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CNET On Cars: Ep.12, BMW 750Li vs. Lexus LS 460 F Sport
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CNET On Cars: Ep.12, BMW 750Li vs. Lexus LS 460 F Sport

23:02 /

Is the BMW 750Li or the Lexus LS 460 F Sport the ultimate big CNET sedan? You're obsessing about the wrong thing in your engine, and Top 5 ways "The Man" is deciding what technology is in your car.

-Which of these rolling status symbols shows you do it CNET style? Why you're obsessing on the wrong thing about your engine? And the top 5 ways the man decides what technology is in your car, time to check the tech. -We see cars differently. We love them on the road and under the hood, but also check the tech and are known for telling me like it is. The good, the bad, the bottomline this is CNET on Cars. Hi everybody, I'm Brian Cooley and welcome to CNET on Cars. The show is all about high tech cars and modern driving this week coming to you from the shot of our friend Michael Vogel. Then later on, we're gonna be digging into an engine to explain one of the biggest mysteries of them that you don't understand. But first not one engine, but two. The big V8 that live in the valves of the BMW 750Li and the Lexus LS460 F Sport. We put these two head to head the other day and never have I been so comfortable in the field. Well, here we have 2 cars that really represent the pinnacle of what a lot of folks mean when they say, a really nice car. The 2013 BMW 750Li and the 2013 Lexus LS460 in the F Sport trim. Let's find out how they really differ in their essence as we check the tech. Now, riding in and go through these guys with an exhausted bullet-by-bullet, head-to-head comparison and spend an hour doing so, instead I wanna find out how these 2 cars both can print CNET style do so differently to let you figure out which one is really right for you. First off, these 2 cars' dashboards speak tech differently. The Lexus says it sort of loudly, more button to reach and crisp and somehow busier. The BMW is by no means basic, but its tech interfaces place second fiddle to creature comfort. In cars at this level, the basics better be standard so you'll find GPS navigation with live traffic, Bluetooth calling and a backup camera with good guidance overlays and those are standard on both cars. It wasn't that long ago that BMW nickle and dimed you for most of that stuff. And speaking of cameras, R750 has the optional wall iCams installed upfront. And while there is somewhat dubious value, they're not found on the Lexus. You steer the Lexus interface with this inverted puck. They called remote touch controller. It moves the cursor, offers punch to enter, and uses haptic feedback as it pumps over things on the screen, but it badly needs a back button. BMW has endured the years of sneers and cheers to turn iDrive into one of the best in car interfaces. You steer it with this iDrive knob and handful of associated shortcut buttons including one for back. And interestingly, BMW has removed haptic feedback as iDrive matured. I found voice command on the Lexus was quick to understand me, but requires parsing an address into many parts or button presses. Enter an address. -Enter an address. Say only the city name or say change state. -San Francisco. -BMW is also quick on the uptake, but lets you blurred out on address. The most complicated thing you'll typically do with voice all in one phrase. 1000 Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco, California. -Processing your input. Did you mean 1000 S. Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco? -Both cars play the greatest hits of modern audio sources with just a few differences. The Lexus is the car of these 2 that supports iTunes tagging with its HD radio, but the BMW has a 20-gigabyte hard drive to rip to. Both are equally useless to most people, which brings us to apps. Lexus is part of Toyota. That means they get the excellent In-Tune app suite renamed Enform here. It's a basket of name brand, cloud loaded apps including Yelp, OpenTable, Pandora, Bing, iHeartRadio and Facebook places and that's standard. BMW's app support is still optional and it just rolls up Facebook, Twitter and web radio via an iPhone app, no Android. But built-in to the car regardless of phone is Google Search, which is killer and now Yelp as well. And note that BMW has built-in 3G in the car where Lexus requires you tether your phone to get connected. Whether you're listening to one of those streaming apps or AM radio, Mark Levinson's 19 speakers and 400 watts on the Lexus or Bang & Olufsen 16 speakers and good grief 1200 watts in the BMW mean both cars can be optioned with sound better than you can hear. Cars like these don't just 3 backseat passengers like hitchhikers. The Lexus wins on total rear-seat comforts optionable to include reclining shiatsu massage, butterfly headrest, rear-seat cooler, and air purifier. You can tell the Germans still inwardly scoff at such nonsense, but have dragged themselves to include heated and cooled massage seats. Where they score big is the best dual rear-screen entertainment system in the biz. They are generous size, they're nice and thin. But notice what's really interesting, they are iDrive interfaces with an iDrive controller. You've got access to multimedia, radio navigation, all the same services you've got in the front of the car. You've also got connected Drive. So, without having to bring an iPad to the car, you've got some modest degree of online services right here on the vehicle built-in. Both these cars are V8 power. The Lexus has the bigger 4.6 L V8, but the BMW slaps a pair of turbos on its smaller 4.4 L. The BMW ends up with more horsepower, more torque and it's quicker. And even though that 7 series weighs more and is faster, both cars deliver identical MPG. So, you gotta hand it to BMW here at least on paper. Now, to get that equal efficiency with higher power and weight, BMW had to add complexity in the form of break force electricity regeneration borrowed from hybrid cars and engine automatic start stop, which I still find rather crudely executed, but luckily defeatable. Being luxury rides, both of these cars come on suave at first unless you dig down into their power train. But when you do, the BMW's power and road handling make it a more serious driver's car to my hands, even though the Lexus is an F sport. Both cars have a handful of engine transmission and suspension profiles from echo to aggressive and they do offer pronounced differences from one end to the other, though I think three settings would probably be ample guys. BMW offers a head-up display to extend the interface to the windshield as well as night vision that is now actually not totally disorienting, but I really enjoyed the Lexus enform apps base on the road and find its big interface and brands of content more useful than BMW's rather stern translation of Twitter and Facebook, which I don't need in the car anyway. If you need help driving, both cars are there for you. Lexus has active lane drift technology, but passive blind spot tech. BMW's lane drift and blind spot are now both active in the 7. Each offers adaptive cruise control. The Lexus can also do front collision warning and even bring the car to a stop at city speeds. If you're too busy fiddling with your coffee to watch what you're doing, BMW leaves you alone to rear end someone in independent Bavarian fashion. Okay, the bottomline on these 2 cars begins with the bottomline, which is quite different. I tech up that BMW, dialed it in CNET style, and push to 108,000. In a similar tech load on the Lexus, I couldn't quite break 90 for about an $18,000 delta, not silly money. In terms of their character, the BMW has a real serious executive sedan field to it, but it's a real gutter fighter on the street when you push it hard. The Lexus I think a little less so even as an F sport, but it has more of a joie de vivre about the technology in it. It's a real tech toy, play it that way. Okay, I got to admit it, that shoot was one of those days where I probably should have been paying CNET. Think about it. Amounting to 750 and an LS in a place you should recognize, not by name but it's called Conzelman Road in Marin County outside San Francisco. You know it from a ton of car commercials you've seen on TV. We're very lucky to have it in our backyard. By the way, you can find our specific reviews on the 750 in the LS @cars.cnet.com. Not a lot of windshield to clip a Garmin on this 61 Giulietta vintage race car, not a lot of wind screens to stop bugs for that matter. But I'm sure in your car, there's room for either something on the dash, on the phone or on the windshield that is GPS Nav related. If you're watching this show, you probably got 2 or 3 of the above. But a few tips on using them more efficiently is always of interest to the smarter driver. You know what this is? A lot of you have probably never even seen one. That's a paper map and that used to be the essence of navigation in a car. Are you kidding they call this screens' distracting with this thing up? I can hardly even see up the windshield. Forget that. Now, just because you're taking advance of the ubiquity of GPS Nav today in dash, on your phone, on a clip on device doesn't mean you're doing it really well. Working with State Farm researcher, Steve Roberson, we've come up with an interesting little tool kit, simple free tips to be savvy about using GPS, now clipping of these GPS, PND's on your windshield like that. By doing so, you just broke the law in more half of the states in the U.S. and even want to do it, I hate to do this a very specific rule about where you can put it. You probably didn't know that. Now whatever kind of navigation device you're using Dash, PND or Smartphone, no if it accepts destinations e-mailed to it in advance without you having to tediously type it in and be distracted in the process. Ford, GM, Nissan, Onstar, Garmin, Google Maps are just some of the companies that support this kind of feature. Now, if you're using your smartphone as you navigation device, turn the screen off and just listen to the vocal prompts that will come from just about any decent Smartphone NAV app. And if this little speaker is not loud enough to hear you say, -At southwest on Mission Street toward first street. -no problem. Aux cable or bluetooth stream into your head unit and for most systems, those NAV commands will come in and override music or whatever else you have playing on this device or on your head unit. And finally, and this may sound low tech, and frankly it is, but familiarize yourself with the route that this device is about to take you on. -Rescuers are warning of the troubling tendency, drivers who rely too heavily on the satellite-guided system. -You've heard of death by GPS. It's no joke. People have lost their lives or had accidents because they followed an inaccurate or errant map. Many of these navigation devices have a preview mode that lets you basically fly through where you're going to be taken. So heads up and to know your route ahead of time is good because-- then you really know where you are, not just finding yourself somewhere and not knowing how you got there or how to get out. Coming up, we'll explain the most misunderstood and important part of your engine's technology as CNET on Cars continues. Welcome back to CNET on Cars. I'm Brian Cooley and I'm also a little embarrass that's it taken us this long to get to the car check 101 were about to go to. You see every time I do a car video, I take you to the engine and we talk about the horsepower and the torque, but never have I stopped to explain to you the complicated relationship between those two and why torque is so important. We're gonna address all that right now. Okay, aside from emissions and heat, the two big outputs of any engine are horsepower and torque. You know all about the first one. You've heard about it since you were a little kid. It's in every automotive advertisement. Everything the automakers that we're talking about has horsepower and they're somewhere. But torque is far less well understood, though extremely important. Let's break them down and define them first. Horsepower is a measure of work. Its definition makes that obvious, one horsepower is equal to 33,000 foot pounds per minute. Now, torque is also a measure of work, but it describes work as twisting force. It's kind of like horsepower in a circle and without the per minute factor. Torque is measured in foot pounds, not a certain number of them though. For example, it may take 27 foot pounds of torque to loosen up particular bolt on this engine without regard for how long you have to apply that force. So at the risk of over simplifying, horsepower expresses how much work you can get done on a certain amount of time. Torque is about how hard you can twist something and that's key because how does a car move itself. The engine turns, it twists the gears and the transmission, they twist output or drive shafts and that moves the car. Torque really should be the star. Okay, seriously, let me show you on some charts how horsepower and torque-- Well, I promise you, you won't fall asleep. Now, these are charts from cars that have been put on dynamometers, basically treadmills for cars. You've seen this. My partners, Edward and Edmund do a lot of-- it's kind of testing and gave us this data and it's very instructive. Here's the 2011 Ford Mustang. Here's how the chart works. On the left, you got your vertical axis of either foot pounds of torque or amount of horsepower. Down across the right is basically your tachometer. It's RPMs from 1 to 8,000 in this case. Now look what happens. The torque line is this light blue one. You start building around 2000 RPM and you got more and more torque as you increase the rest. You peak right around here at about 4200 with 365 foot pounds. That's all that engine has and you stayed about that range until around 5200 RPM. This is the switch spot. This is where you've got peak torque that just keeps coming. After a while, more RPMs, the torque begins to drop, horsepower keeps increasing. Let's look at another car. This is a very different engine in a McLaren MP4-12C super car. Here's our torque line again builds gradually and then notice at about 4200 all the way out to about 6200, this guy stays flat and right about at the peak amount of torque around 415 foot pounds. This is a wider, what they call fatter torque band. You've got more RPMs where you have full torque from the engine. Mercedes Benz S63 instructive because this is a twin-turbo V8. Look what happens with turbos. This is the torque line. It's out of hand. It peaks really fast and it stays broad, chunky and 611 foot pounds of torque. That's a lot by the way for a very long time before it begins to degrade. And finally a very different car, a Scion FRS peaks here early at only 143 foot pounds of torque, but then look what happens. You get this dip here. If you ever hear me driving a car and say I feel it was a flat spot in the torque curve that's what I'm talking about. It's not flat at all. It's actually a dip where the car feels kind of gutless and then up around 40 and 100 RPM it kicks back in again and stays nice and flat all the way out to the mid 6000. Now, you may have noticed in all these charts, torque tends to peter out as you get to the higher RPMs up near your red line. That's because the engine is less able to breathe efficiently there. Secondly, notice that horsepower keeps climbing even after torque drops off. Why is this? It seems like its 2 engines doing different things. Well even as torque drops off, the RPMs keep climbing and horsepower is largely a product of RPMs times torque so we can put those 2 together and keep that horsepower line moving up because torque is dropping, but only modestly as RPMs go up in a linear fashion. Okay, I hope you got a better understanding now of horsepower, torque, their relationship and how they impact the driving experience of a car. Also note we do our car videos. I'll show you those two numbers and horsepower is usually the bigger. Torque is often the smaller, unless that car has a turbo or a super charger, which artificially puts more in the engine and allows the torque to come higher or as high as the horsepower. That gives you another clue as to what that car is gonna be like to drive. By the way, thanks to one of our viewers, Wushik Choi of Arlington, Virginia who nods me to get around with that Car Tech 101. That topic was his idea. As a little thanks, we're sending him one of our new CNET on Cars decals. You can get one as well if you send me a show idea that we use. We're looking for ideas for a Car Tech 101 or our top 5 segments. Shoot them at me on cars@cnet.com. When we come back, top 5 ways, the man is calling the shots on the tech in your car when CNET on Cars continues. -Today's graphical display radios with RDS HD tagging and cover art were unimaginable in 1957. When GM's Wonder Bar radio was almost like VuDu, you press to the Wonder Bar and a motor would turn the tuning knob stopping at the next AM signal and that's all it did. There was a little slider under the Wonder Bar to set how staticky a radio station you were willing to have it stop at, a concept almost foreign in today's digital radio world. They say today these head units are distracting, I could watch this thing motor back and forth all day. -Welcome back to CNET on Cars. I'm Brian Cooley. You know, modern cars often seem like equal parts hardware, software, and I guess we should call law aware. Laws and regulations these days have an enormous impact of what kind cars are coming out in the factories and hitting showrooms whether you or the manufacturer like it or not. Here's some proof. You know, wasn't that long ago that folks were grumbling that requiring seat belts in cars was call me social stuff. Today that call me label is applied to decidedly more high tech innovations. I'm Brian Cooley with the top 5 ways the man is changing your car. Number 5, autonomous cars, you know, self-drive. Nevada and California recently forced the issue by making this legal. Now, the Feds are playing catch-up likely to issue national rules by 2016. That's going to signal it's time to open the floodgates of investment in cars that take over 80 percent of the driving that you don't really wanna do anyway. Number 4, distracted driving regulations. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has been floating these tortured proposals for limiting in car distraction like saying that a text display should have no more than 30 characters at a time or any screen-based task should take no more than 2 seconds. They clearly haven't using Android phone, have they? Whatever those specifics, this Federal push will be what move distracted driving to the same level of stigma as DUI. Number 3, Rear cameras. This rule has been delayed more times than blackberries come back. But the Feds are close to requiring a backup camera in all new vehicles perhaps by late 2014. The car makers say it's gonna jack it up the price of a car too much, but most likely they don't wanna lose the ability to make the rear camera a desirable option instead of a standard feature. Number 2 are black box data recorders. They're already in 90-plus percent of late model cars probably yours that you didn't know that. But the Feds will soon require them in all new car sold. The gripe here is that the Feds are gonna require the black boxes, but the States control access to data and barely more than a dozen of them even have laws that address it. The number 1 way that regulations will change cars tomorrow is the new 54-1/2 MPG fuel economy standard. That's the level that must be met by the average of all cars sold by any maker as of 2025. It is incredibly complicated formula that used to figure it out, but still a huge bump from today's 29.7 fleet average. And not that many years away. That means we're going to see 3-cylinder engines, turbos and almost everything, hybrids galore, cars that set themselves off at a stop sign or red light and electric cars on showroom, lots even if nobody wants to buy one and it's estimated to add some $3000 to the average MSRP by 2025. No Federal rule will change cars or the cost of them as much as this one. To stay on top of all the new innovations happening in cars, the one you have today and the one you'll buy tomorrow check out our show at cnetoncars.com. I'm Brian Cooley, thanks for watching. If you get a minute, head over to Twitter, Facebook or G plus and give us a little love for this episode if you enjoyed it. I assume you did, you're still here and don't forget I'm taking your ideas for Car Tech 101 and Top 5 segments. Shoot them at me on cars@cnet.com <mailto:cars@cnet.com>. If I use one of yours, I'll send you one of those cool CNET on Cars Decals for your laptop and don't forget our website, cnetoncars.com. The final of those episodes you haven't seen yet and the fiddlings for the ones that are coming. I'm Brian Cooley, see you next time we check the tech.
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