Tag Archives: Electronics

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.

cereal-container-car-trash-can-2

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!

55201784-1-x

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.

mercedes-benz-220se-1959-hd

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

2017 Honda Clarity Electric quietly hits the road

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Article source: https://www.cnet.com/roadshow/pictures/2017-honda-clarity-electric-quietly-hits-the-road/#ftag=CAD7f780fb

2017 Honda Clarity Electric Release Date, Price and Specs

The Honda Clarity Electric is sort of the awkward middle child of the largely identical Clarity trio of electrified cars. Nestled between the hydrogen fuel cell and plug-in hybrid variants is the automaker’s fully electric large sedan. But with just 89 EPA estimated miles of cruising range, it’s a bit of a tough sell compared to the rest of the current crop of electric cars, and even relative to its own hydrogen and hybrid siblings.

But the electric Honda isn’t without its charms and its existence and scope says a lot about Honda’s vision for clean mobility.

Engine room with room to spare

2017 Honda Clarity Fuel Cell

The Clarity Electric is a big car with a very small engine.


Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow

As implied by the name, the Honda Clarity Electric has a torquey electric motor hiding beneath its hood. Specifically, it’s powered by a 120-kilowatt — or about 161-horsepower — electric motor producing 221 pound-feet of torque. That’s technically a little less power than an Accord four-cylinder, but with much more torque. So, it should feel about as responsive off the line and around town the performance was nearly identical to that of the Clarity Fuel Cell.

The EPA reckons fuel economy equivalent for the battery-powered Clarity at about 114 mpge on its combined cycle. Around town, that estimate climbs to a peak of 126 mpge. That’s about on par with the Chevrolet Bolt’s 128 mpge city estimate, but short of Hyundai’s Ioniq Electric, which is good for 150 mpge around town. Though with electric cars, range is king, not efficiency. We’ll get back to that momentarily.

In addition to the electric motor, you’ll also find a lot of empty space under the the Clarity Electric’s hood. That’s because the Clarity series was designed to be modular; its engine bay is large enough to accommodate large hybrid and hydrogen fuel cell powertrains. (Heck, there’s enough room to squeeze in a V-6 engine if Honda decided to go that route.) But electric motors are much smaller — with fewer moving parts, fewer accessory systems and no real transmission — so the Clarity’s e-motor ends up looking very small in the middle of the sizable engine room. You can see clear down to the aerodynamic shield that lines the sedan’s undercarriage.

Five things you should know about the Honda Clarity Electric

The Clarity series’ awkward middle child will be one of the largest pure electric cars on the road, but it’s also got one of the shortest cruising ranges.

by Antuan Goodwin

89-mile battery pack

The Clarity Electric draws its power from a 25.5 kWh battery pack located at the rear of the vehicle. On a full charge, that’s enough juice to cruise up to 89 miles according to Honda’s and the EPA’s estimates. You may get more with a light touch — the trip computer estimates a little over 100 miles — but probably not much. I finished my short time behind the wheel at around 94 very carefully driven miles.

Compared to the Kia Soul EV with its 27 kWh battery and just 90 miles of range, the Clarity Electric doesn’t look too bad. Then again, Honda’s own Fit EV does 82 miles with just a 20 kWh battery pack, you’d think Honda’s newer EV would be more efficient than that. To be fair, most cars that the Clarity Electric will be compared to the are significantly smaller vehicles, so perhaps the Honda’s larger-than-average size is partially to blame for its low stated range.

But as stated before, range is king when comparing electric cars and the fact is that the Clarity’s real competition will come from a newer generation of EVs like the 124-mile Hyundai Ioniq Electric or the upcoming Nissan Leaf with its rumored 140-mile range. More dramatically, the Clarity Electric has to live in the same world as Chevrolet’s 238-mile Bolt EV and pretty much every car that Tesla Motors builds. Like I said, it’s a bit of a tough sell.

2017 Honda Clarity Fuel Cell

A spacious and silent ride

So the Clarity Electric has taken some pretty big criticisms at this point. There’s gotta be something good about it, right? Well, yeah, there’s quite a bit.

For starters, I mentioned that the Clarity Electric is built on an identical body and chassis as the Clarity Fuel Cell we tested earlier. Both are big sedans with spacious cabins and plenty of head, leg and shoulder room for up to five passengers. The ride is comfortable and quiet, thanks to its well sorted suspension and silent powertrain. The Clarity also boasts the same aerodynamic and styling tricks as its hydrogen-powered older sibling.

2017 Honda Clarity Fuel Cell

The weird little window between the seats greatly improves visibility.


Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow

The Electric also boasts pretty good all-around visibility, even out back thanks to a weird slit window that allows the driver to see beneath the rear parcel shelf and through the trunk when peeking into the rearview mirror. It looks stupid, but really helps with rear visibility.

Interestingly, the lithium-ion battery pack is smaller than other Clarity’s hydrogen tanks, so the Clarity Electric gains a bit more trunk space when compared to the Fuel Cell model. You even get a tiny pass-through into the trunk when the rear seats are folded flat, so the EV can accommodate longer items.

Driver-aid tech and smartphone smarts

The dashboard tech is also identical to the Clarity Fuel Cell, which is another tick in the “positive” column.

There’s an excellent loadout of onboard features, starting with the HondaLink infotainment system with its list of digital media sources and solid navigation system. There’s also standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity to fill in any gaps with audio streaming apps and alternative navigation options.

Also standard is the Honda Sensing suite of driver aid tech. Out of the box, that means you get Honda’s LaneWatch blind-spot camera, a reversing camera, lane-keeping assist, adaptive cruise control and automatic emergency braking assist. I’d have preferred a true blind-spot monitoring system to the LaneWatch camera, but this is still a solid standard list of safety features.

2017 Honda Clarity Fuel Cell

The Clarity’s dashboard layers Android Auto and Apple CarPlay atop a solid suite of infotainment tech.


Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow

That’s good, because there are no options. Every Clarity model comes “fully loaded,” with the only choice for the owner being the car’s color.

Battery beta test?

When it hits dealerships in August 2017, the Clarity Electric will be facing stiff competition. It’s entering the market as an 89-mile EV in an era where 100 miles is seen as the bare minimum range for many EV buyers. Chevy’s Bolt does over 200. Hyundai’s Ioniq Electric does over 120. Heck, even the old Nissan Leaf, a car that hasn’t fundamentally changed since its debut in 2010, does 100-plus miles! Things aren’t looking great out of the gate for this first-generation Clarity Electric.

To be fair, the Clarity EV is a much larger car than any of those listed, and the only EVs today that rival the Honda for scale are the Tesla Model S and Model X; vehicles that also boast better range than the Clarity, but are also more expensive than the Honda. Or are they?

The Honda Clarity Electric hits dealerships at the relatively low lease price of $269 a month for 36 months (before available California’s state Clean Vehicle Rebate of $2,500). Currently, you can only lease the Clarity Electric; no price is listed to purchase one outright. That simultaneously makes apples-to-apples price comparisons tricky and reaffirms a suspicion I’ve had for a while now.

This first-generation Honda Clarity Electric feels very “first-gen” when the rest of the EV industry is already a generation or two down the road. I don’t mean the car itself — the comfort, cabin and construction are all up to Honda’s quality standards for a production car — but the “electric car” part of the equation feels almost like a beta test of the automaker’s battery technology. Honda will likely learn a lot about building and selling EVs from the Clarity Electric and have a much better product a generation down the line. Right now, the Clarity Electric feels like a way for Honda to dip its toe into electric cars, and with its fairly low lease price, a way for buyers to dip a toe in as well.  

But that’s OK for Honda; it doesn’t seem like the automaker really even wants to compete and sell a ton of battery electric vehicles because, in the words of Global CEO Takahiro Hachigo at a gathering of the press earlier this year, “[Honda] believes fuel cell vehicles are the ultimate type of zero-emissions vehicle.” For Honda, the future — where it’s placed its big bet — is hydrogen.

Article source: https://www.cnet.com/roadshow/auto/2017-honda-clarity-electric/#ftag=CAD7f780fb

Land Rover’s Peru Challenge destroyed my off-road ego video

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Article source: https://www.cnet.com/roadshow/videos/land-rovers-peru-challenge-destroyed-my-off-road-ego/#ftag=CAD7f780fb