app to allow drivers to report road hazards and speed traps. The new functionality is still in beta testing mode but will soon be available for all users.

"Wait a minute," you're thinking. "Isn't that just like Waze (and Google Maps, starting in 2019) when it comes to user-supplied information?" Yep. But in Apple's case, you can use the Siri voice assistant to report them. 

Volkswagen to use Microsoft for Software Updates - Find the best Volkswagen deals!

Anyone with a computer or smartphone knows that the key to maintaining peak efficiency for your machine depends on software updates to address hobgoblins in the programming. That's true with modern cars as well, which increasingly rely on software not only for infotainment functions but also for other systems using artificial intelligence. 

Early on, you would have to purchase a CD or some other physical media format to update your navigation system's maps. Then, you had to visit the dealership for updates. Many cars can now receive over-the-air Wi-Fi updates that seamlessly and invisibly install the latest and greatest software in your vehicle.

Along these lines, Volkswagen has announced that it will partner with Microsoft's cloud computing division to develop systems to update its vehicles with future advanced driving assistance system (ADAS) features, and ultimately, autonomous driving functions. 

It's a similar approach already in use by some automakers, such as Tesla, and is especially helpful when a vehicle already has the necessary self-driving hardware installed but requires a software update to activate the technology. 

EVgo Stations will Incorporate Tesla Chargers  - Find the best Tesla deals!

Speaking of Tesla, it accounts for 80% of all electric vehicle sales in the U.S. But its quirky power plug doesn't fit into the standard public charging stations that almost every other electric vehicle uses. If you're a Tesla owner, that means you can only power up at the company's exclusive Tesla Superchargers or carry a bulky adaptor to use at other charging stations. 

But when you're the segment leader, you get to dictate market forces, and in this case, electric car charging companies are shifting to accommodate Tesla. 

In that vein, EVgo has announced that it will retrofit around 400 – about half – of its existing DC fast charger stations to fit Tesla charging ports. Additionally, it will include these chargers at the 200 new stations it plans to build in major metropolitan areas by the end of 2021. 

It's good to be the king. 

Big Trucks that Sip Fuel - Find the best car deals!

A long time ago, owning a big, powerful truck meant stinky emissions and horrendous fuel economy. Now there are more choices that give you fuel efficiency and the power you crave. 

Chief among them is the 2021 Ram 1500 HFE EcoDiesel. The 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6 delivers 260 horsepower and 480 lb.-ft. of torque, can tow up to 12,560 pounds, and is rated to average about 26 mpg in combined driving (23 mpg city/33 mpg highway). Ram says the truck can travel up to 1,000 miles before needing a stop at a diesel pump.

Other high-mileage full-size trucks include the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra equipped with a 277-hp, 460 lb.-ft. of torque 3.0-liter turbodiesel inline-six, and the Ford F-150 fitted with a 250-hp, 440 lb.-ft. 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6. The Ford F-150 Powerboost Hybrid is yet another full-size pickup that gets eye-popping fuel economy.

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