BraunAbility MXV: Accessibility done CNET style (CNET On Cars, Episode 87)

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An accessible vehicle that doesn't look like one. Airbags that never even see the inside of your car and your email about modern future classics and the real cost of in dash navigation. It's time to check the test. [MUSIC] 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've recently realized on this high tech show, we've never done a piece on wheelchair accessible vehicles. And that's an oversight because they are an interesting slice of automotive engineering, and have long left the days of being kind of, After market, and they're fit and finished. Not the least of which is something called the BraunAbility MXV a conversion built on a Ford platform, caught our eye. We thought it was time to get one in and check the tech. [MUSIC] When I say accessible vehicle you probably think of a mini van Or maybe a minivan. Or a minivan. And honestly nobody wants to think of themselves in a minivan. Now those who are disabled in a wheelchair don't necessarily have to. That worked nice. That's awesome! Now I'm no expert on accessible vehicles but I know who is, the team at the Center for Independent Living in Berkley. This would be a wonderful alternative for people who just say I really just don't want a van. I had them come out and take a look at the MXV with me. It's kind of cool that it rolls out. [MUSIC] I think style prints count for everybody. Tyler over there who drives a Dodge Charger. He bought that car not cuz it was the most accessible or the most [INAUDIBLE] He bought it because it was an image thing. [BLANK_AUDIO] Now the [UNKNOWN] ability NXV is based on a 16 Explorer, but you look at it and your eye says something isn't right, is that really an Explorer yes. Proportions are different. Different and what your eyes being drawn to is the fact that it's had its floor between the axle line dropped a large ten inches. Now, let's see where that got them behind the other amazing piece of engineering. This is Akutagra, what used to be a hinged door on this stock Explore. Now, it becomes what they call a pop-out door. A completely customized motorized hinged and projector. That articulates the door out and then you've got a built in, belly stowed power ramp that comes out in sequence with it. [MUSIC] It looks like it's just enough. Exactly. Just enough, okay. You're an experienced operator, you know how to get around tight spaces. Yeah, so it's cozy but it works, yeah. [LAUGH] [LAUGH] Being able to drive it around, being able to park right in. Get right in, get right out. Made it as independent as possible for me not to rely on others. And when Braun gets one of these Explorers, they don't just go down to their local dealer and buy a bunch of them and go on their merry way. This is co-engineered with Ford. Cuz it's major engineering. Look at this apparatus that had to be invented to creat a pop out door out a hinge door. Similarly impressive what they did to this B pillar. Look how narrow it is now. This is a deceptively big deal. They had to curve this back to create reasonable usable wheelchair access with. I mean, look to the right side of that ramp pit but at the same time you can't give up. The front seats in the MXV aren't too far from the 007's Aston Martin. But they don't eject up they just come out. Unlock this, rotate this and you wheel them down the ramp. And when they are in the vehicle they retain full power adjustment and their airbag function. Thanks to an impressive wiring harness. The MXV is only available In front wheel drive. Once you drop the floor ten inches there's now way to get a driveshaft to the back for all wheel drive. Now as you can see the MXV is obviously a side access, a side door vehicle. You do also see accessible conversions that are rear access from the back here and those are almost always minivans of course. If you do that however. You do lose what this vehicle has, continued ability to tow. It retains its 5,000 lbs rating. Driving the MXV, it's not much different than driving a Ford Explorer. I mean its got the same basic under pinning. You get about the same MPG suggest Braun, maybe a little lower cuz I think we're carrying some extra weight here, but It's a big vehicle to start with. The handling is about the same. It was never sharp to begin with. It's not a bad driving vehicle. It isn't Ford's most exciting engine. The base 3 1/2 liter V6 but you know what, It's fun. You've got good power and the transmission is a happy couple. One of the key things here that does succeed is you've Ford's much better quality interior from recent years, so you've got almost everything that you get an Explorer for with of course, the carve out, of no all wheel drive. This is a 16, so we have the older Ford sync system, a 17 would have that replaced with sync 3, which we like a lot better Would also eventually be available with sync connect which has a built in data modem for remote telepathic services and connecting to things like amazon echo to control your home from you nxv. But, that's not in this model, Brawn is not quite sure what their road map is to convert 17 just yet. If i have one [UNKNOWN] it is this. There's quite a bit of May be you hear it, sharp in and shuttering coming form the upper radars behind me, the lump and doors assembly. Because that really rather rudely interrupts the feeling of luxury and quality you have by going to a vehicle like his. Remember, you get more room in mini van. You buy this partly because you want accessibility and more style. And chirping and squeaking isn't part of that. [MUSIC] Okay, pricing this very special version of the Ford Explorer. When it becomes the brawn ability MXV it's about 60 grand. About half of that's the cost of the base Explorer, the other 30, the other half, is the cost of the mods to it. And on top of that you gotta add 5, 7, $8,000 for hand controls if Seated depending on the owner's needs. With destination, we're looking at somewhere around 70 grand. Census figures tell me about 3.6 million people in the US use a wheelchair. A large number of those are able to drive and now they've got a little more choice. Driving has really changed my life. If affects every part of my It helped me socially, it helped me with girls, it helped me with jobs, it helped me with school. Now, independence is independence obviously but if you can get their with a little more choice of a vehicle that's a little bit cooler that looks less apart and has great cabin tech and nice style inside and out. That's definitely CNET style. [MUSIC] By the way, thanks to Clark ****, one of our viewers in Nevada, who brought our attention to the technology and engineering going on in a wheelchair accessible vehicles like that Braun MXV. Thanks for the tip. [SOUND] Coming up, we're gonna take a look at why all the innovations popping up around airbags these days seem to be out Inside the car. When c|net on cars returns. [BLANK_AUDIO] [SOUND] Air bags abound in modern cars. They used to just be in the steering wheel. Then they moved across the dash. Into the sides of seats. Between the seats. Behind the seats. Along the roof and even the seatbelts. But all of those are in the car. What about outside? Here's an update. ZF TRW has just unveiled an airbag prototype That lives on the outside of the car. To blunt the impact of a t-bone collision. It seems to be the first use of airbags ever between cars. ZF TRW calculates it could reduce the force of a collision by about 30%. The tricky part would be sensing. A bag this big can't wait until an impact to expand, like other airbags do. It would need a head start at inflation. So it needs to fire just before the impact yet without false alarm that would be expensive. [MUSIC] meanwhile Volvo continues to offer its under hood airbag. [SOUND] It pops up the hood in a pedestrian impact that cushion the impact of that pedestrians skull with the hard top of the engine bag. But some speculate the fact the Volvo only offers this tech on one non-US car and has been emphasizing autonomous crash avoidance suggests it may sunset the technology. In general, costly to replace, one-time use airbags Airbags have played a big part in the rise of totaled cars, from 9% of cars that came in for collision repair in 2000 to over 14% totaled in 2013. A big external airbag would. Probably have to prove it reduces much more than its own cost in collision repair appraisals. [MUSIC] Welcome back to CNet on cars. Coming to you from our home at the Mount Tam motor club, Just north of the Golden Gate Bridge. I'm Brian Cooley, favorite part of the show happens now when I take a slew of your emails, we're doing a whole bunch of them again this week to try and get caught up with the huge amount that we get. Let's start up now with one coming in from Darmesh Kay who asks I'm a young driver, he's 21 he says. I've never driven a. In a manual transmission car. Car enthusiasts always tell me how there's nothing like driving a stick. Recently, he says, I got to drive an automatic with sport mode and let me shift manually. What the difference, he says, between an automatic that let's you shift gears and a manual with a clutch? Well Dharmesh, your last line touches on the main difference between a manual and a shift shiftable automatic and that of course that you have a third pedal on the left and that operates a clutch, a strictly analog old school mechanical piece of technology. Its the original way of shifting gears, unless you want to go all the way back to the Model T, but let's not do that. The feel is different, enthusiasts will tell you it's a whole different level of integration with the car because there's nothing filtering with you and at least that part of the power train and it's an important part. It also means that there is no computerization of the transmission. Your engine, most of your drive line, your all-wheel drive. Certainly so many things about your car are, shall we say, filtered or co-opted by computers all around the car. But, when you've got a manual transmission... It just that it's a bunch of gears and a pedal and a hydraulic operated clutch and there's no computer between you and that experience of driving. A lot of folks like that for just the feel as well for the actual new ones they can put to driving in performance mode basically. Here's the thing though shifting of an automatic and or a dual clutch transmission leads into more modern automated transmission these days Maybe enough for you. If you have to ask, "Do you need a real manual gear box with a clutch?" My answer to you is very likely no. And in most of your driving around town and in traffic, there's no benefit. It's a drag. And in many tests, cars that have automatics are actually a tiny bit quicker and a little more fuel efficient. [MUSIC] Our next c note comes in from Chuck K who is not happy about the navigation policy around his new Hyundai. He says, in mid-2015 we purchased a new Hyundai with built-in navigation. By January of the next year, 2016, we discovered the nav system's road and points-of-interest databases are not covered under warranty in terms of Keeping it up to date. Hyundai wants he says $162 every six months to keep those databases up to date. He says we would have never spent the $3500 for the package that included nav if they had been aware of the lack of warranty or update coverage for that system. Well, this is an interesting one Chuck, I gotta say, I;ve never been that impressed by the POI database. In an in-car nav system. It tends to be pretty crummy, to be honest. But to back it up, you're right. Hyundai's updates are run by a division of the company called MNSOFT and they want, they say, $169 to $219 per update depending on how your car holds the data. Either on a firmware, a disc, or an SD card. The updates are either annual or even twice a year and that will update a whole variety of things. POI's, roads, road names, and occasionally updates to the actual function of the software. Now, that one to two times per year times that cost that can in the course of owning your car be as much As the nav system option was itself two to three grand pretty easily. Here's my advice, stick with your phone. Your phone is a point of interest monster! It has all the latest POIs, constantly updated, we call that Google. Do that to either do Google search or go to Google maps and search there for a more geo-centric thing, no car is ever going to keep up with that. Not even close! I'm afraid that's just kinda the awkward we're in right now. That's why systems like Android Auto and Apple CarPlay have some really interesting potential, because they bring the freshness of phone connected Internet cloud data to an automotive interface. Now the pros of using an in-car system are that it's mounted nicely. It's got integrated buttons for voice command, big touch screens, and they do a nice touch on the Hyundai cars. The downside, of course, is that it's stale. Youre phone can really conquer that nicely. Now you didn't mention exactly what model year or what model of Hyundai you bought. But they are one of the companies that has very recently gotten aggressive about offering Android Auto and Apple CarPlay in their vehicles. That would be the best solution Anything that has do do with N-POIs is going to be second rate at best. I wouldn't sweat it too much. [MUSIC] Okay, when we come back we've got more emails about the true range of Hyundai's coming electric battery car and how to spot future classics among today's modern ride, when Cnet ONCARS returns. [MUSIC] [BLANK_AUDIO] [MUSIC] Back to CNet on Cars taking a bunch of your emails. This next one comes in from our friend Anton Wahlman who you may know from TheStreet.com. And he says, I listened to your piece on the Hyundai Ioniq. You mentioned 155 miles of range on the battery electric version. He says that's on the European test cycle. It'll be more like 105 to 110 when the car is certified in the U.S. He points out the Ioniq battery car's capacity is 28 kWh of electricity. Comparing that to a Chevy Volt, which has far more capacity, and therefore it's expected to have far more range, 200 miles. Good point, Anton. The 155 mile range that is being quoted by Hyundai on the Ionic, pure battery plug-in car, pure electric, is 155 EU cycle. US range, as you mentioned, probably gonna take a 50 mile haircut. And that puts us now into what I basically will refer to as the 100 mile club, cars that get about 100 miles on a charge, give or take, maybe a little bit less real world. Now, that's gonna be a problem because, as you mentioned, the Chevy Bolt is looming. At that 30,000 or so price range, and with a promised 200 mile range Not as much as the Tesla model S but dramatically more than the 100 milers. So there is a real issue, the way this will have to play out, of course, is to look at the affect of fuel prices. And we don't know yet where they'll be by late 2017 when the battery electric Ionic comes to market. Bottom line is fuel prices will make a big difference in the backdrop for Ioniq battery but it sure would help for them to get that capacity up between now and production release. [SOUND] Okay our last email comes in from Ron F in Houston who said I thought it could be interesting if you could put together a top five or maybe a top ten of cars today that will potentially be the classics of tomorrow. He asks, what made the cars of yesterday classics today? You can see so many old cars on the road, but not all of them give us that feeling of, wow, look at that. And he wants to know which cars will be the wow, look at that in, what, 20 years or so. This is a real fuzzy business. I'm by no means an expert on what makes a classic car a classic car, but I can give you a little bit of insights here. First of all, as you look at classics, they tend to often be breakthrough vehicles down the road. So a car today that really set a new category and really changed automotive thinking is one that everyone remembers fondly years down the road when it is in classic status. Now You can easily say a Toyota Prius fits that description. I'm not sure it's going to be a coveted classic in the future. So what else has to be in the mix? Among those are unique, coveted designs. Cars that simply look great. And people love the lines of them. You don't see as many breakthroughs there anymore, either. I mean no one's going to come back with mid-50s fins anytime soon. But those were among the styling cues that made hits in the past. Here's another one to look for, the cars that are affordable and totally fun to driver today. But people in their salad days and then later on when they're little older they have some box. They often wanna go back and buy a pristine one to relive their youth with the wind in their hair driving down highway one. That could be today's Miata or something of that nature. Then the other factor, and you hear this one banging around in collective car circles a lot is, people who buy collector cars later in life tend to buy the car their old man drove when the kid was 11. I don't know where that number comes from, it's kind of random, but you get the idea. When your, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 if you're car crazy at all that's when it's starting to happening in your head and you really obsess on the first thing you see, right? It's whatever interesting car your parents may have had. Unless, they were driving something boring. In which case, maybe it's what the neighbors had. So, there's some anecdotes, but gives you some idea of where the classics are. Good luck on predicting and I hope you find a winner. Thanks for watching. I hope you enjoyed this episode. Keep those E-mails coming. As you may have noticed, just about this entire episode was built off your suggestions. Just how we like it. Keeping it on point. It's OnCars@Cnet.com. And I'll see you the next time we see the stats. [MUSIC]

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