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Why narrower 10-foot roads may be safer than 12-foot roads

Posted Oct 25th 2014 10:00AM

Bicycle Buffer Zones

We live in a society where more is generally considered better. We want improved fuel economy from our cars, more data from our phones and a better picture from TVs. But when it comes to engineering some roads, giving drivers more room might not actually be an advantage. There's some evidence that switching from the current 12-foot standard for lanes to 10-foot-wide lanes for urban streets could boost safety. The change might potentially mean around 900 fewer fatal crashes each year.

An article on CityLab, a site that brings scientific thinking to the questions of urban life, investigates the current state of traffic engineering for lane width, and the author lays down a compelling argument about making things narrower. Two-feet might not sound like a lot, but when multiplied over the whole roadway, you end up with quite a bit of extra real estate to play with.

The piece explains some of the reasons that 12-foot lanes are the standard in the first place and then breaks each of those arguments down to show that they might be a fallacy. If nothing else, the story makes you think more about traffic engineering than you probably have in years. Read the whole story for yourself, here.

News Source: CityLab

Image Credit: Richard Vogel / AP Photo

Toyota Prius + gets refresh in UK, is it coming here?

Posted Oct 25th 2014 9:00AM

Toyota Prius +

Toyota has unveiled a mid-cycle refresh of its seven-passenger, UK-market Prius +, known here in North America as the five-passenger Prius V. The revised hybrid MPV now boasts looks inspired by Toyota's more aggressive compact stylings as seen on its new Yaris and Aygo – particularly in the redone front fascia.

The new LED headlights are the most obvious change, sporting a sharper style, while the vertical slats that bookend front fascia are much larger and deeper, and are now home to LED running lights. The lower grille is also newly enlarged and trimmed in black plastic. Changes out back are far less noticeable, with the biggest tweak being a new diffuser that's been integrated into the rear bumper.

The interior gets a light freshening, too, with fresh trimmings around the switchgear, as well as a new 4.2-inch TFT display in the center mounted instrument cluster. The latter includes a new "Eco Judge" function designed to help owners drive more efficiently through a point-based reward system.

Cosmetics aside, Toyota has also tweaked the suspension damping, added additional sound deadening and adjusted the powertrain to comply with Euro6 emission standards.

Now, what's all this mean for our Toyota Prius V? Will we see a similar refresh to our North American market vehicle? Well, we'd love to tell you yes or no, however, our calls to Toyota have thus far gone unanswered. As soon as we hear back, we'll be sure to update this story with an answer.

Until then, scroll down for the full press release from Toyota UK and check out the refreshed Prius + in our gallery.

News Source: Toyota

Nissan GT-R goes on Rockies Alberta adventure with Epic Drives

Posted Oct 24th 2014 8:00PM

Nissan GT-R Epic Drive

Years after its original debut, the Nissan GT-R remains a much-feared, well-regarded entry in the sports car landscape. Sure, many of its original competitors are onto new generations these days, but Nissan has continually improved the GT-R, giving it meaningful tweaks almost every year since it came to the US market for 2009. Reviewers also just seem to keep finding things to praise about the all-wheel drive, turbocharged coupe. In this episode of Epic Drives, the GT-R proves that in addition to being a quite pleasant road trip companion around the province of Alberta, Canada, in a pinch it can go off-road to herd some horses, too.

At its heart, Epic Drives amounts to half travelogue and half driving review. So in between snaking the GT-R through some picturesque roads, host Arthur St. Antoine takes a tour of Alberta and the Canadian Rockies. If you're in the mood to take a drive in the Nissan through a landscape that blends the looks of a prairie, the Alps and fjords, then have a seat and check this video out.

Related Gallery2015 Nissan GT-R
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News Source: Motor Trend Channel via YouTube

Image Credit: Related images copyright 2014 Chris Paukert / AOL

Berkeley findings says motorcycle lane-splitting safer than ever [w/video, poll]

Posted Oct 24th 2014 7:00PM

Motorcycle Commuter Safety

The latest study seems to indicate that riders are better off splitting lanes than ever before.

In some parts of North America, the concept of a motorcycle buzzing between lanes of slower traffic is a foreign concept, but it's an accepted practice in others. Each year since 2012, The Safe Transportation Research and Education Center at the University of California, Berkeley, conducts a study to check acceptance and safety of lane-splitting in the state, where the act is legal. The latest study seems to indicate that riders are better off splitting lanes than ever before.

Among California motorcyclists, lane-splitting is becoming increasingly accepted. In the study, 80.6 per cent of riders report doing it on freeways, about the same as before. However, of them, 37.3 per cent of them say it happens "Always" compared to 30.9 per cent in 2012.

On non-freeways, 71.4 of riders split lanes, up 10.3 per cent from 2013. Of them 32.9 per cent say it happens "Always," up 7.6 per cent from a year ago. Furthermore, 62.1 per cent of people split on both types of roads, up 7.5 per cent form 2013.

With more people splitting lanes, the question of its impact on safety arises, and the study indicates that the act is getting less dangerous, too. The UC Berkeley study shows 4.7 per cent of riders on freeways were hit by a vehicle while lane-splitting in 2014, down from 8.6 per cent in 2013 and 11.8 per cent in 2012. Non-freeways have seen a similar decline to just 2.0 per cent in 2014 compared to 7.4 per cent last year and 8.3 per cent in 2012. Motorcyclists saying they nearly hit a car or had one try to block them are both lower this year, as well. Drivers are seemingly also finding the practice more acceptable, too.

This year's study includes info from 1,660 respondents, including 951 drivers and 709 motorcycle riders, and it paints a fairly positive picture about the safety of lane-splitting. The entire 51-page study can be read here in PDF format, and scroll down for a report about the study from CBS News.

What do you think of lane-splitting? Vote in our poll below, then have your say in Comments.

Do you think motorcycle lane-splitting is safe?

News Source: California Office of Traffic Safety, CBS This Morning via YouTube

Image Credit: Randall Benton / Sacramento Bee / MCT / Getty Images

2015 Honda CR-V performs poorly in Swedish AWD test [w/video]

Posted Oct 24th 2014 6:00PM

Honda CR-V all-wheel drive test

Swedish auto magazine Teknikens Värld has never been afraid to call out automakers when a vehicle fails one of its battery of examinations. Its famous Moose Test recently caught the Porsche Macan out, and a few years ago, there was a protracted argument between Teknikens Värld and Jeep over the performance of a Grand Cherokee in that evaluation.

This time, the 2015 Honda CR-V is raising the magazine's hackles, but it has nothing to do with avoiding a giant mammal. Snow is obviously an issue in Sweden, and Teknikens Värld has a test that challenges all-wheel drive systems in low-traction settings. On a slanted surface, the Swedes put the vehicles' front wheels on rollers with no traction and demands the rears accelerate away. The Honda couldn't do it. Teknikens Värld claims that it initially found the same result last year from the European CR-V, but Honda Sweden put out a software upgrade correcting the behavior in the test. This year, the CUV went back to failing.

While that's the magazine's side, Honda Sweden doesn't see the test as fair. In a statement to Teknikens Värld, the company explains the way the CUV's all-wheel drive system works. It also claims that the test isn't simulating a realistic situation. "In real conditions, regardless of the surface, there is a certain amount of friction always available for both front and rear wheels," the announcement says. "A scenario like the roll test with such a high difference in grip between the front and the rear wheels is highly unlikely."

Teknikens Värld, for its part, counters that the test was approved by Honda last year. Scroll down to watch the evaluation for yourself and read the magazine's announcement of the results. Let us know in Comments whether you think this is a fair way to assess all-wheel drive systems.

Related Gallery2015 Honda CR-V: First Drive
2015 Honda CR-V: First Drive2015 Honda CR-V: First Drive2015 Honda CR-V: First Drive2015 Honda CR-V: First Drive2015 Honda CR-V: First Drive2015 Honda CR-V: First Drive2015 Honda CR-V: First Drive2015 Honda CR-V: First Drive

News Source: Teknikens Varld via YouTube

Image Credit: Teknikens Varld

Fiat-Chrysler shows its SEMA lineup

Posted Oct 24th 2014 5:00PM

Dodge Challenger T/A Concept SEMA

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles already previewed its 2014 SEMA show lineup with some slick renders. Now, the automaker has finally showed us the actual cars, and among the group there are definitely some that stand out more than others.

Dodge is really showing off its muscle at this year's show with four concepts that all pump up the power of the brand's models. Perhaps most interesting among them is the Challenger T/A Concept (pictured above) in striking Sublime Green and matte black. It's meant to resemble the classic Trans Am racer from the '70s. Under the hood is a 6.4-litre V8, and to fit the vintage style there's a pistol-grip gearshift inside.

The Charger R/T also gets some attention with the Mopar concept that shows off what FCA's aftermarket performance arm can do. Mods include an updated body kit, cold-air intake for the 5.7-litre V8 and a coil-over suspension kit. Beyond that, the Dart R/T Concept looks a lot meaner with a black hood with duct work that leads straight to the air intake. The rest of the compact sedan is dolled up in O-So-Orange paint and is fitted with upgrades to improve handling like a coil-over suspension and big brake kit from the Mopar catalog.

Dodge Viper ACR ConceptThe last Dodge is the track-focused Viper ACR Concept with a radical body kit that the company claims is wind tunnel-tested to produce more downforce. It also packs 15.4-inch (391mm) carbon ceramic brakes with six-piston calipers. The interior is mostly stripped out to save weight, with some parts replaced with carbon fiber pieces.

Jeep also has five concepts on display, but three of them are from this year's Easter Jeep Safari. The Renegade Riptide and Frostbite are two new takes of the upcoming compact crossover with a focus on surfing and skiing, respectively. If that doesn't to it for you, the Wrangler MOJO, Maximum Performance and Cherokee Dakar are all going to be on display, as well.

Not to be outdone, the rest of the company's other brands have their own concepts, too. Highlights include the Ram 2500 Outdoorsman with a tent in the back for sleeping, and the Fiat 500 Abarth Scorpion with an interesting, two-tone red and white paint job, a cat-back exhaust and leather interior. Unfortunately, the worst of the lot might also be from Fiat with the 500L Custom in dark red and black. It also has an upgraded exhaust and interior, but the look is just a bit underwhelming. (Hard to make that thing look pretty, are we right?)

You can check out all of the concepts in the gallery, and scroll down to read the press release about everything FCA is showing at SEMA.

News Source: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

The Price Is Right plays One Away with Tesla Model S

Posted Oct 24th 2014 4:00PM

Contestant Gets Selfish Once Face-To-Face With Luxury EV

The Price Is Right gives away a Tesla Model S

When it comes to game shows, The Price Is Right is about as mainstream as American TV gets, beaming lust for fancy new prizes into millions of homes every day. Recently, the show held its annual Dream Car Week, which this year included a Tesla Model S along with a Porsche Cayenne, a Land Rover Range Rover Sport, a Maserati Quattroporte and an Aston Martin V8 Vantage.

The contestant invited to come on down and take a crack at the bright-red Model S was Vanessa Ansoorian, who told host Drew Carey that she had originally promised her brother a car if she won one, but once she saw what it was, she began rethinking her stance. Of course, before being able to drive away with the electric car, she needed to win the game, which in this case was One Away. That means that she got a string of numbers – 6-8-4-1-1 - and needed to move each digit up or down one to find the car's price. Can you get it? We won't give away the right answer, or if she won the car, but we look forward to your guesses in the comments below, where you can also watch the tense video clip.

In 2010, The Price Is Right also offered up a Tesla (in that case, a Roadster) on Earth Day. You can see how that attempt went here.

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News Source: TVLubber3 via YouTube

Why is Chevy testing an 80s Camaro with its next-generation model?

Posted Oct 24th 2014 3:00PM

Chevy Camaro

Third-generation Chevrolet CamaroIt's not unusual to see a new car, camo-covered and mysterious, testing alongside the current-generation model. In fact, it's pretty common. Seeing a brand-new car testing alongside its predecessor from 30 years prior, though, is downright unusual.

But, for reasons we can't even begin to comprehend, Chevrolet is doing just that, testing the next-generation Camaro alongside a pristine third-gen model (really, it's a damn clean example of the breed). It's tough to tell what's going on with this manufacturer-plated F-body, but according to our spies, one of the two examples allegedly had an intercooler and a distinctly V6 engine note. Your guess is as good as ours, here.

The camouflaged 2016 Camaro, meanwhile, is almost equally mysterious. Glance at the gallery and note the heavy camouflage on the roof. While a first guess might point to a prototype Camaro Convertible, our spies point to the unbroken A-pillar, which feeds into the roof. Instead, the leading theory (reinforced by some not so subtle yearning on our part) is that this car features a prototype T-top roof, or full removable panel.

We'd really like to hear what you think here. What do you think Chevy is up to with both this third-gen model and the new, heavily camo'd tester? Have your say in Comments.

Related GalleryThird-Generation Chevrolet Camaro: Spy Shots
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Image Credit: KGP Photography, Chris Doane Automotive

Scion teases mysterious sporty iM concept for LA show

Posted Oct 24th 2014 2:00PM

Scion iM Concept teaser

Thoroughly cleansed of our time at the 2014 Paris Motor Show, we can now start looking forward to the next big show on the circuit (with all due respect to SEMA), the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show. One of the earliest new cars slated for LA is this, the Scion iM Concept.

Now, these teaser images don't show us terribly much. We can see the headlights, foglights and wheels. The little information we can glean indicates that, based on the short hood and minimal space between the front door and front axle, the iM will be a very small vehicle. That said, a very low ride height (and Scion's own press release) claims this will be a rather sporty offering. The concept's nose and grille, meanwhile, bears some resemblance to Toyota's most recent stylings.

We'll have more when the iM Concept debuts in LA on November 19. Until then, check out the pair of teasers and the official press release, available below.

Related GalleryScion iM Concept Teaser
Scion iM Concept TeaserScion iM Concept Teaser


News Source: Scion

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