Tag Archives: CUE

Official: Ward's 10 Best Interiors released, Asian automakers take 7 of 10 spots

By Jeffrey N. Ross

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Step inside just about any new car these days and you’ll quickly see that vehicle interiors have become a pretty nice place to spend some time in. For the third consecutive year, WardsAuto sat in each and every new vehicle that had received redesigned or updated interiors, and it has now named its 10 Best Interiors.

Judges look at everything from design and fit-and-finish to comfort, safety and technology. Some of the standout selections include budget cars like the Chevrolet Spark and Kia Forte all the way up to more expensive sedans like the $60,000+ Cadillac XTS and Lexus GS450h. An interesting note here is that WardsAuto praises Cadillac for its CUE infotainment system while Consumer Reports generally lambasts the system. Asian automakers definitely won the contest for nicest interiors as the list is comprised of five Japanese automakers and two South Korean, with Toyota and General Motors in a dead heat with the most number of cars on the list with two each.

Scroll down for the full list (in alphabetical order) and press release from WardsAuto for its 10 Best Interiors of 2013.

Continue reading Ward’s 10 Best Interiors released, Asian automakers take 7 of 10 spots

Ward’s 10 Best Interiors released, Asian automakers take 7 of 10 spots originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 15 Apr 2013 14:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Official: Lexus, Mazda and Subaru top <i>Consumer Reports</i> Brand Report Cards

By Seyth Miersma

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A revised methodology in devising its annual Car Brand Report Cards has seen Consumer Reports award Lexus its top overall ranking for 2013. For the first time ever, the institute broke out individual brands from their larger corporate umbrellas, meaning car makers like Lexus and Scion were judged independently from parent company Toyota. That strategy worked out well for Lexus, as the luxury brand earned a top report card score of 79 for the 2013 model year.

The institute has recommended every one of the Lexus models it has tested to date, and said that the company’s products won out thanks to “a foundation of plush and very reliable vehicles.”

Meanwhile, Mazda and Subaru tied for the second-highest scoring report cars, with scores of 76. Subaru earned praised for sporting models like the BRZ, which CR testers apparently had a lot of fun driving (naturally), while the Mazda products were lauded for their blend of practicality, sportiness and efficiency. Both of the Japanese brands offered good handling, fuel economy and versatility, said Consumer Reports.

Acura and Toyota rounded out the top five with twin scores of 74 points. A full eight out of the top ten best brands were Japanese companies, with Audi (eighth place) and Mercedes-Benz (tenth place) the only European companies with high-ranking scores. CR noted that those Euro brands were inconsistent this year, with Volkswagen losing ground and Mini doing the worst overall of the European brands, at 20 out of 26 overall.

Domestic automakers didn’t do particularly well, either. Cadillac was at the tops of the General Motors portfolio, but was still held back by just average reliability and no love at CR for “complicated CUE controls,” a complaint we’ve heard before. Ford and Lincoln were also dinged for their infotainment systems and reliability, as well as for EcoBoost engines that didn’t deliver on promised fuel economy ratings. Chrysler’s brands were the worst off, however, with just the Dodge Durango, Jeep Grand Cherokee V6 and Chrysler 300 V6 being recommended by the publication. Scroll down for the full list of Brand Report Card scores, as well as the Consumer Reports press release. Or, head over to the CR website to read the full feature, and find out the granular info behind each of the brands.

Continue reading Lexus, Mazda and Subaru top Consumer Reports Brand Report Cards

Lexus, Mazda and Subaru top Consumer Reports Brand Report Cards originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 26 Feb 2013 14:15:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Source: FULL ARTICLE at Autoblog

Quick Spin: 2013 Cadillac ATS Premium 2.0T 6MT

By Michael Harley

2013 Cadillac ATS - front three-quarter view

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The new Cadillac ATS is an impressive sport sedan, often considered one of the most serious threats to the BMW 3 Series. Unlike GM‘s previous attempts, this four door brings aggressive styling, commendable chassis dynamics and class-leading handling to the highly competitive battle. And, like its daunting German foe, Cadillac offer several powertrain choices.

I recently spent time with the ATS 2.0T Premium on my home California turf. Fitted with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine mated to a six-speed manual gearbox with a limited-slip rear differential, my tester was lightly optioned, with only a paint upgrade and a cold weather package. That brought the as-tested price to $46,305, configured the way I imagine most enthusiasts would prefer. This meant I fully expected to enjoy a week with a tossable sport sedan that boasted “fun-to-drive” as its middle name, but all was not well…

Driving Notes

  • The ATS‘ stiff chassis, strong brakes and upscale interior were my favorite attributes. A close second would be the extraordinary styling that manages to be sporty and bold, yet classy and timeless at the same time.
  • Cadillac’s innovative touchscreen CUE interface with haptic feedback may work well in the showroom, but at least for this journo, its application in a bouncy and vibration-laden automotive environment is a mistake. In addition to being slow to respond and frustrating to use, it is a hair-pulling experience trying to steady a pointer finger to touch the proper real estate whether that is a capacitive touch volume bar or greasy fingerprinted flat panel display. Cadillac actually provides a microfiber cloth in the glovebox to wipe it clean, but isn’t that admitting a preexisting flaw (would you have confidence in an automaker who provided an oil drip pan with each new it car sold)?
  • I am a huge fan of GM‘s magnetic ride control suspension, but I didn’t like its tuning in this ATS. When pushed hard, the rear tires seemed to skip over imperfections in the pavement, meaning the rubber wasn’t staying in contact with the undulations in the road. The two-mode damping was almost too firm in default setting and then harsh when configured to sport mode (the console-mounted button must inexplicably be pushed twice to toggle the suspension change).
  • This segment is embracing 2.0-liter four-cylinder engines for their excellent combination of power and fuel efficiency, but I found little to like with the turbocharged engine in the ATS. It felt and sounded buzzy, with nothing but racket coming from under the hood. Plus, it ran out of steam well before redline and fuel economy on my enthusiastically driven watch was not spectacular (16 mpg around town and 26 mpg on the highway). While it did provide decent power, especially in the thick of its torque band, it desperately needs a sporty exhaust note to bring a bit more excitement to the game.
  • I generally prefer manual transmissions, yet the traditional six-speed gearbox in the ATS didn’t impress …read more
    Source: FULL ARTICLE at Autoblog

Report: Cadillac rushing update for laggy CUE infotainment system

By Jonathon Ramsey

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BMW’s innovative iDrive was introduced in 2001, and a dozen years later, automakers are still learning hard lessons about what consumers want in their infotainment systems. In response to owner feedback – and a few media drubbings – about the delayed and occasionally fickle responses of its CUE (short for Cadillac User Experience) system, Cadillac has told Wired that it’s going to issue an update this year.

Coming for the XTS and ATS, the new software will mean quicker haptic feedback to driver inputs on the touchscreen and the buttons, and snappier responses on screen. Down the road, Cadillac’s VP of marketing says that a different mix of screen controls and hard buttons is “something you’ll be seeing in the future” – the system is presently a mix of touchscreen-based controls and capacitive-touch switchgear – there are no knobs or physical pushbuttons to speak of, and the omission of both has proven to be a divisive issue among consumers and industry pundits.

Cadillac hasn’t provided a date for when the CUE update will be issued, but it has indicated that the service will be performed by dealers, not sent wirelessly.

Cadillac rushing update for laggy CUE infotainment system originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 05 Feb 2013 19:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Source: FULL ARTICLE at Autoblog

The Continental: Best and Worst of the 2013 Detroit Auto Show

By Jens Meiners

The Continental

Each week, our German correspondent slices and dices the latest rumblings, news, and quick-hit driving impressions from the other side of the pond. His byline may say Jens Meiners, but we simply call him . . . the Continental.

Volkswagen CrossBlue concept

Detroit is the most important American auto show by far. As a German, it is endlessly fascinating to check out the American and Asian cars at the show, many of which are not sold in my home country. Those that are sold there often come with vastly different powertrains and design features. This year’s Detroit show was rife with awesome styling concepts and even a few surprises. Here is my personal take on some of the cars and technologies I came across on the show floor.

Best Concept: Volkswagen CrossBlue. Yes, I know the styling doesn’t knock anyone’s socks off, but it is well executed to the last beautiful detail—and it packs a lot of them, such as the angular, U-shaped daytime running lights. The concept’s interior is futuristic and it boasts quite forward-looking technology, such as a Schaeffler-supplied electric rear axle. Volkswagen’s MQB modular architecture is designed to incorporate this unit with few changes, and we will see it on production VW Group cars soon.

Lincoln MKC concept

Worst Concept: Lincoln MKC Concept. Ford’s design department under J Mays seems to be falling back into an old pattern. Remember the Ford Five Hundred, a blatant ripoff of Peter Schreyer’s Volkswagen B5 Passat? I can just imagine Mays ordering Lincoln chief designer Max Wolff to take an Audi Q5 and morph it to the Ford Escape’s package. From the side window opening to the wraparound tailgate, the MKC is embarrassingly lacking in originality. Several Ford designers have worked in Audi and VW design, but shouldn’t they be allowed to move on?

2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray

Best Production Car: Chevrolet Corvette. America’s sports-car icon is taking a big leap forward. Its styling is aggressive enough to appeal not only to the aging Corvette collector crowd, but also to a new, younger set of buyers. The front grille may be somewhat unexceptional, but the headlight design is refreshing; the side view is novel and even slightly Italian; and the angry rear end is simply fantastic. Thank you, Chevrolet, for not allowing this icon to be clinic’d to death. The C7 Vette goes the extra 25 percent the C6 wasn’t allowed to go, and as a result it will be considered a great Corvette.

2014 Jeep Compass Latitude

Worst Production Car: Jeep Compass. This car is hardly worth mentioning, but it represents the mindset that prevails when “car guys” take the back seat in a car’s development. Cynically exploiting the Jeep brand, this pseudo-SUV has become a barely acceptable vehicle almost seven years after its launch. It resembled a diminutive Grand Cherokee for a few years, but now its big brother is getting a facelift, leaving the Compass behind yet again. It is a sad fact that the Compass was conceived when Dieter Zetsche and Wolfgang Bernhard were calling the shots at Chrysler, as they are now at Mercedes-Benz.

2014 Cadillac ELR

Best Exterior: Cadillac ELR. The series production ELR does not deviate far from the look laid down by the stunning Converj concept from a few years back, and I like everything about it. Slim, futuristic, and true to Cadillac’s unique design language, it brings enormous appeal to the notion of owning an electric vehicle. Let’s hope that the ELR’s on-road performance, with its boosted Volt powertrain, is anywhere near what the styling promises, so that it won’t need the VL Industries treatment (see below).

2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA

Worst Exterior: Mercedes-Benz CLA. Almost eight years ago, I wrote a requiem for German design in a commentary for Automotive News. Back then, I argued that restraint and simplicity have gone out the door in favor of voluptuous lines and nonfunctional styling—and that was before Gorden Wagener became head of design at Mercedes-Benz. From my somewhat purist perspective, things certainly haven’t improved. That said, taste in styling is personal, and anyone who likes the looks of the CLA, a self-proclaimed “style rebel,” will be positively thrilled by its dynamic capabilities. And I concede the small Benz’s look is functional: It has the one of the lowest drag coefficients of all series production vehicles on the market.

By the way, as we are speaking of simplicity and restraint: Why did every Audi—the high-performance 2014 RS7 included—on the stand in Detroit have chrome wheels?

Best Interior: Toyota Avalon. I opened the door of this Japanese Buick only to check if they still fitted a front bench seat; the last Avalon I bothered to peek into (some years ago) was so equipped. To my utter surprise, I was met with one of the most beautifully styled instrument panels I’ve seen in this class. It has a layered surface, soft and hand-stitched padding, and a brushed-metal center zone fitted with precisely machined knobs just like on a 1970s high-end stereo. (Which most Avalon customers likely vividly remember.)

2013 Cadillac XTS Platinum interior

Worst Interior: Any Cadillac with CUE. Actually, GM’s luxury brand has some of the best interiors in the marketplace—clever, functional, aesthetically pleasing. But for me, the CUE infotainment system ruins the experience. Not only is it slow to respond and sometimes counterintuitive, I deplore the pitiful graphics. Come on, an ancient telephone receiver to symbolize the phone function? An antique globe to represent navigation? There even are 1970s-style symbolized bodies for the climate controls and OnStar, plus a child’s drawing of a cloud for the weather. It gets worse as you move on, delving into a world of overlapping rectangles and wide, empty spaces on the screen. This inexplicable mix of shapes and styles is unworthy of Cadillac. Ford’s SYNC, with all of its shortcomings, is an application that is far more pleasant to look at.

VL Automotive Destino

Biggest Surprise: VL Industries Destino. This Fisker Karma, stripped of its battery pack and electric powertrain, delivers one of the nastiest blows to E-mobility to date. The factory Karma is built around the notion of “sustainable mobility,” and VL’s dumping a naturally aspirated or supercharged 6.2-liter Corvette V-8 into its engine bay is about as sensitive as showing up at the local co-op in a camo-colored Hummer H1. The incredulous eyes of my European colleagues upon stumbling over the Destino were priceless. Can this be allowed? Yes.

Acura NSX Concept

Biggest Yawn: Acura NSX. It seems time to move beyond the NSX sports car even before this never-ending launch is finally over. I really look forward to driving the actual car, but the new model’s surprise factor and mystique will have been squandered by the time it hits the road.

Ford Atlas concept

Best Truck: Ford Atlas. Okay, this will be another long-haul launch, but for now, this thinly veiled next-generation F-150 is bold, well executed, and pleasantly technical in its styling language. I like the look, and I like the fact that it appeared in Detroit by surprise.

2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 LTZ

Worst Truck: GM’s new-for-2014 full-size pickup trucks for GMC and Chevrolet. GM’s design leadership in trucks was last asserted with the 1988 C/K—and lost to the Dodge Ram in 1994. Since then, it has been a downhill slide for the General, with the 2014 Chevy and GMC trucks figuring as the current low point. I suppose the trucks aspire to boldness, but, in fact, the pair represents one of the most timid redesigns I have seen. Apart from a few gimmicky details, calling these rigs “evolutionary” would be an overstatement.

Source: FULL ARTICLE at Car & Driver

2014 Cadillac ELR Extended Range Electric Debuts In Detroit

By Kurt Ernst

2014 Cadillac ELR – image: GM Corp

Like the idea of the Chevrolet Volt extended range electric sedan, but want something with a bit more luxury and presence? Your wait will soon be over, as Cadillac is debuting its own version of the GM Voltec drivetrain at this week’s Detroit Auto Show.

Like the Volt, the Cadillac ELR is essentially an electric car. When its 16.5 kWh battery pack is depleted, a 1.4-liter gasoline engine starts up to power a range-extending generator. Like the Volt, range on batteries alone is an estimated 35 miles, condition-dependent. Since Cadillac is expected to deliver better performance, the rated output of the ELR’s drivetrain is upped to 207 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque, up from 149 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque in the Volt.

2014 Cadillac ELR – image: GM Corp

Cadillac has yet to publish performance numbers, but we expect the ELR will be quicker than the Volt’s 9.2 seconds for the run from 0-60 mph. It’s likely that the top speed will be raised above the Volts 100 mph, too, but performance really isn’t the raison d’etre behind the ELR: style is.

2014 Cadillac ELR – image: GM Corp

Outside, the ELR carries on the angular styling of the ATS, CTS and XTS models, but manages to spin it in an even more modern interpretation. Sure, the trademark vertical head lamp and tail lamp elements (used in Cadillac design since 1948) are there, but there’s no denying that the ELR looks like it just rolled out of some time warp, from a few decades in the future.

2014 Cadillac ELR – image: GM Corp

Inside, the cabin is a blend of the traditional and the high-tech. Sure, there’s plenty of leather, wood and microfiber to satisfy your senses, but there’s also a heavy infusion of technology. The ELR gets a version of Cadillac’s CUE infotainment system, which recognizes voice commands as well as gestures. The car also serves up four driving modes, including Sport and Tour (which are self-explanatory), Mountain (which fires up the generator to ensure sufficient power when needed) and Hold (which runs the car in generator mode to preserve battery power for later use).

2014 Cadillac ELR – image: GM Corp

The Hold mode is designed for drivers who mix city and highway driving on their daily commute. Highway miles quickly consume battery charge, so the ELR (and the Volt) are best run on battery power in an urban environment, and on generator power on the highway.

Cadillac has yet to announce ELR pricing, as the car is still roughly a year away from launch. If all goes as planned, production will begin at GM’s Hamtramck plant in late 2013.

Source: FULL ARTICLE at Automotive Addicts

GM Opens Infotainment API to Developers to Spur Vehicle-Specific Apps [2013 CES]

By Alexander Stoklosa

2014 ChevroletImpala MyLink

GM has announced that it plans to open up its infotainment Application Programming Interface (API) to app developers so that they may create new apps for the system or make existing apps compatible. The move is similar to what Ford also announced (also at the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show) that it is doing with its AppLink software, save for one key detail.

Whereas Ford opened its AppLink (the software conduit between mobile device–based apps and the company’s Sync infotainment system) to developers, GM is opening its entire infotainment system to developers. That means outside firms will be able to create apps for GM’s system, not necessarily for phones or devices that run on the system. GM will offer developers a software development kit to help them get started and give them access to the system’s code. 

The system in question forms the basis for three semi-unique infotainment setups—in Chevrolets, it goes by the name of MyLink; in Buick and GMC vehicles, it’s called IntelliLink; and in Cadillacs, it’s called CUE. GM’s goal with its developer-friendly move is to generate more auto-specific apps that will keep its infotainment system fresh over time; if drivers are able to download new apps to their car every so often, their infotainment interface won’t seem to date as quickly.

To facilitate this, GM is creating an app catalog for customers to access, though it won’t come online until the automaker’s next-generation infotainment systems arrive for the 2014 model year, starting with the new MyLink setup in the 2014 Chevrolet Impala. For CES, GM is showing off its next-gen Chevy MyLink system with four prototype apps developed with what it is calling potential partners; the apps include iHeartRadio, TuneIn, Slacker, and The Weather Channel.

While the tech world always appreciates the opening of software to the masses, tt remains to be seen just how buck-wild developers will go with GM’s infotainment API. After all, even though GM wishes to see more GM-vehicle-specific apps (which will live on the infotainment system itself, not users’ phones or devices), that leaves developers with a relatively small market to deal with. Unlike an app designed for an Apple product or anything running Android software, GM-specific apps will run only on GM vehicles—a relatively narrower segment. Ford faces a similar problem with the opening of its AppLink API—sure, developers can get their hands on it, but how many are likely to build all-new apps from the ground up just for Ford customers? Much more likely, a flood of popular Apple or Android-compatible apps will be converted to run on GM’s system (and Ford’s AppLink). But we’ll have to wait and see.

2013 Consumer Electronics Show full coverage

Source: FULL ARTICLE at Car & Driver