Before its move to the Lone Star state, Toyota has released its first Western-style pickup truck, the 2014 Toyota Tundra 1794 edition. Toyota built its Tundra factory on what used to be a ranch in San Antonio, and the new truck is named for the year the original ranch was founded. The 1794 Edition is a recreation of the urban style of the Tundra Platinum trim level but with a more rustic feel.
Because everything’s bigger in Texas, the 1794 Edition is only available in a crew max body style and comes standard with a 5.7-liter V8 and your choice of two-wheel drive or four-wheel drive. Completing the western feel, the interior features supple saddle brown leather upholstery, wood trim, 18-inch silver spoke wheels and an enormous chrome grille.
You’ll be riding high in the saddle in the new Tundra 1794 edition. If you’re in the market for a new pickup with an old Western feel, stop by Gray-Daniels Toyota today for a test drive, or you can call or contact us online for more information on this ultra-stylish new truck.
For the majority of people out there, washing your car is about as fun as making your bed. It’s an innocuous task, and one that is rarely ever looked on with excitement. Given all the modern breakthroughs in science and technology, it’s amazing someone hasn’t developed a self-making bed or a self-cleaning car for that matter.
While they can’t help you with bed-making chore, the good folks at Nissan of Europe have begun testing an innovative paint technology that repels mud, rain, and everyday dirt. The result: a car that can practically clean itself.
Taking their little lab experiment a step further, Nissan’s engineers have applied this super-hydrophobic and oleophobic paint, which repels water and oils, to the all-new European market Nissan Note to create the world's first self-cleaning car.
In order to assess the real-world viability of the super-hydrophobic technology for commercial use, engineers at Nissan Technical Centre Europe will be testing the self-cleaning Note over the coming months in a variety of conditions.
Nissan is the first carmaker to apply the technology, called Ultra-Ever Dry®, on automotive bodywork. By creating a protective layer of air between the paint and environment, it effectively stops standing water and road spray from creating dirty marks on the car's surface.
So far, the coating, which is being marketed and sold by UltraTech International Inc®, has responded well to common use cases including rain, spray, frost, sleet, and standing water.
Sadly, we don’t recommend you toss out the bucket and washcloth just yet, as there are currently no plans for the technology to be brought stateside or even make its way into commercially available vehicles. If there is one comforting takeaway, however, it's that Nissan is committed to developing cutting-edge technologies that seeks to address the everyday problems of its customers. Even the lazy ones.
For more information on this or other exciting Nissan technology and vehicles, be sure to contact your local dealership today.
Image: Nissan Europe
Toyota has regained its title as the world’s most valuable car brand. Toyota has held this top spot seven out of the last nine years. Toyota has increased its value by 21 percent from last year, for a total brand value of $29.6 billion.
This is according to the Millward Brown Optimor BrandZ study of the “Top 10 Most Valuable Car Brands.” The study analyzes financial data as well as opinion polls of potential and current buyers to determine the top ten list.
Gray-Daniels Toyota is proud to represent the world’s most valuable car brand. Call, contact us, or stop by today to test drive one of our new Toyota vehicles and see for yourself why more people trust the Toyota brand.
Engineers thrive on competition. Whether it's on the racetrack or in the marketplace, competition drives engineers to create faster and better cars. And competition has certainly done wonders for the 2014 Nissan Altima. The midsize family sedan segment is brutally competitive with manufacturers launching new and refreshed models at an ever-increasing rate, but the Altima seems to have come out on top. One of the quickest cars in its segment, it's also economical, rewarding to drive, attractively styled and features an upscale interior.
It's the styling you notice first. Hood and fenders appear wind-sculpted with a graceful line running back along the flanks from the upper corners of the grille. Like a trail of smoke in the wind-tunnel, this lifts over the front fenders to emphasize the Altima's muscular nature, before flowing back to the trunk lid.
Three horizontal bars locate the Nissan roundel in the grille, while triangular-looking headlamps wrap around into the fenders. A steeply raked rear window creates a coupe-like look, and the relatively narrow "greenhouse" above the wide rear fenders make it seem hunkered-down, as if about to leap forward.
Two engines are offered, a 2.5-liter four cylinder or a 3.5-liter V6, both driving the front wheels through an "Xtronic" continuously variable transmission or CVT. One claimed strength of the CVT is its ability to reduce fuel consumption by better matching engine speed to load: EPA mileage estimates of 27 mpg City and 38 Highway for the 2.5 and 22/31* for the bigger V6 certainly suggest this is true.
Another CVT characteristic is a willingness to downshift when accelerating. This makes the 182 horsepower, 180 pound-feet of torque, four-cylinder surprisingly quick, and the 270 horsepower, 258 pound-feet of torque, V6 rapid enough to surprise drivers of so-called "sporting sedans." Adding to its performance credentials, the 3.5 comes with paddle shifters and a manual shift mode, plus a thicker rear stabilizer bar.
From inside the Altima looks expensive with high quality materials combining to produce an elegant and luxurious cabin. Seats are especially impressive, being remarkably comfortable and supportive, even on long journeys. And for cargo, the 15.4 cubic feet trunk features a wider opening than many competitors, making it easier to lift large bags in and out.
Three trims are offered, S, SV, and SL, and there's also a base 2.5 model. The 2.5-liter SV and SL ride on 17 inch alloys while all 3.5's get 18's. A six-way power drivers seat, Bluetooth connectivity and steering wheel-mounted cruise controls are standard across the range.
Stepping up to SV trim brings NissanConnect™ telematics, incorporating hands-free text messaging, and a rear view camera, plus dual zone automatic temperature control, remote start and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. SV models equipped with the 3.5-liter also get a power moonroof.
SL trim builds on this with foglights, heated mirrors with integrated LED turn signals, an eight-way power drivers seat, heated front seats, a nine-speaker Bose premium audio system, and beige or charcoal leather upholstery with wood or metallic-tone trim. V6-powered models also get LED taillights.
SV and SL models (both 2.5 and 3.5) can be ordered with the Technology package, (navigation and a seven inch screen, moving object detection, blind spot detection and lane departure warning). Buyers of the 2.5 SV can also get the Convenience Package which adds a moonroof and foglights. A separate moonroof package is also available for the 2.5 SL.
The midsized sedan market offers many choices. Competition like that drives improvement, and the 2014 Nissan Altima is very good indeed.
*EPA-estimated figures only. Your actual mileage will vary.
Image: Nissan North America
Learn more about the effects of air conditioning on your fuel consumption
With the cost of fuel generally on the rise, savvy car drivers are always on the lookout for ways to improve gas mileage. There are many different factors that can influence your fuel efficiency. The car you drive certainly makes a big difference, but so does the way you drive, the road you drive on and even the weather conditions.
During the summer months, your car is likely to endure high temperatures and a lot of sunshine. So what impact will this type of weather have on your fuel efficiency?
As soon as the weather gets hot, most drivers are likely to reach for the air conditioning to cool them down. Many drivers believe that air conditioning may increase the fuel consumption, preferring instead to roll the windows down. By allowing fresh air to keep the car cool, you may believe that you are conserving energy. However, this idea may be untrue.
The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) conducted a study to see whether it was more fuel efficient to drive with the window down or to have the air conditioning on. What the study found was that when you drive at speeds of more than 55 miles per hour with the windows down, the fuel efficiency can decrease by more than 20 percent. Conversely, by having the air conditioner on and the windows closed, the fuel efficiency decreased by only 10 percent. By keeping the window or windows open, you will interfere with the car's aerodynamics, causing more drag. This means that the engine has to work harder and consume more fuel to maintain the speed you want.
Therefore, when driving in summer at speeds above 55 miles per hour, it is better to have the windows closed and the air conditioner on. However, this may not be the case if you are simply cruising around town. At lower speeds, the study recommends that you switch the air conditioner off and open the windows. At these speeds, the engine is not producing enough energy to make the air conditioning efficient, so you will actually see better gas mileage if you roll the windows down. This may not be desirable in stationary traffic, but it is important to be aware that if the car is stationary, then fuel efficiency will suffer if you have the air conditioner on.
It is also worth remembering that driving a long distance in a convertible with the top down will drain the fuel faster than with the top up. The sunny weather and blue skies may make the convertible seem like a romantic option, but consider the significant increase that this will create in fuel consumption before you get too carried away.
Kickstarter is a website that uses “crowdfunding” to help individuals finance creative projects. While the goal of posting a project is to get money for your endeavor, utilizing Kickstarter can provide valuable promotion for your current project as well as your future ventures.
What is Kickstarter?
Kickstarter calls itself a “funding platform for creative projects.” You ask people to help fund your project in return for a reward. You can direct family, friends, and colleagues to the site. Web surfers and Kickstarter users will also find your project and can decide to contribute. Projects can be any creative endeavor that has a specific timeframe to be completed, like making an invention a reality (as in this article from Wired magazine), publishing a book, or finally packaging your famous brownies and setting up a website storefront.
How to get started
Before you post anything to Kickstarter, you need to figure out the specifics: the amount of funding you need, the amount of time to keep your project open for pledges, and what the reward will be. The best rewards are ones that are associated with successful completion of your project, like a free copy of your book or a specially wrapped package of those brownies.
It is important to keep in mind that Kickstarter projects are “all or nothing,” meaning if you don’t reach your monetary goal, you don’t get any money and don’t owe any rewards. This is to ensure that folks who pledge don’t lose their money to an underfunded project, and that you don’t owe rewards that were tied to a project you couldn’t afford to complete.
The Kickstarter website offers suggestions and statistics to help you determine what funding goal and reward is reasonable. You can also look at projects already on the site to see what works and what doesn’t. Once you have all the specifics squared away, you just click the “Start Your Project” link at the top of most pages on the website, and you are walked right through the process.
Promoting your project
Once your project is approved and goes live, you get a landing page for the project where you can post pictures and videos. Posting fun and interesting content, including updates on how the project is progressing, will help to tempt onlookers to pledge. Just like any other web page, keywords and fresh content may help draw web searchers.
Send everyone you know to your project page and ask them to spread the word. Utilize social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter to find people who are interested in your project’s subject area and link to the page. If you already have your own blog, link back and forth between your blog and your Kickstarter landing page to keep people engaged.
All of this promotion will hopefully get you to your funding goal. But even if it doesn’t, it will spread the word about your project, as in this Inc. article about using Kickstarter for business. Just because people decide not to pledge, or don’t pledge enough, doesn’t mean they will not become a fan or a future customer. They might decide to subscribe to your blog or follow you on Twitter, and while that might not get your current project off the ground, it can pay dividends in the future.
Posting your project on Kickstarter can be a great way to raise the funds you need to make it happen. The promotion you do to raise those funds can also bring extra attention to your idea or talent, and those connections can be just as valuable as money.
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Takeru Kobayashi once ate 14 Twinkies in a minute. You'd be wise not to bring him to your next picnic. You would, however, be wise to bring these five cool things.
A picnic basket. You could bring a plastic or reusable shopping bag or something similar, but why not spring for a quality picnic basket? A picnic basket adds elegance to the outing and makes it look like you actually care about the people you're picnicking with. The traditional wicker picnic basket, one that doesn't look like it's been shredded by an army of termites, is both elegant and practical, leaving you plenty of room to store your goodies.
Games. Picnics often involve enormous amounts of food. It therefore behooves the picnicker to engage in a little physical activity to work off excess calories. You don't want too much physical activity, however, for fear of picnic food regurgitation. Traditional games such as horseshoes, badminton, frisbee, croquet, and bocce ball all make for a fun picnic activity.
Something to sit on. Grass itches. Cement picnic tables hurt. Dog poop smells. Bring something to recline out on the grass, a checkered picnic blanket, for example. Mattress pads and furniture pads will make lying down as you eat, sip beverages, or spend quality time cuddling with your significant other much more comfortable. Umbrella shades will also make a sunny day enjoyable.
Eating accessories. Nothing ruins a picnic faster than walking around with a glob of mayonnaise on your chin with no way to wipe it off. Before you chuck the picnic basket in the back of the station wagon, make sure you have everything that will prevent potentially tragic results involving food, your hands, and barbecue sauce. Bring napkins. A more versatile option than napkins is wet wipes, especially if you have children. Civilized people also enjoy using plates and cups for eating and drinking. Although large occasions call for paper products, smaller, more elegant picnics, might call for actual plates and cups. If so, make sure you've a place to put them that won't soil everything else in the basket.
Dessert. You already ate your weight in fried chicken and a gallon of potato salad, so you might as well eat dessert. The best desserts, by the way, involve things you can eat with your hands that won't involve you having to purchase three additional containers of the aforementioned wet wipes. Chocolate chip cookies never fail, especially homemade ones (or ones you buy at the store, take out of the package, and put in a container to make it look like they're homemade).
Great locations to see an amazing sunset
Few things are more awe-inspiring and romantic than a spectacular sunset. At the end of a glorious day, there is something almost spiritual about watching the sun disappear behind the horizon, and in many parts of the United States, the surroundings make for some of the best views in the world. If you are looking to add something special to your road trip this year, here are a few suggestions for the best summer sunsets.
Mallory Square, Key West, Florida
A sunset can mean different things to different people. In Mallory Square, people take the opportunity to celebrate the end of another beautiful day with a Sunset Celebration, and they really know how to party right! Located in the center of Key West's historic waterfront, Mallory Square plays host to great shops, unique street entertainers, an eclectic mix of restaurants, and a historic sculpture garden. This is one stop for the whole family!
Arches National Park, Utah
Arches National Park in Utah offers some of the most spectacular and unusual scenery in the nation. The sun-drenched landscape is made up of a myriad of different colors and features more than 2,000 natural rock arches. Take one of the many trails and enjoy amazing scenery by day, and stunning sunsets by dusk.
Outer Banks, North Carolina
North Carolina's Outer Banks (or OBX) is a 200-mile string of narrow islands off the coast of North Carolina. The Outer Banks remain hugely popular to tourists, with amazing beaches and plenty of historical attractions to enjoy. This large expanse of coastline makes for some amazing sunsets. Make your way to Hatteras Island or Jockey's Ridge for two of the most popular sunset settings, and you will finish off a perfect day by the coast with some gorgeous views.
Grand Canyon National Park
One of the only ways to make the Grand Canyon even more “grand” is a spectacular sunset backdrop. This amazing feat of nature is glorious day-round, but it is especially beautiful when the sun sets at the end of the day. There are plenty of different spots that provide a great view of the multi-colored sky. Hopi Point is one of the most famous of these, and Yaki Point and Pima Point are also good choices. Try to find a spot without a crowd because with fewer people, you may actually be able to hear the Colorado River flowing below.
Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica, California
When you have spent the day playing on the beach or frolicking in the sea, watching the sunset is a relaxing way to unwind in the evening. Many beachside resorts highlight their beautiful sunset views with fun parks and amusements, and Santa Monica Pier is one such location. The pier has been around for more than 100 years, and includes an amusement park, an aquarium and an arcade. There’s also no need to leave after the natural light show, because the fun on the pier continues late into the evening.
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