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Luxury land yacht a standout among more modest cars on Ward's 10 Best Interiors list.

By Douglas Newcomb Apr 11, 2014 1:07PM

2014 Rolls-Royce Wraith. Photo by Rolls-Royce.If you have an affinity for luxury cars, yachts and tony seaside towns — and more than $350,000 to spend on a car with a nautical interior — then your ship has come in. Adding to the bragging rights that come with owning an ultra-luxury car like the 2014 Rolls-Royce Wraith, its interior has been named one of the best among all 2014 model-year vehicles in Ward's 10 Best Interiors list.


According to Ward’s, the Wraith's yacht-inspired cabin design reflects the seaside retreat at La Canadel in the south of France, where Sir Henry Royce spent his winter months. The car's “sitting room” make generous use of what Rolls calls Canadel Panelling, while other interior surfaces are swathed in the “softest ‘Phantom-grade’ leathers.”


For the award, Ward's seeks out and tests the very best car interiors in the U.S. market. The only requisite is that the vehicle has a "new or significantly redesigned interior" and is available for sale in 2014. Ward's editors spent two months commuting in 41 new cars, and rate each interior on "ergonomics, driver information, fit-and-finish, materials, value, safety, comfort and design harmony." And while about half the vehicles they awarded are from luxury brands, mainstream models make up more than half of this year's top 10 list.


Shake-up at the top sees Detroit's Big Three continuing to dominate top 10 'most American' cars, with overall scores declining.

By James_Tate Apr 11, 2014 12:12PM

We took our first look at the Kogod Made in America Auto Index last year; this week sees the unveiling of the 2014 edition.

Developed by associate professor Frank DuBois of the Kogod School of Business at American University in Washington, D.C., the index tries to clarify where parts are sourced and better explain the country-of-origin disclosures that can be easily obfuscated by manufacturers.

The Made in America Index rankings are determined by weighing several key factors in a car’s makeup (click here for a breakdown of how these factors are applied to come up with a final score for a vehicle):


Next plug-in hybrid may cost as little as $30,000 with a reduced electric battery range.

By Clifford Atiyeh Apr 10, 2014 11:57AM
The next Chevrolet Volt will offer two cheaper model variants that General Motors hopes will boost demand for its plug-in hybrid sedan.

Reuters reports that when the next Volt debuts in 2016, Chevy will offer a lower-cost version with less features and possibly reduced battery range that will put the price closer to $30,000. The current Volt costs $34,995 after debuting at $39,995 in 2010, during which its only real competitor was the all-electric Nissan LEAF. GM cut the Volt's price last year after many automakers did the same on their electric cars.

That's no longer the case, as Ford, Honda and Toyota have brought new plug-in hybrids to the fold and Chevrolet itself has offered a full-electric Spark EV for the West Coast at just under $28,000. Even the electric Tesla Model S — with a base price starting at more than $70,000 — is one of the top-selling plug-in cars on the market. 

Previewed on the Mulsanne, headed to production in a new SUV.

By AutoWeek Apr 10, 2014 10:09AM

Bentley is using the Beijing motor show to reveal its new Hybrid Concept. It will preview the company's first plug-in model, with the powertrain expected in a Bentley SUV debuting in 2017. The technology will be demonstrated in Beijing on the flagship Mulsanne.

Right now you should be thinking, “It's Bentley: Does the company really need a hybrid model?” CEO Dr. Wolfgang Schreiber explained why the answer is “yes.”

“There is no doubt that plug-in hybrid technology is true to Bentley's values of outstanding luxury and effortless performance,” said Schreiber. “Combining our renowned engines with electric power reinforces and enhances both principles, and so we will gradually introduce this powertrain across our model range. By the end of the decade, at least 90 percent of our production will be available as a plug-in hybrid. We are proud to be pioneering these developments in the luxury sector.”


Smartphone-based infotainment platform brings navigation, messaging and social media to the dash.

By Douglas Newcomb Apr 10, 2014 7:04AM

Windows in the Car. Image by Microsoft.Now that rivals Apple and Google have made a move into the car dashboard, the question has been what will Microsoft do next? For years, the company (which owns MSN) has provided a majority of the software for automakers’ infotainment systems, and it became a major part of the branding for the Ford Sync system.

But as automotive infotainment has evolved toward integrating smartphones to bring cloud-based content and services into a vehicle, Microsoft wants to move beyond supplying embedded software. Its Windows Phone-based solution, yet unnamed, was previewed as a concept at last week’s Microsoft Build Developer Conference.

Like Apple’s recently announced CarPlay, which extends features such as navigation and music from a connected iPhone into the dashboard using the device’s familiar interface, the new Windows system replicates the experience found on a Microsoft-based PC, tablet or phone on a vehicle’s screen. Also like Apple CarPlay, Windows does this using a “projection mode,” so that it’s much faster and easier to update compared with a car’s onboard connected infotainment system. Since the car's stock system remains in place, think of the Windows version as a separate desktop.


Cameras allow driver to peer through the front and underside of the vehicle to look for obstacles.

By Douglas Newcomb Apr 9, 2014 10:30AM

Automakers continue to find new and innovative ways to integrate camera technology into cars to make driving easier and safer. Now Land Rover's Discovery Concept SUV is taking automotive image processing to new heights -- or rather, new lows.


The vehicle, which will debut at next week's New York International Auto Show, features what Land Rover calls "Transparent Bonnet virtual imaging technology" to enhance driver visibility in tight spaces and while traveling the type of off-road terrain that helped the Discovery (named LR4 in the U.S.) earn its reputation for toughness. Cameras placed under and in front of the vehicle are combined with image processing to send a virtual see-through view to a full-width head-up display in the lower portion of the windshield.

Land Rover's Transparent Bonnet technology not only allows the driver to view otherwise invisible obstructions underneath and directly front of the vehicle for safety reasons, but also the angle and position of the front wheels and how they make contact with the terrain or asphalt.


Land Rover hinted that it could also be the first step in autonomous off-roading. 

Four cars were turned on their sides and rear this week.

By AutoWeek Apr 9, 2014 8:10AM

San Francisco Smart cars are being tipped over under cover of darkness.

Reportedly a group of six to eight hooded miscreants (we'd assume either teens or frat boys) have been flipping the diminutive cars on their sides, backs and roofs. A few witnesses have seen the suspects but have not approached them.

One woman interviewed by NBC Bay Area news thinks it could be a case of have-nots having fun with the haves, though we're not sure about the logic of labeling a Smart car owner a "have."


Analysis shows car companies with least number of recalls over the past 30 years and which ones alert owners the fastest.

By Douglas Newcomb Apr 9, 2014 8:07AM

Auto recallsIf you at all follow the news, you know that the massive number of recalls at General Motors has sparked three federal investigations and a landmark $1.2 billion fine has been leveled against Toyota for misleading consumers about safety defects.

This might make car buyers more concerned about the problems they may encounter down the road with a new vehicle and, specifically, how automakers rate when it comes to recalls. To help answer these questions, as well as how responsive individual automakers are to recalls when a problem is detected, the website iSeeCars.com took a closer look at federal recall data going back 30 years.


iSeeCars analyzed recall rates between 1985 and 2014 for each automaker, and compared it with sales data from 1980 to 2013. The website said it studied recall data starting in 1985 since recalls occur after a vehicle is sold and has been on the road for a few years. iSeeCars said that factoring in total automaker sales versus recall rates allows for an “apples-to-apples comparison across larger and smaller manufacturers and to ensure a fair assessment is being done of automakers of differing sizes.”



  • Cliff Atiyeh

    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

    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

    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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