At the grand opening for the San Francisco Ford-Mercury-Lincoln dealership, we got a close look at the new Ford Flex. This big wagon offers retro styling, something that made the new Ford Mustang so popular. But the Flex doesn't share the same kind of heritage, making its success less of a sure thing. The Flex goes on sale this summer.
Although second from the bottom of the Toyota model lineup, the 2009 Toyota Corolla inherits tech that goes all the way up to Toyota's high-end Lexus brand. The optional navigation system on the Corolla uses a similar interface to that in the Lexus GS 460. And the Corolla also gets electric power steering, as does the Lexus. Unfortunately, the Corolla doesn't get the standard iPod integration found in the less-expensive Scion xD.
The body styling on the Corolla is unassuming, refusing to stand out like the Scion does. But as a small, four-door sedan, it offers usable cabin … Read more
When Toyota launched the Matrix in 2002, the advertising emphasized its technology features, including navigation and an AC power outlet, rare features for a car in this price bracket at that time. Since then, other inexpensive cars, such as the Mitsubishi Lancer and Honda Civic Si, offer advanced tech options, but the 2009 Toyota Matrix keeps up with the pack, updating its technology to include Bluetooth cell phone integration.
The funky shape of the Matrix also heralded Toyota's signature funky brand, Scion. The Matrix retains the odd body style, along with all the practical interior space that body design … Read more
Just like the Web, CNET is a world wide company, with local offices that cater to their own countries. We just did some catching up with our colleagues across the pond, and thought we would post links to all of their Car Tech videos. Watch host Rory Reid drive a set of cars where the steering wheel is on the wrong side.
In news releases for Japan and the U.S., Mazda announced that the 2009 RX-8 is currently being shipped to dealers. The Japanese version can be had as a Type RS, with a better sport suspension, while the U.S. equivalent is the R3 sport package. In each case, the RX-8 gets fitted with Bilstein shocks, while Mazda fills the front crossmembers with urethane foam, which should give the RX-8 a smoother ride and better handling. The Type RS and R3 cars also get Recaro seats and 19-inch wheels. Mazda also redesigned the gear ratios on the RX-8's six-speed … Read more
The small wagon, one of the most practical body styles, is back with the 2009 Volkswagen Jetta SportWagon. The small wagon mostly gave way to the more sporty hatchbacks in the 1990s, but Volkswagen seems confident in the body style, launching the wagon version of its Jetta sedan. There isn't much difference between the Jetta sedan and the Jetta SportWagon when it comes to the drive train or cabin electronics, which is really too bad. We were hoping for Volkswagen's next-generation navigation system, which we saw in the Passat CC at the 2008 Detroit auto show. And the … Read more
Porsche offered details on its four 2009 911 models, which go on sale in September, which include a new navigation system and a double-clutch transmission. The 911 Carrera Coupe, 911 Carrera Cabriolet, 911 Carrera S Coupe, and 911 Carrera S Cabriolet also get their flat six engines fitted with direct injection, resulting in increased efficiency and performance. The cars don't look substantially different on the outside, although they do get LED tail and parking lights, along with an adaptive headlight system.
The 3.6-liter flat six-cylinder engine in the 911 Carrera gets a 20-horsepower increase to 345, while the … Read more
Toyota techs up the 2008 Toyota 4Runner with an available Urban Runner Package, an experiment in integrating a portable navigation device into the car's dashboard. The navigation device is a TomTom, branded as a TomTom Toyota, and it does much more than simple navigation, potentially catapulting the 4Runner into the ranks of the most technically advanced cars. But the inclusion of the Urban Runner Package affects the 4Runner's electronics and cosmetic details, without changing the SUV's off-road capabilities. The ride height is unchanged, and our four-wheel-drive version included a locking center differential and a hill descent program. … Read more
One of the prettiest coupes around, the 2008 Audi A5 comes in with excellent handling, thanks to the standard Quattro all-wheel-drive system. Its 3.2-liter engine produces adequate power, but you'll have to step up to the Audi S5 for real fun. Our test car came with a smooth-shifting six-speed manual transmission in lieu of the available six-speed automatic.
We also had all the goodies in the cabin, including an excellent sounding Bang & Olufsen audio system and the Audi Music Interface, which let us connect a crazy variety of music devices to the car. We're also very … Read more
The 2008 Lexus GS 460 works as a good example of powertrain engineering, where Lexus took its existing GS model and dropped in the engine and transmission that it launched in the 2007 LS 460. We were very impressed with this powertrain in the LS for its fuel economy, and it loses nothing in the smaller GS 460. Of course, being a Lexus, this car also offers a very comfortable cabin with a solid array of technology, from a rich graphical interface to a superb-sounding Mark Levinson audio system. None of this cabin tech is particularly cutting-edge at this point, … Read more