Exhaust Notes

Decision Guide


Parts division aims to become synonymous with Chrysler once again.

By Chuck Tannert Feb 10, 2012 3:18PM

Mopar 300 (Photo taken by Rod Hatfield)Written by Kirk Bell


Fans of drag racing and 1960s muscle cars may recognize the Mopar name. But to many it holds little meaning. A contraction of the words “motor” and “parts,” the Mopar badge first appeared on a brand of antifreeze in 1937. It became the name Chrysler’s auto-parts division in the early 1960s, and by the middle of the decade, Mopar had become synonymous with Chrysler itself. In fact, owners of Dodge Chargers and Plymouth Barracudas started referring to their cars as Mopars, not Chrylers or Dodges, implying that the label was more weighty than the names of the parent brands. But in the 1970s, the brand fell into obscurity. But if Chrysler has its way, it won’t be obscure for long.


A spray coating that repels most water- and oil-based liquids could be the lazy car-owner's best friend.

By Clifford Atiyeh 3 hours ago
There's plenty of aftermarket sprays that claim to bead water from windshields, upholstery, wood trim and other car surfaces. Waxes do the same for paint. But what about a treatment that can repel dirt, oil and grime?

Nissan claims to have invented the "world's first self-cleaning car" with a new nanopaint spray coating that puts a thin layer of air above the clearcoat and can repel most water and oil-based liquids. The automaker has been using the coating, developed by UltraTech International, a Florida-based company that specializes in oil spill containment, on a Versa Note hatchback.

UltraTech says its Ever Dry product (for now, only available to industrial buyers) creates a "surface chemistry and texture with patterns of geometric shapes that have 'peaks' or 'high points'" that can repel even wet concrete. A demo video shows the coating applied to other surfaces like paper and even clothing — wherein two men in business dress are doused with a black liquid and one remains remarkably dry. The coating can't be used on windshields or any glass since it forms an opaque barrier.  

EVs and hybrids cost more than typical models, but what are people paying?

By James_Tate 4 hours ago

Electric car buyers are by and large younger and more affluent than hybrid buyers, according to a new study by Experian Automotive.

The credit bureau released a study this week coinciding with Earth Day that looked at the demographics of hybrid and electric car buyers through 2013. 

About 54.6 percent of hybrid owners were under 56 years old, compared to 73.6 percent of electric owners. Some 20.7 percent of electric vehicle owners had an average household income of $175,000 or more, where only 12.4 percent of hybrid owners could claim the same. In a sign of electric car pricing coming down to earth, the average new electric vehicle loan was only $2,000 more than the average hybrid loan ($28,835 to $26,835), and average loan payments for electrics were $82 higher than those of hybrids ($549 to $467).


Italian automaker sets high price to deter reviews of its LaFerrari supercar from appearing before a set date.

By Douglas Newcomb 4 hours ago

 Ferrari LaFerrari Ferrari has a reputation for pushing extremes, and the rules attached to the media “embargo” for its new LaFerrari supercar are no exception. How extreme? Try a $69,000 fine on journalists who publish stories on the LaFerrari.

Embargoes are commonly used by companies to give the press -- particularly print magazines -- plenty of time to get a story and pictures together for release. A car company will invite the media to test drive a new model -- and in the case of Ferrari, it’s usually just a few lucky journalists -- but will specify that any stories and photos from their experience behind the wheel should be embargoed until an exact time that it expects everyone to follow. 


While drive embargoes ensure the automaker can control the release of first-hand impressions of a vehicle, it also levels the playing field for all the media involved. While it’s not uncommon for an outlet to “break” an embargo to gain a jump on the competition, they do it with the risk that the automaker won’t ask them back to future drive events.


Blown Caddy puts supercharged Range Rover and G63 AMG on notice.

By AutoWeek 22 hours ago

The 2015 Cadillac Escalade is about as American as an SUV can be. We didn't find the 420-horsepower, 6.2-liter V8 lacking in any way, but if you want something with a little more grunt, Hennessey Performance Engineering and its HPE550 upgrade should help.

Hennessey says the HPE550 Escalade package bumps output to 557 horses and 542 lb-ft of torque with the help of a belt-driven supercharger producing 6 psi. Those gains are 32 percent and 18 percent, respectively, over the stock power and torque numbers.

Hennessey also adds an intercooler system, engine management software and all the necessary gaskets, fluids and hardware.


Expected new CEO Mark Fields was proponent of original Sync system and pushed for innovation.

By Douglas Newcomb Wed 6:38 AM

MyFord Touch. Photo by Ford.While technology is helping some automakers sell vehicles, cutting-edge advances can be a double-edged sword. Just ask Ford.

Its Sync system was a hit when it debuted in 2007. But after the introduction of MyFord Touch as a follow-up in 2010, the touch-screen-based system was cited as the primary reason for the automaker’s slide from fifth to 23rd place in J.D. Power and Associates’ 2011 Initial Quality Survey. And despite several software upgrades and improvements, the system continued to be an electronic albatross for the Blue Oval.

So it comes as no surprise that an executive at Ford recently hinted that the company may be dumping MyFord Touch in future models.

“There are software limitations with the current system that we want to break through so we can offer more capability,” Joe Hinrichs, Ford president of the Americas, said at an industry forum last week that was held in conjunction with the New York Auto Show.


$800,000 limo updates the Communist Party's ride of choice.

By AutoWeek Tue 12:32 PM

China's oldest car company rolled out its first vehicle on Aug. 1, 1958; it was a chrome-lined black sedan designed -- like the pastiche of 1950s cars it resembled, including the Packard-esque Chaika -- to strike equal amounts of fear and inspiration into the revolutionaries.

In Chinese, "Hongqi" in means "red flag," the most potent symbol of the Chinese Communist Party, making it a fitting name for a company that supplied the apparatchik. A symbol of power, a sphere of influence, a four-wheeled Great Leap Forward! Curiously enough, it took Nixon's 1972 visit for Mao Zedong (who finally swore off the Soviets and their ZIS-110s) to get into a Hongqi.

But by then, the die was cast. Hongqi was the official car of the Party, a vehicle spoken about in hushed tones. Even if the sphere of influence may be eroding, the glassy, gleaming red flag still stands tall and proud, defending its occupants against bourgeois paper tigers.

Today, you can ride around in your own Hongqi; in lieu of loyal service to the Party, you can provide something even more valuable: cash, and tons of it. How shamelessly bourgeois, you might say, and you'd be pretty damn right.


Racing film to keep star's character, likely with some computer graphics.

By Clifford Atiyeh Tue 12:29 PM
Detective Brian O'Connor will play out the remaining scenes of "Fast and Furious 7," thanks to late actor Paul Walker's two brothers and high-tech computer graphics.

The film's producers said on Facebook last week that Walker's brothers Cody and Caleb are helping to fill their brother's starring role as body doubles. A photo taken on set in Abu Dhabi by costar Ludacris and posted to his Instagram account showed Cody sporting the cropped haircut and beard style of Paul's leading character.

"We have resumed shooting and now welcome Paul’s brothers, Caleb and Cody, into our FAST family," the producers said. "Caleb and Cody are helping us complete some remaining action for their brother and fill in small gaps left in production. Having them on set has made us all feel that Paul is with us too."
An earlier report by the New York Daily News said the movie would digitally enhance Paul's face on the body doubles for certain unfinished scenes and would retain his voice as a narrator. Walker died in November from a fiery car accident in Los Angeles in which he was a passenger.

[Source: Facebook via Car and Driver]

Multifunction display allows endless tweaking; borders on information overload.

By Douglas Newcomb Mon 12:50 PM

2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek HybridI’ve written before about Subaru’s elaborate multifunction display (MFD), which packs a lot of info and capability into a rather small 4.3-inch screen at the top of the dashboard. In the 2014 Subaru Forester, it shows everything from calendar items (such as birthday reminders wrapped with a virtual ribbon) to more obscure items such as “Accelerator Opening Ratio” and turbo-boost pressure.

Fuel economy stats are typical for these types of supplemental displays, and they are key in the 2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid I recently tested. The MFD in the XV Crosstrek Hybrid doesn’t add anything different than other hybrids, which is to say it has a graphic showing the power flow between the gasoline engine, electric motor, hybrid battery and regenerative braking.

But what stood out to me once again was the depth of adjustable features available through the MFD, and how it’s almost overkill. Accessing these features through steering-wheel buttons and the menu structure in the MFD can be awkward until you get the hang of how it all works.



  • 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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