This Week in the World of Cars: Sept 15 – 21

This week’s top stories picked by our editors feature updates on a new Ram truck, Google in your car, and the death of the manual handbrake.

  • You’ve already heard about the Jeep Scrambler, the Wrangler-turned-pickup – but there are more midsize trucks coming from FCA. The newest one announced is Ram’s midsize truck. Details are sparse for now: The new model will hit dealers in late 2020, and the truck will have a body-on-frame design. While we wait for the next RAM truck, check out our Test Drive Review of the 2019 Ram 1500.
  • Drivers can choose Android Auto or Apple CarPlay… or Google Assistant? Three automakers – Nissan, Renault, and Mitsubishi – just announced that they will use Google for their infotainment systems. There are some very clear upsides for consumers: They can move away from slow and glitch-y system software used by each automaker, and Android users will likely have a seamless transition from using their phone to using their infotainment systems. And Google Assistant, like Alexa, can help drivers stay focused on the road. But there are drawbacks: These automakers will be giving the data giant access to their customers’ data.
  • It’s not just manual gearboxes that are going the way of the dodo, it’s handbrakes, too. CarGurus UK found that only 37 percent of cars available on the site have a manual handbrake available. The reason for this extinction is because our brakes are better than they have been previously. E-brakes, which are replacing manual handbrakes, actually hold the car more securely. We’re always big fans of using data to make informed decisions.
  • Chrysler announced that it will discontinue the 300 model in 2020. This move makes sense: We discovered that leads and searches for new sedans are down — and Chrysler’s decision to step away from sedans would be following the lead of other major players like Ford. The space made by the 300’s exit may be for the Portal electric minivan, based on the recent Pacifica. Part of the promised appeal of this vehicle is its technology: Chrysler aims for it to have SAE Level 3 autonomy. Perhaps the upcoming auto-show season will give Chrysler the opportunity to confirm its plans?
  • What if sitting in your car was as soothing as sitting in the lobby of a hotel? That’s the thought BMW designers had when building the iNEXT. The German automaker isn’t the only one looking to make the time we spend in our cars more comfortable. Volvo has applied a similar thinking, creating a backseat where passengers can work or sleep comfortably. Bloomberg notes that when it comes to autonomous cars, automakers may approach designing interiors the way airlines do, with an emphasis on comfort. Will the cars of the future focus on squeezing as many passengers as possible in a vehicle as safely possible?

We’ll be back next week with stories curated for our readers.

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