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Revamped MyFord Touch system will be similar to one used in the F-150 pickup and will get another software update.

By Douglas Newcomb Jun 18, 2013 11:12AM

2013 Ford F-150 MyFord Touch system. Photo by Ford.Ford has apparently come up with a way to fix its much-maligned MyFord Touch system, and it’s already being used on one of the automaker’s most popular vehicles.

Ford plans to add more physical buttons and knobs for volume and other basic functions to the largely touch-based infotainment system to counter the criticism and negative customer feedback encountered since MyFord Touch launched in 2010.

MyFord Touch was cited as the reason Ford dropped from fifth to 23rd in the 2011 J.D. Power and Associates' Initial Quality Survey in 2011, and fell to 27th in the 2012 results. Ford said on Monday that 79 percent of its 2013 model-year vehicles have been sold with Sync and MyFord Touch – double the “take rate” for the HondaLink and Toyota Entune infotainment systems.

But to further allay any future damage, Ford will adopt the changes it made to MyFord Touch for its best-selling F-150 pickup.


NHTSA chief calls for car companies to 'move forward aggressively on cybersecurity.'

By Douglas Newcomb 18 hours ago

Image by BattelleWith car connectivity accelerating and the federal government looking to mandate wireless networks of roads and vehicles, the nation's top auto safety regulator said  “the time is now" to "move forward aggressively on cybersecurity." Specifically, David Friedman, head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration,  called on automakers to become more collaborative in fighting car hacking.

“Certain things about safety should not be at all about competitive advantage,” Friedman said at the Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) World Congress last week, according to the Detroit Free Press. “I think cybersecurity is one of those perfect examples where sharing information will ensure that everyone is better off.”

Last year after sensational headlines on car hacking caught the public's attention, various branches of the federal government called attention to the threat. Former NHTSA director David Strickland said at a Senate Commerce Committee hearing in May 2013 that the agency didn’t “want to be behind the eight ball” on car security.


Idaho ranks first since it has 'a dichotomy of drivers' that either go too fast or too slow.

By Douglas Newcomb 20 hours ago

Graphic by Insure.comWhich state has the rudest drivers? That's the question Insure.com posed to 2,000 drivers nationwide.

The survey was made up of half women and half men, and respondents represented all 50 states in line with census population data. The state rankings were then calculated using a ratio of the nationwide votes for drivers from a particular state divided by the number of respondents from that state.

Claiming the dubious distinction of having the rudest drivers of any state, at least according to this survey, is Idaho. A state that doesn't have any large metropolitan areas -- hence not a lot of traffic -- may seem like a surprise.

"The roadways of Idaho present a dichotomy of drivers: Those who are moving so slowly that they’re judged to be rude, and the aggressive drivers who speed around them and flip them off," the website said. Insure.com quoted lead-footed Idahoan Matt Stubbs as pointing to the slowpokes in the state as the rude ones “taking their time, driving 5 to 10 miles an hour under the limit.”

Next on the list was the place where politics -- and sometimes driving -- is a contact sport: Washington, D.C.


Project will encompass network of cameras and sensors along 120 miles of freeways.

By Douglas Newcomb Thu 5:24 AM

Image by NHTSADetroit helped transform transportation 100 years ago when cars that the city began cranking out took to the nation's roads. A century later, drivers are dealing with the consequence of that popularity in the form of traffic jams, accidents and air pollution. Now the Detroit area wants to be on the cutting-edge of solving these problems.

A public-corporate partnership announced this week at the 2014 Intelligent Transport Systems World Congress in Detroit by the Michigan Department of Transportation, the University of Michigan, General Motors and Ford plans to string a network of cameras and sensors along 120 miles of freeways in the metro Detroit area. This vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) network will allow cars to communicate with traffic infrastructure such as stoplights, and it expands a recent large-scale vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication field trial undertaken by U of M, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration and others in neighboring Ann Arbor.

And is making the Detroit area the hotbed of innovation in connected vehicle research and deployment.


Motorhome and trailermaker expands Sprinter-based RV line with new version; we say “road trip!”

By James_Tate Thu 5:18 AM

If you hadn’t noticed yet, we love the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter. We love it in all its forms: stock, all-wheel drive, and in fully-customized luxurious “balla’ status” trim. There’s another version of the Sprinter that bears mentioning — the Airstream Interstate, a motorhome built on the Sprinter platform. Our excuse for talking about the Interstate is that Airstream has just announced that in addition to the current base Interstate and long-wheelbase EXT variants, it will begin offering a new Grand Tour version beginning with the 2015 model year.


Based on the Interstate EXT, the 2015 Grand Tour offers roomier interior accommodations compared to the base Interstate trim, including a larger bathroom area, expanded galley (with additional counter space and storage), oversized refrigerator and freezer, a working desk, and standard power awning. There are optional dual screen doors for open-air outdoor stays.


ITS World Congress demos include technologies for self-driving and connected cars.

By James_Tate Sep 9, 2014 6:02AM

Honda is taking this week’s Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) World Congress in Detroit to reveal new automated driving and connected car technologies.

Manufacturers are in a rapidly escalating arms race to bring advanced driver assist systems to the market, and Honda is trying to make a big splash for the American debut of its Automated Highway Driving system.

Honda is sending cars equipped with the system around an eight-mile loop of Detroit’s freeways, demonstrating the Automated Highway Driving system’s automatic steering and braking capabilities, along with its ability to change lanes and enter or exit freeways on its own.


Although it debuted a car that virtually drives itself, the automaker will focus instead on active safety technology.

By Douglas Newcomb Sep 8, 2014 2:49PM

Toyota Automated Highway Driving Assist (AHDA) systemAfter debuting an autonomous car at the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show, Toyota said last week that it's not developing a completely self-driving model like most automakers and Google. Instead, Toyota said it will focus on advanced safety and convenience features that can assist drivers by taking over braking and steering.

"Toyota's main objective is safety, so it will not be developing a driverless car," Seigo Kuzumaki, Toyota's deputy chief safety technology officer, said at a seminar outside Detroit last week, which MSN Autos attended.

But Toyota did give us a demo drive in a Lexus GS that virtually drove itself in a loop around downtown Detroit, if just for short stretches. The technology, called Automated Highway Driving Assist (AHDA), is similar to certain models from Mercedes-Benz.


XE will square off against the BMW 3-Series with style and efficiency.

By AutoWeek Sep 8, 2014 2:29PM

Jaguar expects the its all-new XE sedan to go head-to-head with the BMW 3-Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class and other luxury standbys when it goes on sale in 2016.

Our first impressions of the car unveiled Sept. 8 in London are positive: It's a clean, well-proportioned sedan with short overhangs, a long hood and a short deck. It will look familiar if you've seen the XF, but it's a tad shorter -- compare its 111.6-inch wheelbase to the XF's 114.5 inches -- and tauter. Rakish, even, especially from the rear.

Powertrain information and performance numbers remain incomplete for now, but we do know what sits at the top of the XE range: A supercharged 3.0-liter V6 good for 340 hp and 332 lb-ft of torque. Presumably, this is the raucus motor we know and love in the F-Type. Like the F-Type, it's backed by a ZF eight-speed automatic transmission. There are paddle shifters. The 0-60 time is a stated 4.9 seconds. Top speed is 155 mph.


Pesky flower could provide an alternative to rubber-tree plants grown in Southeast Asia.

By Douglas Newcomb Sep 4, 2014 1:43PM

Photo by Flikr user Louise Docker
Dandelions may be an eyesore to homeowners who try in vain to eradicate the pesky plant from their lawns. But where some people see trash, Dutch biologist Ingrid van der Meer sees treasure -- and a potential alternative to rubber for tire makers.

"People just think of it as a horrible weed and ask, 'How can you get enough material for tires from just a small root,'" Van der Meer told Business Insider. She and her team as well as other researchers around the world are studying the potential of a type of dandelion native to Kazakhstan whose taproot produces a milky fluid that contains tire-grade rubber particles.

One of the reasons the dandelion is an attractive substitute to the rubber tree is also the reason it's so resilient: It can grow in poor soil. Another is that, unlike rubber trees that are tire makers' main source of raw material, dandelions can be grown in regions other than the tropics.

This would give the tire industry more control over rubber supplies. And it would mean the industry wouldn't be at the mercy of a fungus that could affect rubber tree plantations and severely impact rubber prices.



  • 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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