Monthly Archives: December 2012

Cats beware, dogs can drive

Dogs work as shepherds, lead the blind, and conduct search-and-rescue missions. And now it looks like they could be grabbing chauffeur jobs as well.

To prove the value of the abandoned mutts it takes in, New Zealand’s SPCA taught three of them to drive a car. The site drivingdogs.co.nz redirects to a Facebook page showing the dogs behind the wheel, and explaining how they were trained. It also suggests adopting these smart companions.

The car, a Mini Cooper Countryman, has been modified for hand, or paw, control. The brake and accelerator are up high, just off the steering wheel. The shifter and steering wheel have been padded to make it easier for the dogs to control the vehicle.

Inside Scoop: Keep your eyes on the road and paws on the wheel


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Videos on the Facebook page show how the SPCA modified the car … [Read more]


Car Tech: An automotive blog from CNET

Visteon e-Bee shows how we will drive in 2020

Visteon used a Nissan Leaf as the basis for its e-Bee concept, completely redesigning the cabin with its high-tech solutions.

(Credit: Visteon)

In the year 2020, your car may recognize you when you get in, and immediately adjust the seat and mirrors to your preferences. At the same time, it could bring up your calendar on a screen, and automatically program your destination based on your next appointment. As passengers get in, each would have access to his own audio zone and be able to connect his smartphone and tablet to the car’s own Wi-Fi hot spot.

Those are some of the technology promises built into automotive supplier Visteon’s e-Bee concept car. The car, based on a Nissan Leaf electric vehicle, features a custom-built cabin showcasing Visteon’s broad array of electronics and materials technologies.

The driver controls are designed for quick, nondistracting access.

(Credit: Visteon)

One goal of the concept was to maximize interior space through smart packaging of vehicle components. Visteon created a new single climate control component, combining heating and air conditioning into one module. As the electric e-Bee d… [Read more]


Car Tech: An automotive blog from CNET

New Corvette teased and leaked ahead of January unveil

Chevrolet released a camouflaged virtual prototype of the seventh generation Corvette in Gran Turismo 5.

(Credit: GM)

At the Detroit auto show next month, Chevrolet will unveil the 2014 Corvette, the seventh generation of the legendary American supercar. GM’s own media releases ahead of the launch reveal a modern, high-tech car that should compete with the best from Europe. At the same time, it appears Chevy addressed a long-time Corvette issue, cabin quality.

Chevrolet Corvette teased ahead of 2013 launch (pictures)

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To date, the most reliable information available concerns the new Corvette’s engine. GM released a presentation detailing construction, testing, an… [Read more]


Car Tech: An automotive blog from CNET

2012 Car Tech Awards: And the winner is…

(Credit: Wayne Cunningham/CNET)

CNET Tech Car of the Year for 2012

2012 Tesla Model S Our choice for CNET Tech Car of the Year goes to the 2012 Tesla Model S, a car that shows superb technology throughout while also challenging our conceptions of how a car should work. Most people know the Model S for its electric drivetrain, which not only gives it tremendous acceleration, but also the best range among current production electric cars. Compared with an internal combustion engine, the Tesla’s electric motor delivers magnitudes of better energy efficiency. The EPA estimates the cost of electricity for a year of driving at $ 700, about 25 percent of the cost for gasoline in an equivalent luxury sedan.

Beyond its efficiency, the Model S modernizes the whole idea of a car’s cabin. Tesla streamlined the entire process of getting into the car and setting off, taking out steps that have become anachronistic. A big touch screen handles all in-cabin functions, eliminating the need for an array of buttons across the dashboard. A 3G data connection feeds the infotainment functions, providing maps, destination search, and music, similar to what we have become used to with our personal electronics… [Read more]


Car Tech: An automotive blog from CNET

Top Cars of 2012: CNET On Cars Double Holiday Special

Top cars of 2012: CNET On Cars holiday special

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The top scoring cars of 2012 are, happily, a oddball assortment. If it were just a bunch of Audis and BMWs, I’d be as bored as you would. But cars with many different brands on their trunks came through this year, delivering great CNET ratings in a variety of price categories though, of course, pricey cars do tend to have an advantage.

So it you want to see the year that was in cars & tech, sit back and enjoy this double length holiday special as we take you through the videos of the … [Read more]


Car Tech: An automotive blog from CNET

Hook up an iPhone, or iPod, to your car

(Credit: Josh Miller/CNET)

In the past, we told you how to ‘iPod your car’, which meant adding some sort of adapter to play music from an iPod through a car’s speakers. With iPhones, we not only play music, but also make handsfree phone calls and use navigation. In this guide, we will show you how to connect your iPhone to your car for sound, which could be music, turn-by-turn navigation, or a phone call. Of course, the solutions for music also apply to iPods. And if you use an Android, check out Car Tech’s guide to using your Android phone in the car.

Native support If you are looking to buy a new car, or bought a car recently, check out our Tech Car Buying Guide. Most new cars come with Bluetooth handsfree calling systems and USB ports that work with your iOS devices for phone calls and music. In the Guide, we cover the different options and how they work. Ford’s Sync system is one of our favorites, as it demonstrates excellent compatibility and capabilities, while being offered in a wide range of affordable cars. It includes advanced voice control for music playback and phone calls, while also supporting integration with some apps.

We have found that iPhones can be finicky about sending an audio signal out through Bluetooth or the cable… [Read more]


Car Tech: An automotive blog from CNET

Hook up an iPhone, or iPod, to your car

(Credit: Josh Miller/CNET)

In the past, we told you how to ‘iPod your car’, which meant adding some sort of adapter to play music from an iPod through a car’s speakers. With iPhones, we not only play music, but also make handsfree phone calls and use navigation. In this guide, we will show you how to connect your iPhone to your car for sound, which could be music, turn-by-turn navigation, or a phone call. Of course, the solutions for music also apply to iPods. And if you use an Android, check out Car Tech’s guide to using your Android phone in the car.

Native support If you are looking to buy a new car, or bought a car recently, check out our Tech Car Buying Guide. Most new cars come with Bluetooth handsfree calling systems and USB ports that work with your iOS devices for phone calls and music. In the Guide, we cover the different options and how they work. Ford’s Sync system is one of our favorites, as it demonstrates excellent compatibility and capabilities, while being offered in a wide range of affordable cars. It includes advanced voice control for music playback and phone calls, while also supporting integration with some apps.

We have found that iPhones can be finicky about sending an audio signal out through Bluetooth or the cable… [Read more]


Car Tech: An automotive blog from CNET

2013 Toyota Avalon charges Qi-enabled phones without wires

Drivers will be able to charge their Qi compatible phone by simply placing it on the Avalon's console.

(Credit: Toyota)

People have been modding wireless inductive phone chargers into their car since the Palm Pre and its magnetic Touchstone, but Toyota claims today to be the first automaker to offer the tech with its announcement that the 2013 Toyota Avalon would be available with Qi wireless charging.

Specifically, the Qi wireless charging will be available as part of the 2013 Avalon Limited’s and Hybrid Limited’s $ 1,750 Technology package, so you’ll also want to make sure that you’re interested in the radar cruise control, pre-collision system and automatic high beams that also come as part of that package before checking that option box. It would be nice to see the Qi charger broken out into a less expensive option, as it doesn’t seem like it really has anything to do with the features that it is bundled with. (While I’m making tech wishes, it would really be nice to see this relatively inexpensive tech just be made standard on th… [Read more]


Car Tech: An automotive blog from CNET

2013 Mazda 2 Review

The five-seater Mazda 2 is a front-wheel-drive sub-compact road warrior destined to take on on the Nissan Versa, Ford Fiesta, Chevrolet Sonic and the like. With the ever increasing demand for better fuel consumption and versatility, the subcompact  has become the fastest growing class in the automotive segment.  That said, the Mazda2 has many qualities that make it a desirable one of the bunch.

At a first glance, the tiny compact vehicle looks cute and functional. It’s got bold sporty panels with colored door handles, relaxed windshield, and a wedge shape hatch.  Notorious to Mazda, the 2 also has a smiling front grille with a welcoming hood, fenders, headlamps, bumper, air intakes and 15-inch wheels.

Under the hood of the Mazda2 lies a 1.5-liter double-overhead-cam 16-valve four-cylinder engine with variable valve timing to provide both  low-rpm torque and high-rpm horsepower. The numbers crunch out to 100 horsepower at 6000 rpm and 98 pound-feet of torque at 4000 rpm. These numbers are by no means, staggering, but considering the size and weight of the car, it’s plenty sufficient for your daily commutator.  In about 310 miles of combined driving in city and highway, we fuel consumption test averaged at around 33.2 miles per gallon, falling in between the EPA estimate of 29 City/35 Highway mpg for the 2012 Mazda2, which is

Mazda kept in sight of good gas mileage, acceleration and responsive handling by keeping the car simple and light.  It uses high strength steel with more structural welds and weld-bonded adhesives in the body to reduce the overall amount of steel used. This design greatly reduces the weight of the overall vehicle since weld joints are much lighter.

After all that, the drum roll weight scale results in 2306 pounds, which is even less than the Mazda MX5 coupe!  To put these numbers into perspective, the Mazda 2 is lighter than the Fiat 500 and magnitudes lighter than the Ford Fiesta.  Only the Toyota Yaris comes.

As what’s expected of any subcompact car, the interior cabin space can be limited in functionality and form.  The seats are made of cheap clothe, but provide sufficient comfort and support.  The thick steering wheel; however, adds a nice touch to both the eyes and the hands. The Mazda 52 can fit 3 passengers in the rear, but wouldn’t take long before discomfort unfolds. The accessible rear fold down seats offers excellent additional cargo space when needed.

The miniscule 1.5 liter engine is the smallest available engine on the market to date, but Mazda has found a way to make the best out of it.  The subcompact car acts shy in in normal driving conditions, but can suddenly bring out madness of the engine with a heavy foot on the gas pedal – it is almost frightening with the combination of engine tone and noise it makes.

The engine pulls sufficiently well at lower rpm with its torque peaking out at about 4000 rpm.  Breaching the 6000 rpm line is when the engine really starts screaming.  Thanks to the drive-by-wire, acceleration is very responsive.

The suspension on the Mazda 2 uses conventional McPhersonal strut suspension that offers decent ride quality.  While test driving up a twisty mountain road, the Mazda 2 offered decent handling and was able to absorb road bumps quite well.

The Mazda 2 remains a strong contender in the already super competitive automotive segment. The cute sporty look coupled with its versatility and flexibility make it a practical everyday hatchback.  By using a small 1.5 liter 100 hp engine, the Mazda 2 is rewarded with excellent fuel economy of an averaged 30 mpg city and highway.  However, don’t let size fool you as the engine has plenty of heart and spirit.  All in all, Mazda never failed to deliver their zoom zoom promise with the performance and handling of the Mazda 2.

 

Smart motorcyle helmet cushions you from concussion

(Credit: 6D Helmets)

Styrofoam, a plastic shell, and your own head are the only things separating your brain from the curb if you have an accident. It’s a standard setup that most helmet designers use, but that arguably doesn’t go far enough, as concussions are still one of the most common injuries bikers suffer in an accident.

What differentiates 6D Helmets‘ new products are the dual layers designed to protect a rider’s head from a broader range of impact than standard helmets — in particular, low-threshold energy impacts. A standard helmet is certainly useful in high-speed collisions, but 6D’s “Omni-Directional Suspension System,” or ODS, aims to keep motocross bikers safer in accidents involving less than 10mph of force.


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In other words, the design aims to combat slow-speed knocks that can leave riders dizzy and impact their performance, rather than simply foc… [Read more]


Car Tech: An automotive blog from CNET