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.
The latest 2013 reliability study from Consumer Reports (CR) revealed once again that many folks are unhappy with their in-car infotainment systems, and the issue may be even bigger than the study suggests.
Power adjustable seats with memory settings aren’t new, but now there’s a smartphone app that will adjust your seat as you approach the car to fit you perfectly.
As pressure mounts to curb distracted driving, one North Carolina town has made an unprecedented move, banning cell phone use in cars, including Bluetooth.
While most states have some type of ban on cell phone use while driving, Bluetooth hand’s free devices are promoted as a safer alternative – even if the jury is still out on if it really is. The State of North Carolina currently has a ban on hand held devices for drivers 18 and under, but those over the age of 18 have no restrictions. That is, unless you live in Chapel Hill.
The town of roughly 60,000 has just passed a law (with a vote of 5-4) prohibiting even the use of hand’s free devices like Bluetooth. The ban takes effect June 1st.
The first of its kind, the rules aren’t as strict as they first appear, however, with exceptions made for calling family members, or placing emergency calls. Plus, as a secondary offense, it’s not something that you can be pulled over for.
How’s this for a driving distraction – a GPS-enable rearview mirror that features a 4-inch touchscrren, Bluetooth and games.
This innovation, brought to you by gadget wholesalers Chinavasion, is a kit that can replace any standard rearview mirror. The biggest perks it offers is its GPS and Bluetooth 2.1 capabilities, as well as a 4.3-inch touchscreen for multimedia playback, touchscreen games and DVR options that allow you to record inside and outside the car.
The kit is easy to install, as it fits right over your old mirror. Its GPS unit uses a SiRF Atlas VI chip and a Centrality Atlas 4 Dual-Core 500 MHz processor. Plus, you can run most major brands of GPS software through it (TomTom, iGO, Route66). For hands-free calls, the kit comes equipped with a microphone and speakers, as well as allows you to listen to music through a Bluetooth connected mobile phone. Giving you a clear line of sight behind you, it features a waterproof wireless rearview camera, as well as a camera built into the mirror that can record video and interior and exterior sound.
The games and multimedia playback capabilities should be enjoyed while your car is in the parked position. You can play some of the games that come included on its 480 x 272 pixel 4.3-inch touchscreen, As well, you can watch MP4, AVI, MPG, WMV and 3GP videos and listen to MP3, WMA and WAV audio files. It also supports BMP, JPG, PNG and GIF images and TXT documents.
The kit sells for about $200 and is available for purchase on the Chinavasion website.
Looking to get yourself a nice little gift this holiday season to go with your brand new iPhone 4S? Silverlit is proud to offer you a Ferrari Enzo toy car that can be controlled through an iPhone app via Bluetooth. Even though we’re only offered a single photo of the toy car, we’re impressed by its details and we’re certain like other Silverlit products, it’s made from hobby grade material.
Leveraging the power of the iPhone and its versatility in app development, Silverlit’s Enzo offers more than your typical remote controlled car. Instead of just having forward, back, left and right controls, the app allows you to control the Enzo at various speeds, has a multi-racing steering and gives you the power to control the headlights, taillights and turning lights.
Pricing for Scion‘s 2012 xD model has been announced with the five-speed manual set at $16,075 and the four-speed automatic at $16,875, including a delivery, processing and handling fee of $730.
In addition, Scion announced that Bluetooth hands-free connectivity and streaming audio along with HD Radio are now standard for the 2012 xD model. The vehicle will feature Pioneer’s audio system with a 160-watt amplifier, USB port, AUX port, and subwoofer RCA output.
An option for a premium 200-watt Pioneer audio system with a 5.8-inch LCD screen will be offered for the 2012 xD. It also packs six RCAs outputs to allow multiple amplifiers. Standard on the xD are your run-of-the-mill features such as power steering, windows, door locks and mirrors, remote keyless entry, air conditioning and four-wheel anti-lock brakes, to name a few.
BMW has developed two new hybrid vehicles that the German automaker says have redefined the understanding of personal mobility with a focus on sustainability.
The i3 concept, previously know as the Megacity, is an all-electric car that focuses squarely on the mobility challenges in urban areas. The i8 hybrid concept is a “forward-looking, intelligent, and innovative” sports car with both an electric drive system and a fuel efficient combustion engine. The i3 is built for four passengers, and BMW’s LifeDrive architecture conjures up a feeling of space inside the car more generous then even the latest conversion vehicles can offer. The i3 features wide-opening opposing “coach” doors, and trunk capacity of around 200 liters. The electric motor is over the rear axle and can produce 170-hp with 184 lb-ft of torque. The i3 can achieve a 0-62 mph time of just under eight seconds. The i3 can achieve what BMW calls an “everday” driving range of between 130 and 160km on a single charge, with a standard charge taking six hours, although with the right equipment, an 80 percent charge can be done in one hour.
The four seater i8 concept “embodies the vision of a sustainable contemporary sports car brought to life” according to BMW. The plug-in hybrid system combines the modified electric drive system from the i3 fitted over the front axle and a high performance three cylinder engine at the rear. The engine can produce 220-hp and 221 lb-ft of torque delivering a 0-62 mph time of just under five seconds. The i8 delivers 94 mpg or three liters per 100 kilometers. The i8 can also run purely on electric power, with a driving range of 35 kilometers (20 miles) and the battery can be fully recharged in two hours at a standard power socket.
GALLERY: BMW i3 and i8
Another year and another release for Scion’s now infamous xB urban utility vehicle. Much of what we’ve come to know about the second generation xB has been left untouched for their 2012 version, except for the addition of standard Bluetooth hands-free and HD radio technology. An option for a premium audio system with 5.8-inch touchscreen and Pandora Internet Radio is also available.
MSRP for the 2012 Scion xB remains aggressive within their market as the five-speed manual retails for $16,300 while the four-speed automatic is at $17,250. Both will come standard with Bluetooth hands-free and streaming audio to complement its HD Radio technology for 2012. The standard 160-watt Pioneer audio system will allow users to wireless stream audio from their phone to the vehicle’s sound system. iPod, iPhone and other portable music players can also be connected directly to the system through the USB or AUX port.
The optional 200-watt Pioneer Premium audio system will feature everything that the standard system has but includes a 5.8-inch touchscreen and has iTunes tagging and Pandora internet radio connected through an iPhone.
Everything else is standard second generation Scion xB. It’ll still feature a 2.4L four-cylinder with 158-hp, 16-inch steel wheels with choice of wheel cover design and its iconic box shape.
GALLERY: 2012 Scion xB Audio Systems
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]
Before you get too excited, the Taser app isn’t what you think it is. But what it will do is protect your family while they are driving.
A special app that’s only available for Blackberry and Android platforms (it needs Bluetooth to function properly), the Taser prevents cell-phone related driving distractions, promotes responsible driving behaviors, and offers important information you may need in emergency situations. Basically, it locks down your cell phone while you are behind the wheel, so you get that peace of mind for when your teen borrows the car.
Here’s how it works: the app uses Bluetooth to communicate via a small dongle that connects to the vehicle’s diagnostic port. When it makes a connection, it locks down the phone except for the Taser app which gives the user only basic functionality including voice dialing and 911 access. You also get GPS and cellular functionality (with its own SIM card). If you really want to keep an eye on what your teens are doing, it will keep track of a vehicle’s location and will report unsafe driving behavior and accidents – it’s the perfect snitch.
The Taser kit will cost you $249.95 plus a recurring fee starting at $14.95/month. If the price doesn’t shock you (sorry, couldn’t resist), the Taser may be a worthwhile investment, especially if you want to monitor your young drivers.
[Source: Oh Gizmo]
GM’s MyLink, available starting with the 2012 Chevrolet Volt and Equinox, will offer smartphone charging, Pandora radio streaming, GraceNote music identification, Bluetooth, XM satellite radio, voice activation, OnStar, and USB inputs, in case listening to drive-time radio is too crushing for commuters.
The MyLink comes hot on the heels of Ford’s SYNC as an inevitable comparison. But unlike the SYNC, MyLink includes the full power of GM’s OnStar behind it, for starters. It will also come with Powermat charging for the smartphones that you won’t need to fiddle with once behind the wheel. And, uh, that’s about it. Functionality between the two infotainment systems is remarkably similar otherwise, which makes you wish that GM had introduced this earlier.
The MyLink includes a 7″ full-color touchscreen standard, which controls climate control and navigation operations. The first GM cars that will be equipped with it later this year will be the Chevrolet Volt and the Equinox, before the rest of the General Motors lineup.
Get ready to upgrade your driving directions. Garmin has just updated the 1600 GPS series with the new Garmin NuLink 1695.
Available this September, the Nuvi has changed its name to NuLink for the 1695. This is to signify the importance of the NuLink service, which offers a data connection to the portable GPS unit. The NuLink service brings drivers traffic information, weather forecasts, fuel prices, flight status, and other real-time, location-relevant content, including Google Local Search for points of interest, right to your dashboard.
Also new for the NuLink 1695 is the addition of the NuLink Store, where you can buy optional premium services. Purchasers of the 1695 receive one year of the NuLink service.
There are plenty of features that come with the NuLink 1695. A few notable ones include myTrends destination prediction, trafficTrends, ecoRoute software for fuel-efficient routing and driving, and Bluetooth hands-free connectivity and a speakerphone. It also comes with a 5-inch screen (that’s an upgrade from the 1690’s 4.3-inch display).
The Garmin NuLink 1695 sells for $449.99. The NuLink service will be free for the first year after purchase, and you can continue to receive the service for $5 per month after that.
You’ve decided to buy a new car, complete with all the high-techy trimmings. But does that make your car vulnerable to hackers?
Your new ride probably isn’t a high-priority target for hackers, but security experts believe that car hacking is going to become more mainstream. This is thanks to new wireless technologies and a dependence on computers to make cars safer, more energy efficient and modern.
Some of these innovations are put in place to improve safety. Systems like the wireless tire pressure monitoring systems use a radio frequency transmitter to communicate to the central car computer over the Controller-Area Network (CAN). Unfortunately, researchers at the University of South Carolina and Rutgers University found this system to lack security after testing two tire pressure monitoring systems.
“While spoofing low-tire-pressure readings does not appear to be critical at first, it will lead to a dashboard warning and will likely cause the driver to pull over and inspect the tire,” said the report.”This presents ample opportunities for mischief and criminal activities, if past experience is any indication.”
There’s also been research to test security problems with keyless entry systems in cars, as well as recent reports that outline the risks that come with computerized internal car networks. In one report, researchers from the University of Washington and University of California, San Diego, tested how easy it would be to hack a vehicle’s system by connecting a laptop to the onboard diagnostics port that they then wirelessly controlled via a second laptop in another car. They were they able to remotely lock the brakes and the engine, change the speedometer display, as well as turn on the radio and the heat and honk the horn.
Other systems that may be at risk to car hackers include the Engine Control Unit and infotainment systems, which include the SYNC system and Bluetooth technology.
This following unveiling of Mazda3 Sedan at LA Auto Show
After the Mazda3 Sedan was unveiled at the 2008 LA Auto Show, North American audiences will be treated to their first look at the Mazda3 Hatchback when it makes its US debut at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit this January.
Looking much like its sedan counterpart, the hatchback has even more European flare. In fact, it looks shocking like something that might roll out of a Peugeot assembly plant.
As for engines, the base powerplant remains the same with a 148 hp and 135 ft-lbs 2.0L four-cylinder. The S model does, however, receive a power increase thanks to a larger 2.5L four-cylinder engine. Power for the S is now rated at a significant 167hp and 168 ft-lbs of torque. The base model comes with a five-speed manual and the S comes with a new six-speed manual. An optional five-speed automatic is available for both models.
Fuel economy has also been improved with a 25/33 mpg city/highway rating for the base engine with the manual transmission and a 21/29 mpg city/highway rating for the S with the manual.
Highlights include a Bluetooth system and a push-button ignition. The Mazda3 Sedan and Hatchback will also be the first compact cars in North America to come with Bi-xenon headlights.
Official release after the jump: