New Ford Fusion what's changed and thankfully what hasn't.
We'll define all those levels of self driving you hear about.
And tackle your email on why your car got totaled and why gas caps move all over the place.
It's time to check the text.
We see cars differently.
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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, as you know, Ford's Fusion is a mainstay of the auto business.
Not just of their lineup And now, for the first time since it got that great face in 2013, it's now got some new tech and a heavy revision, new tech in the cabin and some new under pinning technology that Ford's never done in this car.
Let's find out what they've changed and what they didn't as we drive the 17 Fusion and check the tech.
Now when you have the most expensive looking face in non-expensive cars, you don't **** with it and Ford did it.
There are some minor sculpting differences if you put a 16 and 17 next to each other, but they're really hard to spot.
[SOUND] All the new Fusions have LED tail lights.
You've got to go to the higher trims to get LED headlights.
Now if you upgrade to this Fusion from one you've already got, you're not going to be lost.
Look at that instrument panel.
You've seen that before.
It's classic Ford stuff.
Same thing with the wheel.
Placement of controls.
SYNC 3 now infusion.
And it can also have SYNC Connect.
That means you have the new head unit, but it also has a two-way data radio built into the car.
That's all under a new FordPass app that will also soon grow its offerings into the areas of Ford concierge, parking space finder And other mobility services.
Self-parking's here and it was something Ford pioneered in the mass market.
This car will do it in three directions if you get a high trim Fusion.
Now some nice new creature comforts around the console here.
Most of the driven by the fact that they went to a rotary shifter.
Kind of like what we've seen for a few years in Jaguars but without all that up and down lifting hoo-hah.
This one is very simple for your gear position as you can see.
And so electronic drive controls behind it gives you a little bit more room for the cup holders, for the phone cubby.
Lots of engines on the 2017 Fusion, but not a lot of changes to them.
There's a 2.5 liter in line 4. Kind of the dunce of the group, but cheap and happy.
1.5L Ecoboost is the little guy.
There's a 2.0L version of that as well that can also be had with all-wheel drive.
New is a 2.7L V6 Sport model all-wheel drive only.
And two electrified cars, a hybrid and a plug-in.
One gets 42 MPG, the other gets 97 MPG and 20 miles of electric range.
By the way, no Fusions are available with a manual transmission.
Only a six speed automatic for gas or a CTD for the hybrid.
Okay, underway in the hybrid, the ride quality I would say is extremely comfortable and isolated.
This is not a car that has canyon carving in its DNA, even though that's what I'm doing right now.
But it's not really happy here.
Now, you may have noticed the extra battery in the back that gives this car it's additional electric range and it's part of what gives it some additional weight and kinda makes it feel a little bit heavy on its feet.
But here's the thing, for the person who Who is always pissing and moaning how cars aren't comfortable anymore, why can't they ride like they use to.
This one kinda rides like they use to.
One of the things it's lacking is any kind of a sport mode which typically defeats the efficiency goal of a hybrid but once in a while you might like that.
The nearest thing to it is this low range mode here which is more of a higher re jam.
Its not really a sport mode but it gets you about a third of the way there.
Now the plug in version of this hybrid I'm driving is almost identical except it has six times bigger battery and the 20 miles of pure EV range.
And notice both electrified cars have got some junk in the trunk.
Kind of a big old battery that takes up some space, know that.
Now on the road with the 1.5 liter eco boost non hybrid,what a difference a few hundred fewer pounds and a different power plant make.
This version of the new fusions just has a relative sharpness that the hybrid utterly lack.
Also helping is a true gear to transmission, six speed with paddles and a true sport mode rematch the throttle.
And no ones gonna confuse this particular car for a performance car.
That's where the Fusion Sport comes in but it's much more tossable, light on its feet, enjoyable to drive on enjoyable roads.
Something else I just noticed, in the hybrid there was a worrying Blowing sound that I couldn't quite figure out.
Apparently it's a cooling fan for the big battery pack behind you.
If you have one of the seats down, you notice it.
It's kind of intrusive.
This car doesn't have that.
Now once you're underway in a properly optioned '17 Fusion, you have lot of driver assist.
Full stop and go with adapted cruise.
Forward collision tech with pedestrian detection, first time for a Ford, active lane departure, blind spot alerts, and this interesting pothole mitigation they've done.
Or the adaptive suspension can feel a pothole coming and hold the tire from falling all the way in it.
As you can see, the Fusion's had a lot of subtle changes around the edges.
The core of the vehicle Hasn't changed that much, and that's understandable.
That's not what you do in this sedan segment.
You want to basically keep people from going to crossovers.
That's winning the day.
Interestingly, the biggest single push here in technology has been an adaptive driving parking assist and active road hazard mitigation.
It's a nice package, and pushing it pretty forward.
[SOUND] Get more details on this new '17 Fusion from Antoine Goodwin.
He was at the '17 Fusion unveil with me.
Focused on the new B6 Turbo Fusion Sport.
When I come back, levels of self driving.
The various tiers of how we get there.
Who decides those, and what do they mean, when CNet On Cars continues.
Now as you've probably noticed, we don't just get to the self driving automotive future, poof, overnight.
It doesn't happen that way.
We get there in a set of levels, steps.
But who defines those?
There are two bodies that have a lot of say about these levels in this Car Tech 101.
One of them is NHTSA, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration here in the United States.
The other one is SAE International Group, the Society of Automotive Engineers.
They have not just a different take on what the levels speak to but also a different number of levels.
So I'm gonna do what I can to slot these against each other and make them conform as much as possible.
Let's get started with the first level, which is not called level one.
But level zero, and zero for a good reason, because there is basically zero autonomy.
Now, you might have a car today that has anti-lock brakes, or stability control.
Those are fairly smart reactive systems, but they're not autonomous driving systems.
They do no drive toward autonomy in any real sense.
As a result, they're rolled un in level zero.
You're completely in charge of the car.
Next one of course, obviously, we get to level 1. Now, level 1 is easy to remember on the NHTSA side.
This is one system that is autonomous, even though the whole car isn't.
It could be adaptive cruise control that maintains speed and distance.
It could be active lane keep, that keeps you in your lane, with a little bit of assistance on the steering.
So you have one system that is helping you drive.
On the SAE side, they've got a very equivalent look at it.
They say yes, if there's any single system of driver assistance That, they also agree is level one.
They also say in no case should a drive rely on those systems.
They are still completely on deck as a driver, completely aware and fully responsible for every bit of that vehicle's action.
Now level two is where things start to really step into the autonomy world.
Easy to remember again because it means two or more systems working in concert in the NHTSA definition.
So if you have that lane keeping technology and adaptive cruise and they're both working at once you're in a Level 2 car in a Level 2 situation.
Over on the SAE side, they call this Partial Autonomy.
What that means is you have driver assistance, yet you still have to be in charge of driving.
We're not relieved of paying attention-
- For being responsible for the vehicle's overall driving.
You've got help but you can't rely on it and cede any responsibility.
Now level three is where we start to push into the future a bit.
Just the fewest cars have this right now.
On the NHTSA side it means a car that can take over driving in little bits and bursts, just for segments, and usually for the easiest segments of driving, like taking over in stop-and-go.
Maybe you can divert your attention a little bit.
On the SAE side they call this conditional autonomy.
It means the car take over some driving in the best conditions, not in the ones where it's more challenging, when the vehicle can do the easy part of driving.
And again, you can start to turn your attention away from driving Just a little bit, but not in any long gulps by either of these definitions.
Level four we start to get very controversal, do we even get here in the minds of many?
For NHTSA that means self driving door to door, the entire trip.
Except in unusual, could be handled by the vehicle.
It can take itself out of the garage, come to you, take you where you're going and go park itself.
Level 4 is big deal.
On the SAE side they acknowledge this as high autonomy.
Now this is still a vehicle that is going to have a wheel and pedals because around difficult or unusual conditions it is very likely going to punt and have to go back to you and say I just got confused.
You're in charge right now.
Level four is really interesting because there's a lot of arguments over whether we even can or should try get there.
Because it gets into the biggest discussion right now.
When and how is it fair for an autonomous car to go from driving itself to occasionally getting in trouble and throwing it back to you.
When you already had a chance to completely disengage from driving.
It's a very big discussion point.
Finally, level five and here's where SAE goes it alone with what they call full autonomy.
These guys don't grant that title easily.
This is complete autonomy to the extreme degree.
This is where you would get those Google cars that are being tested that have no wheel or pedals in the first place, a vehicle where you never are responsible for having to intercede and take over the driving task.
This is very cutting edge stuff.
And as you can see, NHTSA doesn't really have a layer that goes here specifically.
Now however you want to view the world, through either of these Level filters, they're both excellent tools to figure out what it is humans do in cars, where we are now.
What the next step is, and what step might be to far.
Okay, let's get to some of your emails.
My favorite part of the show.
First one comes in this week from Carson C., who says, I've noticed that a lot of electric cars like a Nissan Leaf or a Chevy Bolt that's on the way don't have geared transmissions.
Why is that?
He says, and would it be an advantage for them to have one in those cars Carson.
Okay, well, Carson, the reason that electric cars don't have transmissions is because electric cars have electric motors.
Electric motors deliver power and torque very different than a combustion engine, and, frankly, they don't need so much of a crutch, which is really all a transmission is.
An electric motor has so much torque almost from one RPM it doesn't need to rave up.
To get a lot of torque which is what really moves the car, as a result it doesn't need a little stump puller low first gear to get going.
The second thing is an electric motor has a very wide range of RPMs it functions in.
Much wider than your average combustion engine.
As a result it doesn't necessarily need second, third, fourth To allow it to have to hit a sweet spot.
It as a great big fat sweet spot, and therefore needs fewer gears to focus on a certain range of RPMs.
Let me give you an example here.
Here's a chart of an electric car versus a combustion engine car.
As you can see from the very beginning the electric car has
Gobs of torque from almost zero RPM, where the combustion car has to rev up to get to its torque peak.
Now, both begin to peter out in terms of their peak torque as you get into the mid thousands of RPMs.
At this point, the combustion engine is done revving, and about to hit red line and blow apart.
And then it's got to go down.
Catch a gear and rev back up again.
That's where the electric motor car can typically just keep revving for thousands more RPMs.
So there's two big reasons, the electric car doesn't need a whole smattering of gears.
A wide, fat band of torque up here and a whole lot of RPM range even beyond that.
Two major ways that it can dispense with most gears.
Most electric cars will have just a very simple Planetary reduction to match rpm to road wheel, but that's not the same as a big old six, seven, eight, nine, ten cog gear box.
Okay, our next email comes in from Gabe S, who has a question about diesel gate.
He says, 'I recall not long ago, On Cars made an episode that detailed the top five grossing car companies.
He says, I recall then it was Toyota first, VW 2nd at that time.
What he wants to know is you mentioned in that episode, I did, that VW may one day become the number one world carmaker, he wants to know, with the diesel scandal in the news for the last few months, where does VW currently fall?
Well, Gabe, first of all, thank you for spelling c/net with a pipe symbol, almost no one ever does that.
[LAUGH] I notice things like that.
Secondly, let's take a look at where VW versus Toyota, that horse race, has gone before, during and since diesel gate.
I've got some real basic data here for you Is some charts.
Now, if you want to take a look at this world-wide passenger car horse race, we go back to mid 2015 just before Dieselgate hit the news.
And as you can see, VW is trending a little bit ahead of Toyota.
And the numbers are pretty slight here, about 5 million cars each.
Then you get to the end of 2015.
Now a few months after dieselgate, you can see Toyota finished the year at about 10 million worldwide while Volkswagen was just under the 10 million mark.
But still, not a stark difference here.
And by the way, both these car companies were down 2%
In the year from the year before, just FYI.
Now the most recent numbers, Q1 2016.
The most recent we have, as of this taping.
Show you that, look who's pulled ahead.
Least at the current run rate, VW is up at two and a half million versus just under two and a half.
The numbers have been nip and tuck the entire time.
The takeaway from this is as follows.
I know many of you would like me to say.
Car shoppers are sticking ti to V-W to punish them for diesel gate and sticking it to them on the show room floor.
But we're not.
he numbers don't bear that out.
These companies probably would have been in the exact same nip and tuck, even if it was a see saw it wouldn't be dramatically different.
What's happening is V-W was going to feel it instead in terms of government fines.
Civil settlements, the brand damage, the cost of fixing cars, and/or buying them back that's gonna hit VW a lot harder.
But you won't see it in the sales figures.
And believe me, every few thousand cars matters to even a giant car maker in an industry with such small profit margins.
[UNKNOWN] at this point.>> In a moment more of your emails including, why gas caps are never in the same place.
When CNet on Cars returns.
[Cars driving fast] 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.
Next email comes in from Colin W, who's got a tale of woe I'm afraid.
[SOUND] He says my 2010 Lexus is250 with 52,000 miles on it.
Pretty young car, got into a bad accident the other day.
He says another car made a left turn as he was driving through an intersection.
And that was the collision where you can see the damage there to his car.
The other car doesn't look real great either.
His question is, the insurance company told me today that my car, his Lexus IS.
Just 52,000 miles, just five or six years old.
He says, how can I figure out the value of my totaled car?
Sounds like you're either thinking about keeping the car and selling it, and/or arguing about the totaling.
All right, Colin.
Totaling of cars is real controversial.
It's not much fun when it happens to you.
I mean, here you are with a broken car, and the last thing you wanted them to say, it's not worth fixing but we'll give you what the car's worth.
Which doesn't answer your need for a car.
Totalling is basically when the insurance company looks at a vehicle and says, look, the cost to repair this thing is more than the car is worth than it's fair market value, what it's worth on the market right now at a retail level.
As a result, we're not gonna go throw good money after bad.
We're not gonna spend ten grand to fix a $5000 car, for example.
Now, here's the thing.
Insurers differ this is a black art in terms of how they decide and estimate FMD and cost to repair.
They've all got different rules and sort of formulas on that.
Some insurance companies are happy to use B grade parts from after market manufacturers Others maybe are gonna price it using OEM parts that raise the cost of the repair quite a bit.
Know that the insurance adjuster who came out and looked at your car does have wiggle room in many cases.
My 88 Crown Vic is a car that on paper is worth, what, a couple thousand dollars under many of the guides out there.
And when it got bumped into recently by a truck and did $1500 in damage to the grill, nothing major, they wanted to total it.
Until the adjuster came out and saw the car.
He realized yeah, this doesn't make sense, this is not a car that should be totalled even if the book says it should.
And they did the repair instead.
Your car has been damaged pretty heavily though.
The books that I'm referring to are three major ones.
KBB, Kelley Blue Book and one those blue book.
The NADA Guide which is the auto dealer association guide.
That's another one it's pretty well known.
And one is the little last well known is a real industry insiders tool called the Black Book.
It's focuses very much on the values at whole sale which is where dealers buy a lot of their used cars.
To put on the lot.
So that's what totalling is all about.
Sorry your car is involved in it, but when the insurance company finds that there is a mismatch they don't want to throw good money after bad, in their mind.
[SOUND] Okay our last for this show comes in from Andrew H..
Who says, my brother and I were at a gas station recently when he pulled next to me at the pumps and asked why his 2012 Toyota Camry's gas tank was on the driver's side?
But my 2011 VW GTI's gas tank is on the passenger side, you mean the gas cap of course.
He also recalls, my dad had a 70s Corvette, where the gas tank was neither left or right.
The cap was in the center.
So why is it the gas tanks on different sides of the car.
Okay, Andrew this gas cap thing's really interesting they can show up anywhere in the car as you mentioned, left, right, center, center under the license plate, dual caps.
You've got two fillers on top of the older Jaguar XJ's.
Porche's put them up on the front fender.
Gas caps can go wherever they want because there is no rule about this.
Automaker engineers have broad latitude about the location of the cap and more importantly, The filler pipe it connects to.
All they gotta to do is have gravity till the gas runs down it.
And they are kinda of going to move that around to make room other more important things in that part of the car.
So its kind of willy-nilly.
Now its easy to know what side your gas cap is on in the last 15 to 20 years, because just about every car maker out there has the little chevron.
On the gas gauge that'll tell you either left or right.
You see that little triangle sitting there.
And that's there to remind you where the cap is.
Very nice when you're driving a car that's not familiar to you in particular.
For all of this though, the location of the cap and filler, and the little arrows that tell you where it is, I don't find any federal regulation language that says any of this has to happen or happen a certain way.
It's pretty much one of the last things in car design that remains the Wild West.
Thanks for watching.
Hope you enjoyed this episode.
You know where to find more.
It's CNETonCars.com Also within Road Show at the roadshow.com, CNET's new automotive site, and of course find us on YouTube.
And when you do resubscribe, we changed our channel recently.
I'll see you next time we check the tech.