Safety Dance: Japanese Brands Score Big in IIHS Tests
Workers at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety are perpetually refining the tests they hurl at new cars, finding new and creative ways to bend metal and shatter glass. This is important since it is not unheard of for a manufacturer to quickly respond with alterations to their machines after flunking a new IIHS test.
This annum, armed with fresh checklists for side impact protection and headlight performance – along with the other requirements of past years – the IIHS found fewer vehicles qualified for their top awards. Brands leading the way now include Mazda, Toyota, and Honda.
IIHS Evaluating Crash Test Equipment to Tackle Heavy EVs
With automobiles becoming heavier every year, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has announced that it’ll be updating its crash-testing rigs to handle more weight. Up until now, the heaviest model to see an IIHS sled has been the roughly 6,000-pound Audi e-tron. While all vehicles have been packing on mass lately, EVs tend to be substantially heavier than their combustion-reliant counterparts due to the battery. For example, the new GMC Hummer is so insanely heavy that there are roads that its 9,600-pound frame simply cannot handle. All that mass likewise means the IIHS is going to have a hell of a time doing any crash testing if its equipment isn’t ready.
Kinda Sorta: Sweden Develops 'First' Female Crash Test Dummy
A team of engineers from Sweden has allegedly developed the first female crash test dummy. But what actually goes into making a human analog for crash testing and why haven’t there been more feminine versions of dummies that have technically existed for over 70 years?
Maybe we should start with a brief history lesson.
Automotive Study Confirms What You Already Know About Buttons VS Touchscreens
If you've ever piloted a modern vehicle, you've likely noticed that touchscreens have started supplanting physical controls. You've also probably found that they're not as easy to interface with as the buttons, switches, and knobs they're replacing. Well, there's another study out that's supporting what drivers have known for years – touchscreens don't make for intuitive vehicle controls and may even make the whole process of getting to your destination a little more treacherous.
That Blows: Honda Opens New Wind Tunnel
There is seemingly no end to the number of toys and tools automakers have at their disposal when developing new cars at places such as Honda. Wind tunnels – those development halls, not local politicians – have been around for decades but have seen an array of advancements in tech over the years. Today, Honda opened a state-of-the-art facility at its campus in Ohio.
AAA Endorses Driver-Monitoring Camera Systems
Despite the automotive industry collectively promising to commence deliveries of self-driving cars in 2019, autonomous vehicles have remained test platforms for technologies that don’t yet seem ready for mass consumption. Public perception of the concept has also endured a few setbacks after several fatalities involving partially autonomous vehicles received national media attention. Today, the relevant technologies have failed to mature as swiftly as indicated and there are a whole host of legal ramifications to contend with.
Selling an automobile that’s marketed as being able to drive itself (even partially) are exposing automakers to a whole new demographic of lawsuits, so they’re desperate to install failsafe measures that places the onus of responsibility back onto the driver. Their current favorite is driver-monitoring cameras, which the American Automobile Association (AAA) likewise believes are probably the best solution. The outlet recently shared the results of a study attempting to determine which driver-engagement systems worked best and decided that in-cabin cameras were the leading choice in a batch of bad options.
Rain or Shine: AAA Finds Out Advanced Driving Aids Still Suck
A new study from the American Automobile Association (AAA) has found that rain can severely impair advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS). Similar to how highway traffic slows to a crawl when there’s a sudden deluge, modern safety equipment can have real trouble performing when a drizzle becomes a downpour.
On Thursday, the motor club organization released findings from closed-course testing that appeared to indicate some assistance suites had real trouble seeing through bad weather. AAA reported that 33 percent of test vehicles equipped with automatic emergency braking traveling collided with a stopped car when exposed to simulated rainfall at 35 mph. The numbers for automatic lane-keeping was worse, with 69 percent drifting outside the lines. Considering the number of times the people writing for this website have anecdotally criticized ADAS for misbehaving in snow, sleet, rain, fog, or just from an automobile being a little too dirty, it’s hard not to feel a little vindicated.
2022 Honda Civic Type R Prototype Previewed
Honda has previewed the upcoming Civic Type R, now that it has prototypes testing at the Nürburgring. Knowing that the public would soon be seeing leaked photos of the model whizzing around the Rhineland, the manufacture has offered up some flattering images of it wearing a minimal amount of camouflage.
While the paint scheme still manages to break up its lines, this is probably the best look we’ll be getting of the model until the production version is ready to be revealed. For all intents and purposes, this is the 2022 Honda Civic Type R.
2021 Nissan Rogue Becomes Perfect SUV for People With Thrill-Seeking Friends
The 2021 Nissan Rogue has bombed the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration’s front passenger-side crash test with a score of two stars. Since we’re not using the Michelin Guide, this is a stain on the freshly pressed slacks Nissan has put on as part of its all-important restructuring strategy.
The automaker has been shedding weight, dropping products, and losing employees in the name of profit. But it also has to restore public faith in a brand that has been caught in numerous quality control scandals and some ugly corporate infighting over the last few years. A crummy score on a crash test isn’t going to help, even if it does help spice up an otherwise bland vehicle segment. But let’s not overcook the eggs. There is a lot to unpack here before we jump on the bandwagon of calling it a cursed model.
Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Fails the Moose Test in Dramatic Fashion
Sweden’s evasive maneuver test, better known as the moose test, is a brutal simulation of what might happen if your lane was suddenly occupied by a giant mammal and you had to get out of the way in a hurry or prepare yourself to become one with the animal. It also happens to be one of the hardest automotive tests to pass, with a long list of models failing to stay on course at highway speeds. In fact, the whole point of the test is to see how fast a vehicle can run the brief gauntlet without running over traffic cones or flipping itself over.
As a result, the cars that typically perform the best tend to be lightweight road huggers with above-average factory rubber. Meanwhile, crossovers and pickups have had particularly poor showings — with Toyota’s RAV4 embarrassing itself rather badly in 2019 after Stockholm’s Teknikens Värld (one of the European publications that made the test world-famous) showed its stability management system was ill-equipped to handle the course. While Toyota went out of its way to remedy the issue with a software update in Europe, recent testing showed the RAV4 PHEV was back to its old tricks… or lack thereof.
Ford's Autonomous Offensive Places Escape Hybrid on the Front Line
With Ford having discontinued the Fusion sedan to prioritize higher-margin models, the automaker will need to select a different unit as its preferred platform for self-driving test mules. It will need to choose wisely, too. According to the company, its fourth of generation autonomous test vehicles will foreshadow real-world commercial endeavors using the technology.
On Tuesday, Ford and Argo AI announced that it would be the Escape Hybrid carrying the torch of technology. Starting this month, models fresh from the factory will be modified with the “latest advancements in sensing and computing technology.” The crossover will then be exposed to the most rigorous testing regimen the automaker’s ongoing AV program can muster. From there, the Escape will serve as the architecture and platform Ford has decided will bring its autonomous vehicle service to life.
Euro NCAP Develops Assisted Driving Assessment, Bashes Autopilot
The European New Car Assessment Programme (Euro NCAP) has finished a study on driver assistance systems and issued some moderately surprising results. While nowhere near comprehensive enough to be the ultimate authority on self-driving cars, it did give us a taste of Europe’s new grading system and how it will be implemented as more vehicles are tested. For now, NCAP is focused on a handful of models ranging from the pedestrian Renault Clio to the much more expensive Mercedes-Benz GLE.
While one might expect the moral of the study to be roughly ‘you get what you pay for,’ the reality seemed much more complicated after the Tesla Model 3 ended up in sixth place out of a possible ten. Anybody who has ever used Tesla’s Autopilot will tell you it’s probably the most impressive advanced driving suite currently on sale. This author certainly would before the smile dissolved and he was forced to you that it (and other) driving assistance packages are horrible, misleading inventions that need to be gotten rid of as soon as possible.
FCA Strengthens Relationship With Waymo; ProMaster On Deck
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Waymo jointly announced plans to expand their autonomous driving partnership on Wednesday, with a new focus on delivery vehicles. The Google affiliate already uses Chrysler’s Pacifica as the primary testing platform for its autonomous taxi services, and it appears it isn’t eager to rock the boat, now that it needs something more utilitarian as it moves toward SAE Level 4.
While not completely self-driving, such vehicles would be capable of performing all necessary tasks under certain conditions. They may be designed for a specific purpose and lack traditional vehicle controls. Waymo seems to think they’d be ideal units for transporting goods and has asked FCA to hand over Ram ProMaster vans for conversion into test mules. It also asked the automaker to become its sole partner on the project — which is assumed to carry over once the company merges with Groupe PSA to become the Stellantis corporation.
Georgia Ditches Driver's License Road Tests During Pandemic
With state governments enacting countless changes during the current health crisis, many have risen up to decry the walking back of our civil liberties. Some are absolutely convinced leadership has crossed a line by prohibiting (or criminalizing) rights guaranteed to them by the United States’ founding documents in a time of crisis. Others are just angry because they think the economic ramifications of shutdown orders are screwing things up more than the coronavirus itself.
One group that is assuredly not complaining, however, is Georgian teens.
Extending its state of emergency, Georgia is indefinitely suspending the need for youngsters to pass their road test in order to procure their driver’s license. That’s per one of the many executive orders issued by Gov. Brian Kemp this month. He remains adamant that the state needs to reopen for businesses, but says it has to be done smartly, with some businesses revived while others have to wait. Allowing parents to vouch for children with a learner’s permit is seen as part of the plan.
Bragging Rights: Audi E-Tron Becomes First EV to Pick Up IIHS Top Safety Pick+ Award
Audi’s E-Tron has become the first battery electric vehicle to receive the coveted Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Top Safety Pick+ award. However, considering the group rarely tests EVs, it may soon find itself with company. The IIHS requires an automobile to earn high marks in six crashworthiness evaluations, as well as an advanced or superior rating for front crash prevention and a good headlight rating to be eligible for the commendation.
Chevrolet’s Bolt managed to achieve the necessary ratings in all categories, save for headlight illumination. The same was true for Tesla’s Model S — though that vehicle also received an “acceptable” rating for the small frontal overlap crash test. Other EVs have yet to undertake a full complement of tests, potentially giving the E-Tron a bit of a head start.