Exhaust Notes

Decision Guide


Even if it's not FM, Internet radio is an evolutionary step in broadcasting that more and more drivers will want.

By Douglas Newcomb Feb 25, 2013 6:27AM

Pandora for Ford Sync AppLink. Photo by Ford.For decades, radio has taken a back seat to the latest and greatest in-car technology.

From 8-track tapes to iPods, car audio has largely been about choice -- drivers getting the tunes they want without waiting for a deejay to play them or listening to annoying commercials. While recent innovations such as satellite radio and HD radio breathed new life into the century-old medium, they were largely a technology update on the traditional radio paradigm.

So it’s ironic that the newest ripple in in-car entertainment, Internet radio, essentially riffs off the oldest and original on-the-road technology companion for drivers. It’s also a bit of a paradox that the technology merges the connectivity of smartphones with, in the case of Pandora Internet radio, music curated by a third-party database.

Ford’s announcement today that it will include the popular streaming music service Spotify as part of its Sync AppLink feature proves that the next evolution of entertainment technology in the car is ready to hit high speed. Radio, it appears, is again on the cutting edge.


Advanced safety systems save lives, but ‘will thrash entire industries built on the fact that you crack up your car.’

By Douglas Newcomb 13 hours ago

2013 Ford Fusion Driver Assists. Photo by Ford.Driver assistance systems such as forward-collision prevention that take over steering and braking have been proven to save lives and reduce injuries. But as the technology spreads to more cars and prevents more types of accidents, it also has the potential to save car owners money from collision repairs — and put a major dent in the revenue of auto body shops and other businesses that profit from crashes.

That’s the conclusion of a recent blog post by David P. Carlisle, chairman of the consulting and research firm Carlisle & Company, after analyzing trends and data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The Carlisle analysis took into account four driver assist systems — forward collision warning or prevention, lane departure warning or prevention, blind spot warning and adaptive headlights — and their potential to prevent accidents.

Using IIHS data and the company’s own “mathematical modeling,” Carlisle deduced that 30 percent of all collision repairs could be avoided once the systems become available in all cars. Of course, that could take years. But Carlisle noted that the IIHS's companion research agency, the Highway Loss Data Institute, predicts that approximately 20 percent of all registered vehicles will have forward collision warning systems by 2020. This alone could prevent more than 3 million car crashes — and have a major financial impact on the collision repair industry.


Chevy muscle sedan also adds in-car tech, keeps 415-hp V8.

By AutoWeek 13 hours ago

Chevy's only rear-wheel drive four door sedan, the SS, will be receiving several upgrades for the 2015 model year to compete with the likes of the Dodge Charger and…well, pretty much just the Dodge Charger.

Performance enhancements include the addition of Magnetic Ride control as a standard feature, as well as rear Brembo brakes to complement the already standard front Brembos. Optional for 2015 is a six-speed manual transmission that should have driving enthusiasts (us included) excited. Also optional for the coming year will be OnStar’s 4G LTE connectivity with a built in Wi-Fi hot spot so you can upload your burnout videos to Facebook straight from your car. 

Power will still be dished out from Chevy’s 6.2-liter LS3 V8, making 415 hp and 415 lb-ft of torque. Automatic versions of the SS accelerate to 60 within 5 seconds, and Chevrolet claims that the more aggressive axle ratio (3.70) used with manual transmission models will make for even quicker times.


This rare BMW was the King's personal ride while serving in the Army between 1958 and 1960.

By Clifford Atiyeh 18 hours ago
Elvis Presley's BMW is getting the rock star treatment all over again.

BMW Classic, the automaker's official restoration arm, is bringing the King's 507 roadster back to showroom quality. The red roadster, one of just 254 built between 1955 and 1959, was actually Presley's second 507, or by some accounts, the same car painted red after adoring women wrote their names and numbers all over the  original white body in lipstick.

In either case, Presley was stationed in Germany in the late 1950s as a private in the U.S. Army, but aside from operating a tank and standing guard (where he was again mobbed by hundreds of German fans), the King of Rock 'n' Roll was no ordinary GI. In between his many overseas girlfriends and ability to skirt Army rules as a celebrity, Presley bought one of the most expensive cars at that time (about $450,000 in today's dollars). He spotted the 507 in a local dealer after the Porsche 550 Spyder, the other great sports car in which heartthrob actor James Dean famously died, wasn't available.  

Recently acquired James Hull collection features more than 130 Jaguars, which the automaker will use for marketing and preservation.

By James_Tate 18 hours ago

The renowned car collection of British entrepreneur James Hull is a living history of British motoring. Of the 543 vehicles in the Hull collection, a majority of them are British classics, which made it the largest privately-owned British car collection in the world, including more than 130 Jaguar models alone. It seems fitting, then, that Hull would sell his collection to Jaguar Land Rover.


Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) recently announced the purchase of Hull’s vast collection, which will fall under the purview of its new Special Vehicle Operations division. JLR Special Operations — most recently in the news for the announcement of its first production model, a road-going version of Jaguar’s Project 7 concept — wasn’t merely formed to pump out limited-edition, high-performance versions of JLR vehicles. Part of the Special Vehicle Operations mission will be maintaining and restoring classic models. Having the Hull collection in-house immediately makes it a leader in the preservation of British motoring history.


Hull, a dentist who has amassed great British cars from every decade since 1930, was contemplative in remarks about the sale. While the final price was not disclosed, Hull had first offered his collection in May for £100 million ($169 million).


Faulty transmission shift cables could cause 2011-14 models to roll away or stay stuck in park.

By Exhaust Notes 20 hours ago
Hyundai is recalling 883,000 cars in the U.S. and Puerto Rico to fix transmissions that can let the car roll away when parked, according to filings with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The 2011-2014 Sonata has a transmission shift cable that can separate from the gear selector and may cause the actual gear to be different from the gear selected by the driver. For example, the vehicle may not be in park and could roll away -- even if the gear selector is in the park position. Also, the car may not be able to restart if the car shuts down in a drive gear and cannot be shifted out of park, despite the gear selector being able to move.  

Screen uses smartphone-like swiping and other finger-based gesture controls.

By Douglas Newcomb Tue 10:15 AM

If you’2015 Subaru Legacy multi-touch display.ve used a smartphone or tablet, you’ve probably also used multi-touch gesture controls to, say, decrease the scale of a navigation map by pinching the screen or moving the map by swiping it with a finger. It’s a quick, easy and intuitive interface, and one that’s increasingly coming to cars.

Cadillac was the first car brand to use multi-touch control with its CUE system in the XTS, and Tesla also included it as part of the huge in-dash display in the Model S. Now Subaru has added it to the all-new 2015 Legacy and Outback with the navigation option on its seven-inch display.

I tested the multi-touch interface in a 2015 Outback 2.5i Limited equipped with the "Moonroof Package + Keyless Access & Push-Button Start + Navigation System + EyeSight" (the actual name of the option) that costs $2,990. The package also includes a six-speaker audio system, the Starlink smartphone-based infotainment system, SiriusXM satellite radio, USB port/iPod control, and Bluetooth for phone and audio. Plus, it brings the full suite of EyeSight driver assistance systems: adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking and lane-departure warning.

I also consider the multi-touchscreen a driver assist of sorts.


Study finds Washington, D.C., has lowest fatality rate, northern Plains states and the South the highest.

By Douglas Newcomb Mon 1:54 PM
Photo by Flikr user Rian Castillo.
Whether you’ll die in a traffic accident largely depends where you live, according to a recent study from the University of Michigan's Transportation Research Institute.

While roadway fatalities in the U.S. have dropped 22.7 percent since 2005, UMTRI research professor Michael Sivak found a wide disparity in traffic fatality rates for individual states and the District of Columbia.

Sivak used two sets of data in his analysis: the number of road deaths by distance driven and the number relative to state population. Using these two factors, he looked at statistics for 2005 (the most recent peak) and 2012 (the most recent year for which data was available).

He then cross-referenced these statistics and concluded that if you drive in Massachusetts and Washington, D.C., you have the lowest chance of dying in a traffic accident than any other state, while motorists in North Dakota, South Carolina and West Virginia have the highest chance of becoming a road fatality statistic. 

Hellcat VIN0001's sale to benefit Las Vegas charity.

By AutoWeek Mon 11:22 AM

To the surprise of exactly no one, the numero uno production Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat built will head straight to the auction block at Barrett-Jackson -- a precedent set by the first C7 Chevrolet Corvette, the first Camaro Z/28 and the first 2015 Ford Mustang in the vehicular equivalent of camping out for three days for a "Star Wars" movie and then running through the movie theater yelling "first!"

Already, Barrett-Jackson is calling the Hellcat "iconic." Hellcat VIN0001 has an eight-speed TorqueFlite automatic with black Laguna leather seats. It features a special shade of red, carried over from the Dodge Viper -- the first of which, come to think of it, also went to Barrett-Jackson.

And like the first Viper, the House That Craig Built is selling the Hellcat to benefit charity: This time, 100 percent of the price will go to Opportunity Village, which helps people in the Las Vegas area who have intellectual disabilities. Founded in 1954, the charity operates three centers and a thrift shop around the Vegas area.



  • 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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