Off to a very good start, the totally redesigned 2022 Acura MDX has taken home a best-possible Top Safety Pick + rating from the U.S. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
The MDX garnered a Top Safety Pick + ranking by achieving “GOOD” ratings in all its crashworthiness tests, including the demanding passenger-side small overlap test. The MDX also earned a “SUPERIOR” rating for its Collision Mitigation Braking System (CMBS), plus “GOOD” for its standard JewelEye LED headlamps.
A full assortment of standard AcuraWatch advanced driver assistive and automated safety technologies allowed the MDX to earn such high marks, including the just-noted CMBS, plus Adaptive Cruise Control with Low-Speed Follow and Road Departure Mitigation.
Acura is already offering up to $1,000 in additional incentives on the new 2022 MDX, while CarCostCanada members purchasing new 2020 models (no 2021 model was offered) are experiencing average savings of more than $6,000. The Japanese luxury brand is also offering factory leasing and financing rates from zero percent on 2020 models.
Find out how a CarCostCanada membership can save you thousands when purchasing your next new vehicle, by informing you about all the latest manufacturer offers, and by providing you with dealer invoice pricing that can keep thousands in your wallet when it comes time to negotiate your deal. Also, make sure to download their free app, so you can always have the most critical car buying info close at hand in order to save as much money as possible.
Story credits: Trevor Hofmann
Photo credits: Acura
Who could have known? Porsche 911 owners drive too fast. Even in the wet. With such knowledge at hand it only made sense for the German luxury brand to protect its most valuable assets, the thousands…
Who could have known? Porsche 911 owners drive too fast. Even in the wet. With such knowledge at hand it only made sense for the German luxury brand to protect its most valuable assets, the thousands of dedicated customers that loyally come back time and time again to renew their pledge at the 911 altar.
Along with the introduction of the completely redesigned 2020 911 at the Los Angeles auto show in November of last year, Porsche announced a new Wet Mode designed to assist would-be owners that get over their heads in standing water.
As it turns out, the deep end that can cause a 911 or most any other sports car shod in ultra-wide 21-inch performance tires to lose grip can be merely a single millimetre (0.04 inches) in depth, and it doesn’t need to be raining either, so don’t think the optical sensors used for your car’s rain-sensing wipers can be reallocated to detect sheets of water covering the road.
Porsche’s new Wet Mode can detect standing water, however, via acoustic sensors positioned within the front wheel arches just behind the tires. Rather than see water on the road, Wet Mode sensors listen for water spray, and if decibel levels get too strong the 911’s multi-information display will suggest you turn on Wet mode via a button on the new “button bar” above the centre console, or if equipped with the available Sport Chrono Package, by twisting the steering wheel-mounted “DRIVE MODE” selector.
That would be the rotating dial and “Sport Response” button just below the steering wheel’s right-side spoke, which can also be used to select “Normal”, “Sport”, ‘Sport Plus’ and ‘Individual’ driving modes. For the 2020 911, and without doubt more Porsche models to come, it also includes the new Wet mode, allowing drivers to select a safer setting when traveling over water-soaked pavement that could cause aquaplaning, or hydroplaning.
“Wet Mode was developed to provide the driver with consistent support in wet conditions,” said August Achleitner, a.k.a. “Mister 911” who headed up development of the new 911 and took part in its launch just before retiring. “It does not restrict the maximum power of the engine or limit the top speed, and should therefore also not be used as insurance for driving too fast in very wet conditions. Instead, it should be seen as an assistance system in the truest sense.”
Achleitner, who’s been with Porsche since 1983, earned his alternate title by being responsible for 911 model series development since 2001, and interestingly Wet mode was actually first developed back in the ‘90s.
When put into play, Wet mode applies more sensitive preconditioned settings to all of the 911’s driver assistive systems, such as Porsche Stability Management (PSM), Porsche Traction Management (PTM), and the car’s active aerodynamics, before combining their collective capability toward wet weather management. Specifically, the active variable rear spoiler extends to its performance position at just 90 km/h (sooner than in dry conditions), adding downforce to the rear tires, while frontal cooling air flaps open to increase downward pressure over the front wheels.
While the engine doesn’t relinquish any power, Wet mode delivers thrust more evenly in order to minimize engine torque buildup, with the end result being maximum traction at each wheel. What’s more, if piloting an all-wheel drive 4S model, additional torque gets transferred to the front axle for even more balanced distribution.
Of course, both Sport mode and the PSM Off function can’t be activated in Wet mode, while the new eight-speed PDK transmission’s shift strategy and the electronically controlled rear differential’s locking ratios automatically adapt to a smoother, more linear power delivery too.
Porsche claims “more confident handling” when using Wet mode in inclement conditions, and also states that Wet mode is ideal for snowy conditions as well.
While driver assistive technology this effective would be welcome in any car, it’s especially important in a sports car as capable as the new 911 that, thanks to 443 horsepower and 390 lb-ft of torque behind the rear axle, can sprint from standstill to 100km/h in just 3.7 seconds in Carrera S guise, or 3.6 seconds when benefiting from the Carrera 4S model’s all-wheel drivetrain, or 3.5 and 3.4 seconds respectively with the Sport Chrono Package, before attaining top speeds of 308 and 306 km/h (190 and 191 mph) apiece.
To learn more about the new 2020 911’s Wet mode watch the video below, and also remember to browse through our photo gallery above for some fabulous shots of water spraying behind the new 911 during wet weather testing.
Learn how the Porsche Wet Mode works (1:43):
Nissan’s Altima has long placed mid-pack in popularity amongst the dozen or so mid-size family sedans available to Canadian new car buyers, but the dramatically styled new 2019 model, featuring standard…
Nissan’s Altima has long placed mid-pack in popularity amongst the dozen or so mid-size family sedans available to Canadian new car buyers, but the dramatically styled new 2019 model, featuring standard all-wheel drive, should help move it closer to the top-selling Toyota Camry and Honda Accord, a target made more achievable due to key rivals Ford and GM cancelling their third- and fifth-place Fusion and Chevy Malibu respectively.
Certainly the mid-size family sedan segment has taken a beating in recent years, but imported brands are staying the course while domestics are pulling up shop and walking away from the entire car market despite comparatively strong sales. Ok, it’s not as if Ford and Chevy have been selling anywhere near as many Fusions and Malibus as Toyota and Honda delivered Camrys and Accords, the latter models’ numbers reaching 14,574 and 13,504 units respectively during model year 2017 (2018 numbers have yet to be tallied), but the 9,736 Fusions and 8,152 Malibus certainly proved stronger than the 7,827 Hyundai Sonatas or 6,626 Altimas sold during the same 12 months, or for that matter the 4,496 Kia Optimas, 4,145 VW Passats, 2,842 Chrysler 200s (a domestic sedan that has also been cancelled), 2,541 Mazda 6s, 2,451 Subaru Legacys (the only other car on this list with standard AWD), and 695 Buick Regals (strange GM chose to cancel the Malibu instead of this sales laggard).
Dubbed Intelligent AWD, the Altima’s four-wheel propulsion system utilizes an advanced torque split design that automatically distributes power from 100 percent up front and zero at the rear, all the way to an even division of 50 percent front to rear. The bias depends on road conditions and resulting wheel slippage, with the default system being front-wheel drive to save on fuel and reduce emissions. Additionally, Nissan claims its new Intelligent AWD works seamlessly with the Altima’s standard limited-slip differential, as well as its Hill Start Assist system.
Powering it all is a 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine that’s good for 182 horsepower and 178 lb-ft of torque, which is 9 horsepower and 3 lb-ft stronger than the engine it replaces. Nissan promised smoother and quieter operation, plus better efficiency than the outgoing four-cylinder, and I must say it lived up to such claims during my test. Smooth is probably the best word to describe the updated powertrain, but much of this has to do with the revised Xtronic continuously variable transmission (CVT) that’s ideal for drivers looking for relaxed comfort, ease of use and efficient operation.
In default mode it goes about its duties with near seamless perfection, the CVT’s “seams”, or rather shift points, only added in order to mimic the feel of a conventional automatic transmission, as has been en vogue in continuously variable camps for a number of years. It all results in truly realistic shift intervals that never had me missing an old-school automatic. Driven modestly at legal city and highway speeds the Altima’s CVT is a perfect match for the equally modest powerplant, plus Nissan includes a Sport button on the backside of the shift lever for maximizing performance. It allows revs to climb higher before a more assertive “gear change”, although with no manual mode available driver engagement is minimal.
This brings up an important point. Nissan’s U.S. division offers the Altima with steering wheel paddle shifters and a sportier 2.0-litre variable-compression-ratio turbocharged four-cylinder engine good for up to 248 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque, but due to Nissan Canada’s insistence on standard AWD this FWD-only model won’t be heading north of the 49th.
More importantly in this class, the new CVT features an expanded lock-up area for enhanced fuel economy, this helping the new Altima achieve a claimed 9.1 L/100km city, 6.5 highway and 7.9 combined in S and SV trims, or 9.3 city, 6.7 highway and 8.1 combined in Platinum or as-tested Edition One trims.
Unfortunately I had no time to head up one of Vancouver’s snowcapped local mountains to test out the all-wheel drive this time around, but the aforementioned system certainly gripped well in wet weather and there was no noticeable slip during takeoff. Adhesion was further aided by standard traction and stability control systems, while Active Understeer Control and Intelligent Trace Control enhanced the Altima’s admirable mechanical cornering capability, plus the car’s comfort quotient was improved upon via Intelligent Ride Control.
Balancing ride quality and handling has been an Altima strength for as long as I can remember, memories of which go back to the third-generation model’s Canadian launch program in 2001, and to this end the mid-size segment’s usual fully independent front strut and rear multi-link suspension setup takes care of comfort and control, with the expected stabilizer bars at each end and dual-pinion electric powered steering providing direction. The combination works well, no doubt helped along via my tester’s aforementioned 19-inch alloys on 235/40 VR-rated all-season tires.
Features in mind, the 2019 Altima starts at just $27,998 plus freight and fees for base S trim, $31,498 for the SV, $34,998 for Platinum, and $35,998 for the 250-example limited-production launch version dubbed Edition One. I’ll go into some of the standard and optional features available with other trims in a moment, but being that I’m actually covering this special model I should first mention that those just noted 19-inch alloys look really nice thanks to a matte grey finish and large chunky spokes.
The Edition One also gets a larger than usual body-colour rear spoiler, “EDITION ONE” exterior badges on the lower portion of the front doors, ground lighting that emanates from below each side sill, illuminated “ALTIMA” metal kick plates, and really upscale grey carpeted floor mats with large “ALTIMA EDITION ONE” logos embroidered in a lighter silver/grey tone, along with the Platinum model’s standard feature set. By the way, you can find out all 2019 Altima pricing details at CarCostCanada, including dealer invoice pricing and rebate info that could save you thousands.
Those Platinum features pulled up to Edition One trim include interior accent lighting, wood-tone inlays on the instrument panel, leather upholstery, two-way driver’s memory, a four-way power-adjustable front passenger’s seat, an Intelligent Around View Monitor, navigation, voice recognition for navigation and audio, SiriusXM-powered NissanConnect Services featuring compatible smartphone and smartwatch access to functions like remote engine start/stop, remote door lock/unlock, valet alert, etcetera, Door to Door Navigation that provides seamless transfer from a personal device using NissanConnect to the car’s infotainment interface, Premium Traffic that improves ETA accuracy, SiriusXM Traffic and Travel Link, nine-speaker Bose premium audio, and Traffic Sign Recognition.
Items found on the Platinum and Edition One that get pulled up from SV trim include advanced LED headlamps with signature LED daytime running lights (DRLs) and High Beam Assist (HBA), plus LED fog lights, dual chrome exhaust finishers, acoustic laminated glass, a heated leather-wrapped steering wheel, a leather-wrapped shift knob, Intelligent Cruise Control (ICC), an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a HomeLink universal garage door opener, rear parking sensors, a powered moonroof, satellite radio, dual-zone automatic climate control, rear passenger air conditioning vents, Blind Spot Warning (BSW) with Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA), Pedestrian Detection added to the otherwise standard Intelligent Emergency Braking (IEB), Intelligent Lane Intervention, Rear Intelligent Emergency Braking, and last but hardly least ProPILOT Assist semi-automated driving capability, an exclusive Nissan Intelligent Mobility technology that can totally take over steering duties for short durations on the highway, and aid steering (if you keep your hands on the wheel) for as long as you want, by helping to keep your Altima centered within its lane. While ProPILOT Assist is engaged, ICC gets used to maintain a safe distance behind vehicles ahead, resulting in one of the more advanced semi-self-driving systems currently available.
Advanced driver assistance in mind, the new Altima not only comes standard with Intelligent Emergency Braking, but it also features standard Intelligent Forward Collision Warning (I-FCW), Intelligent Driver Alertness (I-DA), and Rear Door Alert that reminds you of anything/anybody left in the back seat when exiting your car, while additional base S trim features pulled up to our top-line Altima include the aforementioned automatic Xtronic CVT and AWD, plus remote engine start, proximity-sensing keyless access, pushbutton ignition, an electromechanical parking brake, auto on/off headlights, LED turn signals within the side mirror housings, LED taillights, active grille shutters, a UV-reducing solar glass windshield, an Advanced Drive-Assist display within the otherwise analogue Fine Vision electroluminescent gauge cluster, an 8.0-inch infotainment touchscreen with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, a backup camera, Bluetooth hands-free smartphone connectivity with streaming audio, hands-free text messaging, Siri Eyes Free voice recognition, two illuminated USB ports and two of the smaller USB-C ports, plus more, while the standard menu continues with micro-filtered air conditioning, heated front seats, an eight-way powered driver’s seat, etcetera.
When climbing inside I was first impressed with the Altima’s clean, contemporary design and better use of higher quality premium materials when compared to the outgoing Altima. When seated up front, most surfaces above the waistline are made from soft-touch synthetic, the dash and instrument panel particularly attractive in their minimalist design, albeit the woodgrain used for the latter feels a lot more genuine than it looks. Fortunately there’s no wood on the door panels, only extensions of the tasteful satin-silver accents used for the instrument panel and centre console, plus some French-stitched leatherette over soft padding found on the inserts and armrests. Nissan uses this treatment for the primary instrument hood too, not to mention down each side of the lower console, providing a premium treatment that’s not unlike its larger, fancier Maxima sedan.
A personal favourite item is the thick leather-wrapped steering wheel rim that gets a slightly flattened bottom section for a sporty look and feel. It’s enhanced with Nissan’s usual high-quality switchgear, while the aforementioned instrument cluster is bright, clear and filled with a large colour TFT multi-information display at centre. This said it’s up against a couple of rivals that feature fully digital gauges in top trims, but I doubt this will be a deal-breaker for the majority of mid-size sedan buyers.
The infotainment touchscreen sits high atop the centre stack in the usual fixed tablet design, and as tested comes crammed with all the top-tier features mentioned earlier. Along with the usual tap gesture control, you can pinch and swipe its surface in certain applications, such as the navigation system’s map, but I must say I wasn’t certain of this at first try because it took so long for the system to respond. Some of its dulled reaction seemed to be due to having just started up the car, but even when it allowed me to zoom in and out or move the map around it wasn’t as immediately engaging or as smooth as some other systems in the class. The map graphics are very nice, however, and its route guidance worked flawlessly, while the infotainment system’s interface is well thought out on the whole.
Likewise, the clarity of the display is excellent, as is its depth of colour and contrast, this made especially noticeable in the audio system’s satellite radio panel that provides colourful station branding and album cover artwork, while the Bose system’s sound quality was very good. Also impressive, my tester’s parking monitor was a split-screen design with a regular reverse camera featuring active guidelines to the left and an overhead 360-degree surround camera system to the right, a best of both worlds scenario. This, combined with the previously noted rear sensors, made parking very easy.
Also positive, the Altima’s “Zero Gravity” seats are wonderfully comfortable, with good lower back support plus the addition of two-way driver’s lumbar support that fit the small of my back almost perfectly. What’s more, I was pleased with the amount of rake and reach found in the tilt and telescopic steering column, allowing me to set up the driving position ideally, which isn’t the case with some rivals.
Rear seat roominess is very good too, with 10-plus inches of space between the front seatback to my knees when the former was set up for my five-foot-eight frame, plus I had plenty of room to stretch the legs out with my feet below the front seat. Likewise, the Altima offered about five inches of open air next to my outside hips and shoulders, plus about three inches above my head, which means its rear quarters should be roomy enough for most adults.
An armrest with cupholders folds down at centre, while additional rear seat amenities include reading lights overhead and, as noted earlier, two sizes of USB ports on the backside of the front centre console. Other than a set of air vents on that same console, that’s about it for niceties in back, which means that fans of rear seat heaters need not apply. I was also surprised to find hard plastic rear door uppers, not to mention the same hard plastic used for most of the mid and lower door panels. Not only is this rare for the mid-size sedan segment no matter the trim level, but the outgoing Altima featured soft-touch door uppers in back. Only a small portion of this 2019 model’s door insert comes fitted with padded leatherette, along with the armrest, which results in a lower level of rear seat luxury than most in this segment. In fact, even this full-load Altima Edition One’s rear doors are no nicer than what you’d find in an entry-level compact car, and therefore they’re disappointing.
Moving farther back still, some might be put off by the new Altima’s lack of trunk space. At 436 litres (15.4 cubic feet) it’s larger than most compacts, but it’s smaller than the Camry, Accord and others it’s up against. Release pulls allow 60/40-split rear seatbacks to tumble forward when more space is needed for transporting longer cargo, but this is par for the course in this class. Unusually good, however, is a front passenger’s seatback that can be fully reclined to house extra-long cargo.
Speaking of space up front, I could have used more cubbies on or under the centre console, and the glove box isn’t as cavernous as the outgoing model’s, but kudos to Nissan for correcting a constant complaint of mine, the overhead sunglasses holder now fits all types of shades thanks to the removal of a nosepiece holder that was previously ridiculously oversized.
As for styling, the new 2019 Altima’s exterior design speaks for itself, and most should find its assertive new face to their liking. Its predominant feature is a go-big-or-go-home version of the brand’s Vmotion 2.0 grille, surrounded by those sleek new LED headlamps mentioned earlier, unless choosing the base S model that comes with a set of projector-type halogen headlights that are just as sleek, albeit not as bright, while the rest of the car portrays an athletic stance from front to back.
All said, the new Altima delivers big on style, interior design and execution up front, comfort and passenger roominess all-round, plus infotainment, handling, fuel economy, and advanced driver assistance systems, while its safety rating should at the very least measure up to its peers. I don’t think Nissan has hit the new Altima out of the park, meaning the Camry and Accord should still reign supreme in the mid-size sedan segment, but it should satisfy most current Altima owners that aren’t already planning to upgrade to a Murano, Pathfinder, or some other crossover SUV like so many of today’s consumers are. Then again, the all-season stability and safety that comes with standard AWD combined with the unmatched security of a lockable trunk should be considered, and the new Altima is one of few vehicles on today’s mainstream volume-branded market providing both.
A key selling point amongst family buyers is safety, and there’s no safer minivan than the new Honda Odyssey. This point was made clear after the latest Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS)…
A key selling point amongst family buyers is safety, and there’s no safer minivan than the new Honda Odyssey.
This point was made clear after the latest Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) crash test results were tallied up and the Honda Odyssey earned highest marks for the critical passenger-side small-overlap front test.
To be clear, the Odyssey achieved best-possible “Good” scores for all Crashworthiness categories, also including the driver-side small-overlap front test, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength, plus head restraints and seats, while the ease of use of its child seat anchors (LATCH) was rated Good + thanks to extra latch locations.
Also impressive, under the Crash Avoidance and Mitigation category the Odyssey achieved a best-possible “Superior” rating for front crash prevention when outfitted with optional equipment.
The Odyssey’s only area of weakness is minor, its headlights having earned a second-best “Acceptable” score with “only certain trims/options.”
Only the Kia Sedona achieved a higher headlight rating, with the Toyota Sienna and Chrysler Pacifica also managed Acceptable scores for headlights. This said the Sedona showed “not rated” for the passenger-side small-overlap front category, which is probably better than the Pacifica’s Acceptable grade and the Sienna’s second-from-bottom “Marginal” rating.
To clarify what this means, the Pacifica and Sienna didn’t achieve as high a rating because the structure around their front passenger compartment collapsed inward during the crash test, resulting in parts of the body structure entering the passenger area. According to the IIHS report, the structural deformation with the Pacifica didn’t intrude inward enough to harm the front passenger, which allowed for its Acceptable rating, but the Sienna’s body structure intruded far enough into the front passenger compartment to potentially injure legs and feet, resulting in the below standard Marginal ranking (check the video below for actual footage of the crash tests to see how each van fares).
Speaking of Marginal scores, the Pacifica got the “M” word for the ease of use of its child seat anchors, whereas the Sienna improved on the Pacifica by getting an Acceptable ranking for child seat anchors yet only managed to eke out an Acceptable score for the driver-side small-overlap front test.
That equals six Good, one Good +, and one Acceptable rating for the Honda Odyssey; six Good and one Acceptable ranking for the Kia Sorento; five Good marks, two Acceptable and one Marginal for the Chrysler Pacifica; and lastly four Good scores, three Acceptable, and one Marginal for the Toyota Sienna.
The system the IIHS uses for tallying up its totals resulted in a second-best possible Top Safety Pick rating for all minivans except for the Toyota Sienna, which didn’t earn any special accommodation.
Thanks to IIHS crash tests, it’s clear to see which minivan delivers the best possible safety for you and your family. With some minor improvements to its standard headlights, we can be certain the Honda Odyssey would easily attain revered Top Safety Pick + status, and in the process become the only minivan to do so.
Before you go make sure to watch this excellent video put out by the IIHS, showing the actual crash tests of the Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna and Chrysler Pacifica minivans:
New crash tests and LATCH ratings for minivans – IIHS News (6:32):
Last year Nissan announced its new “Rear Door Alert” (RDA) technology would soon be available on the 2018 Pathfinder, and now the Japanese automaker has added to that news by announcing the system…
Last year Nissan announced its new “Rear Door Alert” (RDA) technology would soon be available on the 2018 Pathfinder, and now the Japanese automaker has added to that news by announcing the system will be expanded to yet more models, and eventually to all four door Nissan vehicles.
Along with the three-row Pathfinder mid-size SUV, which was an obvious first choice for the brand considering it’s most likely to be purchased by families with children and pets, Nissan will introduce its RDA tech to the upcoming 2019 Rogue compact SUV and all-new 2019 Altima mid-size sedan. By model year 2022, Nissan will further expand the RDA offering to include “all four-door trucks, sedans and SUV nameplates,” according to a press release.
“I’m proud to see Nissan lead the way by making Rear Door Alert standard on more models,” said Marlene Mendoza, one of the Nissan mechanical engineers responsible for creating the new technology. “What started as a chat with my colleague, Elsa Foley, is now innovative technology being adopted in more Nissan models. It is a testament to Nissan’s culture.”
Rear Door Alert begins monitoring the rear door switches as soon as the SUV is unlocked, and if a back door has been opened and then closed again it retains the “memory” for later when the driver arrives at a destination and turns off the engine.
When parking a vehicle with the RDA system installed, an alert will show up on the primary instrument cluster’s multi-information display informing the driver not to forget whatever was previously placed in the back seat. If this prompt is ignored, by the vehicle’s rear doors not being reopened after the driver’s door has been closed, the horn will deliver a series of short, distinct chirps to get the driver’s attention.
As we’ve all learned from saddening news of child and pet fatalities due to being left in the back seats of cars, the temperature inside of a parked vehicle can increase to dangerous levels quickly on a warm day. The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently noted that even moderate outside temperatures of about 15 degrees Celsius, can quickly heat up to more than 43 degrees Celsius inside a car.
“The idea is if you open a rear door, whether to put a child or a package in the rear seat, the vehicle will help alert you when you get to your destination that you may want to check the rear seat,” added Mendoza. “We’ve built in enough time that you don’t have to rush, but if you don’t open the rear door again when you get out of the vehicle, we want to think for a moment about what you may have put in the back seat.”
Of course, many Nissan owners don’t have children, aging parents or grandparents, pets, or anyone else that shouldn’t be left behind, so therefore it’s possible for customers override Rear Door Alert completely or merely limit the reminders to the instrument cluster alone.
“The idea was inspired when I accidentally left a pan of lasagna in the back seat of my car overnight,” added Mendoza, who is a mother of three, and was pregnant when struck with the concept. “The worst thing was the car smelled for days, but it made me ask myself, ‘What if I left something far more important back there?’”
Of note, General Motors introduced something similar to the RDA system called “Rear Seat Reminder” with the 2017 GMC Acadia, and has been rolling out the system on other models since then. This said Nissan’s RDA should be even more effective than GM’s, because the Acadia gives no warning once its driver has left the vehicle.
Toyota announced the new safety features in the Lexus LS in Japan this week calling it “the safest car in the world.” Toyota says “(the LS) aims to provide world-leading safety performance through…
Toyota announced the new safety features in the Lexus LS in Japan this week calling it “the safest car in the world.” Toyota says “(the LS) aims to provide world-leading safety performance through the combination of two advanced Lexus safety systems.” The LS is a pre-emptive step for Toyota in its mission to end traffic casualties.
The two safety systems that have been integrated into the new LS are the “Lexus Safety System +” which is based on the Integrated Safety Management Concept. The idea being that instead of using individual safety technologies and systems independently they are instead integrated for a higher level of driver support. The second safety feature that has been incorporated into the new Lexus LS is the “Lexus Safety System + A”. This system is designed with “advanced pre-collision support and sophisticated driving assistance.”
The Lexus Safety System + A includes features such as driver emergency stop assist, lane departure alert, dynamic radar cruise control, front cross traffic alert, and a two stage adaptive high-beam system. The addition of active steering assist, pedestrian alert and nighttime pedestrian & bicycle response is entirely new to the LS. The addition of the latter three technologies to the Lexus LS helps prevent collisions that cannot be avoided through automatic braking solely.
Pedestrian alert and active steering assist are Pre-Collision Systems (PCS) that are a world-first technology that works in four stages. In the first stage the car will recognize a pedestrian and assess the risk and direction in which they are moving. During the second stage, as the car gets closer to the pedestrian an alarm will sound and an animation will appear on the large colour high definition display. The third stage is that automatic brakes will be applied to try and stop the car from striking the individual. The final stage only happens if the car recognizes that a crash is imminent without further input from the driver. The LS will then automatically steer around the pedestrian preventing a crash.
Another innovative safety feature on the new Lexus LS is the driver emergency stop assist, which gets engaged when the driver takes their hands off the wheel for an extended period of time. The LS gets “worried” that something has happened to the driver and it engages the hazard warning lights, honks its horn and slowly decelerates until coming to a stop at which point it unlocks the doors and calls emergency services.
Toyotas Chief Engineer for Safety Technology Kiyotaka Ise reiterated in the presentation “there still remain wide differences in how OEMs define automated driving. The word automated driving should be handled carefully to avoid the hype that it means that drivers don’t have to do anything”. So despite all of the safety technology which by many accounts already classifies it as autonomous, Ise said that Toyota “does not wish to call this LS an automated driving vehicle, rather, we would like to define it as a vehicle equipped with advanced driver assist technologies that can pave the way toward autonomous driving.”
According to Toyota the technology in the Lexus LS will be incorporated into all Toyota vehicles starting in 2018. The new Lexus LS is expected to go on sale in Canada later this fall.
Volvo has been very busy remaking its entire brand over the past few years. It started with a focus on powertrains, its various five-cylinders and V6s gradually replaced by a lineup of efficient direct-injection…
Volvo has been very busy remaking its entire brand over the past few years. It started with a focus on powertrains, its various five-cylinders and V6s gradually replaced by a lineup of efficient direct-injection turbocharged four-cylinders. Pricier trims went a step further by integrating both turbocharging and supercharging into the same 2.0-litre four, while the all-new award-winning XC90 SUV even has a plug-in hybrid version of the latter.
That XC90 ushered in the second phase of Volvo’s metamorphosis, a wholesale brand-wide design that included an entirely new level of opulent luxury and future-tech feature sets. The XC90 was quickly followed by an entirely new mid-size luxury sedan dubbed S90 (replacing the S80), this model including a wagon variant named V90 (replacing the V70), plus an immediately more popular raised crossover model that—in Volvo tradition—goes by the name of V90 Cross Country (replacing the V70 Cross Country/XC70).
While all of this is thoroughly exciting to anyone working for Volvo or supportive of the storied Swedish marque, the new 2018 XC60, which looks like a smaller interpretation of the XC90, will certainly become Volvo’s new sales leader when it goes on sale later this year.
This leaves the D-segment S60, currently in our garage, as well as its V60 and V60 Cross Country siblings, which I’ve reviewed previously, as the lone Volvo line yet to go under the surgeon’s knife, plus of course an entire line of subcompact cars and SUVs that have yet to surface.
While not as new in styling or features as the updated models mentioned, the S60 is still very worthy of attention, especially those who tend to hold onto their cars longer and therefore wouldn’t suffer from as much depreciation when the updated model arrives next year on a new modular chassis architecture that Volvo will use exclusively (the current S60 reaches back seven years to when Ford sold the brand to China’s Geely, while the Volvo V3/Ford EUCD chassis it rides upon is 11 years old—coming into use with the S80—and has been shared with many Ford and Land Rover models ever since).
The design is clean, uncluttered and especially aerodynamic, and I must admit still looks smart if not the newest kid on the block. Unfortunately it sells into a premium sector that thrives on latest and greatest, hence why newer Volvo designs have mostly seen big boosts in sales (especially the XC90) and why this one has seen its once strong market share slowly and steadily erode from a high of 3,227 units in 2002 to an initial bump of 1,519 in 2011 and then a slightly higher blip to 1,525 in 2012, both after the redesigned version hit the road, to just 657 examples last year. There’s a silver lining in all of this dreariness, however; the previous low before this second-gen car arrived in 2010 was 208 deliveries, meaning they’ve got a lot more to build upon this time around.
While it’s fair to say the exterior sheetmetal is still plenty attractive, the cabin is very high in quality and designed with one part minimalism and another button overkill, but being a fan of classic high-end audio equipment this works well for me. The majority of buttons are clustered atop the floating centre stack, still a lovely design element, and they’re positioned to make a lot of sense once acclimatized, especially the HVAC interface that’s basically a body pictograph (you don’t even need to speak Swedish to figure it out—or English).
Above that is a fully featured infotainment system with good graphics and nice contrast for good depth of colour, and while not as impressive as the best-in-class tablet-style touchscreen interface found in the XC90 and S90/V90 series, it’s quite serviceable and includes a backup camera with active guidelines as well as navigation in my top-tier T6 AWD tester.
Even more impressive is the S60’s fully configurable primary gauge cluster. Volvo was early to adopt a feature that’s now becoming more prevalent in competitors’ higher trims, and they did a very good job on this one, plus its resolution quality is extremely good.
No matter the trim level the S60 delivers an upscale environment with superb attention to detail, very high quality padded soft synthetic surface treatments, tastefully applied satin-finished and brushed metals, and some of the best seats in the car industry.
I’ll leave my road test analysis to my upcoming review, and won’t comment too much further on the S60’s other attributes or detractors, but only add that my tester was equipped with the upgraded turbocharged and supercharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder with 302 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque, plus AWD fed through an eight-speed automatic transmission with manual mode and paddle shifters.
That’s a cutting edge drivetrain considering its conservative styling, and one I’ll soon tell you all about. Come join me back here in a couple of weeks for the full review…