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Week in Review: Foldups, Fuel Efficiency, and the Future

By Jacob Brown | June 30, 2012
The future is looking pretty bright for the auto industry. Contrary to what you may be thinking from our title, no car companies closed up shop this week; one supplier of child car seats has an idea that just might work better because it folds. And as for the rest, we've got some spy shots of upcoming cars and there's an upcoming alliance that could yield more fuel-efficient engines and yet another Toyota sports car, courtesy of the fine folks of BMW. But why just talk about fuel-efficient cars of tomorrow? Our very own Matt Askari took a 2012 Volkswagen Passat TDI on an 1,800-mile journey, dodging mishaps, turning down parties with Brazilian models, and making it to Miami, getting 38 mpg all the while. Enjoy the best from the week that was. Paragraphimage Monday, June 25 You can have your full-sized sedan and eat your 40-mpg cake, too, now that Toyota has announced its 2013 Avalon will come with a hybrid option. While engine specifications weren't announced, Toyota said the new Avalon Hybrid would be able to get 40 mpg in the city and 39 mpg on the highway, raising the bar for just how fuel-efficient a car of its size can get. Buick has its 37-mpg highway LaCrosse eAssist, and the 2013 Ford Taurus EcoBoost comes trailing in third at 32 mpg on the highway. The Toyota Avalon looks like it's going to rule the roost until some serious competition comes along. Paragraphimage Tuesday, June 26 If you could roadtrip anywhere in the U.S., where would you go? And what would you do it in? Our Matt Askari answered both questions, traveling almost the entire length of I-95 from Portland, Maine, to Miami, Florida, in a 2012 Volkswagen Passat TDI. That's right, he did it in a diesel. And he did it filling up twice. But Matt's story isn't one of a car; it's one of seeing Americana at its finest and experiencing its life and culture. Matt fended off the advances of Brazilian models in New York City whose hearts were likely broken, petted an unreasonably cute dog, and took the Passat to Daytona International Speedway during his journey, outlining not even a handful of the adventure. Seriously, read it. Paragraphimage Wednesday, June 27 Before we started talking about Matt's roadtrip, we mentioned the Toyota Avalon might need some serious competition, as its 40 mpg looks like it'll be tough to beat. Then, we saw the 2014 Chevrolet Impala Eco prototype testing and thought, "Hey, that was fast." The Impala Eco is likely to share the 2.4-liter four-cylinder and mild hybrid powertrain currently used in the Buick LaCrosse eAssist. But if Chevrolet is putting in some extensive testing as it is, we're hopeful the bowtie brand will make it more of a competition with Toyota. If that weren't enough Chevrolet love, though, we also caught sight of the 2014 Chevrolet Colorado pickup truck, which is likely to ditch the diesel engines used in Thailand for more conventional four- and six-cylinder options. Paragraphimage Thursday, June 28 And here's something completely different: Te Tama, a startup child seat company is trying to enter the market with a product called the Safeboard. Why is it called that? Because it's safe—tested by hoards of engineers—and it's foldable, looking like a surfboard when stowed. The 13-pound child seat looks to revolutionize the child seat market, accommodating children from 20 pounds all the way up to 80 pounds. The company has already secured funding and is looking at hopefully release its Safeboard to the market next year, potentially allowing parents to suffer less with hauling around their kid equipment. Paragraphimage Friday, June 29 Finally, we end the Week in Review with the future, namely a future with the Goliath that is Toyota joining forces with the only brand that would have the audacity to call its cars and crossovers ultimate driving machines. The two automakers have signed a memorandum of understanding to collaborate on fuel cell, alternative fuel sources, and a future sports car model. BMW broke its partnership off with General Motors recently after GM signed a memorandum with French automaker Peugeot. Despite being long seen as a maker of passionless, reliable appliances, Toyota has recently come out of its shell, joining with Subaru to co-create the Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ. With more know-how from ze Germans, there's no telling what kind of cars captivating, exciting Toyota could make in the future. This deal smells like awesome waiting to happen.