A last look at the current version before the new Outback arrives later this year.
There’s an all-new Subaru Outback coming out later this year, so to take one last look at the outgoing model, I took one on a road trip from Seattle to San Francisco.
Arguably the first-ever crossover, the Outback provides SUV capability but still drives and feels like a car. Perfect for our road trip.
Traveling with my wife and 16-year-old daughter for five days meant I had a good amount of luggage. On top of that, my daughter was competing in a dance competition in San Francisco, which meant extra bags plus a dance dress that had to remain flat. We would be going through Sonoma on our trip, which of course meant I’d need to leave space for the inevitable wine purchase.
Eight Corvettes are being rescued from a freak sinkhole as the Internet watches every move.
Now, as photos, drone videos, webcam streams and countless posts across social media can attest, the first Vette was pulled out of the rubble some 30 feet below: a 2009 "Blue Devil" ZR1.
"It's wonderful ... just seven more to go," Mike Murphy, the museum's construction manager, was quoted saying on its blog.
Crews were extra careful lifting the 638-horsepower supercar from the wreckage, fitting it with extra straps in case the wheels fell off. But the ZR1, which originally sold for about $111,000, fired up after a few tries and drove out the museum door, although it was quickly shut off after fluids were found leaking from the undercarriage.
Feature formally known as iOS in the Car will debut on Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo vehicles.
Apple’s latest debut feature for new cars -- following its slow roll out of the Siri Eyes Free voice assistant over the last year -- is finally here. We'll get the first glimpse of CarPlay, the feature formerly known as iOS in the Car, at this week’s Geneva Motor Show in select Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo models.
CarPlay will provide an “intuitive way to make calls, use Maps, listen to music and access messages with just a word or a touch,” Apple said in a press release. The “touch” refers to access of CarPlay through a vehicle’s in-dash touch screens, while “just a word” refers to activation via Siri Eyes Free through a car’s voice-recognition button on the steering wheel.
While several automakers already offer various device-agnostic smartphone integration systems -- with varying results -- CarPlay is explicitly for iPhones, and only for the iPhone 5 and up. It's the Apple-approved way for using an iPhone while driving and also brings a few extra features.
Drivers can’t miss the sometimes startling LED indicator in the side mirror, although they can choose to turn it down.
Blind-spot warning systems that use cameras or radar sensors to detect other vehicles in a driver’s "no-see-‘em" zone have become available on a wider variety of vehicles. But the visual and audible alerts they give off -- and that add to a growing cacophony of warning sounds and flashing lights from a proliferation of driver assistance systems -- can become all too easy to ignore, which has become a problem in and of itself.
Ignoring the visual alerts from Audi’s Side Assist blind-spot warning system shouldn’t be a problem since it’s bright enough to startle a driver, as I found out recently while testing a 2014 Audi A7 TDI. In fact, it was too bright. Fortunately, the intensity of the warning (a series of yellow LEDs fixed to the side mirror housings) can be adjusted.
Both my wife and I on separate occasions flinched from the flash of the alert. The first time I initially thought that a police cruiser or other emergency vehicle that I hadn’t seen or heard was bearing down on me. So the Side Assist visual alert definitely gets your attention -- if you want it to.
Leave it to Louis to bring carbon fiber to fashion — specifically for drivers of BMW electric vehicles.
For your bucks (no word on how many of them yet, but with Louis Vuitton, you can safely assume it won’t be a small number) you get two travel bags, a business case and a garment bag — all made entirely with carbon fiber.
That exotic material, used on the electric BMW's stiff passenger monocoque and primarily seen on expensive supercars, promises to make these Louis bags extremely light and durable. It's also one of the very first applications of carbon fiber as a garment fabric. Louis Vuitton says they'll be available by request at the company's New York and Los Angeles stores starting in April.
None of the bags have wheels. But then again, if this is the kind of stuff you’re into, you probably aren’t the kind of person who carries their own bags around anyway.
Nine-inch screen similar to one in Tesla Model S; uses “tiles” to access main functions.
Love or hate ‘em, slick tablet-like touchscreens in car dashboard aren’t going away anytime soon. In fact, despite initial problems with the MyFord Touch and Cadillac CUE systems, touchscreens that mimic tablets like the iPad continue to proliferate.
Now Volvo is joining the act with a large touchscreen that's more similar to the 17-inch display in the Tesla Model S. According to Wired, the new Volvo screen measures just 9 inches diagonally. But as in the Model S — and unlike other large dashboard displays like, say, the 10.2-inch non-touchscreen in the BMW 7-Series — it’s situated vertically in the center stack rather than horizontally.
Although Volvo’s new long, longitudinal display uses four main “tiles” to make it easier for drivers to find what they're looking for, the interface also includes a big ol’ volume knob as well as several switches at the bottom.
The 2012-2014 Frontier may have a circuit breaker installed in the wrong direction.
Some 2012-2014 Frontier pickups may have circuit breakers that were installed in the opposite direction, which could allow the main wiring harness to contact a bolt in the truck's A-pillar. If that happens and the wire becomes exposed, "thermal damage" could occur and disable the power seat and sunroof. Or, the battery could go dead when the truck is turned off.
Nissan said it first found the problem in December after a Frontier owner in Mexico reported smoke in the cabin and a damaged circuit breaker and wiring harness. Several days later, Nissan stopped production on all Frontier models with the breaker and realized the problem was due to incorrect installation of the breaker. Nissan said it is not aware of any related injuries or accidents.
Slow-selling hybrid sedan won't be returning.
Let's pour out a kale-kombucha green tea smoothie for the dearly-departed Honda Insight, whose demise was announced back in November. Honda dealers were asked to stop taking new orders for the slow-selling Insight, and production finally ended this month.
How slow is slow-selling? In 2013, Toyota sold 145,172 Prius five-doors. Honda sold 4,802 Insights, or just 3% of Prius sales.
The Insight was the second slowest-selling car in Honda's lineup, in fact. The first is the other dedicated Honda hybrid, the CR-Z -- 4,550 out the door in 2013. CR-Z fans must feel the same way French aristocrats felt when the guillotines sprung up.
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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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