Category Archives: Auto, Cars, Trucks, SUVs, Car Gadgets

2018 Chevrolet Traverse offers three rows of family fun

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Article source: https://www.cnet.com/roadshow/pictures/2018-chevrolet-traverse-offers-three-rows-of-family-fun/#ftag=CAD7f780fb

Fiat Chrysler partners with BMW, Intel, Mobileye on self-driving cars

Fiat Chrysler isn’t content to stick with Waymo alone when it comes to preparing for self-driving vehicles.

Fiat Chrysler announced Wednesday that it signed a memorandum of understanding with BMW Group, Intel and Mobileye (now under Intel’s ownership), all in the name of co-developing an autonomous driving platform.

Note that this mentions a platform, and not a specific vehicle. Waymo, Uber and Apple are all approaching autonomy from the same angle — by building a platform, instead of a specific vehicle, you can then sell that platform to an automaker that doesn’t want to spend the money developing one itself. That gives FCA an extra cash flow stream, which wouldn’t hurt.

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Better late than never!


Marco Bertorello/AFP/Getty Images

“In order to advance autonomous driving technology, it is vital to form partnerships among automakers, technology providers and suppliers,” said Sergio Marchionne, Fiat Chrysler CEO, in a statement. “Joining this cooperation will enable FCA to directly benefit from the synergies and economies of scale that are possible when companies come together with a common vision and objective.”

FCA claims that it will lend its engineering and technical know-how to the group, along with its extensive experience in the North American market. BMW will provide some of those things, as well, alongside Mobileye’s hardware and Intel’s experience with chips and software development.

The goal remains the same as it did before FCA jumped on board — to create platform-based solutions for both SAE Level 3 and Level 4/5 autonomous driving. Level 3 still uses the human as a fallback, but the car is responsible for monitoring the environment and controlling the vehicle (in certain modes, a good deal of the time). Level 4 only involves human control in specific modes, and Level 5 removes the human element from the situation entirely.

It’s believed that the group will bring these technologies to production by 2021. Before then, they will put about 40 test vehicles on the road by the end of this year, growing to approximately 100 thereafter

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Article source: https://www.cnet.com/roadshow/news/fiat-chrysler-partners-with-bmw-intel-mobileye-on-self-driving-cars/#ftag=CAD7f780fb

Don’t sweat the truck stuff in the 2018 Ford F-150

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Article source: https://www.cnet.com/roadshow/pictures/dont-sweat-the-truck-stuff-in-the-2018-ford-f-150/#ftag=CAD7f780fb

2018 Ford F-150 Release Date, Price and Specs

Trucks are, both in terms of size and function, growing closer to mobile homes every day. No longer the staple of work and work alone, this vehicle class has grown to become both workhorse and the family car. Thus, it needs to be as capable as ever, but it must also contain enough modern accouterments that it’ll keep the kids busy and the whole family safe. The 2018 Ford F-150 does all that with aplomb.

Of course, no family is the same, which is why the F-150 offers a staggering number of options. There arefour different engines, six new grilles and several new exterior colors and wheel choices. That’s in addition to the different cab and bed configurations available. 10 of these things could roll past you on the highway and none would look the same.

Work

If you want a pure work machine, it’s not hard to grab a low-end model with the base 3.3-liter V6 and very few options. The 3.3-liter V6 isn’t the best on gas (that’s the 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6), but it provides ample pickup and efficiency and will prove more than capable enough for people who only use their truck for “truck stuff.”

But throwing a bunch of tech into the F-150 doesn’t make it any less of a truck. In fact, I found one system — Pro Trailer Backup Assist — damn near necessary. Instead of relying on your own failing knowledge of physics to back a large trailer up, just turn a dial and slowly manipulate the brake pedal. It’s proper witchcraft, with the wheel turning all willy-nilly to create the exact movement you need from the trailer.

With a full bed, the ride went from a little bouncy to properly soft, while the braking remained confident and there was plenty of torque to keep moving the truck along. Granted, it was only with about 1,000 pounds in the bed, and the max payload is north of 3,000 pounds, so it had plenty more to give.

2018 Ford F-150

Play

If you want a vehicle that covers both work and family life, you can throw close to $70,000 at a dealer and walk away with a truck that’s basically a luxury car capable of towing 12,000 pounds.

The top-tier engine is a 3.5-liter turbocharged V6, and it’s a peach. This engine didn’t receive any major modifications for 2018, but it’s still eminently capable. With the 10-speed automatic in tow, it’ll still produce some pretty efficient figures while giving you enough torque to affect continental drift.

Using the truck for play usually means the bed will be empty, but that doesn’t ruin the F-150’s ride. The truck remains stable with an empty bed, with only a slight hint of bounce in the suspension.

The only real complaint about the ride would be the steering, which is thoroughly numb and over-boosted. Yet, at the same time, it does what it needs to without requiring the driver to commit to a regimen of muscle-building exercises, so I certainly can’t ding it for a lack of functionality. It just feels closer to video game driving than actual driving.

If you’ll be hauling human cargo, the F-150’s crew cab offers a disturbing amount of interior space. It’s wide, and it’s long enough to give rear-seat occupants a level of legroom typically reserved for big-body (and big-budget) luxury cars. Add in the front massaging seats (yes, that’s available), and the F-150 basically becomes a full-on luxury car.

I also had the chance to take the F-150 for some light off-roading, and it performed as expected. The part-time 4WD system ate up the ruts and logs that were thrown at it, and it’s got enough fording depth to dive through some gnarly puddles. If you’re taking the long way to your weekend getaway, it shouldn’t be a problem.

Everything in between

While I have to commend Ford for being the first truck manufacturer to add new-age safety systems like adaptive cruise control and autonomous emergency braking, I didn’t get the chance to test them all. Adaptive cruise worked fine, but I didn’t feel like playing chicken with a wall to test the autobrake.

The safety systems are but one part of a large and impressive tech portfolio. The 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, which supports up to 10 devices, works well for filling in your phone’s coverage gaps. Sync 3 remains an excellent infotainment system, with competent voice recognition, a straightforward tile-based UI and very little lag between pressing the touchscreen and the system responding.

360-degree cameras and parking sensors are almost necessary in a vehicle of this size. Taking advantage of those two systems, you might completely forget that the F-150 is also capable of parking itself, a system that Ford’s had down pat for years. Even drivers who aren’t fully confident should find parking much easier than expected.

No matter what you’re after — a basic truck for work, a high-end family cruiser or something somewhere in the middle — the F-150 has a trim that should fit your needs, with oodles of capability and creature comforts to keep every seat happy.

Article source: https://www.cnet.com/roadshow/auto/2018-ford-f-150/#ftag=CAD7f780fb

Turn unused dry food storage into a trash can for your car

If you spend a lot of time in your car, trash will slowly begin to accumulate. Receipts, straw papers, cups, cans, bags and all sorts of other bits of trash will find their way under the seats, the abyss between the seats and the center console and every other crevice possible. That is, unless you’re adamant about grabbing everything each time you get out of your car.

It’s a seriously great habit to have, but it’s also one that’s not always easy to keep.

An easier way to keep your car tidy is to have a designated place to temporarily store your trash — no different than inside your house — until it’s full or you have a better way to dispose of it.

You can buy in-car trash cans and some of them work just fine. The few I have bought all mounted to the back of the headrest of the passenger seat and there are two reasons this didn’t sit well with me. One, it puts your trash in the face of your back seat passengers. Two, it’s out of sight and I usually forgot about it, later remembered it was there, stuffed all the trash into it then forgot to empty it.

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A dry food container paired with a plastic bag can become an easy trash can for your car.


Taylor Martin/CNET

Fortunately, there’s something else that works perfectly for a trash can in your car: a dry food storage container (or a cereal container). Let’s be honest, in what imaginary household does cereal actually last long enough to transfer to another container anyway? Dump the cereal that went stale because it wasn’t where it should be (the box it came in), throw a trash bag in it and toss it in the passenger floorboard.

Even if you don’t have a cereal container to spare, you can find them for around $7 (£5.40 or AU$8.91) at Walmart, Target or any other retailer that sells dry food storage.

Here’s why cereal containers make the perfect in-car trash cans:

  • The opening on cereal containers are large enough for most trash to fit in quite easily. (Your Big Gulp may not fit. Sorry.)
  • The lid will keep trash from spilling out if it topples over.
  • The lid can secure a trash bag inside.
  • It won’t steal too much leg room from your passenger — even if it does, they can move it out of the way.
  • It will be the perfect size for repurposing plastic shopping bags instead of having to buy tiny trash bags. Store spare shopping bags in your center console, glove box or in the container itself, underneath the current trash bag.  

I didn’t want the one in my truck sliding around, so I used a medium-sized bungee tie down to secure it to the passenger seat frame. This keeps it within my reach and out of the way of passengers’ feet.

Article source: https://www.cnet.com/roadshow/news/turn-unused-dry-food-storage-into-a-trash-can-for-your-car/#ftag=CAD7f780fb

When Ian Fleming went car shopping

An auction listing appeared in my inbox this morning, offering for sale a letter written by 007 creator Ian Fleming in August, 1959, asking a friend’s help in finding a new car. Fleming was considering a W111 generation Mercedes 220SE, appreciating its cutting edge tech (fuel injection) but hoping the factory would soon produce a sportier version. It may have been written 58 years ago, but it reads just like a slew of similar letters I get from Roadshow readers every month!

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Excerpt of a rare Ian Fleming letter to friend Antony Terry in 1959, asking his assistance in finding just the right Mercedes to replace his Thunderbird.


International Autograph Auctions

At the time of this letter, Fleming was driving a black 1955 Thunderbird with a 3-speed manual “and as few power assists as possible.” He bought the car new with proceeds from selling the film rights to his first novel, Casino Royale, for a paltry $6,000.

He said his Thunderbird “was by far the best car I have ever possessed” but the bug for a new car had bitten him. The W111 220SE Fleming inquired about represented a fresh new generation of Mercedes, replacing a predecessor that hailed from the 1930s and looked a bit like a bowler hat on wheels. The new version’s vertical headlight enclosure,  trimmer creased waist, and American-style tailfins helped make it a sensation that kicked off Mercedes’ golden era of the 1960s.

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The W111 generation 220SE saloon had sharp post-war lines, slight tailfins and signature vertical headlamp enclosures.


Mercedes Benz

But it was only available as a 4-door sedan initially so Fleming asked his friend Antony Terry to nose around for any indication Mercedes might add a convertible (cabriolet) or sports (coupe) version. Had he waited a year or so, he could have had either: Both body styles arrived in 1960, taking the W111 from elegant car to collectible classic in its own time. But, by then, Fleming had already proven he was a bit of a Ford man and bought a new 1959 Thunderbird, which was soon joined by a rare 1962 AC Aceca Coupe, which I think he barely drove, and finally a 1963 supercharged Studebaker Avanti which he says was able to “cut a good deal of time off the run between London and Sandwich”.

The auction for Fleming’s car shopping memo takes place on August 16th. Let me know if you happen to win it.

Article source: https://www.cnet.com/roadshow/news/when-ian-fleming-went-car-shopping/#ftag=CAD7f780fb