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Honda to Offer Electric, Hybrid, and Hydrogen Versions of Clarity

May 4th, 2016

Honda_Clarity

With its hydrogen-powered Clarity, Honda promises to deliver an alternative fuel source that it hopes will prove as viable as electricity.

Honda figured out how to package the vehicle as a standard five-seat midsize sedan with all the room and versatility buyers in the segment expect. Plus, it can carry enough hydrogen to propel it for over 430 miles and needs only three minutes to fill at a refueling station.

Previous efforts at creating hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles were limited by large tanks that infringed on passenger space, took too long to refuel, and didn’t provide nearly as much range. The Clarity, despite its odd proportions in the rear, is a design marvel that could bring hydrogen power into the mainstream.

Except that Honda will also create electric and plug-in versions of the Clarity. Why?

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10 NHTSA 5-Star Safety Picks for Any Lifestyle

April 29th, 2016

2016 Volvo XC90

Cars and safety have had a long and difficult relationship, but it became way more complex with the arrival of the smartphone. A Pew survey last year determined that 64% of American adults own a smartphone, and anyone who’s spent any time on American roads within the last couple of years knows many people use those phones while driving. In fact, we’re just concluding April, Distracted Driving Awareness Month, during which the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) launched its “U Drive. U Text. U Pay.” campaign.

We strongly urge everyone reading this post to take NHTSA’s recommended steps to minimize their distractions while behind the wheel and avoid getting pulled over–and not just in April, but year-round. Unfortunately, there’s very little any driver can do about to prevent other drivers from getting distracted. So here are ten 2016 cars that should meet the needs and budgets of a wide variety of drivers, all with 5-star overall safety ratings from NHTSA. We hope none of you will ever have to test your car’s safety features, but just in case….

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The Impact of the Japanese Earthquakes on Lexus, Toyota Models

April 28th, 2016

2015 Toyota Camry

The news of the recent earthquakes that struck Japan had a strong impact on the U.S. auto market when it comes to Toyota and Lexus. Several models have had to suspend production while the factories are inspected and repaired.

It’s even affected Toyota’s position as the number-one automaker. That spot was usurped by Volkswagen because of the shutdowns. Yes, in spite of the diesel emissions scandal, VW is on top because of the popularity of its Audi, Porsche, and Skoda brands.

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Ford’s Intelligent Speed Limiter: Controversial, but Necessary

April 28th, 2016

ford-speed-limiter

Claiming ignorance will never get you out of a speeding ticket.

Speed limit signs are there for a reason, and not seeing one isn’t an excuse for flying through a 35-mph zone at 49. Sometimes, though, speeding is a genuine mistake rather than an intentional offense.

That was the case last time I got pulled over. The speed limit had dropped from 45 to 35 and I somehow missed the sign. Thankfully, the police officer let me off with a warning, along with the kind advice to not speed anymore.

Noted.

Had I been driving a Ford equipped with its new Intelligent Speed Limiter feature, the car would have seen the speed limit sign for me and slowed down accordingly. It seems like a great feature, but there’s a lot of fuss about it online. Why?

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GM Hires New Design Chief, but Don’t Expect Much Change

April 26th, 2016

2010_Chevy_Camaro

A change will happen at General Motors on May 1. It’s a change that could potentially send GM down an entirely new path while creating an all-new look for the company and its vehicles around the globe.

More than likely, though, the change will happen without anybody taking notice.

On May 1, Mike Simcoe, an Australian with decades of automotive experience, will replace current GM VP of Design, Ed Welburn.

Oftentimes when a new design chief comes on board at a car company, there’s a big hullabaloo because he or she left a post at another prestigious automaker to take the reigns at the new place. The new designer provides auto writers with plenty of speculation and excitement about how the designer’s past might meld with his or her future, while the automaker that scored the hire touts an upcoming revolution in design.

GM didn’t do that.

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Volkswagen Agrees to Settlement, New Lawsuit Targets Mercedes-Benz

April 25th, 2016

volkswagen-tdi-badge

A couple of Germany’s largest automakers have had what can only be described as a terrible week.

Volkswagen has agreed to a plan that would compensate owners of cars affected by its diesel emissions violations, in addition to either buying back the cars, cancelling leases, or repairing vehicles.

This should be welcome news for owners of Volkswagen vehicles equipped with the 2.0-liter TDI engine who have seen their cars’ resale values plummet in the seven months since the scandal became public.

More details will become clear in the coming days but, in the meantime, another automaker may be exposed for also manipulating emissions data.

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FCA Wants to Merge With Ford, Toyota, or Volkswagen

April 19th, 2016

 

FCA plus VW 2

FCA could be in real trouble.

The company that used to be known as Chrysler, until acquired by Fiat after bankruptcy, finds itself with an unclear future.

Last year Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne desperately tried to force a merger with General Motors. GM, of course, wanted nothing to do it and the effort fizzled out. Now FCA seems to be on the lookout again, with a list of its top three prospects for a merger that, it hopes, can help it keep relevant into the 2020s and beyond.

One of those three, though, has already responded with a big fat “No.”

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Best Car Tech Features for Geeks

April 14th, 2016

A new Geek Squad Prius c

Geek Squad has bought 1,100 new Toyota Prius c models. Best Buy’s Geek Squad made the switch because it wants to improve its carbon footprint. It also wants to disassociate itself from Volkswagen, according to Automotive News, in part because of the ongoing emissions scandal.

That got us to wondering what’s the best geeky technology available in modern cars. Well, the answer depends on your definition of geekiness, but here are my four top choices.

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Ford F-150 and Ram 1500 on Opposite Ends of Crash Test Ratings

April 13th, 2016
Ram 1500 (left) and Ford F-150 after IIHS small overlap front crash test (Photo courtesy IIHS)

Ram 1500 (left) and Ford F-150 after IIHS small overlap front crash test (Photo courtesy IIHS)

The bigger the truck, the safer the truck. Right?

We assume the big pickups on the road are some of the safest automobiles available, and that a collision between one and a midsize sedan would end quite poorly for the sedan.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recently conducted tests of some of the big rigs, and the results are surprising. It turns out we’re right to assume that the big pickups are safe, as long as we’re referring to Ford trucks.

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BMW Will Launch Car Sharing Program… Again

April 12th, 2016

bmwi3

Why own when you can borrow?

The average payment for a new car in the United States is $479 per month. Insurance can cost an additional hundred bucks or more, so let’s figure it costs somewhere around $600 per month to own a new car. Factor in monthly fuel costs, parking fees, and general maintenance, and costs can get close to $1,000.

It’s no wonder some people choose to forgo car ownership in favor of public transportation or car sharing.

Car sharing has found pockets of success in the U.S., but BMW hopes that the new service it’s starting in Seattle will eventually benefit car sharers nationwide.

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