Monthly Archives: November 2012

Ford Fusion wins 2013 Green Car of the Year award

The 2013 Ford Fusion, with a variety of fuel efficient drivetrains, wins the Green Car of the Year award.

(Credit: Josh Miller/CNET)

LOS ANGELES – The Green Car Journal announced its Green Car of the Year award at the Los Angeles Auto Show, choosing the Ford Fusion in a field of five finalists that included Toyota, Mazda, and Dodge.

The 2013 Ford Fusion mid-size sedan comes out with a wide array of drivetrain options, from a standard 2.5-liter engine to a plug-in hybrid system. With its base 2.5-liter four cylinder, the Fusion gets an EPA average of 26 mpg. Prospective buyers can also upgrade to either a 1.6-liter or 2-liter Ecoboost engine, each using direct injection and a turbocharger to turn in averages of 29 mpg and 26 mpg respectively.

The 2013 Fusion Hybrid uses a 2-liter engine combined with an electric motor, using energy recaptured from braking, to turn in 47 mpg, average, according to EPA testing. Ford says it is the most fuel efficient mid-size sedan in America. Ford also offers the Fusion Energi, which is a plug-in version of the Fusion Hybrid. Drivers will have the potential to get fuel economy much higher than 50 mpg, depending on how frequently they plug it in.

The Fusion beat Ford’s newest model, the … [Read more]


Car Tech: An automotive blog from CNET

Siri to make automobile debut on Chevy Spark, Sonic

Siri's hands-free in a Chevy.

(Credit: General Motors)

Siri’s full functionality is coming to two Chevrolet cars next year, General Motors announced today at the Los Angeles International Auto Show.

Siri will be available to customers who buy the Chevrolet Spark and Sonic. The virtual personal assistant connects wirelessly with the Chevy MyLink infotainment system, and allows folks running the iPhone 4S or iPhone 5 with iOS 6 to perform a host of Siri-related tasks.

According to Chevrolet, Siri will be available in Eyes Free mode, letting users make voice-activated calls, access their calendars, and listen to and compose text messages. However, Eyes Free mode won’t allow Siri to answer “complex questions that require displaying a Web page.” To further mitigate distraction, the iPhone screen won’t light up when Siri is interacting with the user.

Related stories

Sneak a peek at the cars of the 2012 LA Auto Show

(Credit: Mercedes-Benz)

It seems like I only just recovered from the 2012 SEMA Show and the Los Angeles Auto Show is already looming on the horizon. Not that I’m complaining; the 2012 LA Auto show is looking to be a good one. Of the cars that we’re expecting to see, there seems to be a good mix of small electric cars, exciting, unattainable supercars, and sensible crossovers and sedans. We’ve rounded up a selection of these rides to hold you over until our coverage kicks off on November 28.


Chevrolet claims that the Spark EV's 100kW motor is good for an instantaneous 400 pound-feet of torque. What?!

(Credit: Chevrolet)

2014 Chevrolet Spark EV Chevrolet takes its electric vehicle program a step further than the Volt with the fully electric 2014 Chevrolet Spark EV. This battery-powered version of the smallest Chevy model is targeted at urban motorists. Small, parkable footprint? Check. Torque-friendly electric motor? Check. Quick charger that juices the lithium ion battery to 80 percent in 20 minutes? Check. Cruising range hasn’t been announced yet, but rumors put it at 80+ miles.


Fiat is debuting an electrified version of its only U.S. model, the 500e.

(Credit: Fiat)

2014 Fiat 500e The Spark EV won’t be the only lilliputian electric at the sho… [Read more]


Car Tech: An automotive blog from CNET

2013 Nissan Altima Review

Introduction

When generally speaking of family sedans, Nissan’s flagship Altima sails with pride and honour.  The overall looks of the Nissan Altima are kept in line with its previous generation, but with its inherent luxury qualities upscaled.  The majority of the mechanical components remain unchanged with its previous generations.  Following its reputation established for two decades, the Nissan Altima promises to delver roominess, luxury and composed ride quality.

One’s general instinctive thought of Altima’s unchanged mechanical components usually funnel down to a stale feel. However; with a second thought, it all makes sense – why change something that’s already good?  The Altima has always delivered excellent ride quality in its previous generations.  Leaving the mechanical components unchanged gave headroom for Nissan to focus on other aspects to improve the luxury qualities of the 2013 Altima.  The exterior styling is now more bold and expressive while the interior cabin space is complemented with higher quality and softer material.

When thrown into the family sedan arena, the Altima reserves its spot on podium space.   Comparing its best selling rivalries such as the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry with the Altima generates higher appealing factors.  The upscaled Nissan Altima can even stand its own ground when comparing with higher end family sedans in the market such as the Volkswagen Passat, Kia Optima.   We think the Nissan Altima should be one of the top cars to test drive for consumers looking into a family sedan.

Trim Levels and Purchase Options

The 2013 Nissan Altima comes with a plethora of trim levels with two powertrain options to choose from – a 2.5 liter four cylinder engine, or a 3.5 liter  six cylinder engine.  The model we tested was the 2.5 liter four cylinder engine that has four different trim levels to choose from: base model, S, SV and finally SL.

The base model comes standard with 16 inch wheels, power accessories, keyless entry and ignition, power adjustable seats, 4″ infotainment LCD screen, bluetoothe smartphone connectivity and four speaker audio with built in CD player.

Stepping up into the S model includes cruise control, automatic head lights, six way power driver seats, additional information displayed on the instrument cluster, and a six speaker audio system.

The SV model upgrades to larger 17″ aluminum wheels, dual zone climate control, a larger 5″ LCD infotainment display, rearview camera, leather wrapped steering wheel, satellite radio, remote ignition, and hands free automatic text message reader.  Adding sunroof remains a purchase option featured in this trim level.

Finally, the highest SL trim model comes standard with a sunroof, upscaled exterior features including xenon headlights and LED tail lights, leather upholstery, an 8-way adjustable drive power seat, heated power steering wheel, and a premium 9 speaker BOSE sound system.

Powertrain and Performance

The 2.5 liter four cylinder engine produces 180 hp and and 180 ft.lbs of torque.  The fuel economy is estimated at 27 mpg in the city, 38 mpg on the highway and 31 mpg combined.  These numbers are not staggering, but are definitely very respectable performance parameters for a 4 cylinder family sedan.

The 3.5 liter six cylinder engine produces a significant power improvement of 270 hp and 251 ft.lbs of torque with fuel economy scoring in at 22/h31/25 for city, highway and combined fuel economy respectively.

Both powertrain models are equipped with a continuous variable transmission (CVT).  We’ve definitely had our quirks with CVT transmissions in the past, but the X-tronic CVT transmission equipped on the Nissan Altima is one of the best and smoothest ones we’ve tested.  Despite the smoothness of the power delivery and its advanced technology in the CVT transmission contributing to better fuel economy, the engine noise leaked into the cabin space is not the most pleasant sound to the ears.

Interior Cabin Space and Features

The interior cabin space is one of the most respectable features in the Nissan Altima.  With its majority of the cabin space is lined with soft and high quality material with minimal hard plastic, the interior quality doesn’t fall too short from higher end luxury sedans.  .The central dashboard is bordered with an elegant piano black plastic molding.  Its leather seats standard on the SL model is hands down, one of the most comfortable seats we’ve sat in.  The phrase to describe the experience would be “sitting on a cloud”. The instrument cluster is also very clean with very elegant moonlight blue lighting and black contrast.  The speedometer and other vehicle telemetry such as average fuel economy are very intuitive easy to read.

The infotainment system is also fairly intuitive, but most importantly, is responsive.  We especially liked how Nissan added control knobs to help scroll and navigate through different audio settings and climate controls on the vehicle.

Last but not least, the abundance of cabin space complemented with its lavish interior styling is one of the best features we liked about the Altima.  There is a plethora of space and comfort in the front seats, but legroom in the rear seats are of average.  Trunk space is average, but still offers a lot of cargo space equating to about 15 cubic feet of space.

Driving Impressions and Final Thoughts

With its respectable power output, fine tuned suspension and luxurious interior cabin space, the Altima delivers a very comfortable and composed ride.  The steering system has also been upgraded in the all new 2013 to accommodate better handling and steering precision in delicate and tight maneuvers.   The 2.5 liter four cylinder engine is also the largest in production.  As a result, Altima drivers will enjoys excellent torque pull for its class due to larger piston strokes.  Because of the larger piston strokes coupled with the Nissan CVT transmission, we did have a very minor quirk about the gargling engine sound leaked into the cabin space when pushing the engine to higher RPMs.

The Nissan Altima continues its legacy in delivering premiums quality family sedans.  The new 2013 Altima falls nothing short of expectation.  Leaving the already excellent superb and smooth powertrain design in previous generations intact allowed Nissan to focus more in upgrading the interior cabin space and other luxurious qualities and features on the Altima.

The MSRP of our top SL model is priced at 29, 598$.  This price does peak in at a little high when comparing to other family sedans with similar specs, but the roominess, interior luxury and ride quality of the Altima is unmatched in its class.

 

 

 

GPS pioneer takes aim at the future of navigation

GPS pioneer takes aim at the future of navigation

The pace of modern consumer technology has been so swift in recent decades that you can still meet the people who helped change the world, and find that they’re still at it and working on what’s next. Bob Rennard is an example.

CNET Conversations is part of a CBS Interactive special reporting project.

He was one of the developers of the GPS technology we rely on today, and is a co-founder of TeleNav, a provider of GPS-related software and services. The company called me and offered to have Rennard explain its Scout platform. I’m normally reticent to come do a story on a product pitch, but the key here is that Scout is an example of a true sea change in GPS: connecting it to live Internet search and data. That’s shaping up to be the second coming of GPS and one that I’ve been calling for for years, especially in cars.

ZDNet’s Joel Evans has a piece on how he uses Scout as a replacement for sorely missed Google Maps on his new iPhone. TeleNav isn’t the only player going down this road, but it is an influential one that can move the ball forward to the day when GPS navigati… [Read more]


Car Tech: An automotive blog from CNET

Ford promises fuel-saving 1-liter engine next year

Ford's 2013 Fiesta model will be on hand at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

(Credit: Ford)

At the Los Angeles Auto Show, Ford will unveil its 2013 Fiesta model, currently its smallest car. And along with its standard 1.6-liter engine, Ford will also be showing its smallest engine, the 1-liter, three-cylinder EcoBoost, a new option for the Fiesta model.

Ford's 1-liter EcoBoost engine produces 123 horsepower.

(Credit: Ford)

Three-cylinder engines are rare in the U.S., only used in the current Smart car or the odd past Asian import. In those applications, they have not garnered a really good reputation. But Ford’s little mill may change all that.

Taking advantage of efficiency and power technologies, the 1-liter Ford engine produces 123 horsepower and 148 pound-feet of torque. That is more power than many four-cylinder engines, and should be more than adequate for the diminutive Fiesta.

Ford’s EcoBoost engines use direct injection and variable valve timing for efficiency, and get needed boost for acceleration from a turbocharger. Ford engineered other innovations into this engine to reduce the n… [Read more]


Car Tech: An automotive blog from CNET

Take control of your car’s tech with these six apps

Okay, so you you can’t remotely drive a BMW with a phone like James Bond did in Tomorrow Never Dies, but there are plenty of real apps that will let you take control of your car and its tech with little more that your smartphone and a data connection. From beaming destinations to your Toyota’s navigation system with Entune to remotely unlocking your doors with GM’s OnStar RemoteLink, we’ve rounded up a few of the best car controlling apps.


(Credit: General Motors/Onstar)

OnStar RemoteLink (Android, iOS, Blackberry) When a many people think about General Motors’ OnStar telematics service, they think about the little blue button on the rearview mirror, but that’s only one part of the picture. The other half is the sweet OnStar Remote Link. With this app, you can remotely lock and unlock your doors, start or stop your vehicle’s engine, and honk the horn and flash the lights to help you locate your ride in a crowded parking lot. A vehicle finder shows you where your car is on a map. You can also search for destinations and send them to your car’s OnStar system for turn-by-turn navigati… [Read more]


Car Tech: An automotive blog from CNET

GM extends EV drivability with apps

Onstar's Waypoint feature lets EV drivers plot routes from charging station to charging station.

(Credit: GM)

With current technology, GM can’t give its upcoming Spark EV more range, but its Onstar division is giving drivers the tools to deal with limited driving range. A new feature for Onstar’s RemoteLink Mobile app will let drivers plan trips based on what charging station availability along a route.

Volt owners use the RemoteLink Mobile app to program charging times remotely. Onstar will add the new Waypoint tab in anticipation of next year’s launch of the Spark EV. When a driver enters a destination, the Waypoint feature will plot a route incorporating necessary charging station stops.

Given that the Spark EV is expected to have a range of under 100 miles, consistent with the majority of new electric cars on the market, the Waypoint feature will have to add significant time to longer trips for charging. However, it is a means of showing drivers what destination are reasonable.

Tap to pay Onstar also announced a separate app to make paying for charging easier. Named Park-Tap-Charge, this app takes advantage of Near Field Communications available on some phones to expedite payment for charging.

Per the apps name, a driver would park an electric vehicle at a… [Read more]


Car Tech: An automotive blog from CNET

Sneak a peak at the cars of the 2012 LA Auto Show

(Credit: Mercedes-Benz)

It seems like I only just recovered from the 2012 SEMA Show and the Los Angeles Auto Show is already looming on the horizon. Not that I’m complaining; the 2012 LA Auto show is looking to be a good one. Of the cars that we’re expecting to see, there seems to be a good mix of small electric cars, exciting, unattainable supercars, and sensible crossovers and sedans. We’ve rounded up a selection of these rides to hold you over until our coverage kicks off on November 28th.


2014 Chevrolet Spark EV Chevrolet takes its electric vehicle program a step further than the Volt with the fully electric 2014 Chevrolet Spark EV. This battery-powered version of the smallest Chevy model is targeted at urban motorists. Small, parkable footprint? Check. Torque-friendly electric motor? Check. Quick charger that juices the Li-ion battery to 80-percent in 20 minutes? Check. Cruising range hasn’t been announced yet, but rumors put it at 80+ miles.

Chevrolet claims that the Spark EV's 100 kW motor is good for an instantaneous 400 pound-feet of torque. What?!

(Credit: Chevrolet)


2014 Fiat 500e The Spark EV won’t be the only lilliputian electric at the LA Show. Fiat is also bringing the fully electric 500e, which builds on the stylish and popular … [Read more]


Car Tech: An automotive blog from CNET

Compact snaps: Five speedy compact cars

Automakers, recognizing some buyers’ need for speed, oblige by tuning up their inexpensive compact models, delivering more power and better handling. At the same time, most of these cars retain their basic practicality, whether it is the stylish and easily parked Fiat 500 Abarth or the cargo-friendly hatchback design of the Focus ST. Not only do these cars cost less than top performance models, they can also work as your only car, good for the daily commute, a road trip, and maybe even a track day.

Here are five cars designed to perform.


2012 Fiat 500 Abarth The standard Fiat 500 is a cool looking little city car, but its 1.4-liter engine doesn’t exactly roar. For the Abarth version, Fiat straps a bit turbocharger to the engine and tunes the suspension for more aggressive handling. Even more impressive is the loud exhaust note, unexpected from a little Italian car.

Base price: $ 22,000 Horsepower: 160 Torque: 170 pound-feet


2013 Ford Focus ST Ford’s newest Focu… [Read more]


Car Tech: An automotive blog from CNET