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

How autonomous cars will get your hands back on the wheel

Very soon, cars will be able to drive themselves for long stretches on the highway, but what happens when the car needs you to take the wheel? At a Bosch-sponsored event in Germany, the automotive equipment supplier showed off a solution that works in a similar way to current navigation systems in cars. 

I sat in the passenger seat of a heavily modified Tesla Model S, while a Bosch test pilot took the driver seat for a demonstration on the company’s test track near Frankfurt, Germany. As the car approached a section of road where it was allowed to self-drive, the center screen counted down the distance. Once in the zone, the driver pushed two buttons on the steering wheel, then let the car do the driving.

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In this Bosch Level 3 self-driving demonstration, the map shows a self-driving zone, and an icon in the upper left of the screen counts down the distance until the driver can take his hands off the wheel.


As the car came to the end of the approved self-driving zone, the screen began to count down the distance to when the driver needed to take back control, showing and sounding alerts as we got closer. It struck me that the information shown on the screen was similar to how navigation systems show the distance to the next turn, something most drivers will find familiar.

This capability represents the next step in driver assistance, what engineers call Level 3 self-driving, where humans share control with the car. This type of self-driving system is a natural evolution from current adaptive cruise control systems, which can regulate the car’s speed in relation to traffic ahead. Along with adaptive cruise control, cars increasingly come with lane keeping systems that use cameras to recognize lane lines, and steer the car to prevent it from drifting into another lane.

To enable Level 3 self-driving, cars will contain high definition maps of specific roads. Automakers and their technology partners will create those maps, and wirelessly update them to existing cars. When the car drives onto a mapped road, it will be able to take over the driving. The car’s computer continually compares what its sensors see with its stored map. Cadillac recently demonstrated its Super Cruise technology, using this methodology, which should become available in the next few years.

Bosch self-driving car HMIEnlarge Image

Not noticing or ignoring the car’s warning to take the wheel results in it pulling to the side of the road and parking.


High definition maps won’t be available for every road when this technology becomes available, however. Likewise, automakers may choose easier driving environments, such as highways and freeways, for self-driving rather than suburban or city streets. 

Imagine driving down I-5 on the west coast, I-95 down the east coast or I-80 across the country. After merging onto the freeway, your car tells you it can take over, so you let it drive for a couple of hundred miles to your exit, then take the wheel for the off-ramp. 

Of course, there’s the problem of when the section of high definition mapped road runs out, and the driver doesn’t take over. Bosch showed off a solution for that scenario as well. When the driver did not take the wheel after multiple audio and visual warnings, the car safely pulled over to the side of the road. 

Drivers in the near future may be waking up from a nap to find their car parked in a designated pull-over zone, refreshed but many miles down the road from their off-ramp.

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Tesla Model 3: 5 things you need to know video


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By the numbers: Tesla Model 3 vs. Chevrolet Bolt EV

Even before either model went on sale, everyone started gearing up for the fight between the Tesla Model 3 and the Chevrolet Bolt EV.

Now that Tesla has seen fit to finally divulge the specifications of its first affordable EV, we spent a lovely evening combing through spreadsheets to bring you a comparison of how these two stack up against one another.

Tesla Model 3

The Model 3 is a big boy

The Model 3 is a fair bit larger than the Bolt EV in nearly every direction. Its wheelbase is more than 10 inches longer, and its overall width is 20.8 inches longer than the Chevrolet. It’s also about 3 inches wider. The Bolt EV wins the height category, though, as it’s six inches taller than the Tesla.

The Tesla rides lower to the ground, at 5.5 inches. Chevrolet doesn’t have an official ground clearance figure, but the lowest point measured by the Bolt EV owners forum sits about 6.0 inches off the ground. The Tesla is also far slipperier, with a drag coefficient of 0.23 versus the Bolt EV’s 0.308.

While the Tesla may be larger, with the base battery installed, it’s actually 40 pounds lighter than the Bolt EV. With the big battery in there, though, it adds nearly 300 pounds to the car’s mass.

Exterior Measurements

Model 3 is roomy, but hauls less cargo

The Tesla is larger on the outside, so you’d be right thinking that it’s roomier inside, too. The Tesla Model 3 wins in front legroom, front and rear shoulder room, and front and rear hip room. Without its expensive glass roof, it has 0.1 inches less front headroom than the Bolt EV. Add that roof in, though, and you get another 0.7 inches of space for your noggin.

The Bolt EV wins on rear headroom (by 0.2 inches) and rear legroom (by 1.3 inches). It’s also packing more storage capacity, at 16.9 cubic feet versus Tesla’s 15.0.

Interior Measurements

Battle of the batteries

For some strange reason, Tesla did not divulge the horsepower and torque output of the Model 3’s electric motor, nor has it offered the actual battery capacity as measured in kilowatt-hours. If that changes, I’ll come back and revise this section, but for now, we’ve only got those figures for the Bolt EV.

The Tesla Model 3’s base battery confers a 220-mile range, which is a bit less than the Bolt EV’s 238. The base Model 3 packs better performance, though, hitting 60 mph in 5.6 seconds (versus 6.5-ish) and reaching a top speed of 130 mph (versus a paltry 93).

Add the bigger battery, and the Tesla’s numbers get better. Range bumps up to 310 miles, the 0-60 time drops to 5.1 seconds, and the top speed extends to 140 mph.  

When it comes to charging, all Teslas come with pay-per-use Supercharging, which adds 130 miles of range every 30 minutes on the base battery (170 miles per 30 minutes for the bigger one). The fastest charging for the Bolt EV is DC Fast Charging, which is a $750 option and adds 90 miles of range every 30 minutes.

The Tesla has officially beaten the Bolt EV when it comes to a base price. At $35,000 before incentives, it slides just under the Bolt EV’s base price of $37,495. The bigger battery pushes the price point up to $44,000, or a few grand more than the Bolt EV’s fancier Premier trim, which offers no additional range or performance.

Base Battery Measurements

Optional Battery Measurements

Options out the wazoo

When it comes to options, the Bolt EV is a bit more traditional. There’s a base LT trim ($37,495), and a Premier trim ($41,780) that adds heated leather seats, roof rails, turn indicators on the mirrors, a surround-view camera, ambient lighting, rear parking sensors and the rearview mirror that can swap between traditional and camera-based views.

LT buyers can spend $555 to get heated seats and a heated steering wheel. $495 adds rear parking sensors and blind zone monitoring. DC Fast Charging capability is $750.

Premier buyers can spend $485 on wireless phone charging, a 7-speaker audio system and more USB ports. Another $495 will net you auto high beams, forward collision warning and lane-keep assist. DC Fast Charging capability remains at $750.

In terms of paint colors, you get blue, black, gray, silver and white for free. Bright blue, orange or red will set you back $395.

2017 Chevy Bolt

As for the Tesla, the only free color is black. If you want silver, blue, another silver, white or red, it’ll cost you $1,000. 18-inch wheels are standard, but 19-inchers are another $1,500.

There are no trim levels on the Model 3. All Model 3 buyers can spend $5,000 on a package that adds fancier interior trim, power front seats, a premium audio system, a glass roof, heated side mirrors, LED fog lights and a center console.

Another $5,000 adds “Enhanced Autopilot,” which works similar to the SAE Level 2 system currently seen in the Model S. It’ll hold itself in a lane, change lanes, match speeds with traffic, exit a highway and eventually park itself. The driver will need to maintain attention the entire time. Drop another $3,000 on top of that, and when the time is right, your car will allegedly be capable of conducting entire trips with no driver action whatsoever.

Supercharging access is on a pay-per-use basis, but all cars are capable of hooking up to Superchargers from the factory, so Tesla’s got the edge on the Bolt EV there.

Warranties matter, too

In terms of warranty, Tesla offers a 4-year, 50,000-mile basic vehicle warranty. Its base battery is backed by an 8-year, 100,000-mile warranty. The long-range battery sees that mileage figure leap to 120,000 miles, a strategy we haven’t yet seen from an automaker offering different battery capacities.

The Bolt EV has the same base battery warranty at 8 years, 100,000 miles. Its vehicle warranty, though, is on the low side, at 3 years or 36,000 miles. However, it also has a powertrain warranty for 5 years or 60,000 miles. 

Tesla doesn’t make it clear whether or not its warranty is only for the vehicle, or if it also includes the powertrain.

Warranty Information

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Watch Elon Musk unveil the first production Tesla Model 3 video

Love cars? Climb in the driver’s seat for the latest in reviews, advice and picks by our editors.

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The Bollinger B1 truck looks to electrify the dirt world video

Love cars? Climb in the driver’s seat for the latest in reviews, advice and picks by our editors.

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2018 Honda Ridgeline pares down trims, bumps up price

Some automakers will add features or trims between random model years, even if a vehicle was just introduced a year or two prior. In Honda’s case, though, it’s cutting back.

Honda released the pricing information for the 2018 Ridgeline, and it starts at just $29,630, which is $155 more expensive than last year. That’ll get you a base 2018 Honda Ridgeline RT with front-wheel drive and a 5-inch color infotainment screen. There used to be an all-wheel-drive RT trim, but that’s been canceled for 2018. The RTS trim is gone in its entirety.

The next step up from there is the $33,170 Ridgeline Sport, which adds keyless entry, three-zone automatic climate control and fog lights. It’s also the lowest trim where you can get all-wheel drive, which bumps the price to $35,070. With the removal of the RT AWD trim, it means the cheapest AWD Ridgeline is now $3,695 more than in 2017. Woof.

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The 2017 and 2018 Ridgeline look identical, so you can just pretend this one’s a 2018.

Nick Miotke/Roadshow

Next up is the $33,930 Ridgeline RTL. This one comes with an acoustic windshield, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and heated power front seats. AWD brings the price to $35,830.

The highest FWD trim you can get is the $36,080 RTL-T, and that one adds Honda LaneWatch, LED running lights and an 8.0-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Add two more driven wheels, and the price rises to $37,980.

The last two trims, the $41,620 RTL-E and the $43,120 Black Edition, are only available with AWD. RTL-E (these trims are terribly named) adds truck-bed speakers, a 540-watt sound system, LED headlights. It also adds HondaSensing, which is a safety suite that includes autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control and lane-keep assist. The Black Edition has all the same stuff, but there are blacked-out trim pieces and red interior ambient lighting.

No matter which Ridgeline you opt for, you get the same 3.5-liter V6 with 280 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. It’ll tow up to 5,000 pounds and haul up to 1,580. FWD models are EPA rated at 19 mpg city and 26 mpg highway, with AWD dropping those figures to 18 and 25, respectively.

You can see how the 2018 Ridgeline stacks up to the 2017 model below:

2018 Honda Ridgeline Pricing


2018 MSRP

2017 MSRP

Net Change





Sport FWD




Sport AWD
























Black Edition




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