Consumer Reports' suggestions to automakers on how to stop unintended acceleration
Consumer Reports has stepped up to list five steps that Toyota, or any automaker, can take to fix the problem -- and, no, "throw out your floor mats" isn't one of them. (Not coincidentally, the magazine also dropped the "recommended" label on the models affected by the unintended-acceleration recall.) Let's take a look.
1. "Engineer cars so a sustained braking force can stop a car in a reasonable distance even with the accelerator pedal fully depressed." Many cars can do this even with the throttle wide open, as CR points out, but of what use is that if it takes 800 feet to do so? Their suggestion: a smart throttle control that lets the brake override the accelerator when both are engaged (something Toyota has pledged to install in the future).
By Greg Kable
Porsche will bring its latest hybrid know-how to the racetrack in the form of the new 911 GT3 R Hybrid, revealed for the first time prior to a planned public premiere at the Geneva Motor Show in early March.
Developed by a team of engineers at Porsche's Weissach R&D center, Porsche plans for the stripped-out race car to act as a rolling laboratory. The German carmaker wants to explore the potential of hybrid drivetrains in a racing environment before an expected announcement that it will return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans in a factory capacity, perhaps in 2012, with a race car boasting technology based on that used in the 911 GT3 R Hybrid.
Based on Porsche's recently revealed 911 GT3 RSR, the R Hybrid eschews conventional hybrid technology for an advanced new electro-mechanical flywheel system. Porsche sources said that the company is considering the system as a means of boosting the performance of its future race cars, and that the technology could end up on selected road cars, including a planned hybrid version of the 911. The new hybrid technology forms part of a broader program that goes under the name Porsche Intelligent Performance.
Ex-Toyota lawyer alleges electronics are at the bottom of unintended-acceleration issues.
Let's add another doubtful party into the mix: Dimitrios Biller, a former in-house lawyer from 2003 to 2007 who defended the company in rollover accident lawsuits, says that the electronic throttle control, not just jammed floor mats and stuck pedals, is the cause of the problem -- and that Toyota knew it all along.
That's our long-term Mazda MAZDASPEED 3 wearing a blanket of snow earlier this week
With the biggest storm of the winter having battered the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states, most enthusiasts have packed away the Pilotis, garaged the GTO, and hung up the helmet.
But what most people don't realize is that winter brings almost as many opportunities for spirited driving as the warm months. With the right equipment (snow tires), and the right ride (anything all-wheel drive), a snowy dash can be just the thing to cure your winter blues.
Forget the 911 Turbo, the 'S' means there's a new king of the sports-car hill.
When it comes to sports cars, Porsche serves up the cream of the crop, and the 911 Turbo is one of the jewels in the Stuttgart crown. Or at least it was. The German manufacturer just unleashed the new 2011 Porsche 911 Turbo S. It’s been five years since the company has stitched an S to the end of the 911 name, and for good reason. The standard Turbo model has evolved into an incredibly capable machine with 500 horsepower on tap and one of the finest dual-clutch gearboxes on the market. But, as we all know, good is never enough.
Yes, you read that right: 'Ferrari' and 'hybrid' in the same sentence
As reported by The New York Times Wheels blog, the hybrid (according to Tate, a version of the 599) is a sign of Ferrari looking forward and responding to changing attitudes and customer demands -- and that includes, in a move sure to anger purists, considering making vehicles with V6 engines.
IntelliChoice announces it picks for Best Overall Value of the Year
IntelliChoice.com, which since 1986 has been providing research, resources and education for car buyers and sellers, has just announced its annual Best Overall Value of the Year (BOVY) awards at the Chicago Auto Show. The awards, according to the company's Executive Editor Charlie Vogelheim, "are designed to instruct buyers on the cars, trucks and SUVs that deliver the most value for the money over a five-year period of ownership." Every car on the market -- around 1,800 vehicles -- is ranked based on various cost-of-ownership criteria, including maintenance and repair costs, value retention and fuel consumption; IntelliChoice uses various manufacturer, government and third-party data in its assessments. In short, the awards aren't about the lowest sticker price or the best bargain on the lot, but rather the vehicles that have the lowest cost of ownership compared with competitive models in their class.
One of the bigger stories from this year's lineup is the fact that the Toyota Prius -- despite the recent recall news -- is once again the leader in the midsize car category; the Prius has held the top spot every year since its redesign in 2004. Other repeat winners include the Chevy Corvette (sports car), VW's Golf GTI (base sport) and Jetta TDI (the wagon version won in that category), the Toyota Yaris (subcompact), the Lexus RX (luxury crossover) and the Chevy Silverado (various models won different truck category awards).
And while there are 30 winners across four categories -- cars, trucks, SUVs and crossovers, and vans -- eight models won the best overall value in the major categories, with each of the four major categories split into below/above price groups. Without further ado:
The best car value under $24,000 is the aforementioned gas/electric hybrid Toyota Prius, while the best value above the $24,000 mark goes to the Chevy Corvette. The Toyota FJ Cruiser wins the best crossover/SUV award for sub-$28,000, while the Lexus RX takes top honors for crossovers and SUVs above 28 grand. The best truck value under $28,000 is the Toyota Tacoma, with the Chevy Silverado 2500 HD tied with the GMC Sierra 2500 HD for the above-$28,000 category. As for vans, the price line sits at $26,000, with the Toyota Sienna winning for vans under that sticker value, and the Honda Odyssey taking the top spot for vans above that range.
For the full list of winners, follow along after the jump.
Consumer Reports lists 8 ways to improve auto safety.
And while we have every right to expect that manufacturers produce the safest and most defect-free products, the truth is that safety is mostly up to us, the drivers. That's why, when Consumer Reports compiled a list of eight things that can improve auto safety, 75 percent of the suggestions are put squarely in the drivers' hands. Let's take a look at its suggestions, with some commentary:
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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