AutoGuide News Blog
The AutoGuide News Blog is your source for breaking stories from the auto industry. Delivering news immediately, the AutoGuide Blog is constantly updated with the latest information, photos and video from manufacturers, auto shows, the aftermarket and professional racing.
Two years after debuting the SLS AMG at the 2009 Frankfurt Auto Show, Mercedes-Benz has followed up with a convertible version.
The Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Roadster swaps its predecessor’s splashy gullwing doors for conventional doors and a soft top roof that closes in 11 seconds and can be operated while moving at speeds up to 31 mph (50 kph).
The Roadster is powered by an AMG 6.3-liter V8 pumping out 571 hp and 479 ft-lb. The engine is paired to a seven-speed dual clutch transmission. Optional electronically controlled sports suspension offers three modes: comfort, sport and sport plus.
Other options include a Bang & Olufsen BeoSound system with a 250-watt subwoofer and AMG Performance Media. AMG Performance Media offers an unprecedented level of telemetric data for a production model. The system can display engine oil, coolant and transmission fluid temperatures, individual tire pressure, acceleration time from 0-100 kph, and both lateral and linear acceleration combined with braking performance and accelerator position all in real-time.
AMG Performance Media also provides high-speed internet access – but only when the car is stationary. The Android-powered system allows driver and passenger to surf the internet, send and receive email and even install apps. Mercedes-Benz says the AMG Performance Media system will be offered in other future AMG high-performance models.
GALLERY: Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Roadster
Volvo has updated its near-iconic XC90 SUV for 2012, adding some exterior and interior changes along with some technology to make it more 2012-friendly. The newly refined SUV now features daytime running lights, giving the front more character along with its redesigned silver metallic bumper bar and silver roof rails. A subtle, but classy accent is a new color-coordinated lower door molding. In the rear, the taillights now have dual light guides, LED brake lights and a silver turn indicator bulb – though it still blinks orange. Lastly, 18-inch six-spoke wheels in a matte silver finish are now factory to the XC90.
“The XC90 still boasts all the virtues that have made it one of our most successful models ever. The spacious and flexible crossover combines excellent handling and comfort with superior get-you-there ability and flexibility. Now we have upgraded the XC90 with a number of features that emphasise the large SUV’s unique blend of sophisticated elegance and capable ruggedness,” says Peter Mertens, Senior Vice President Research and Development at the Volvo Car Corporation.
On the inside, Volvo has done several upgrades giving it a more luxurious feel. From the three-spoke steering wheel to the standard aluminum decor, Volvo has gone through all the tiny details of the interior enhancing every bit of it. Special models include an Exclusive Executive version and the sporty R-Design with the Exclusive Executive version adding more luxurious amenities including soft leather seats with ventilation and massage functions. The R-Design features redesigned upholstery, inlays, door panels and unique 19-inch wheels.
The 2012 XC90 will come powered by a 3.2L inline-six with 243-hp and 236 lb-ft of torque; and in some markets (not North America) two diesel options will be available. These include a D5 turbo diesel with 200-hp and 310 lb-ft of torque, or a FWD 2.4L five-cylinder D3 turbo diesel engine with 163-hp and 251 lb-ft of torque.
Technology enhancements include Volvo’s On Call system, Bluetooth integration and tight integration with Android and iOS devices. The mobile application allows owners to locate their XC90, start the heater remotely, check the vehicle’s dashboard data (fuel, average speed, odometer, etc.) and do a general “health” check of the vehicle.
GALLERY: 2012 Volvo XC90
After announcing Android’s Open Accessory Protocol at this year’s Google I/O, techies around the world began brainstorming the integration possibilities of smartphones and tablets into even more of our everyday devices. Harman has now become the first major technology partner within the automotive industry to offer the new connectivity standard, which will allow users to seamlessly sync their smartphone or tablet to their vehicle. This will allow easily access to music, movie or navigation apps through the car’s dashboard or steering wheel controls.
Harman has been known for its adoption of several technology platforms, having no bias towards any major manufacturer. Their products are known to sync seamlessly with Apple’s iOS, RIM’s Blackberry platform and Nokia’s existing mobile systems. Android’s integration will be offered across all Harman infotainment platforms.
With the Android Open Accessory Protocol, drivers will be able to safely start their music apps through voice activation or steering wheel controls; built-in navigation systems will benefit from popular apps to discover nearby points-of-interests, while passengers will benefit from streaming content to their entertainment devices in the rear seats.
The Accessory Protocol is built into Android 3.1 Honeycomb tablet devices and any Android smartphone running 2.3.4 (Gingerbread) or later.
Sometimes, you need to leave the car at home and take public transit to get to your destination. And on those days, you can use Google Maps 5.7 for Android to navigate your way through public transit systems.
The update to Transit Navigation now includes information for public transit in over 400 cities around the world. You’ll get turn-by-turn and stop-by-stop navigation, which comes in pretty handy if you’re in a country where you don’t understand the language or informational signs.
Using GPS to let you know where you and when you need to get off, Transit Navigation works best above ground – this is a GPS connectivity issue, and not one with the app itself). That means when you’re taking the subway, your service may be interrupted or it may not work at all.
And if you want to play a game of Angry Bird to pass the time, don’t worry – the Transit Navigation app still works to keep you on track. It offers display notifications and will vibrate to keep you in the loop on your traveling route.
There are a few more upgrades to the Transit Navigation (beta) app. The Navigation icon now appears automatically when you’re pulling up directions, which means there’s less to tap to get your turn-by-turn directions. There are also search suggestions and a photo viewer has been built into Google Place pages.
You can download Google Maps 5.7 for all Android devices running OS 2.1+ now on Android Market.
If you thought the Facebook Donk was the ultimate internet homage, then you’ve clearly underestimated the laughably tasteless creativity of the Donk community. The uber-popular Angry Birds smart phone app has made its way into an Internet Google Chrome-browser friendly experience, the successful Rio movie, and now apparently into the donk crowd.
Along with the Angry Birds screen image on the hood, this boxy Chevy gets some pause buttons on the fenders and while it’s hard to see from the photos, behind each of those massive 24-inch wheels are covers that feature the famous birds themselves.
We can’t help but wonder what’s next. A Farmville-themed Donk? Cake Story?
GALLERY: Angry Birds Donk
Those of you who will become stranded in an Audi, never fear: the Audi Roadside App is here!
No more fumbling through your wallet for that ragged AAA membership card that expired in 1999, or dialing 911 and sheepishly admitting that nobody around you has been shot. For those Audi owners with an iPhone, Android or Blackberry—and let’s face it, many who own Audis will likely play with one—the app allows owners to call for the nearest tow truck and request specific service.
The app works by using GPS to locate the vehicle’s owner, then calling for the nearest tow service. Owners submit their vehicle registration data to Audi via the app, which “greatly shortens the time it takes to dispatch service.” Tin-hatters need not apply. The app works in conjunction with the 4-year complimentary roadside assistance available on new models; older Audi owners should have a hacksaw ready to sacrifice a limb in payment.
While it may seem that Apple’s iPhone continues to dominate the smart phone market, Google’s Android is actually the more popular operating system. So naturally, many app developers and companies are slowly creating variants of their iPhone/iPad apps to work on Google’s Android system. Included in that list is radar detector company Cobra.
Cobra’s iRadar app is now available for Android, though we still find it a little oddly named now that it’s on Android. The app offers a collection of standalone features (no actual Cobra radar required) that includes GPS warnings for road hazards, traffic cameras and speed traps. By utilizing Cobra’s Aura Camera and Driving Hazard Database with Google Maps integration, users are able to access a plethora of information to enhance their driving experience.
Those with an actual Cobra iRadar hardware can pair their app via Bluetooth for additional features. The app can serve as an auxiliary display for the detector and allows users to make their own road hazards for subsequent trips and aid other drivers.
The app is free on Android’s Market while a Cobra iRadar Detector is $125.
[Source: Car Tech Blog]
The radio makes the drive go that much smoother. But what’s that you say? No one listens to the radio anymore? Get ready to see (or hear) a surge in radio’s popularity, thanks to the free iheartradio app.
Listen to favorite local and distant stations and other content while driving with the iheartradio app, available for iPhone, BlackBerry and Android devices. Part of the Clear Channel family, this app gives you extras such as album art, celebrity deejays and exclusive video content – unfortunately, you still have to listen to annoying commercials.
When you get to the main screen of the app, you can access local stations, search by city or genre, tune into celebrity stations and content by other radio personalities, get premium content from people like Dr. Laura and Sean Hannity and check out daily features such as exclusive videos.
The local stations the iheartradio picks are mostly Clear Channel affiliates. You’ll also get access to entertainment from the Personalities tab, featuring shows like Sixx Sense with Nikki Sixx and the White House Brief.
There’s even an All Cities tab, which lets you stream stations from dozens of metro areas and hot spots. The Genres tab covers everything from Alternative to Hawaiian music and comes with video content. At the bottom of the app is a Favorites tab that lets you save stations and songs so you can play them again later, and the Shake It tab spins a roulette-wheel where adjacent cities and genre columns randomly land on a combination of the two. There’s also a Settings tab can be used to clear the app’s autoplay memory and to report issues.
On the iPhone version of the app, you can use iTunes Tagging and stations are streamed in Apple’s AAC format. You can download it for free here.
[Source: Edmunds Inside Line]
You multitask, so your cell phone should too. It’s a good thing the T-Mobile USA has just announced that the new Garminfone will be coming to a car near you soon.
This is the first Android-powered smartphone that comes equipped with a fully integrated Garmin premium navigation system. Set to hit stores soon, the full-touch 3G Garminphone is sleek and stylish, and sports large 3.5″ screen, so you can clearly see how to get to your destination. A few of the other cool features this phone will come with include:
- Integrated Navigation + Smartphone Experience: Garminfone delivers navigation capabilities beyond what other smartphones and standalone navigation devices provide. Customers can navigate to an address simply by clicking on it from a text message or e-mail, contact, calendar appointment, or web page. Garminfone can even remember where you are parked and navigate you back to your car. The 3-megapixel camera with autofocus automatically geotags images so you can navigate back to where your family vacation photos were taken, e-mail geo-tagged images to friends and family members, or post geo-tagged pictures on the Web for others to enjoy. Helpful Garmin travel applications such as dynamic, real-time traffic; weather local events; movie listings; and gas prices are pre-installed and easy to access and use.
- Garmin Navigation: Driving, walking and public transportation navigation with voice and on-screen directions and automatic re-routing are deeply integrated into the smartphone features of Garminfone to simplify navigating your daily life. On-board North American maps offer fast and reliable directions – whether in or out of cell phone coverage – and multiple overlapping positioning technologies ensure Garminfone customers have one of the best location and navigation experiences a smartphone can offer. In addition, Garminfone utilizes text-to-speech technology to speak street names, and the screen automatimobically switches between day and night modes for easier viewing while driving.
- Garmin Voice Studio: Garminfone is the first to feature Garmin Voice Studio, an Android application, which allows customers to record and share custom voice directions from family and friends.
This cell phone also includes a convenient charging window and dashboard mount that lets you navigate and charge the phone’s battery simultaneously. Other cool features include easy access to personal and work e-mail, including support for Microsoft Exchange e-mail, contacts and calendar; social networking; instant messaging; an advanced music player; and a 3-megapixel autofocus camera.
[Source: Press Release]
The big, bulky owners manual occupying precious glove box space may soon become a relic for Jeep owners, as the 2011 Grand Cherokee will be the brand’s first vehicle to bring the owners manual to a variety of smartphones. In addition to the owners manual, users will be able to view videos, contact other Grand Cherokee owners and give Chrysler feedback on various aspects of the car.
The smartphone owners manual will be available first for the iPhone, and then hit the Blackberry and Android platforms. As Autoblog astutely pointed out, when smartphones become obsolete in a few years, what will happen to the owners manuals? We hope that a hard copy will still be available. For all the wonders of technology, paper will never suffer from technical glitches, and when a Check Engine Light comes on ten years down the road, we doubt that anyone will dust off their old smartphone to look up the possible problem.
Tech addicts, the 2011 Ford Fiesta may be your next car. (Just as long as you don’t own an Apple iPhone, ’cause it’s not supported yet.) SYNC, the in-car technology platform developed by Microsoft in partnership with Ford, will soon allow for third-party cell phone applications to be controlled by voice commands and in-car controls.
Forget the fact that no other automaker is even close to offering such integration, Sync AppLink will be on production vehicles this year. AppLink works — at launch — on Android and BlackBerry phones, with titles such as Pandora Internet radio, Stitcher “smart radio”, and Orangatame’s Twitter client OpenBeak available.
“The growth in smartphone mobile apps has been explosive, and Ford has worked hard to respond at the speed of the consumer electronics market,” said Doug VanDagens, director of Ford’s Connected Services Organization. “SYNC is the only connectivity system available that can extend that functionality into the car. AppLink will allow drivers to control some of the most popular apps through SYNC’s voice commands and steering wheel buttons, helping drivers keep their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road.”
Once developers realize they can help distract drivers while on the road, this list is sure to grow exponentially. May we suggest an in-car fart app that can deliver a disgusting noise through a speaker closest to the intended victim?