A canyon ride reveals surprising shortcomings of the Porsche roadster’s base model.
Take a look at any of your favorite automotive websites – including this one – and you could swear that Porsche doesn’t make a base model car anymore. All you'll see are “S” versions. It seems as though we journalists never get a chance to drive Porsche’s base model cars, and with a week in Los Angeles, I was determined to try.
Two things are immediately apparent when you approach the 2013 Porsche Boxster. The first is that it is gorgeous. Even in Los Angeles, the Racing Yellow exterior stands out, with its matching yellow seatbelts adding just the right amount of levity as an accent. The interior as a whole is great, too, like all new Porsche interiors. The newest version of the Boxster sees a design finally coming of age, with a cohesive mix of aggression and elegance lacking in previous models.
The second thing you notice is how expensive the Boxster is. The spec sheet showed that the base model I was testing was just over $63,000 with destination. Included in the handling department for that price are 19-inch wheels, Porsche Torque Vectoring and Porsche Active Suspension Management. This makes the 2013 Boxster one seriously sticky car on the mountain roads just north of L.A. But the easy handling has caused me to develop a gripe.
Without diving deep into a settings menu, the driver can turn off all alerts for driver-assist features such as lane-departure warning with one switch.
According to a 2008 study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, lane-departure warning and lane-departure prevention systems could prevent or mitigate up to 87,000 nonfatal crashes and 10,345 fatal crashes per year.
The nonprofit IIHS also found that if all passenger vehicles were equipped with four driver-assist technologies – lane-departure warning, blind-spot monitoring, forward collision warning and active headlights – approximately one in three fatal crashes and one in five crashes that result in injuries could be prevented or reduced.
A 2013 Infiniti JX I recently tested has all four of these. But after awhile, a driver can become numb to the systems' constant beeps, blips and “crying wolf” over false readings and start to ignore the warnings.
This can lead to a phenomenon known as “alarm fatigue,” a serious problem in hospitals and one that automotive supplier Continental hopes to address with a concept called Driver Focus, which draws a driver's attention to the road only when a risk is imminent.
The 1.0-liter turbocharged engine is coming to the U.S. on the 2014 Fiesta. Also on its way is Ferrari's 6.3-liter V12, which easily won two of the 12 awards.
The awards, similar to the annual 10 Best Engines list from WardsAuto, ranks the industry's 12 top engines by size as chosen by dozens of international journalists. It's not a science by any means, but seeing as we've revved many of these engines ourselves, we're apt to agree.
The Ford 1.0-liter turbocharged 3-cylinder, which makes an impressive 123 horsepower, has been on sale in Europe since last year, and it's arriving on the Fiesta this summer alongside a larger, 1.5-liter 4-cylinder turbo coming for the 2014 Fusion. A 1.6-liter version is already available and will stay on for the manual transmission model.
It's dark out, but please thank the owner for reminding you that you are not driving a Mercedes.
Car and Driver leafed through the German brand's latest accessories catalog and found the solution: an illuminated badge with LED and fiber-optic backlighting. When the car is locked or unlocked or when a door is opened, the Mercedes logo beams to life. For now, the logo glows only when the engine is off, but the company wants to offer a version that will pair with the LED daytime running lights so that it's always on.
We'd advise against that, as it'd be compelling reason for big pickups to brake-check a tailing Benz driver and her fancy light into their steel bumpers.
After more than 40 million sold, this humble compact gets some groove in its step for its 11th generation.
Toyota pulled the sheet off its new 2014 Corolla early this morning, proving that its humble compact can throw some aggressive curves.
Toyota's ultraconservative designers have loosened their neckties with this 11th-generation model, drafting slanted LED headlights, a wide, blacked-out lower fascia and a few well-placed creases that take a jolt to the current model's dead nerves. It's remarkably close to the orange Furia concept that debuted in January at the North American International Auto Show. We see a hint of the Scion FR-S in the front, too, which is a very good thing.
But as we join the rest of the automotive press in a collective, "Wow, it's about time," loyal Toyota buyers will just shrug and say, "Thanks, I'll have another" when the car goes on sale this fall. Even in the face of fresher, powerful and more efficient competition, these people snapped up nearly 290,000 Corollas last year, marking it as the fifth-best-selling car in the U.S.
More than 40 million have been sold since 1966, and nothing in the automotive industry aside from forged steel has the perceived reputation for quality, reliability and value as the Corolla. For Toyota, which practically runs a telepathic connection to its customers, the Corolla is as good as minting its own money.
A 2-year maintenance plan that covers basic services and smartphone-enabled locking features, including remote start, will come included.
The maintenance plan, which includes up to four service visits for oil changes, tire rotations and inspections at the factory recommended intervals, will be provided on many 2014 Chevrolet, Buick and GMC models. GM did not specify which models would not include the plan, which runs for two years or 24,000 miles. Since 2011, Cadillac models have offered a standard four-year/50,000-mile maintenance plan that also includes engine air filter and cabin air filter replacements.
But the plan isn't as generous as what GM's international divisions have been offering for many years. In South Africa, for example, Chevrolet offers a standard three-year/37,500-mile maintenance plan that also covers coolant and air conditioner servicing.
A future with more electric and hybrid vehicles is giving governments a reason to replace lost gas tax revenue with – new taxes.
As the government encourages Americans to buy hybrid and electric cars with generous tax incentives, states are facing the Law of Unintended Consequences: The more fuel-efficient cars people buy, the less gas-tax revenue goes to the Treasury.
The solution? Another tax aimed squarely at the population trying to conserve fuel in the first place.
Virginia recently passed a $64 per year fee for hybrid drivers, with the money raised earmarked for its transportation network, and Washington state already is taxing electric-car drivers $100 per year.
Now, North Carolina’s state legislature is considering a new measure that would charge fees to drivers of hybrid and electric vehicles. The measure is included in the state’s budget proposal, which recently passed the state Senate and is in the state House for debate. If the budget passes through intact, North Carolina will charge fees of $50 yearly for hybrid owners and $100 for those driving full-electric vehicles.
Final Zonda adds more F1 tech, drops weight.
Supercar maker Pagani introduced the Zonda Revolucion at its yearly international Pagani meet up. The Revolucion will be the last version -- for now -- of the Zonda.
The company also said the R would be the last version, and then said the same thing about the Tricolore.
The Revolucion has a carbon-titanium monocoque which reduces total curb weight to a scant 2,358 pounds. With its Mercedes AMG-sourced 6.0-liter V12 pumping out 800 hp and 538 lb-ft of torque, it leads to a power-to-weight ratio of 2.94 pounds per horse. That's better than the Bugatti Veyron, McLaren P1 and its cousin, the Pagani Huayra. A six-speed sequential transmission changes gears in 20 milliseconds, according to Pagani. The traction control has 12 settings from “don't touch that gas pedal” to “holy crap where'd my rear end go.”
Additions to the aero setup include new deflectors on the hood as well as a vertical stabilizer mounted on the trunk.
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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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