Volkswagen Tanoak concept: VW recently displayed this show vehicle that shares platforms with the full-size Atlas utility vehicle. The Tanoak (pronounced Tan-oh-ack) is a rugged-looking crew cab-style pickup with standard all-wheel drive and a 276-horsepower V-6 that’s also Atlas-derived. If the short-bed truck does go into production, it would likely be as a fully loaded premium model.
• The record for the fastest steam-powered automobile was set in 1906 by Fred Marriott, who managed to get his Stanley racer up to 121.56 mph on the sands of Daytona Beach, Fla.
• Without numerous pioneers, the internal combustion engine might never have been developed. For example, the crankshaft was developed by James Watt in 1782, and Frenchman Jean Lenoir is credited with inventing the spark plug in 1860.
What’s up, auto doc?
As usual, there’s a gray area between what a vehicle is rated at in terms of fuel consumption and what it will actually get. That’s because how “your mileage may vary” depends on you. But that gray area seems to be even a little grayer when it comes to hybrids. Putting a previous-generation Camry Hybrid on the road for 1,800 miles yielded us real-world fuel economy of 33-35 mpg, which is less than the 41-mpg combined rating. That was loaded up with gear and keeping pace with freeway traffic in 95 F heat with the air conditioning blasting away. But since most of this driving was done on the highway, that 33-35 mpg is closer to the 39-mpg highway rating provided by the EPA. Those are pretty good numbers, but you’ll likely do just as well with the standard four-cylinder Camry on the highway, whereas the real benefit of a hybrid comes during in-city driving where the electric motor is providing more assist. Keep this in mind, and be careful to buy correctly for your use and to drive correctly for the vehicle — or you’ll run the risk of being disappointed.