NY Show: Someone Call 911!
New York's auto show brings up the rear, and we're not just talking the saucy way it teases us in cutoff shorts. It's the final biggie of the American auto show season, and as such it often becomes the clearinghouse for all the concepts and production vehicles the automakers couldn't jam into previous shows. This year, that posed more of a problem than usual; so many major new cars and trucks came out, at least one journalist had to be carted away for emergency medical treatment. Luckily his resident voodoo priest was on call.
While the big American companies were on call too with hugely important new vehicles-like the 2005 Grand Cherokee, Caddy STS and Land Rover LR3-the import makes brought some equally impressive iron. Last month we showed you a Lexus IS with V8 power, and in New York, Lexus showed us a new concept that no doubt plays a role in the next IS line. A totally new Acura RL popped up on the radar, and an SE-R version of the Altima broke cover, too, along with a brace of wagons from Korea.So you missed the bagels, the big lights and the hourly injections of Demerol, at least you've got our wrapup of New York's greatest hits right here.
The Ultimate Gaming Vehicle?When you need to take a long road trip-anything from cross-country John Madden slogs to crosstown trips to the bail bondsman-you probably need to be entertained. Otherwise you spend all the time pushing every frickin' button in the back seat like a child. It's like we've been there! But maybe there's a solution for your childlike behavior: games. Between them, Infiniti, EA Sports, CEC and Alpine Electronics have teamed up to create what could be the finest gaming machine capable of highway speeds ever. The Ultimate Gaming Vehicle can not only carouse off-road like a drunken beaver and speed on the tarmac like it's being chased down by the LAPD, it can do so while two guys go head to head on the video console in back.
The whole back seat, in fact, has been turned into one massive gaming room in this one-off concept. Front and center there is a 37-inch flat screen TV that still leaves behind enough room for the vehicle to house a 340-lb NFL player or a 6'10" NBA hoops star, according to the constructors. The rest of the utopian surroundings including an Alpine 1360-watt AM/FM/CD/MP3 tuner with DVD video player, CD changer, and XM Satellite Radio, with the sound pumped out through a 20-speaker 5.1 Dolby Digital/DTS sound system. It's enough to make your heart stop, or at least pound out a few extra beats. As for styling, the Ultimate Gaming vehicle wears 23-inch Antera Type 325 chromed wheels wearing 305/40-series tires, atop eight-piston Bremos. The co-conspirators say they'll foist this ungodly creation on VIPs, sports stars and other notaries so they can arrive at public events in style. We say bring it over to our office; we're tired of playing Donkey Kong in the back seat of our editor's Excel.
In Other Words
-A new study by Ford Motor Company has found that drowsy drivers could contribute to as much as 1.5 percent of all crashes on the nation's roads-or about 100,000 each year. The company, which cites statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), says its findings from a new VIRTTEX driving simulator indicate that the effects of drowsy driving can be markedly different in age groups and genders: young men are the most vulnerable to drowsy-driving accidents, Ford finds, while middle-age women had the fewest episodes of sleeping behind the wheel. Ford is using its data to develop a lane-departure warning system for its vehicles including its Volvo lineup in the coming years; Nissan's Infiniti brand says it will be the first to introduce such a system to U.S.-sold vehicles.
-On that note, Nissan says its Infiniti brand will be the first to put a lane-warning departure system on one of its U.S.-market vehicles. Lane departure systems use the white lines on the road to judge whether a driver's really paying attention to the road; when you veer out of the lane, it sends a loud audible signal into the cabin. The systems don't activate if you use the turn signal, however, and in the case of the coming Infiniti system, it only works at about 45 mph. Many manufacturers are working on similar systems and some have been marketed in Japan. The U.S. Department of Transportation says 55 percent of fatal accidents are caused by unintended lane departure.
-Nissan says it's eyeing the success of Korea's carmakers with envy, and that the strength of the under-$10,000 market might force it to bring over a model smaller than the Sentra to add to its lineup. The market for Kia Spectras and Rios, Hyundai Accents and the like has grown, and all manufacturers are looking with envy at the success BMW has had with the revived MINI brand, which is about the same size but priced at a premium, and at Toyota's Scion brand, which adds a new tC model this summer to its lineup of xB and xA five-doors.
-Subaru's chummy relationship with the woodsmen and woodswomen at L.L. Bean endures in 2005 with the addition of a new edition to the Forester lineup. The Forester 2.5 XM L.L. Bean edition sports a four-speed electronically controlled automatic gearbox, leather trim, ten-spoke alloy wheels and scads of L.L. Bean logos-they decorate everything from the front seats to the bumpers, we swear. A power moonroof, self-leveling rear suspension, security system and a water-resistant hard surface of the cargo floor and the rear seatback are also standard on the special edition; pricing hasn't been released yet.
-A new law proposed by California lawmakers and endorsed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger would give hybrid vehicle drivers a pass into state HOV lanes. That's a big victory if you own a hybrid Honda or Toyota against the state's massive traffic problems. The proposal would be the first of its kind in the U.S. and would allow vehicles that get better than 45 mpg to use the HOV lanes with only one person in the vehicle-something electric-vehicle drivers already can do in the Golden State. While it would include most existing hybrids, the new law wouldn't permit the coming crop of hybrid SUVs-Lexus RX 400h, Toyota Highlander, and Ford Escape-to use the lanes because their fuel economy is not projected to reach the 45-mpg bogey.
-XM Satellite Radio, already an in-car godsend for travelers through the FM wasteland, is now adding live traffic updates that will be able to show where traffic is snarled and, with the right equipment, allow drivers to steer clear. The new XM NavTraffic system will display where traffic snarls occur on a navigation screen, giving drivers the chance to choose alternate routes. The system will make its debut on the 2005 Acura RL; the information will be available in a few major markets by the end of the year with a more complete roster of cities due to be online by the end of 2005.
-Should we be buying a different kind of import? Apparently, BMW drivers have more sex than owners of any other cars and are much more active than Porsche drivers, a new German car magazine has found.
The German magazine Men's Car found in a survey of 2,253 motorists aged 20 to 50 published in its inaugural May issue that male BMW drivers say they have sex on average 2.2 times each week while Porsche drivers have sex 1.4 times per week.
Following BMW drivers were Audi (2.1), Volkswagen (1.9), Ford (1.7) and Mercedes (1.6). Drivers of foreign car makes were also behind BMW with Italian cars (2.0), French (1.9), Japanese (1.8), Swedish (1.6) and Korean cars (1.5) trailing after.
Among women, French car drivers were top with 2.1 times per week followed by Audi (2.0), Italian (2.0), and BMW (1.9) with Porsche again at the bottom of the scale at 1.2 times per week.
So really, are they getting more in the sack, or is a BMW driver just the world's biggest sack of bullshit?