Driver Easy Speak feature allows those in the front seat to communicate with passengers in the back of the vehicle.
A third-row seat is a desirable feature for many car buyers, and more automakers are adding them to SUVs and crossovers. But any parent will tell you that communicating with kids in the “way back” can be a challenge, and it can also be a dangerous distraction if the driver has to turn around to be heard.
A feature called Driver Easy Speak in the new 2014 Toyota Highlander solves this problem and works like an in-car intercom. It uses a microphone in the front of the vehicle to pick up the driver’s or front passenger’s voice and play it over speakers in the back so that those in the second and third row can better hear it.
The feature is standard on the XLE and Limited upper trim levels and is activated and controlled by the center-dash touch screen. It doesn’t mute the stereo if it’s playing and it’s a one-way system, so those in the second and third rows can’t talk back. But it’s a feature that people buying the new Highlander -- namely parents -- will likely appreciate.
The NHTSA also announces its annual 'Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over' holiday drunk driving crackdown campaign.
Before you get behind the wheel after having too much holiday cheer over the next couple of weeks, be warned. There's a nationwide crackdown on impaired driving, and local police will have no trouble issuing reminders.
Along with representatives from law enforcement, Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the Governors Highway Safety Association, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and National Highway Traffic Safety Administrator David Strickland earlier this week kicked off the annual holiday crackdown on impaired driving.
"With the help of our law enforcement partners, we're sending a message across the country, today and throughout the holiday season – Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over," Foxx said in a statement.
At the same time, the NHTSA released new guidelines on ignition interlock programs to help states develop and implement a breath-alcohol ignition interlock program, and most notably, it calls for an interlock intervention for first-time DUI offenders.
“With the release of our model guidelines for ignition interlock programs, we're helping states improve their efforts to enforce safe driving among convicted offenders," Foxx said.
Australian entrepreneur and Romanian tech guru prove there’s a kid in all of us.
Every 5-year-old boy’s dream of building a real Lego car and motoring it through the neighborhood has finally come true.
In this scenario it was the dream team of Romanian boy-genius Raul Oaida and Australian entrepreneur Steve Sammartino who envisioned the Lego car, which runs on air, embodies the hot-rod style and tops out at 18 mph. What Sammartino calls the Super Awesome Micro Project all started with some social media prompting and 40 generous benefactors.
And so, what seemed like a boyhood dream was suddenly catapulted into reality. Sammartino found himself tasked with the responsibility of actually building this fantasy car. Oaida, who was only 17 years old at the project’s start, is a self-taught builder with a mind for technology. In 2012, he began the arduous process of assembling the Lego hot rod piece by piece. In the end the project required more than 500,000 plastic bricks, which Sammartino estimates cost them nearly $60,000 alone.
Gallardo replacement comes this spring, promising 610 horsepower and a softer bite on public roads.
The Gallardo, after more than 14,000 sold, made its last hurrah in November, but when the Huracan debuts this spring, we'll bet the applause won't die down until next Christmas.
The aluminum and carbon-fiber chassis looks more like a baby Aventador up front, and from the rear three-quarters, we're getting some hints of the 1982 Jalpa. Without any badges, it's obvious the Huracan is a Lamborghini. The outrageous cuts, lines and trapezoidal shapes are rounded off a little, just so you can tell it's all new.
Because he can, Houston tuner John Hennessey closed a state highway for the second time in order to drive insanely fast.
The Houston tuner, who had police shut down a highway last year so he could blast to 220 mph in one of his turbocharged Cadillacs, has done it again in a modified Corvette Stingray.
Like last time, Hennessey's reasoning was to "test" the electronic toll readers on a stretch of highway, this time on the Houston Grand Parkway. Apparently, if you're John Hennessey, you can convince the Texas State Police to shut down miles of public road, stage a multi-camera video shoot with a helicopter and promote your new 603-horsepower Corvette all in one day.
That, right there, is a man living his life.
Optional high-beam headlights are brighter, more efficient and look cool.
When the BMW i8 plug-in electric hybrid goes on sale next year, it will be the first production vehicle with optional high-beam laser headlights.
While full LED lighting is standard on the $136,000 i8, according to BMW, the new laser high-beams offer additional safety and efficiency benefits.
In a new video, BMW details why laser light is different, and why it’s better. The automaker points out that laser light is monochromatic and, unlike other types of headlights, produces only one wavelength rather than a color spectrum.
The advantage of this is that a laser can generate far greater light intensity and a much more precise beam. According to BMW, the light range for laser is more than double that of LEDs and reaches up to 650 yards. And it says laser is also “more pleasing to the human eye.”
Jaguar dines on Mercedes-Benz’s new unofficial mascot.
Chickens, they’re incredible animals -- cunning, intelligent, fast and delicious when seasoned properly. Why else would the minds at Mercedes-Benz use the all-powerful chicken as their new spirit animal -- to demonstrate its agility, much like the German-engineered car you’re about to drop your Christmas bonus on?
Let’s face it, chickens and Mercedes-Benz don’t even belong in the same arena, but since the automaker posted an advertisement with dancing chickens to describe its suspension technology, the birds may forever be associated with the moniker.
For advertising whimsy, it works. That's why Jaguar crafted a witty parody response with a live Jaguar. And we’re sure that Jag ad execs are getting their chuckles -- if not their fair share of phone calls from PETA -- about their own form of cunning.
It's for a good cause, too.
Man, taxi drivers really don't get enough credit for doing what they do. Dealing with blood-boiling traffic, cranky customers and other taxi drivers would drive us insane. These heroes of personal transportation do it on a daily basis.
Yet they've never enjoyed the same cultural cachet as, say, truckers -- no one bothers writing ballads about taxi drivers (well, maybe one or two). "Taxi Driver" doesn't exactly glamorize the profession. Jammed city streets have lacked the romantic allure of the open road.
Yes, the NYC taxi drivers 2014 calendar is the taxi driver pin-up calendar you didn't know you needed. Its creators “took to the streets of New York to photograph some of the city's best-humored taxi drivers” in a series of sexy poses.
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Clifford Atiyeh has spent his entire life driving cars he doesn't own. Raised in Volvos, he has grown to love fast, irresponsible vehicles of all kinds. He is the senior news editor at MSN Autos and also reports for Car and Driver, Road & Track, The Boston Globe and other publications.
In the garage: 21-speed Iron Horse, 2002 Jeep Wrangler X (not his)
Doug Newcomb has covered car technology for over 20 years for outlets ranging from Rolling Stone to Edmunds.com. In 2008, he published his first book, "Car Audio for Dummies" (Wiley). He lives and drives in Hood River, Ore., with his wife and two kids, who share his passion for cars and technology.
In the garage: 1996 Chevrolet Impala SS, two 1984 Chevrolet Blazers, 2008 Honda CR-V
James Tate learned to drive stick at age 13 in a 1988 Land Cruiser - in La Paz, Bolivia. He's since been a mechanic, on a pit crew and has wrenched on every car he's owned since his first 1989 Honda CRX Si (and won't stop until the car is a 1973 Porsche 911 RS). His work has appeared in Car and Driver, Popular Mechanics, Automobile and others.
In the garage: 1995 Porsche 911 Carrera, 1988 BMW M5
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