In-car voice recognition still has some way to go before it replaces buttons, dials, and good old fashioned manual programming. However, a few automakers are taking the lead in creating in-car interfaces that are easy to use. Among our favorites are Acura and Honda, Infiniti, Mercedes, and now--thanks to the launch of the Microsoft Sync system--Ford. Check out our roundup of cars you can talk to with a good chance of being understood.
As we spun down winding mountain roads, exercising the famous 3.5-liter V-6 and shifting with its paddles, we inwardly smiled, as the exterior of our gray 2008 Infiniti G35 didn't hint at the power and performance within. It is a sleek and curvy modern design. We like the way the hood nestles caplike between the two front fenders. However, the general shape of this sedan makes it look like a car for the everyday commute. Perhaps it looks like a car that middle managers might use to take team members out to lunch, or a car that won'… Read more
On one hand, we've heard proponents tout the benefits of biodiesel, and seen lines of diesel cars at a local biodiesel station. On the other, we've heard manufacturers of diesel cars, such as Mercedes-Benz, say that because of the unregulated nature of biodiesel, using anything greater than B5 (five percent biodiesel/95 percent petroleum diesel) will void the vehicle's warranty. Mercedes-Benz thinks that if you buy something, such as Uncle Frank's own biodiesel blend, impurities in the fuel could clog the injectors. Paradigm Sensors is working on a technological solution to this problem and announced the … Read more
Aside from the exhaust note of the Shelby GT-500, Ford cars are not often associated with music. But a TV ad currently running in the UK aims to address that by showing an orchestra playing instruments, apparently created entirely from parts taken from a five-door Focus hatchback. The car was turned into 31 instruments, including a "Transmission Case Cello-Dulcimer," a "Clutch Guitar," a "Rear Suspension Spike Fiddle," and a "Fender Bass," according to Ford. The text at the beginning of the ad says that the arrangement, called "Ode to the New … Read more
As a paragon of safety in the automotive world, Volvo is adopting new technologies that prevent you rear-ending other cars or drifting off the road. The company announced a collection of new radar- and camera-based safety features for its 2008 Volvo V70, XC70, and S80 models. One of the more cutting edge features is called Driver Alert Control. The DAC system monitors the car's position relative to the lane markings. If it detects drifting in the lane over a long period, the car assumes your concentration is impaired, and flashes a coffee cup image on the instrument cluster. We … Read more
If Fred Flintstone were somehow transported forward from the stone age, he probably wouldn't know what to make of our internal combustion engines, direct injection, variable-valve timing, fuel-cells, and plug-in electric hybrids. He might however, feel at home in the Imagine Neighborhood Electric Vehicle. Designed by the aptly-named HumanCar. The Imagine is described by its creators as a "human-electric hybrid," meaning that it can be powered either by its two onboard electric motors or by "variable human power input" (i.e. pedaling). The four-passenger Imagine has an exoskeletal safety cage chassis and comes with a … Read more
This idea is so obvious, no one thought of it until now. Uniden is launching a line of interoperable GPS devices and radar detectors. Uniden's Trax line of GPS devices offer standard functionality, such as route guidance, text-to-speech, and either a 3.5- or 4.3-inch screen. The Trax line uses NavTeq maps, and has what Uniden says is the fastest satellite acquisition among its competitors. Uniden's line of radar detectors is the LRD series, which detects X, K, KA, VG2, Laser, Ultralyte Laser L2, and Pro Laser 3 guns. Apparently, you will be able to plug the … Read more
Mercedes is on a model-refresh rampage. Following the very successful update to the C-Class for 2008, and last week's CLS-class makeover announcement, comes news and images of the 2009 SL roadster. On the outside, the convertible gets a new schnoz with a grille face-lift and new headlights, as well as a couple of power domes on the hood. Inside, the COMAND system that so underwhelmed us in our review of the 2007 SL550 is augmented with a hard-drive based navigation system and music server. Interestingly (and somewhat disappointingly), the new SL does not receive S-Class-level cabin tech upgrade that … Read more
Tesla Motors, the people who put the all-electric car on the map, are going to work with gas too.
The San Carlos, Calif.-based company will produce two basic types of its Whitestar sedan, due toward the end of 2009. One will run completely on batteries. The other will be a range-extended vehicle, or REV, CEO Ze'ev Drori said in an interview. In an REV, a small gas motor recharges the battery pack while the car is being driven. The battery pack on these types of cars only goes about 40 to 50 miles on a charge, but because … Read more
The Zune Car Pack ($79) is Microsoft's in-car FM transmitter made especially for its entire line of Zune MP3 players (including the first generation Zune). The Car Pack shares the same aesthetic as Microsoft's second-generation series of Zune players, offering design-conscious Zune users an elegant in-car listening solution.