Exhaust Notes

Decision Guide

A 400-horsepower Ford Taurus SHO may be on the way.

By James Tate Jul 22, 2010 7:10AM
2010 Ford Taurus SHOAmerica’s highways used to be ruled by sedans: big, powerful, lumbering beasts with massive engines and a similarly large thirst for fuel. During the mid- to late '60s, anyone could walk up to the dealership of their choice and order a 4-door with more than 350 horsepower without breaking a sweat, or the bank. Eventually, rising fuel prices drove those dinosaurs to an early grave, but not before they had lodged themselves in the collective American psyche as the pinnacle of the automobile.

Since then, we haven’t seen too many full-size sedans waltz past the 400-horsepower barrier, and even fewer manage to be a sales success while doing so. A rumor has just popped up that Ford may be interested in waltzing back into the megapowerful-sedan game once again, this time with its new Taurus SHO. 

Well, Alex, actually: Alex Severinksy versus Toyota.

By Joshua Condon Jul 21, 2010 3:33PM
This is actually pretty major news: Soviet emigrant Alex Severinsky just won a case against Toyota. Unintended acceleration, you ask? Corporate negligence, re: safety issues, leading to lower resale value of his car, perhaps?

Nope. Severinksy sued Toyota claiming it stole the system for powering gas-electric hybrid vehicles that he patented in 1994 -- and he freaking won.

Severinsky started his career developing instrumentation for anti-tank warfare after receiving his degree in electrical engineering from the Kharkov College of Radioelectronics in Ukraine in 1967. He later earned his Ph.D. in the same field from Moscow's Institute for Precision Measurements in Radioelectronics and Physics. Then, in 1977, he immigrated to the U.S. What happens after then is where the story really kicks off. 

New software helps businesses, government agencies stop their drivers from texting while behind the wheel.

By Joshua Condon Jul 21, 2010 1:28PM
Laws are good for discouraging certain types of behavior and for punishing those who choose to disregard those laws. Certain laws, though -- like the ones in place in some states banning texting while driving -- are harder to enforce than others. There are simply too many cars on the road and not enough law enforcement in place to properly discourage someone who decides to read and/or send texts while behind the wheel. A Georgia company and a Texas company have teamed up, however, to create a software program that effectively steps in and does what law enforcement, for the most part, cannot: stop drivers from using text, e-mail and Web-browsing functions on their mobile devices.

Manage Mobility, based in Alpharetta, Ga., has teamed up with WebSafety Inc., of Irving, Texas, to create a software application for government agencies and business owners that want to ensure their drivers comply with the law in order to cut down on liability issues. WebSafety's technology originally grew out of software intended to stop teens from texting while driving.

Click below for a map, from USA Today, of the current state-by-state breakdown of texting bans -- or lack thereof. 

The New York Times 'Wheels' blog breaks it down further.

By Joshua Condon Jul 21, 2010 11:22AM
In a piece about consumer groups railing against automakers that oppose the Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 2010, The New York Times' "Wheels" blog takes a look at some of the contentious issues and goes into further details about the legislation.

One thing the automakers don't like? The per-vehicle fee slated to go directly toward boosting the coffers of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. (As previously reported, this fee would start off at $3 per vehicle before moving up to $6 and, eventually, $9 in the third year.) The manufacturers argue that the added cost is prohibitive. As the "Wheels" blog points out, though, manufacturers themselves typically tack on fees that are many, many times larger, such as the hundreds of dollars consumers can pay for delivery fees.

An issue that's quite contentious is the raising of the maximum penalty from $15 million to $300 million if a manufacturer fails to promptly notify NHTSA of a safety issue. The manufacturers call this excessive, though the $300 million price tag is a maximum, not a standard, and it's widely accepted that a $15 million penalty for a major manufacturer amounts to little more than lost pocket change. 

The crux of the Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 2010.

By Joshua Condon Jul 21, 2010 9:59AM
When Toyota's myriad safety recalls dominated headlines and airwaves earlier this year, enough pressure trickled up to the federal government that a new auto-safety bill was introduced. Known as the Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 2010, the bill looks to address, and improve, the government's roles as an enforcer of safety standards and a protector of consumers. Which is all well and good -- but what, exactly, does the bill say?

According to Consumer Reports' "Cars Blog," the bill -- which has been presented in both the House and the Senate, though neither has yet voted on it -- the legislation aims to strengthen the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in both power and financial resources. 

New models, technology all designed to clean up CO2.

By Lawrence Ulrich Jul 21, 2010 7:45AM

Honda CEO Ito. (Photo courtesy of Honda.)Honda, which has seen its environmental thunder stolen of late by not just Toyota, but General Motors, Ford, Nissan and Hyundai, fired off a green salvo yesterday: The company will bring a plug-in hybrid and a pure electric commuter car to the U.S. in 2012. Those would be the first plug-in cars from Honda, which introduced the hybrid to America with the Insight in 1999, but whose hybrids have often been hit-or-miss with consumers.

In an address in Tokyo, Honda CEO Takanobu Ito added that the next-generation Civic Hybrid will switch to a lithium-ion battery when it goes on sale in 2011. That would bring the Civic into line with the Chevy Volt, Nissan Leaf, Ford Focus-based EV and a plug-in Toyota Prius. Those upcoming models highlight the industry’s shift to lithium-ion batteries, which pack roughly twice the power at half the size and weight of current nickel-metal hydride batteries.

Like every automaker, Honda must boost fuel economy across the board to achieve an average 35.5 mpg by 2016, the biggest rise in fuel-economy standards since the Clean Air Act was passed in the '70s. Honda is also gearing up for a world that will almost surely regulate the carbon-dioxide emissions associated with global warming. The European Union, along with regulators in the United States, may require new cars to produce roughly 130 grams of CO2 or less per kilometer driven, a figure already achievable with today’s fuel-saving technology: The Toyota Prius, among the world’s cleanest cars, produces just 89 grams of CO2 per kilometer.


Francisco Carvalho goes airborne in a death-defying crash that, luckily, saw no serious injuries.

By Joshua Condon Jul 20, 2010 2:28PM
Sometimes it's nice to take a break from GM and Chrysler's recovery, the latest on Honda's plan to roll out a plug-in hybrid, or possible new legislation forcing manufacturers to release pertinent repair-related information and just watch a jaw-dropping, did-that-really-happen auto racing crash -- but only, of course, because no one was seriously injured.

How there were no major injuries during this massive, end-over-end bit of flying mayhem in England remains a lucky mystery. During the Brands Hatch round of the Seat Leon Eurocup, driver Francisco Carvalho took a bump and went careening into the guardrail, eventually flipping over the rail itself and into a group of safety workers. Again -- no one was hurt, which is miraculous. Also, whoever built those barriers should use this video as a marketing tool -- and make them a bit higher.

Check it out, via Jalopnik, after the jump. 

By Jake Lingeman

By AutoWeek Jul 20, 2010 2:10PM
The Jeep Extreme Trail Edition camper is $11,995. (Photo courtesy of Jeep.)Jeep and Mopar are teaming up to create a line of rugged trailers to go anywhere and haul anything.

The Jeep Trail Edition campers will match the conventional Jeep in colors and ruggedness, including 32-inch tires, diamond plating and a tall enough suspension to navigate big ruts. The trailers will pop open to sleep four adults while offering 76 inches of headroom. They are also made to accommodate parts from a Jeep, including bumpers and spare tires. The cost of the aftermarket package is $9,995.



  • 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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