Navigation system benefits from realistic, constantly updated maps, although it comes with a constant price.
A car’s navigation system is only as good as its maps. The prevailing model in most cars is mapping software stored on physical media such as DVDs, hard drives or SD cards. Although the map detail has gotten better and can include 3D renderings of buildings to provide landmarks, the data is outdated as soon as it’s burned onto physical media, since roads and other transportation infrastructure constantly change.
An Audi Q5 TDI I recently tested has what the automaker calls “standard” map data stored on the vehicle’s onboard hard drive. But the Q5 also had the MMI Plus navigation system and Audi connect with 3G cellular connectivity. One feature this combo provides is Google Earth’s realistic satellite views for the navigation mapping.
This means that drivers get accurate and constantly updated maps, and a level of detail that other nav systems can’t match. But it also means that the system needs a data connection, and the car owner has to pay a monthly subscription fee.
The Australian car brand, a GM subsidiary since 1948, is pulling out of Australia for a number of economic reasons.
By the end of 2017, Holden, GM's Australian brand, won't build any more cars and engines Down Under. To further twist the knife, the name may also disappear just one year before its 70th anniversary.
Citing a strong Australian dollar and a "fragmented" local market, GM said it would stop all Australian manufacturing and leave only a small team of engineers, designers and marketing staff. Holden dealers will continue to receive cars after 2017, although GM did not specify if they would be rebranded with a different GM nameplate.
All the specs we know about BMW's high-performance sedan and coupe, set to debut in Detroit.
The BMW M3 is back, faster and more powerful than ever before -- but only as a four-door sedan. For its iconic 3-series-based performance model, BMW will dispense with a 26-year tradition of high-revving naturally aspirated engines in lieu of turbocharged six-cylinder power.
Revealed here in production-car guise for the first time, the new 425-hp M3 sedan will be joined at the outset by its sister model, the M4 -- a mechanically identical but stylistically sleeker two-door coupe previewed in lightly veiled concept-car form at the Pebble Beach Concours in California last August.
The new M3 sedan and M4 coupe will go public at the Detroit auto show prior to the start of North American sales in May 2014. Prices are yet to be announced, though officials have said they are likely to rise over previous models.
'Mass-produced higher performance' line announced at launch event for automaker's WRC race car and team.
World Rally Championship (WRC) racing fans will be happy to know that Hyundai unveiled its team line-up at an event in Germany this week in preparation for the kickoff of the 2014 FIA World Rally Championship in Monte Carlo next month.
And fans of affordable high-performance Asian cars will be happy that Hyundai also used the occasion to announce its new "N" sub-brand that will borrow go-fast technology from Hyundai's i20-based WRC car.
In a statement announcing the WRC team, Hyundai said the new N brand represents “the company's passion for high performance.” It added that “N takes inspiration in both name and spirit from the Namyang R&D Centre that collaborated with Hyundai Motorsport on the development of the i20 WRC.”
Additional engine failures have occurred on late-model General Motors vehicles, although there is no recall for those cars.
On 3,795 4-cylinder Toyota Tacoma pickups from 2013 and 2014, the valve springs can corrode and crack, which can lead to rough engine performance, noise or a complete failure. Toyota said it first discovered the problem in June from an owner in Japan.
The springs in the affected vehicles may have been contaminated with chloride during production that can lead to small corrosive pits on the surface, and eventually, a crack in the spring itself. No other reports of failed springs have occurred, and the problem is confined only to the Tacoma's 4-cylinder engine, according to Toyota.
Dealers will replace the valve springs with new ones and customers have already been notified. Owners can call Toyota at 1-800-331-4331 or visit toyota.com/recall for more information.
But more car thieves take Christmas off versus 10 other U.S. holidays, according to a new crime report.
The National Insurance Crime Bureau has new information on car thefts during the holidays, and for Christmas, the numbers are relatively good.
The NICB looked at data analyzed by the FBI's National Crime Information Center for the number of reported vehicle thefts during all U.S. holidays. For the second straight year, Christmas had the lowest number of reported car thefts in 2012, at 1,432. It was also the holiday with the fewest reported thefts for the entire year.
Christmas placed last in a list of 11 holidays studied by the NICB and NCIC. Among the holidays with the fewest reported car thefts were Valentine’s Day and Thanksgiving, which were virtually tied with 1,654 and 1,656 respectively. There were 21,325 cars stolen in total over the eleven holidays in the NICB report for 2012 -- a 2.5-percent increase over the 2011 holiday vehicle theft total of 20,800.
Although elderly drivers are among the safest, their growing numbers could mean an increase in accidents among the group.
Based just on its sheer size, the baby boom generation will dramatically increase the number of elderly drivers on U.S. roads in the coming years. In anticipation of the graying of the country's roadways, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has unveiled a new five-year strategic plan to enhance safety for elderly motorists.
Although older drivers are statistically some of the safest, their growing numbers will likely translate into an increase in the amount of injuries and deaths among the group. According to NHTSA, the number of older adults (defined as age 65 and older) has increased by 20 percent since 2003, while the number of licensed older drivers spiked by 21 percent to 35 million in 2012 alone.
NHTSA also reported that 5,560 people above the age of 65 died and 214,000 were injured in car crashes last year -- a 3 percent jump in fatalities and a 16 percent rise in injuries compared to 2011. To combat this increase in accident statistics among older drivers, NHTSA's strategic plan will concentrate on three key areas.
Actor partners with electric carmaker Venturi; team to compete in new eco race series.
The Hollywood actor has co-founded a new electric racing team based in Monaco that will compete in an all-new FIA series called Formula E. DiCaprio partnered with Venturi Automobiles, a low-volume electric car manufacturer from Monaco that holds the world's fastest electric land speed record, with the hope of advancing battery-electric technology -- and making an actual return on his investment.
Three other partners are in on the deal. Venturi owner Gildo Pallanca Pastor of Monaco; Bert Hedaya, a New Yorker who co-owns a company that makes cartoon-themed children's backpacks; and Francesco Costa, an Italian who sold his family's money-lending business three years ago to Western Union for €100 million ($137 million).
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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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