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CNET On Cars: Detroit and Vegas: We tour the two auto shows that kick off the year! (CNET On Cars, Ep. 57)
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CNET On Cars: Detroit and Vegas: We tour the two auto shows that kick off the year! (CNET On Cars, Ep. 57)

17:20 /

From Ford GT to Audi Q7 and a pair of oddly homonymous Chevys, we take you on a whirlwind trip of the auto shows that start the year off right: Detroit and, yes, CES.

North American international auto show. What was hot in a very cold Detroit? And we'll take a look at CES the new auto show. Plus another reason to feel smug in your SUV. Time to check the tech. We se cars differently. We love them on the road and under th hood but also check the tech. And are known for telling it like it is. Ugly is included at no extra cost. [MUSIC] 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 dri... I'm Brian Cooley, coming to you this time from the North American International auto show in Detroit. This is the big boy. The biggest, most important auto show in the US all year, and one of the big two or three globally all year. So, a lot going on here. People ask me what's the most important car you saw? That's an extremely tough choice to make. But if I had to pick it on layers of innovational technology, I think I might give the nod to the Audi Q7 [MUSIC] Audi's Q7 sure has changed. Still occupies the same basic slot in the market but it prints differently. Look at it now. It doesn't really so much say crossover or large SUV as it does say station wagon. They've changed the proportions around as they've stacked the body modules, the volumes now are lower, longer, and more of that waggon look. Now the technology underneath and inside the cabin's also very different. Look at the instrument panel. You've now got a 12 inch irregularly shaped TFTLCDIP. That's not that rare anymore as of this Detroit everyone's going LCD dash. You've also got the large. Center console screen, and then look what they've done with that handwriting, or finger recognition pad, it used to be a small pad on top of the knob, now it's flowing a large area in front of the MI controller. The really interesting story here is what they're doing with the power train as well. One of the options will be a plug-in diesel hybrid. Combine that efficiency with the fact that they've shaved over 700 pounds on this car through the use of more advanced. And materials, as well as sculpted aerodynamically, and you're seeing a 25% bump in MPG for what is not a small car. At around the back they've also used the proportioned body elements to bring it down for a lower load floor. They've got a gesture-controlled automatic tail gate, that's also a big trend in the world of utility vehicles. Some interesting cab tech quirks. The option of some tablets in the second row. You might say, okay. Watching movies? That's nothing new. But this one has entertainment and nav on those tablets that can also tie into the front. So finally your backseat driver can do something more than just drive you nuts. They can actually help, hopefully, in a meaningful way. And WhatsApp may be showing up as part of the MMI application stack for messaging that now moves in carmakers beyond SMS and call links. [MUSIC] People who buy SUV's have typically always thought they were in the safest seat on the road, but that wasn't always the case. However, now things have changed. We'll see who has the last laugh when CNET On Cars continues. [MUSIC] Some years ago, people were misguided in believing their SUV was safer than a car, since a lot of them were not. Unstable by comparison. But now thanks to improve in and ubiquity of advanced stability control, something interesting is happening. SUVs are now clearly among the safest vehicles by several measures. The IIHS actually finds that from 2006 to 2009, there were only seven models of vehicles that had zero driver fatalities per million vehicles registered a year. Four of those seven. Or SUV, the most of any vehicle class. And generally across all measures of driver deaths, IIHS finds that SUVs are twice as safe for the driver than being in the average car. It pays to double check the SUV you're driving has stability control, of course. And know the new reality of the safest kinds of cars. [MUSIC] Welcome back to CNET on cars. I'm Brian Cooley, still here at the North American International Auto Show in. Detroit. Let me take you on a lightning round, a really fast loop around the hall to show you about a handful of car makers I think that are doing really interesting things. Let's go. [MUSIC] Mercedes launched their GLE Coupe, which for all the world, looks like a baby BMW X6. They'll go all the way up to a 577 horsepower twin turbo V8 AMG version, but for most people maybe the 350 D diesel makes more sense, and around April or so we'll get a more conventional non coupe version of the same vehicle. Without the rakish roof line. But in either case, GLE's now replace the old ML. And they'll be hitting the streets summer of 2015. [MUSIC] Ford was all about performance at Detroit this year. The Shelby GT 350R elevates the new Mustang. To its most track sharp level. Got a five point two liter V8 but no turbos. No superchargers. Still gets around 500 horse and about 400 pound feet of torque. And uses something called a flat plane crank shaft. It's real performance tech that along with very exotic carbon fiber wheels and no air conditioning or radio unless you insist. Make this a very rarefied beast. And the new Ford GT stole the show in many ways. It's the latest version of Ford's classic 1960s racecar, and it's really got some serious power. 600 horsepower from just a 3.5 liter. Ecoboost engine. In the middle is a carbon fiber tub with aluminum subframes around it and active push rod suspension. It's basically a racecar you can register. The new Chevy Volt revises the look of that car for the first time. And it's substantially cleaner and more subtle. It's now up to 50 miles of range in pure EV mode and Volt buyers really pay attention to that. That's a gain of around a dozen miles before it kicks into hybrid mode. And it can seat five finally, thanks to the fact that the battery hump in the back seat is now submerged. And just to make for some frenetic fun, Chevy also showed the new concept called the Bolt. It's their pure electric car project. With 200 miles of range, and a look and color that are rather reminiscent of a BMW I3. They say you'll be able to get one for about $30,000 after government credits, but the bigger cloud over its horizon is the spectre of continued really cheap gas. [MUSIC] This Buick Avenir concept was vying for what may be the best looking shape on the floor for this year. Now it's all styling exercise but you can see they've really pulled in a Buick classic. That line across the top side of the body. It's a, a Buick spear, if you will. I don't know if this is gonna come to market in any shape remotely like this. But I can hope. And Buick hasn't sold a convertible, since the Reatta went away in 1991, but that's about to change. Here is a reworked version of a European GM car, that's going to be called the Cascada here. Convertibles tend to do well in rising economic times, and this one's tidy and trim, so should be relatively economical on both purchase and operation. But a quick look at the rear seat and trunk space may make it a bit of a tough sell. Or at least a second car. [MUSIC] And the Acura NSX wasn't literally new at Detroit. But to see it in final production trim was. This is it. Still mid engine like the original but now with three electric motors tossed in, one between the engine and trans axle in the back and another pair detailed to run the front wheels for wickedly fast and intuitive all wheel drive. They say custom orders will start in the summer, roughly $150,000. And you may be lucky enough to see one pull up to you next to a stoplight by Fall of 2015. [MUSIC] In a moment, we leave Detroit for a much warmer climb, and more car tech. When CNET On Cars returns. [MUSIC] We've seen a lot of technology here at the North American International Auto Show, but there's another auto show that kicks off the year each January. CES, the Consumer Electronics Show. We have. Ten of these same car makers there, and a handful of them impressed me with what they were doing. [MUSIC] VW has had some pretty ghastly cabin deck over the years but they're tying to fix that now. Here's a giant mockup of what's in that, the VW Golf R Touch. Notice at the top, is about a 12.8 inch master screen, with most of your information display. Below it would be, about an 8 inch touch panel, where mostly, virtual controls will go. This is not unlike what Honda and Acura are doing, with two screens, one larger, one smaller, but a very different flavor. And this lower panel, by the way, is indicative of how BW is trying to move to get rid of all switches, and rotary knobs in the car. Those physical. Tactile controls from the old days, if you will. It's debatably whether an all touch interface is better, worse, just a lateral perhaps, from the traditional knobs and switches. Also here, and related to this, we're looking for who gonna install CarPlay, Android Auto, and MirrorLink. MirrorLink is more of a dark horse, but Volkswagen here talking about moving forward with MirrorLink, which not a lot of other car makers are doing. [MUSIC] Now, in addition to all those touchscreens innovations the VW is showing. There's also a new idea of controlling interface not by touch, but by gesture. This has been tried in the auto industry a couple times. We've seen it here at CES before. It keeps getting better and we're getting to the point where it seems to be nuanced enough. Look how this works. There's a sensor, here, right behind the gear shift that will pick up my hand. The home position to go into gesture mode is to hold your hand there, open, and it'll recognize open fingers. And then you've just got five simple gestures, not a lot of complicated things. You're not gonna do typing of text in the air, or anything. You have a left, a right,. You can push down. You can select with your finger, like you might imagine clicking on a mouse. Now this is not replacing all the gestures in a car. It's primarily for the more coarse ones, and the ones that are very commonly used. Volume change, climate change, zoom in and out of a map, or go back and forth in a menu to select something on its own. Now, this is not set for production any time soon, but we're starting to see how Volkswagen is starting to really think differently about how they do their interface. [MUSIC] You may recall that when GM first brought out built in 4G for the new OnStar, I was kind of disappointed that is mostly a hotspot in your car service, which I don't find that interesting. Now it's getting more interesting. Unique custom built-in services in the car powered by 4G. In this case, here's one called On-star At Your Service. Based on where you are or where you're programs can go in the nav rig. They can account with offers that supposedly are going to be smart based on where you're going and also based on your interests. They're playing MyTune. They're showing a demo here of Dunk-N-Donuts coupon popping up. I'm in. They would also work with retail me not, the big online coupon discount site, to bring those offers in. Based on where you are and where you're going, you could also book a hotel at the last minute. While you're driving along, through priceline, though in that case you do get an operator involved. Now the devil's in the details of course. How well this is elegantly executed. How well it's customized to what I'm really doing and not just nagging me, we'll see when this hits the market how well they;ve worked those nuances. But let me also show you how they want to use 4g to make you a better driver. [MUSIC] Now this ones called smart driver assessment. What this does is utilize the 4g connection in the car to harvest. All kinds of data points about how you drive and do so for a long time. 90 days is the snapshot they take, that's not even a snapshot, that's a big look. That is cloud service processed by OnStar, and after 90 full days of you allowing the service to see how you drive, then they send you a report. They email it to you, as well as giving you tips along the way. Through the vehicle's interface how you could drive better. It could be braking, steering, accelerator behavior, the way you travel at a certain speed and certain zone. That's one part. Then, if you agree to, and only with your permission they can upload that to, at this point, one insurance company to qualify you for an insurance discount. Now this is getting into the area of pay as you drive, or usage based. insurance. You don't need a 4G connection for that. A lot of the insurance companies will give you a, a little wireless dongle that goes into your OBD II port, but this is making it more integrated into the vehicle and using the 4G to a cloud service to really crunch a lot of data about how you drive. Not just some nuggets. Consumers were wary of pay-as-you-drive a few years ago, but the trends have been getting pretty healthy. A lot of folks say, you know what? If I can get a meaningful discount, I'm willing to let it happen. [MUSIC] Now let's talk about something interesting on cars playing Android auto. Now here at Hyundai, they're doing something a little different as they roll out towards getting it in the showroom. With most car makers, you buy a car that already has nav, an elaborate media, and all of that. And then you add car player Android auto to it. And you've got some duplication. You feel like maybe you're paying for more than you need. Honda has got an interesting strategy they've announced here, Starting in their 16th model-year cars, they're going to have this fairly basic display audio system. Here, they're trying to thin it down and bring the cost down. If you don't have a phone plugged in, it's pretty basic. AM, FM, Bluetooth streaming, and calling. And that really all of the bells and whistles. But then when you plug in your smartphone, Android or iOS, it pulls up CarPlay or Android Auto, and brings in all that incredible richness. You didn't buy it two or three times. Those functions are only coming from your phone. So you're really leveraging the services and connections of your phone in a less duplicative way. And not redundant with what the car maker has in there as well. It's kind of very efficient and elegant. This allows them to move it to a lower price, one they think is going to apply to 60 plus percent of their sales volume in the 16th model year, we gotta wait a little while for this one. In the meantime, about mid 2015 Hyundai will roll out CarPlay and Android Auto, but stacked on top of dead units that already their [UNKNOWN] [MUSIC] Now here at CES Tim Stevens and I just hosted a really good Next Big Thing panel on virtual and augmented reality. And one of the areas where I'm most excited about, AR, augmented reality is coming up in cars, especially in these head up displays that are getting very popular. This one doesn't just show you information statically on the windshield, or through the windshield. It puts it in context on the road. Let me tell you about what I'm seeing here. There's a warning about a car that just crossed my path, and the warning followed the car. As I go along now I'm getting indication about lane drift and it's putting a colored line right on the lane where I'm drifting. There's the traffic signal, right in front of me. Perhaps I didn't look up and see the traffic signal. It put it right in front of me so I don't miss the red light. And here comes a car cutting me off. Rat bastard. And the vehicle showed me the corner of the car to really emphasize that's where the impact point. Might be coming. Here is a navigation prompt showing me what exit to take. And it's kinda like that Fidelity advertisement. It's putting, in this case, a blue line on the road, Now none of this is coming into production tomorrow. This is pretty elaborate stuff in terms of projection technology and, of course, making sure the data is right. So it's not giving you any false queues. That matters when you're on the road. But I'm glad to see AR coming to cars. I can barely think of a place where it matters more. [MUSIC] BMW showed new ways to use laser headlights. Aside from reaching 1,800 feet, they can elaborately beam shape, so you can stay on high beam while making cutouts in the projection to avoid oncoming drivers. These lights can work with the nav system to spill light out where the car is going next. Even before the wheel turns. They can work with the driver assist cameras to call out pedestrians and animals on the side of the road by lighting them. And BMW showed tail lights that used OLED technology. For extreme flexibility of the light itself. But also flexibility in the pattern by which it illuminates. Even if this tech were ready today, though, US regulations lag far behind it in terms of approval. Hope you enjoyed this special edition of CNet On Cars. Thanks for watching. If you know someone who would like this show and maybe isn't watching, why don't you let them know? Send them over to We'd appreciate it. I'll see you next time we check the deck. [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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