• Redesigned Kia Sorento gets Top Safety Pick crash rating [Video]

    February 20, 2015
    The 2016 Kia Sorento has received a Top Safety Pick rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
    The outgoing model already earned top honors in most of the IIHS crashworthiness categories, except for the small-overlap test. The driver’s space in the 2014 model was seriously compromised after hitting the small-overlap barrier at 40 mph, with as much as 11 inches of intrusion.

    “The side curtain airbag didn’t deploy, and the dummy’s head barely contacted the front airbag before sliding off the left side, as the steering column moved to the right,” the IIHS wrote in its report. “Measures from the dummy indicated a high likelihood of injuries to the left lower leg and possible injuries to the left thigh and knee in a crash of this severity.”

    Results from the 2016 model were markedly different. Maximum intrusion was measured at just four inches, while the dummy’s movement was well controlled. Dummy measurements consequently indicate a low risk of significant injuries in similar real-world crash scenarios.

    Segment rivals that have also received the Top Safety Pick rating include the Toyota Highlander, Chevrolet Equinox, GMC Terrain and Nissan Pathfinder. The 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee, Ford Explorer and Toyota 4Runner earned only marginal scores in the small-overlap test, while the 2015 Honda Pilot received a poor rating in the trial.

  • Akerson to Apple: Stick to electronics, not cars

    February 20, 2015
    Apple looks to be moving headlong into the auto business, but former General Motors CEO Dan Aversion says the tech company should reconsider jumping into the industry.
    Rumored for months, a recent report from The Wall Street Journal, as well as a lawsuit filed by battery maker A123 Systems, has all but confirmed that Apple is preparing to enter the electric car market. However, Akerson, who lead GM following its bankruptcy filing, says that would be a poor move on Apple’s part.

    “I think somebody is kind of trying to cough up a hairball here,” Akerson told Bloomberg. “If I were an Apple shareholder, I wouldn’t be very happy. I would be highly suspect of the long-term prospect of getting into a low-margin, heavy-manufacturing” business.

    Akerson added that cracking the automobile industry is a lot harder than it appears. “A lot of people who don’t ever operate in it don’t understand and have a tendency to underestimate,” he said, referring to the regulatory hurdles required to bring a car to market.

    Although Akerson believes Apple should steer clear of building its own car, the former GM executive doesn’t think the company should totally abandon the segment. Akerson sees a bright future for Apple in the in-car electronics business, even admitting that he would have turned GM’s entire infotainment division over to the Cupertino, California-based company.

    “I would’ve signed it over” to Apple, he said of his days as GM’s CEO. “I’d have turned over the infotainment and interconnectivity of every GM car.”

  • Honda trademarks ‘CDX’; rumors point to Acura-badged HR-V

    February 20, 2015
    Honda has submitted a trademark registration application for the the term ‘CDX,’ fueling speculation that Acura is finally ready to enter the mini crossover segment.
    The trademark filing, first spotted by AutoGuide, was registered for “automobiles and their structural parts,” suggesting it will be used as a model name. Looking at Acura’s existing crossovers, the MDX and RDX, leaves little to the imagination.

    Speculation naturally points to the Honda HR-V as the likely candidate for an upscale Acura counterpart. Rumors circulating early last year pointed to the Concept SUV-X as another potential build, bringing bolder styling and a longer profile than the HR-V.

    Many automakers are scrambling to enter the segment, likely inspired by seemingly explosive growth of the Buick Encore. An Acura-badged HR-V would also likely be aimed at slightly larger crossovers, such as the Audi Q3 and BMW X1, along with the upcoming Infiniti QX30.

    Acura’s SUV-X is scheduled to arrive in China by 2016. It is unclear if it will be beat to the market by a mini crossover bound for the US market.

  • Audi shows 2017 R8 track testing [Video]

    February 20, 2015
    Audi has released a teaser video showing its redesigned R8 on the test track.
    The prototype 2017 R8 is put through its paces by Audi works driver Frank Stippler

    “We have brought together racing experience from the first generation and automotive experience from the entire company,” says Quattro managing director Heinz Hollerweger, as translated in a subtitled version of the video posted by Worldcarfans. “I think that’s what’s unique about this new car.”

    Speaking from behind the wheel, Stippler notes that the range-topping V10′s 610 hp and 413 lb-ft of torque provides “certainly enough power” for any situation.

    “No engine is better suited to this car than the 10 cylinder naturally aspirated engine,” adds Hollerweger. “Sporty, emotion-packed and superior in every situation.”

    The camouflage will be pulled off Audi’s new flagship sports car at the Geneva Motor Show.

  • Volvo details Drive Me public pilot program for self-driving cars

    February 20, 2015
    Volvo has detailed a pilot program, known as Drive Me, that will put self-driving cars into the hands of Gothenburg residents.
    Autonomous Volvo vehicles have already begun testing, but the company aims to significantly expand the program and invite the public to come along for the ride. A fleet of at least 100 cars will be autonomously operating on select roads in Volvo’s home city by 2017.

    The automaker is continuing to develop its sensor systems, combining multiple radar and sonar systems, trifocal cameras and multi-beam laser scanners to determine exact positioning and a complete view of the vehicle’s surroundings.

    The technology is claimed to be capable of spotting pedestrians that run in front of the vehicle, along with other unexpected road hazards, but Volvo warns that human drivers will still be required to take over in certain weather conditions or when the vehicle is off its known route.

    In most situations, Volvo suggests the computer will be faster than a human driver in reaction speed. Creating redundant systems has taken a higher priority to prevent accidents due to technical glitches, as the system cannot assume that a driver is ready to suddenly intervene in a critical situation.

    “Here, we have a similar approach to that of the aircraft industry,” says Volvo technical specialist Erik Coelingh. “Our fail-operational architecture includes backup systems that will ensure that Autopilot will continue to function safely also if an element of the system were to become disabled.”

    The company has not yet outlined an expected time-frame for a full-scale launch of its autonomous technology.