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Cooley On Cars
2015 Jeep Renegade: The littlest Jeep has big ambitions (CNET On Cars, Episode 73)Jeep boldly enters a new category with an Italian 4x4. We find out how cars that brake for you are making a difference. And something new is replacing your car's battery.
The littlest Jeep arrives and from Italy. The results are in on automatic braking technology. And what capacitors are about to modernize under your hood. It's time to check the tech. 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 Telling it like it is. Ugly is included at no extra cost. The good, the bad, the bottom line. This is CNET On Cars. Welcome to CNET On Cars, the show all about high tech cars and modern driving. I'm Brian Cooley. Well Jeep's sales have been on a tear the last couple of years. Nicely timed with a lineup that emphasises SUVs and crossovers, right about the time Americans rush back to them post recession and post soaring fuel prices. But to my eye, the most interesting story coming out of Jeep happens to be on the small end. the little, almost pocketable Renegade. Let's drive this Italian Jeep and check the tech. [SOUND] [MUSIC] The new Jeep Renegade has the undeniable appeal of a Hot Wheels car. It's cool, compact, and craveable. And we have the top of the line, the Trailhawk. Let's check the tech. [MUSIC] When I saw this Jeep Renegade get unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show back in 2014, I was pretty sure we were looking at a three quarter scale mock up so they could get it to fit on the stand there. And this actually shares a platform with the Fiat 500X. It's a subcompact. But with real all wheel drive as it's passport into this very busy sector of the auto biz. [MUSIC] These renegades are made right along side Fiat at an FCA plant in Melfi Italy. In a sense, you're getting an American icon and an Italian car for under 30 grand. Can't do that with a Pantera. Now inside the Renegade I get the feeling that they're trying to emphasize its jeepness to take your mind off its Italianess and its smallness. The Jeep schtick is everywhere. It's here, it's here, it's here, and it's there. There are several available Uconnects head units on the Renegade. Ours is an upscale, six and a half inch touch screen, also voice driven. We've seen and liked this guy before. Mostly for it's simple, almost cartoony interface. It's got highly rated, easy to use Garmin navigation. There are a handful of familiar apps you can load if the app store itself ever loads. And a wi-fi hotspot can be configured in this car as well. An interesting sunroof option called My Sky. It powers back like most But then you can also pop out the front and or rear panels entirely, to get a really big hole, obstructed however, by a structural bar. Under the hood, our high trim trail hog version has the big engine, and even that that's only 2.4 liters and four cylinders, does 180 horsepower and 175 pound feet of torque, through a nine speed automatic only. Average MPG is 24 In addition to blind-spot technology, you can also option a Renegade with forward collision technology that will actively brake for you. And active lane departure technology that will steer you back in your lane. Those are unusual in this class. On the road, I'm afraid to report, no. The drive behavior of this power train Is rubbery and loopy and made a 2.4 feel like a 1.4. And made a nine speed automatic feel like a CBT. But neither of those is Of course on the positive side, we have real all-wheel drive underneath, including on this particular Renegade, a 20 to 1 crawl mode. Of course, you've got all-wheel drive lock, you've got real low range, and it's got different approach, departure, [INAUDIBLE] End front rear, even bright red tow hooks>>This is a serious off roader, not just an all wheel drive vehicle.>>It's of note that even a four by four Renegade like this can be a true front wheel drive vehicle, unless you need all four driven. It physically disconnects the rear drive until needed, all in interest of less drag and better fuel economy. Now, under our Renegade, we have the first use of Kony's frequency selective damping shocks. These mechanically change their firmness based on the frequency of the inputs coming up through the wheel. That way they'll be ideal for handling on smooth roads, but be more comfortable and forgiving on bad ones. All without expensive electronic adaptive suspension. I found the handling on smooth corners was quite good. The ride quality on choppy pavement was, kind of choppy. In sum, the Renegade looks great, drives like hell, but that's not going to hurt its sale prospect. It's entering just about the hottest category in the US auto market, and it's a jeep. [MUSIC] [SOUND] Find our full review on that new Jeep Renegade. All new model for Jeep at cars.cnet.com. One of the most interesting pieces of self driving technology that's already here is the ability of many cars to automatically when they detect a collision. That maybe you don't detect. Saving your bacon and directly adding to the bottom line of safety on the road. But how well does it really work? We have some early answers for the smarter drivers when CNET ONCARS returns. [BLANK_AUDIO] [MUSIC] In everyday driving, nothing is more fundamental to avoiding a collision than stopping before you have one. But too often, humans are, well, humans, and don't break in time or at all. That's where forward collision avoidance technology comes in. And ideally appears in cars we really buy, not just as a pricey option on pricey one. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has been watching forward collision technology come down to Earth in three flavors. There's the warning. Warning, you of a forward collision, pre-charging the brakes. Before a collision to increase their effectiveness when you do get on them. If it detects a high risk of impact, the system will prime the brakes, to help you stop more quickly. And automatic braking, so the car will pull itself partially or fully to a stop, even if you drop the ball. And there's the auto brake. The vehicle stopped by itself. Just two years ago, nearly three quarters of new cars didn't offer any kind of forward collision tech. Just two model years later, the number lacking it is down to under half, though to Just 4% of models offer it standard. Of a variety of cars that offer this tech, ten models from Acura, BMW, Mazda, and Chrysler earned a superior rating, with five or six out of six points. A separate study by the Highway Loss Data Institute found that two models of Volvos from 2010 to 2012 with automatic braking, had insurance claim rates that were 15 to 16% lower. And the latest Volvos offer the first automatic braking that will intervene if you're about to make a very Ill-advised left turn against traffic. [SOUND] [MUSIC] It pays to double check if your next car offers forward collision tests, what if any degree of self-braking it includes, and how well the whole system is rated to actually work. It's a fundamental feature that could pay for itself pretty See easily. The first time you don't rear end someone. [MUSIC] Welcome back to CNET on Cars. Coming to your from our home at the Mount Tam Motor Club, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge. [MUSIC] Most electricity stored in your car today is either in its 12-volt battery that runs the starter, lights and ignition. Or in a big motive battery if your car is an EV or a plug-in hybrid. But there is another way. In a capacitor. Capacitors, or caps, store electricity like batteries but differing in four major ways. First, they charge really fast. Second, they discharge or deliver electricity really fast. Both of those behaviors because, unlike your car's battery, capacitors store electricity as electricity, not as a chemical soup that contains electric potential. Thirdly, caps are light, no lead plates and acid solution. And fourth, they laugh at extreme weather But traditionally one big downside has kept capacitors out of a car's powertrain. And that is low energy density. Capacitors have usually held a small fraction of the energy found in a car battery And took up a lot of space to do that. Enter ultracapacitors. These have a much higher energy density, so they can do more work and yet still fit inside today's tight engine bays and other locations. And their time seems to have arrived on the coattails of new car tech, like automatic start/stop, electronic adaptive suspension, and electric turbos. Each of those demand a lot of new current that is delivered in as little as milliseconds, yet to preserve efficiency, wants their power source to be recharged. Easily. Capacitors have that written all over them. [MUSIC] Toyota's Supra HVR Hybrid racecar used a supracap in its powertrain to store power for an electric boost motor. In doing so it won the Tokachi 24 hour race in 2007. A capacitor Which is like a battery, but charges in seconds. More down to earth, Mazda's oddly named i-ELOOP tech in their cars today, uses a capacitor, but not to drive the car. In their case, they use it to power accessories and that takes load off the traditional, harder to charge, lead acid battery. I-ELOOP uses a special alternator that free wheels when the engine moves the car. But the moment you let off the gas, it wakes up to turn outgoing energy into electricity. Capacitors themselves are nothing new. But super capacitors being found under the hood likely will be. [MUSIC] In a moment, your e-mail. How to survive a rollover with technology. And nitrogen or air in your tires. When CNET On Cars returns. [MUSIC] [BLANK_AUDIO] [MUSIC] The Panamera has everything in it I want from a Porsche. It's got performance, handling, power, and yes, the look as well. But on top of that it's got room for my kids in the back and all the luggage we can possibly throw at it. This is a Porsche for the real world. Find more from the xcar team of cnet UK at cnet.com/xcar. Welcome back to cnet oncars. I am Brian Cooley. It's that time of the show. I take a few of your emails First one I've got here is coming up from Hari who has a question about nitrogen inflation of tires. He asks, what difference does it make in fuel economy and mileage, the life of the tire, and the ride quality of the car if you fill your tires with nitrogen. Instead of the more commonly available and universally used atmospheric air. Well, Hari, the nitrogen in tires thing comes down to two fundamental differences from air. The first is larger molecules, and this means the nitrogen molecule is just bigger than the molecules of air you'd get at the standard pump. Those larger molecules have a harder time escaping through the micro veracity, the slight leakage that every rubber tire has, especially old tires. That means they hold their pressure longer without you having to refill them. The other key thing is that nitrogen has less moisture, it's almost absolutely dry. What happens with regular air in your tires is, as you drive, the tire heats up from friction and deforming all the time. That causes the moisture in the air to expand of course, and that causes the tire's overall pressure to go up. Then when you park and the tire gets cold, it goes back down. And you're always doing this with tire pressure Nitrogen doesn't really have that problem. It's very stable on tire pressure. And that consistent pressure is good because you want to maintain an optimal rolling resistance to get better fuel economy and as its higher handle and deform the way it's designed to. Now a reality check. This is not a really big deal. The amount of change in pressure from that moisture in regular air has been factored in for Ages by manufacturers and tire makers. That's why you get this thing called cold PSI. It tells you where to inflate your tires when they are cold and have not been driven a lot at freeway speeds for example. As far as those larger molecules escaping, it's definitely a bons, but air escapes very slowly in modern tires, wheels, valves, and valve stems. It's not something you can't keep on top of by merely, Checking your tires once a month, that's all you gotta do. Once a quarter will probably do it, actually. And therefore, my recommendation on nitrogen is this. If you get new tires and they put it in, great. If you've got an easy, cheap source to keep adding it, I guess that's worth it. But otherwise, I would just invest in a tire gauge, and check your tires Just occasionally, and you'll be absolutely fine. Now it is important to keep your tires at the right pressure though. If you have a 25% drop in tire pressure, it equals over 16% increased rolling resistance. That's substantial. Also, an underinflated tire gets a lot hotter when it's driving than one that's properly inflated, and that causes more yo-yo effect. Of the pressure in the tire that fatigues the tire sooner. And an under-inflated tire is dangerous when it comes to vehicle stability on the road. So keep those tires pumped up to the right pressure. But you don't need nitrogen to get any of this done. Thomas D. writes in with a question about an accident that he was in recently and technology that could have made it a little less grizzly. He said, I was a passenger in a car involved in a rollover crash. due to the seat belt, I sustained compression fractures in my spine, and says here, a broken sternum as well. I went back he says, to examine the car before they crushed it and it appeared as though the back tire was also under inflated which could have contributed to the flip. I seem to recall on your show seeing a technology that allowed the seat to absorb some of the impact taken by pushing down in the seat during certain times of accidents. And he wants to know what that technology was. Well first of all Thomas, you're thinking about a Volvo technology we covered recently in their new SUV. And this has got the kinda odd, awkward name of Run-off Road Protection. It uses a compressible structure in the bottom of the seat so that, when a car leaves the road and lands hard, perhaps on a low plane or on any other surface, that the seat will crush down towards the floor, taking that force that normally would be offloaded to your spine as you know all too well. It also has the technology that snugs up the belt in the milliseconds of the impact, keeping you from any slop to the belt. You may have had a situation in your crash where the belt was a little loose, it locked, and then you slammed against it. That often can cause chest injuries. Helicopter seats have done something similar to what Volvo's doing, they've done that for decades where they have this variable crush zone underneath. They do it with elaborate shock absorbers and levers Because sometimes helicopters come in on hard landings, especially when they autorotate. [SOUND] Now you told me in a subsequent email you were in a 2007 model year car. I'm not gonna get into the make and model of it cuz I don't think it's actually germane to the discussion. But I do wanna point out three model year milestones everyone should be aware of. Three things that happen starting with 2007. Cars in the U.S. were required to have TPMS, the Tire Pressure Monitoring System. That means that the tires and wheels monitor their pressure and report it in to a small display somewhere on the instrument panel. That's U.S. law. In 2009, we got the requirement of new rollover standards. Vehicles went from having to take one and a half times their weight on their roof. To surviving three times their own weight on their roof. That's a big difference in keeping that vehicle a safe cocoon around you in a rollover accident like you were in. And the third thing I wanna call out is 2012 was the milestone when electronic stability control became required on all new U.S. cars. Now it was very common before that, but required as of 2012. These three to me sort of draw a line in the sand of late model used cars where I'm gonna make sure I've got all three of those which pushes me out to around 2010 or later to get a car that's really loaded up on theses critical technologies. Especially for the kind of action that you are in. [MUSIC] Thanks for watching and I hope you enjoyed this episode. Appreciate your e-mails in particular. Keep those coming. It's OnCars@cnet.com. I'll see you next time we check the decks. [MUSIC] [SOUND]