Ford and Toyota Partner to Keep Apple, Google at Bay

Ford infotainment

One of the most compelling reasons not to buy a new Toyota is the stark absence of either Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. If you’ve sniffed around automotive news headlines from the past few years’ CES shows, you know more and more pundits are beginning to view cars as appliances for daily life, and the ever-growing infotainment screens found in new cars are central to this shift. Continue reading >>>

Gifts for Gearheads

Dodge_challenger_red_bow

Car commercials have a very specific flavor during the holiday season. They range from humorous to overly sentimental, but they often involve the advertised car sitting in someone’s driveway with a comically large, red, tightly wrapped bow on the hood or roof. It’s the universal symbol for “This car will be on sale this holiday season, so why not surprise a loved one with a brand new car?” Well for most of us, this is a very unrealistic scenario.

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Bridgestone to Develop New Jaguar XJ220 Tires; 271 Owners Breathe a Deep Sigh of Relief

jaguar_xj220s

When you’re on the hunt for a new car, certain details are likely at the top of your mind. All-wheel drive? Cargo space? How’s the color? Does the engine offer enough power? One detail few shoppers take the time to consider, however, is tires. Funny enough, you would think tires should be one of the most important items to check on. They connect you and your car to the road, after all. Continue reading >>>

4 Must-Have Features for a Terrific Tailgate

2017_honda_ridgeline_black_edition_awd-pic-7011622867530717781-640x480

We might still be riding out an unusually warm summer, but here in New England, the phrase “winter is coming” brings with it a very specific set of feelings. No, I’m not talking about dread and despair, I’m talking about something much more positive. You see, although New England winter may earn headlines by delivering winter storms, polar vortexes, and record-setting snowfall, it never arrives before autumn foliage, apple-picking, and most importantly, football season.

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Tesla, Autopilot, and the Future of Self-Driving Cars

Tesla AutoPilot

From the first press release outlining Tesla’s Autopilot technology, potential customers have wondered how the system works, what its limitations are, and whether it will be welcomed or shunned. Since Joshua Brown’s fatal crash while using Autopilot in a Tesla Model S, these questions have grown larger and more pointed. Without a doubt, popular opinion has shifted toward negativity. But should it?

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A Beginner’s Guide to Digital Instrumentation

Courtesy Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes-Benz Head-Up Display

Chances are, anyone reading this post learned to drive a car with some sort of traditional gauge setup. Speedometer, tachometer, engine temperature, gas level, maybe a warning that someone needs to fasten their seatbelt. But is it possible the near future will leave such an interior feeling old-fashioned, obsolete, better suited for classic cars and car shows? We all know how fondly our zealously up-to-date culture likes to deride (or sometimes obsess over) old technological “breakthroughs” like cassette tapes or first-generation iPods, computing devices that look and feel like bricks in comparison to the sleek devices of today. With their growing computing power and ever-more-sophisticated interiors, why would cars be exempt from this double-time march of progress?

Surely we’ve seen this coming. Nothing moves as quickly as technology or has quite the same way of spreading across all parts of a particular product or experience. We have our award-winning infotainment systems; how long could it have been before some of the operating philosophy behind fighter-jet cockpits or the crisp graphics and formidable computing power of smartphones began showing up right in front of drivers’ noses? Not long, apparently: just take a look at the new display setups appearing in consumer vehicles, from the head-up displays (yes, like fighter jets, sort of) to fully computerized dashboards. But if you haven’t necessarily been keeping an enthusiast’s eye on the automotive market, you might not quite know what these new features are all about. They are, after all, still pretty new. So here’s a quick rundown of a few of the more important (or common) among them.

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Use Your Smartphone Instead of a Factory-Installed Nav System

Spark Android Auto

As a new-car reviewer, it’s my job to drive a new car pretty much every week. Sometimes it’s more than one a week. Over the course of a year, I can experience scores of different automotive navigation systems.

Some are good, some are horrible, and some are somewhere in between. Yet what I consistently find is that none are as easy to use as Google Maps on my iPhone. Until recently, the only advantage the factory-installed navigation systems had was the built-in screen.

But that’s all changing now. Some manufacturers are getting savvy and realizing that it’s better to offer infotainment systems that can work with your smartphone to provide navigation instead of selling you a more expensive navigation system.

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Questions and Answers About Winter Tires

Snowy road

Winter weather has already started its sloppy march across the northern parts of the United States. But that doesn’t mean it’s too late for some winter tire advice.

Why do you need winter tires? The fast answer is handling. Well-designed winter tires have deeper treads than summer or all-season tires. (The latter, by the way, are really three-season tires if you live in the snow belt.)

Winter tires’ deeper treads help them deal with snow and the icy precipitation that creates slush. An interesting side benefit of winter tires is that they improve traction by packing snow in those treads for better grip on snow.

Also, winter tires are designed with tiny slits in the treads (or as Bridgestone calls them “snipes”). These provide biting edges on ice that help with acceleration, deceleration, and stopping.

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Older Cars Gaining Traction With Young People

Breaking Bad Aztek

These are the zombie cars.

These are the cars that died ages ago, forgotten and unwanted by the American masses. They are the Chrysler Pacifica, the Dodge Magnum, the Pontiac Aztek, and the Chevy TrailBlazer. There are many more, but today it’s these cars that have caught our attention.

Why?

Because they are back from the dead and living among us once more.

The source of their surprise resurrection might be a little shocking. It’s not the original owners looking to experience the vehicles they let get away. No, this time it’s their kids.

It’s the new generation, the group known as the millennials, who are snatching up these old dead cars and bringing them back to life.

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