We like Lincoln's new design language; that big winged grille looks good on the midsize MKZ. But the car struggles to separate itself significantly from its platform-mates: the Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan. Its interior is generally nicer, but some control surfaces come from a common parts bin. The ride quality doesn't feel that much better than its lower-priced siblings. And much of the cabin tech, although excellent, is the same as you can get in the Fusion and Milan. This comparison leads us to ask, what makes a Lincoln a Lincoln? And does the MKZ have that … Read more
When we saw the line of Acura ZDX models waiting for us in the parking lot, the cleanness of the design stood out. The sheet metal looked smoother than any new car we had seen recently, and Acura didn't load the body down with jewelry, just nicely integrated headlight casings. And the grille, which stands out like a beak on the smaller Acura sedans, seems to have found its medium. Unlike when we first saw the ZDX earlier this year at the New York auto show, the design took on new life under the bright sun at this special driving preview.
Built on the Acura MDX SUV platform, the ZDX is lower but just a tad longer than its platform-mate. During a presentation, an Acura representative called it a "four door sports coupe," and touted its off-road characteristics by showing a video of it running on a snow track. That schizophrenic character points to the ZDX's blessing or curse--it will be a convenient multipurpose vehicle to some people, but not good at any particular duty for others. That said, the ZDX comes out at the same time as other automakers experiment with this new type of crossover. BMW has the X6, and is working on the 5-series Gran Turismo. Audi is looking at making a hatchback version of the A5. These companies are trying to develop an SUV-alternative for people that no long want to drive a truck.
Most concept cars lose their most interesting features when they come to production, but the ZDX didn't drop a thing from its initial showing. It uses a glass roof extending from the hood to hatchback, giving both seating rows a sunroof. The short rear doors have handles hidden in the C pillar graphics. The center stack looks black when the car is off, but backlighting highlights button labels when the audio system and climate control are turned on. We hope this feature finds its way into other Acura models, as it works well to hide the mass of buttons scattered over current Acura dashboards. … Read more
It's been nearly a year since the debut of Trapster, a controversial but popular app that alerts you of nearby speed traps, cameras, and the like.
Version 3.5 just hit the App Store, bringing with it some impressive--and, for many users, long-awaited--new features. Here's the rundown:Improved interface Five features (some of them new) are now accessible by tapping blue icons that span the right side of the screen. Bluetooth audio If your car supports Bluetooth, you can pair Trapster to your stereo to get audio alerts over your speakers. Even better, if your car supports A2DP (i.e. stereo Bluetooth), you can take advantage of: Built-in iPod controls Tap the little musical-note icon to slide open Trapster's iPod audio controls. Obviously, you don't need stereo Bluetooth to use them, but it sure is a nice combo.… Read more
Using smart phones as navigation tools is all the rage these days, what with a slew of applications available for the iPhone and Android platforms that utilize those devices' built-in GPS systems in determining users' real-time location.
One such service is from Waze, which in August released its iPhone app after being available on Android for several months. Waze's service is meant to help drivers figure out where they are and how best to get where they're going, all with the help of a large community of other motorists.
Among the information that Waze provides are traffic flow, … Read more
When we reviewed the new Nissan 370Z Coupe last year, we applauded the company for doing a sports car model update right. Rather than bloating out the car, Nissan reduced size and weight, at the same time putting in a bigger engine. But there was no equivalent convertible model. Nissan remedies that lack for the 2010 model year with the all new 370Z Roadster, and we got to drive it.
On a sunny California morning, we followed a route that let us slam the 370Z Roadster through turn after turn. The top was open to provide a nice view of the forest canopy overhead, the scent of redwood trees was in the air, yet our attention was all on the road and the car. Holding the engine speed at around 5,000rpm in third gear, lighting up the brakes on each approach to a turn, maybe a downshift to second if the turn looked particularly tight, the 370Z Roadster acted just like the hard-top model on which it is based. A bit of understeer became apparent, but that was easily tamed with more throttle, the rear-wheel drive helping the nose correct toward the line for which we aimed.
Like the 370Z Coupe, the Roadster's six-speed manual transmission comes with the SynchroRev Match feature. Nissan hasn't yet brought the dual-clutch technology from its GT-R down to other models, but SynchroRev Match is a nice little high-tech helper, automatically blipping the engine speed during shifts to make a smooth change. That feature, along with the gear indicator on the instrument panel, makes the 370Z line seem like a training sports car, but we'll take all the help we can get when we're piloting 3,500 pounds of metal, plastic, and rubber at speed down a mountain course. … Read more
One of my biggest complaints about flat-fee GPS apps for the iPhone is the lack of real-time traffic updates. That's about to change.
Navigon AG, the developer of the Navigon MobileNavigator app, announced Wednesday that live traffic capability, called Traffic Live, for its GPS phone application is coming soon. This feature will be available in October for the North American version of the application.
TomTom unveiled the successor to its GO 740 Live connected PND, and it's called the GO 750 Live. Like any good sequel, this one adds more characters to the mix in the form of two additional Live models, the GO 950 Live and the GO 550 Live.
All three Live models will feature a wireless data connection for receiving traffic data, fuel prices, and performing Google Local Searches. Additionally, the three models will also all feature TomTom's IQ Routes technology and the free MapShare service for user-generated map updates. An Eco Route option has been added to the … Read more
Traffic firm Hitwise says Facebook eventually overcame MySpace in terms of U.S. traffic as a result of the launch of its Facebook Connect universal log-in product, according to a post from analyst Heather Dougherty.
"The number of Web sites participating in Facebook Connect has grown quickly to over 15,000 Web sites (globally) including CNN.com, NBC.com, ABCNews.com, Hulu, WashingtonPost.com, The Huffington Post, and others," Dougherty's post read. "And what is really interesting is to look at the year-over-year growth in the market share of visits to Facebook, because there is a … Read more
The 2010 Mercedes-Benz E550 Coupe makes a good first impression with its athletic good looks and eager, sporty V-8 engine. Even its seven-speed automatic transmission doesn't disappoint. The coupe possess a dual nature, made possible by a sport button that sharpens up its performance when necessary.
While a sculpted body is great, the E550 Coupe follows up with brains to go with its brawn in the form of a smart COMAND-based tech package featuring Bluetooth hands free with a smart voice command system, a hard-drive-based navigation system that actually utilizes its traffic data, and an audiophile-quality premium Harmon Kardon … Read more
Ford's crossover, the Flex, shows off original style in a practical people carrier, but doesn't short on the tech side. The 2010 model can be had with Ford's new EcoBoost engine, which delivers a huge amount of power without giving up fuel economy. The navigation option is excellent, featuring traffic, weather, and gas prices. Our review car lacked this option, giving us a chance to try out Sync's navigation service. This service proved problematic and frustrating, reinforcing our contention that onboard navigation is the best.