We are living like kings and queens in today’s automotive world.
Like a bunch of spoiled brats, we continue to be showered with new technological breakthroughs that take convenience to a whole new level. In this article, we look at five car features that have gained prominence over the past few decades.
These are car features you probably can no longer live without.
1. Head -Up Displays (HUD)
Virtually all new cars today have LCD panels in the dash as part of broader infotainment system, allowing you to control certain vehicular functions, play music, navigate, or see your rear view camera. Problem is, you often have to take your eyes off the road to access the controls and see the necessary data.
Head-up displays are increasingly sought-after and address that issue by showing certain features directly on your windshield, effectively reducing the risk of accidents. They can be had in cars as lowly as a Mazda 3 to opulence on wheels like the Mercedes S-Class.
According to our tech consultant at King Chevrolet (Longmont, CO), modern head-up display systems can project information such as speed, incoming and outgoing calls, turn-by-turn navigation, radio, and media information onto the windshield just below your line of sight. You can select which vehicle information to show as well as adjust the vertical position and brightness of the display.
2. Heated Steering Wheels
We are going to guess that you know what heated seats are. Yes, they are a bit indulgent, but on really cold days, you count your blessings that your seats warm up.
How about heated steering wheels? As with heated seats, it’s a pleasure to feel heat emanating from your cars steering wheel on cold days. No more wearing bulky gloves when driving in the sub-freezing temperatures.
3. Massaging Seats
Unless you have a phobia of malls (Is that a thing?), you’ve visited a Brookstone store and seen the rolling shiatsu chair massage. Perhaps you have even sat in one and thought “This feels great” as the rolling massage wheels run up and down your spine.
Well, there are quite a few cars today that have massage seats in them. Mercedes-Benz was one of the first to make it a common feature across its entire lineup, branding it “hot stone massage.” Once you experience quality messaging seats in a car, you’ll want every car you drive to have them.
4. Ventilated Seats
Just like having the peace of mind of being blessed with car seats that heat up on cold days, there’s no better feeling than hopping into a ventilated seat on a hot day.
Ventilated seats have small fans underneath to keep occupants cool until the AC kicks in. They can be really nice on scalding hot days when you want everything you touch to be cool.
5. Radar Cruise Control
Normal cruise control is nice, but radar-based adaptive cruise control is even better. These systems function just like regular cruise controls and maintain a car’s speed on the highway, but they also feature front-mounted lasers that sense the cars in front of you and adjust your speed accordingly to maintain a set distance.
Radar cruise control makes congested highway cruising a whole lot less stressful, don’t you think?
7 Modern Car Features That Make A Difference
Is your car up to snuff? You have a lot to consider if you’re planning to upgrade.
Expanding on our earlier piece on 5 Cool New Car Features you probably couldn’t live without, here are seven more that make a difference on the road.
Some of the features improve overall safety, while others enhance ride quality and driving enjoyment. Does your car have any of them?
1. Blindspot Monitoring
A disadvantage of driving bigger cars is that they usually possess glaring blindspots that make them hard to see out of. Thankfully, engineers have mostly remedied this problem with electronic blindspot monitoring systems that can sense when a car or another object is in your blindspot.
We contacted our tech consultant at Mullahey Chrysler (Paso Robles, CA) and learned that the Chrysler Blind Spot Monitoring (BSM) system, in particular, uses two radarbased sensors located inside the rear bumper to detect vehicles (automobiles, trucks, motorcycles, etc.) that enter the blind spot zones from the rear/front/side of the vehicle.
Like the system offered by most other automakers, BSM system sensors operate when the vehicle is in any forward gear or REVERSE and enters standby mode when the vehicle is in PARK. The detection zone covers approximately one lane on both sides of the vehicle.
2. Brake Vectoring
Brake vectoring is an interesting technology that helps a car maintain its grip on the road. It works by braking the inside of the wheel during turns, simulating a limited-slip differential.
Brake vectoring allows for a better distribution of torque, and therefore, more grip. Most of the time, the system works seamlessly, meaning you won’t feel it operating at all. All you experience when driving in slippery conditions are the results.
3. Electronic Limited-Slip Differentials
Mechanical Limited-Slip Differentials (LSD) are a proven technology that works well, but there is room for improvement.
High-performance electric differentials are the future because they are better able to handle different road conditions with appropriate amounts of slippage control. Depending on where you are in a corner, they can lock, unlock, and send power to a designated wheel that needs it most.
4. Dual-Clutch Transmissions
For car jocks, nothing beats the feeling of shifting gears yourself. Problem is that if you get a car with an old-fashioned stick shift, many of your friends and family are not going to be able to drive it. Enter the Dual-Clutch Transmission (DCT).
DCTs shifts are like an automatic but seamless and lightning quick. They take most of the hard work and, sadly, fun out of manuals.
5. Magnetic Ride Control
There’s a new type of suspension system on the road and it’s smart. Unlike the suspensions of yesteryear, Magnetic Adaptive Suspensions (MAS) uses a magnetic fluid that stiffens and softens based on the amount of electricity pulsing through it. Developed by General Motors, it’s incredibly clever and used on a lot of high-end performance cars, even from the likes of Ferrari.
6. Radar Cruise Control
Radar-based adaptive systems function just like regular cruise controls and maintain a car’s speed on the highway. However, they kick things up a notch by utilizing front-mounted lasers that detect the cars in front and adjust the speed accordingly to maintain a safe driving distance.
Go with radar cruise control when given the option.
7. Exterior Cameras
Backup cameras are required on all passenger cars sold in the US starting May 1st, 2018, which means you’ll have at least one camera in your new car whether you like it or not.
Cameras make parking and maneuvering through tight spaces a whole lot easier and safer for everyone. Some models even us intelligent algorithms to allow you to back up trailers like a pro.
12 Second-Tier Classic Muscle Cars To Consider For Your Collection, Part 1
They lurked and even prospered in the shadows of the Mustangs and Corvettes of the world.
During the automotive halcyon days of the late 1960s, there were all sorts of muscle cars being optioned with powerful big-block engines and performance accessories. Not all cars coming out of Detroit were quite so outrageous, though.
There were many smaller-engined cars — typically with small-block V-8s — that were sold by the thousands. Today, they make for great collector cars and you can get one for a fraction of what the big boys go for.
Ford Torino GT
Produced between 1968 and 1976, the Ford Torino was most popular as a 4-door and 2-door hardtop. The high-performance version Torino GT was made with the enthusiast crowd in mind and could be ordered with engines such as the 428 CID and 429 cu “Cobra-Jet.” The GT was also available as a 2-door “SportsRoof” and convertible.
The Demon was introduced in two versions. The first was an econo-car with a 198 CID slant-six and the second was a performance version packing a 340 cubic inch V8. In addition to having more power, the V8 Demon featured special paints and cartoon devil and trident decals.
According to Puente Hills Dodge (City of Industry, CA), the one everyone wanted was the 1971 Demon 340. It was equipped with a synchronized floor-shifted 3-speed manual transmission, all-wheel drum brakes, a Sure-Grip differential and dual exhaust. This particular Demon is still highly sought-after model today.
In 1964, Ford released a performance version of the Comet called the Mercury Comet Cyclone. That name was used until 1967, when the “Comet” part of the name was dropped and wildly-popular options such as GT, Spoiler and Cobra Jet were added. In 1971, the Cyclone lost its unique identity when it was integrated into the Montego line
The full-size Buick Wildcat was produced from 1962 to 1970 and took its name from a fiberglass-bodied 1953 concept car. It had a high-performance 325 hp version of the 401 cu in Nailhead V-8 motor — the “Wildcat 445”, as it was known — and produced 445 lb-ft of torque.
Chrysler 300 Hurst
In 1970, Chrysler built the “300 Hurst” with input from the uber-popular aftermarket parts manufacturer Hurst Performance. Only 501 units are believed to have been built. Today, genuine 300 Hurst models are worth in the low six-figures.
AMC Rebel Machine
In 1957, American Motors Corporation (AMC) introduced a beefy version of the Rambler called the “Rebel.” Powered by a big V-8, the Rambler Rebel was the first factory-produced lightweight muscle car. The Rebel name was eventually used on all performance versions of AMC car, and in 1967, the company’s entire intermediate line took the Rebel name.
5 Reasons Why Gasoline Prices Go Up In Spring, Summer
Before you jump to conclusions, know that the reasons are interesting and fairly straight forward.
Ah, the time-honored tradition of complaining about rising gas prices as the Christmas season comes to an end. Can you even remember a single period in history when this wasn’t the case? Probably not. Have you ever wondered why, though?
Contrary to public opinion, the reason has nothing to do with a grand conspiracy by “Big Oil” to gouge consumer for every dollar they have. The truth is that there is a very well-defined set of market- and regulatory-based factors that directly cause the price increase we see each year. Here are the five main reasons:
1. Higher Demand For Gasoline
At the tail end of winter, people tend to get out of their homes and drive more after hibernating during the cold months. As basic supply and demand economics has it, a higher demand for any commodity tends to drive a higher price for that commodity, and as a commodity, gasoline is no exception.
2. Refinery Maintenance Outages
The refineries that produce gasoline have planned, routine maintenance outages. When this occurs, the overall refining capacity of the refineries is reduced and this causes prices to increase. Again, simple Economics 101: supply and demand.
3. Transportation Constraints
The ongoing boom in domestic oil production in areas like the Permian Basin in West Texas, the Bakken Shale in North Dakota and the DJ Basin in Eastern Colorado has resulted in transportation issues.. The absence of pipelines means the crude oil literally has to be trucked out, and the increased cost in transportation is added to the price of gasoline at the pump.
4. Higher Crude Oil Prices
As our friends at King GMC (Ft. Collins, CO) remind us, given that crude oil is the precursor for gasoline, any significant increase in crude prices will inevitably result in higher prices at the pump.
5. Summer Blend Gasoline Switches
Refiners are required by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to produce both “winter blends” and “summer blends” of gasoline. The switch-over takes place each spring, and the simple fact of the matter is that it costs more to produce summer blends than it is to produce winter blends. In addition, due to federal regulations, refiners must produce more than 20 different summer blends, which must then be transported to specific regions of the country.
Don’t Over Think It
There you go — the reasons why gasoline prices tend to rise just about the same time when people start planning their summer vacations. Unfortunately for the tin foil hat wearers, none of them have anything to do with a grand conspiracy by greedy oil producers.
By the way, did you know that making your own gasoline is almost possible?