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CNET On Cars: 1967 Mercury Cougar: A look back to see how far car tech has come (CNET On Cars, Episode 59)
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CNET On Cars: 1967 Mercury Cougar: A look back to see how far car tech has come (CNET On Cars, Episode 59)

22:35 /

We flash back almost 50 years to really appreciate the car tech of today, look at how deadly some countries cars still are and run down the top 5 best-selling electric cars.

The man's car. We go back into the past to really appreciate the cars of the present, explain why it takes so long to get warm on a cold morning, and run down the hottest selling EV. It's time to check the [UNKNOWN]. We see cars differently. Nice. We love them on the road and under the hood, but also check the tech and are known for telling it like it is. Ugly is included at no extra cost. The good, the bad, the bottom line. This is CNET On Cars. [MUSIC] Welcome to CNET On Cars, the show all about high-tech cars and modern driving. I'm Brian Cooley. We bring you nearly 100 of the latest modern high-tech cars every year here at CNET, and to be honest, it's kind of easy to take for granted how far vehicles have come in terms of power. Convenience, reliability, and safety. [MUSIC] But what if this show had been around back in 1967? Eh, maybe Mercury sent us something to review. How different would things have been? [NOISE]. It's Motor Trend's car of the year for 67. The Man's car. [MUSIC] That cat is out of the bag. Let's see how Lincoln Mercury pronounces Mustang as we drive the all new. [INAUDIBLE] Mercury Cougar. I check the deck. Well Mercury's finally got their pony car, and yes, based very much on the mechanicals of the Mustang, but you're never going to mistake the two on the road. In fact, the Cougar and the Mustang share no sheet metal. They have a different wheel base as well. This guy's 111 inch, axle-to-axle. The Mustang is three inches shorter. Cougar devotes its extra length to longer, more complaint lead springs and a little more room for the legs in the back. Other unique identifiers are of course that Cougar face. What people are already calling the electric shaver front end with standard hidden headlights. Sequential tail lights in the back are standard as well [MUSIC] And Ford's offering an electric sun-roof on Cougars, the first they've ever installed from the factory. Inside all Cougars is a sporting European style cockpit. You've got a three spoke sport wheel, which, by the way, has collapsible impact technology as well as a padded center hub for safety. On the left is your speedometer in the main pod. On the right the other main pod has not only a fuel gage, but also a temperature gauge and an oil pressure and amp light. [MUSIC] The center clock is optional. Climate control includes heater standard. You can delete that if you like. Air conditioning is optional. [MUSIC] The turn signal, if you order speed control, is going to have a knob on the end of it to actuate and disable it. Now the entertainment options. Your entry level rig is going to be an AM radio. With full transistorized chassis and five preset buttons. Step up from there with an AM stereo tape, all integral or go to AM and FM radio, but then you lose the tape. [MUSIC] Clever little storage bin down here with a clever little roll-up kind of chrome piano top. Now most Cougars are going to ship with a C3 automatic, that's a three speed automatic plus reverse with a chrome T-handle shifter right here. There's also a three on the tree manual, it's going to be pretty rare. In the middle is going to be the four speed, four on the floor manual gear box. Now the XR7 which we don't have here would add gauges across the center of the dash here. You'll also get some toggle switches, a roof console, leather and vinyl upholstery. We have all vinyl. In this vehicle. Now, speaking of safety, the 67 Cougar also has a full padded dash, padded pillar over here, and a breakaway rearview mirror. Headrests remain optional, however. [MUSIC] In that same place you might instead choose to hang a television from the dealer you can get a 9" black and white [UNKNOWN] TV with custom made hooks to hang right over the back of the seat for your rear seat passengers. Seat belt includes a tongue side retractor standard on all four positions around the car. [MUSIC] Another big differentiator between Cougar and Mustang lies under the hood. These guys do not come with any kind of a six. They're all V8. The most popular is gonna be this one here, the 289 two-barrel. [MUSIC] Good for 200 horsepower, 282 foot pounds of torque. 0 to 60 according to Motor Trend is about 11 seconds for a car that weighs a tick over 3,000 pounds. Observed MPG just under 16. You can also get this engine with dual exhaust, a four barrel carb, and a 9.8 to 1 compression ratio, and that gives you 225 horsepower. Or just go all the way with a 390 cubic inch engine in the Cougar GT. That's good for 320 horse. Lincoln Mercury is not kidding when they say this car has some of that Lincoln fine car touch. May be good marketing copy but it's actually relatively true and quite a bit quieter car. In general it comes out to be a more sedate sounding. And a little less tautly sprung Mustang. that also means high marks for the base engine. Those 289 two barrels of [UNKNOWN] runner. You really feel that hefty bias toward torque at 282 [UNKNOWN]. And because we have the optionally added dealer installed Shelby style exhaust, we get a good note. The only sour note in the car is the fact that we do not. Optional power disk brakes. We have unassisted four-wheel drums. They're adequate. But coming down a road of uneven pavement and having to make a relatively hard stop, you need to hang on and try and guess which way it's gonna pull. Okay. [INAUDIBLE] cougar. The base car, as I mentioned, has a V8, the 289 two-barrel, and configured thusly, we're just under $3,000. Now come a number of options. Emission controls are $50.64 our automatic transmission just under $207. Power steering $95, that sports console is $57. We had the AM radio at sixty bucks but I'm intrigued by the AM stereo sonic tape at $188.50. More of that European sports car look for just $84 that gives you the vinyl Oxford Roof. All in, our test car with some of those features, but, not all of them, is $3,650 and change. [MUSIC] The Cougar lies somewhere between Mustang and Thunderbird. It brings a more compliant ride an also a quieter ride thanks to over 100 pounds more sound dead. in a Mustang. It fits somewhere in the range of the person who wants more of a GT than a sports car with that European touch. [MUSIC] Oh, by the way for another interesting look at how different the automotive landscape is from 40, 50 years ago. Head over to and check our show notes links for the federal motor vehicle safety standards. This is the bible the federal government puts out to basically, tell the car makers what they can and can't do when they design and build cars. It's very interesting to [INAUDIBLE] Here in the U.S. we take for granted things like government crash test ratings and independent testing and ratings from groups like the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. But those watchdogs aren't on duty everywhere. [NOISE] That's coming up when cnet on cars continues. [MUSIC] It's a been years since you could buy a new car in the U.S. without stability control. Dual front air bags have been required on cars here since 96. and there are places in the world right now where 2015s are rolling out. In the show room, without a single air bag or stability control, or even much of a body structure. Look at how this Indian market dots and go fails in a crash test. The main impact absorbing structure seems to be the driver. The Dacia Sandero sold in Europe gets a four star rating, a version sold in Brazil last model year. Got a one star rating as you can imagine they improved it after that. Because nothing changes dangerous cars out of the marketplace faster than miserable crash ratings. [MUSIC] But who is minding the store. Globally. Enter Global NCAP, global new car assessment program. The idea is to stitch together crash testing programs in different regions around the world into one global standard to get automakers to basically have no excuse. For offering less safe cars. Europe already has Euro NCAP. Australia and New Zealand have ANCAP. There's Latin NCAP, China's C-NCAP and Bharat NCAP under consideration in India. But, approveable standard will be sought at a major auto safety conference in Brazil this November, when the UN will push for Global NCAP. That means all cars. Worldwide would have common passenger cell strength standards. Common pedestrian impact protection standards and electronic stability control. Of course the big problem here is cost. That Dobson go we saw earlier costs $6,100 bucks. The Tata nano is under 3,000. Some of the safety gear in American cars costs more then that. Nevermind the price of the car. So we will watch with keen interest how they sort out that hurdle, broach that cost gap at a conference in Brazil. In the meantime it, whatever you drive it pays to double to check that it has good crash test safety ratings. [MUSIC] Welcome back to CNET on cars, coming to you from our home at the. A motor club just north of the Golden Gate Bridge. Well, blind spot technology, whether it's passive beeps and lights, or even active avoidance of someone over your shoulder you don't see, is becoming pretty common in cars. But we're not done yet. How blind spot tech works, and the way that it should work. Make for an interesting Car tech 101. [MUSIC] Blind spot detection systems use sensors that monitor nearby lanes. And determine when other vehicles approach or enter a vehicle's blind spot. Blind spot tech is getting pretty common. In fact, about three quarters of all new cars in the 2014 model year at least offered it. Blind spot technology typically uses radar in the 24 gigahertz or the 76 gigahertz span. Then they report back to you with either a. Beep or a buzz or some kind of a chime or a light going off somewhere. Any number of manners to tell you "don't go there. . " But a bit of buzzkill has arisen as groups like AAA and Highway Loss Data Institute have found that blind spot tech is good, but certainly not perfect. Sometimes warnings come too late. Fast closing vehicles may be missed. And all those buzzes, dings, and lights it generates are starting to all sound like other systems. So here's some technologies coming to get us to Blind Spot 2.0. Infinity and Mercedes are among pioneers in active blind spot technology. It guides your car back from a misguided lane change that would put you into a car in your blind spot and likely does so faster than you could even sort out what's flashing and pinging and why. Blind spot assist can take active measures by applying the brakes on the wheels on the opposite side of the vehicle. The vehicle is steered out of the danger zone. Suburu's lane-change assist is a derivative of blind-spot tech that warns you if a car is coming up from the rear side at a rate that would result in both of you being in the same place at the same time as you change lanes. If you switch lanes, or signal to change lanes, and lane-change assist. Senses that the approaching vehicle is still there it gives you a flashing warning to further alert you to the vehicles presence. Further out Jaguar Land Rover is working on a concept of putting display technology in a car's B pillars making them virtually transparent so you can see over there where a car alongside might otherwise hide. Now all car makers buy their blindspot equipment the hardware they put in their cars. One of the same handful of suppliers, so it's not different at that level, but the car maker customizes how sensitive it is and how it alerts you. All right, so three things to look for in that respect. How visible are the lights, or how audible are the indicators? How they choose to alert you, big lights or little lights? We have little, tiny indicators on this Volkswagen, virtually. Useless. Some other cars put huge ones here in the A-pillar. Others will give you tones or beeps. Others will actually vibrate the wheel. Where are those lights positioned? Are they in a place that naturally makes you think blind spot issue? You wanna find one that you feel is gonna be effective. For you. And how is the blind spot tech calibrated on the given make and model of car? It varies. Test drive the car. Does it seem to pick up a car that you really miss or is it warning you about cars that you would obviously see? I've seem both out there. Interesting side note. A paper published by the Society of Automotive Engineers back in 1995, said that if you adjust your side mirrors out further, so they are pitched out more, you actually would eliminate the blind spots. This paper says just barely overlap the view you have in your rear view mirror. Most of us tilt in our side mirrors a lot so we can see our own car. This paper says don't worry about that kick them out and you'll actually see everything. And on many late model cars you probably noticed the increasing prevalence of these wide angle regions out toward the far ends of the mirror glass. That's also aimed at helping to eliminate the blind spot wherever you got the mirror pointed. In a moment, the hottest selling cars that don't have an engine. When CNet on cars continue. [MUSIC] Sometimes you don't need to climb a mountain. You don't need a massive car and you don't need. Offers the most exquisite luxury. Sometimes you need the most so you don't hack a sales or two, so you don't mind getting muddy, that's practical. And Landrover has made just that car. [MUSIC] Buy more of. The XCAR team of CNET UK at Welcome back to CNET on Cars. I'm Brian Cooley. That point in the show we take one of your emails. This one comes in from Iman in North Dakota. He write in that he lives in one of the coldest states in the US. That's for sure. Driving here he says comes with a lot of challenges, but there's one that I think can be overcome easily by car manufactures. A cold interior. Why do I have to wait 20 minutes he asks in a freezing cold car. Before any hot air starts coming out of the vents. Well Ayman this is one of the longest held irritations in modern motoring and its been this way for decades here's why this thing this is called the heater core this is the essential piece of your cars heater it lives up underneath the dash and it gets hot. Because coolant from the running engine goes in and out of these pipes to the same coolant that keeps the engine from overheating. This coolant makes this coil warm, air is blown across it, and that heats up your cabin. The problem is, until the engines warm, there's no hot coolant to send to this thing. That's the delay you're experiencing and the colder the outside temperature the longer the warm up for the engine as well. This kind of system dates back to the late 30s by the way when it was first developed by a car maker called Nash and an appliance maker called Kelvinator. So if this resembles a bit the coils in the back of your fridge, that's not really a coincidence. And to make matters worse, many modern engines are designed to keep their heat to themselves when they're warming up, that way they get their oil and lubricants working faster and they also hit their clean emissions temperatures sooner, then they start to send coolants out to. The heaters. Well, that's not in your favor either. Now electric cars are a whole different situation. There's no combustion engine, so there's no hot coolant, so there's nothing to come into something like this. Instead, EVs use what is kind of like the heater you might have under your desk at work. Hot coils heated by electrical current that is going into resistance and then you blow air across it and there's your heat. Great idea, but that's not easy to do in the typical combustion engine car because it's a whole other system, it adds cost it would need a more robust battery, heavier gauge wiring, very likely a change to a different voltage system. We use 12 volts in cars today, that's not really ideal for doing a resistance electrical heater system, so none of that's going to happen. So it sounds like you need to basically be cold in your car for a few minutes, especially in your chilly winters or look at adding an aftermarket remote start kit to your car. It'll give you a new [INAUDIBLE] that will start your car as long as it's automatic and it's in park and within range while you're still in your nice warm home. Give it a few minutes. By the time you go out there, and it's all nice and toasty. That's the biggest allure of remote-start tech, and a lot of modern cars have it on their standard. But if you don't, you can graft it on for a few hundred bucks. You can also use an engine block heater that is. It's mostly intended to make the engine easier to start, but it can aid cabin heat up time a bit as well. In our last episode we took a look at the top rated CNet cars from all of 2014. Now we're gonna go look at a different slice of that picture. Here are the top five best selling electric cars in the market right now. We're gonna rank these guys by their 2014 US full year sales number, which, by the way, amounted to about one and a half percent of all non-truck vehicle sales in 2014. And only about a half of percent of all new vehicle sales globally in the same year. Let's go. [NOISE] Number five, the Ford Fusion Energi plug-In. 11,000 or so were sold, 19 miles on electric charge, and an overall 88 MPGe. Now to most eyes, this is the best looking car in the affordable electric world, but note it's a plug-In, not a pure battery car. Now the Focus Electric, which is pure battery from Ford, would come in a weak eighth on our list, after the smart. Electric car, that has to hurt. Number 4, is Toyota's Prius plug-in, little over 13 thousand sold, just 6 miles on a charge, but 95 MPGe. Now the standard Prius, that remains the undisputed king of Hybrids. But this plug-in variant. Makes the list of EBVs, but just barely in terms of sales. Kind of measly EV range. That battery does give it killer MPGE, although its gas MPG is not the same as the regular Prius, so there's a lot of myth here. No wonder it lags at four. And no wonder Toyota is on hot pursuit right now as its encore for the Prius. Number 3, the Tesla Model S delivers 17,000 sold, 265 miles of range is a big boy on the list, 89 MPGe from that. The most lauded car on our list. Pure battery, of course. The highest range, as well. If you have the money. And want a pure battery electric car, this is your bench mark. It's also the only EV from a company who's entire existence rides on EVs going big. So, all eyes are now on the launch of the more affordable falcon wing door crossover Model X later this year. That will make the company more than a one-note tune for the first time in a number of years. Number two, the Chevy Volt. A little under 19,000 sold, gets 38 miles on a charge, 98 MPGe. And it is, of course, not a pure battery car, but also a plugin hybrid of the range-extender class with a gas engine that is largely just used as a generator. Yeah, it's a bit of a complicated story to tell. Even recent Volt TV commercials seem to admit that. Thought these were electric. Yes, it's a, Chevy Volt. What are you doing at a gas station? The new model we just unveiled in Detroit is going to arrive soon with sleeker looks and now a 50-mile electric range on a charge. Before we hit number one, the EVs that sell so slowly you wonder why they're sold at all, include Porsche's Panamera S-E. At least if you buy a Tesla, 100,000 gets you an actual electric car. This just gets you a hybrid. And not the one your wealthy, greedy friends are impressed by. Fewer than 900 last year. Honda's Accord Plug-In and Fit EV both around a measly 400 units sold each year. What can I say? Honda has never been great at selling anything electrified. And the Mitsubishi i-MIEV. I forgot they still sold this thing in the U.S. At 196 total units for the year, apparently you did as well. It looks like a prop from Caddyshack. It's not a real car and that doesn't really fly in the U.S. The number one EV in 2014 by sales was the Nissan Leaf. Over 30,000 moved out the door. It gets 84 miles on a charge and has 114 MPGe. The Leaf was the sales champ every month of the year, except December, when Tesla had a spike. This is the e. EV to Beat. A sort of book-end, in a way, to the Model S. It's goofy looking as all get out. And rumor has it Nissan will make the next version look more like a car and perhaps offer a choice of longer-range battery packs, but that's not for a year or two. So this is the one to look at for a regular budget. [MUSIC] Thanks for watching. I hope you enjoyed this episode. Keep the emails coming, it's I read every one, a lot of them make it into the show, as well, as you've noticed. And wherever you like to watch video, poke around and I'm sure you'll find us there. We're on all the major platforms and a few that aren't so major. I'll see you next time we check the stack. [MUSIC]
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Brian Cooley joined CNET in 1995 and always comes at technology from the real consumer's point of view. He brings his high energy, often skeptical style to all avenues of CNET coverage, with an emphasis on car tech. You'll also find him frequently on television, radio and the TV screens at Costco!

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