Blog Posts by Justin Hyde

  • Death-proof cars? Study finds nine models with zero driver fatalities

    The good news? We are closer than we thought to cars that prevent driver death. The bad news...

    More than 30,000 people a year still die on American roads, and while that toll has been steadily declining for a decade, it still represents a massive, unending tragedy. Around the world, those figures are climbing, as more people spend more time behind the wheel. Nothing drives advocates of tech such as driverless cars like the potential for sharply reducing the cost in human lives of driving.

    Today came a piece of good news in that fight: We are closer than we thought to cars that could prevent all their drivers from dying in a wreck. The bad news? There's still decades of work ahead.

    The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the research arm of the nation's auto insurance companies, studied driver deaths between 2009 and 2012 for mass-market vehicles. (It did not examine passenger deaths due to unreliable data.) Overall, it found that new models with newer technology, especially stability control, had cut the overall death rate in vehicles by a third in the three years since it

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  • Katie Couric, Bryant Gumbel ask "What is the Internet?" for BMW's Super Bowl ad

    It's official: the '90s have ripened into retro. But it isn't Hypercolor t-shirts, "the Jennifer," or 3D Doritos BMW will poke fun at come Sunday

    BMW i3 ad with Katie Couric and Bryant GumbelBMW i3 ad with Katie Couric and Bryant Gumbel

    It's official: the '90s have finally ripened into full retro. Break out those Hypercolor t-shirts, find a hairstylist who knows what a Rachel is and pop open that case of Surge cola you've been hoarding for the apocalypse.

    Thankfully (or regrettably, depending on how the '90s went for you) much of the decade was preserved on video, so that we could go back and poke retroactive fun.

    That's the conceit behind BMW's Super Bowl ad for its i3 electric car — the Yahoo Autos Green Vehicle of the Year — which reunites those pillars of '90s morning television, Bryant Gumbel and Yahoo's own Katie Couric.

    Twenty-one years ago, the NBC "Today" show duo puzzled over the meaning of the @ symbol and asked the timeless question "What is the Internet, anyway?"

    BMW's hoping it will be even less time before carbon-fiber electric vehicles move from oddities to everyday use. It's a bold choice for BMW to advertise a low-volume, odd-looking EV in the biggest spotlight of the year; we may look back 21

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  • The worst parking job in North America caught by police, YouTube

    The 97-point turn by a woman in a BMW X3 captured last week in Calgary, takes four minutes to complete and results in damage to one nearby car

    This video isn't for the faint of heart. There's nothing that dramatic, but it only takes a few seconds before the question of how someone could be so incompetent at simply backing out of a parking space becomes almost too much to bear. The 97-point turn by a woman in a BMW X3 captured last week in Calgary, Canada, takes four minutes to complete and results in damage to one nearby car, all before the driver simply rolls onto her next appointment with befuddlement.

    According to the CBC, the woman behind the wheel was later found by Calgary police and given a $115 ticket for "unsafe backing." It's not clear whether the owner of the Mazda 3 who gets his fender dented — after unwittingly helping the driver complete her escape from the scene — will also get some compensation for his troubles, although the woman was apparently unaware she had hit his vehicle, or that her exploits had garnered more than three million viewers.

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  • Feds say Takata refusing order for nationwide recall of bad air bags

    Federal auto safety regulators called Tuesday on Japanese auto parts supplier Takata to expand a recall over dangerous air bags from southern states to nationwide, potentially affecting millions of additional vehicles — and it was not immediately clear whether the company would comply or which models were affected.

    The Takata air bag defect has grown in recent weeks into a full-blown crisis, with 10 automakers issuing recalls based on geography affecting some 8 million vehicles in the United States and 12 million worldwide built between 2002 and 2008. The air bags contain an explosive that, if exposed to high humidity and heat over time, can inflate with too much force, sending metal shards flying through the bag. 

    Five deaths, all in Honda vehicles, and more than 100 injuries have been linked to the faulty bags. Automakers have said they were limiting recalls to states such as Florida, Hawaii and Puerto Rico in part to ensure that replacement parts in short supply reach those most at

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  • Ford Shelby GT350 Mustang brought back with more than 500 hp

    The original Shelby GT350s from 1965 were Ford Mustangs tuned by then-newcomer Carroll Shelby from everyday pony cars into track-ready rides, ones that proved their capabilities by beating Corvettes and Ferraris on circuits across America. Today, after a 43-year hiatus, Ford resurrected the name with the 2016 Shelby GT350 Mustang — and by its reckoning, the mission hasn’t changed much.

    Based on the new Mustang chassis, Ford says the GT350 will boast not just ample power  — more than 500 hp — but better handling than any Mustang the company has produced in the past 50 years, with technology far beyond what Shelby could have envisioned in 1965.

    The biggest news lies in the engine bay, where the GT350 brings the term “flat-plane crankshaft” into the limelight for the first time in decades. If you imagine a see-through version of a typical V-8 engine, the pistons move in a stair-step fashion — alternating power strokes in a way that maximizes the engine’s smoothness. It’s the reason a

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  • Ford unveils the Everest, a truck-based SUV for the world outside America

    Outside of the auto industry, the term "crossover" to describe sport utility vehicles makes little sense. The term came into use in the early years of automakers building SUV bodies on unitized car chassis, instead of the body-on-frame designs of pickups. Today, thanks to fuel economy rules and customer preference, the body-on-frame SUV is an endangered species; outside of the Jeep Wrangler, Detroit only builds full-size SUVs on truck frames, and the Japanese models still standing (Toyota 4Runner, Nissan Xterra) aren't that popular.

    Yet in the rest of the world, a family-sized hauler with truck bones makes a great deal of sense — as demonstrated by the unveiling of the new Ford Everest, a vehicle Ford hopes to sell basically everywhere except the United States and Canada.

    Based on the global Ford Ranger platform, the three-row Everest that will be built in Thailand and China will have all the typical first-world amenities — from Sync dash entertainment to terrain management for the

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  • Totaled $2 million Ferrari Enzo hits salvage auction as the ultimate mechanic's special

    Totaled 2003 Ferrari Enzo

    Five months ago, a Connecticut mechanic had one of the more expensive oopsies in recent history, accidentally fishtailing on a freeway while driving a 2003 Ferrari Enzo — the 1-of-400, 660-hp supercar, which spun across the freeway and scraped to a halt by the median. No one was injured, aside from the collection of Michael Fux, the memory-foam mattress inventor and ardent Ferrari fan, who was forced to total out the Enzo he'd owned for 10 years.

    Now that same Enzo with just 2,215 miles has fallen into the purgatory where all salvaged vehicles go — up for sale to whomever wants to undertake one hell of a repair.

    As the photos and videos from salvage seller Copart's Crashed Toys division demonstrates, the Enzo will need major reconstruction to drive again. The engine wasn't damaged, and there's no visible harm to the F1-style transmission, but the force of the impact ripped up the rear suspension and the carbon-fiber undercarriage pieces something fierce. Even minor bits of road rash on

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  • Car Talk's Tom Magliozzi dies at 77, but the show will roll on

    Tom Magliozzi, left, and Ray Magliozzi, hosts of National Public Radio's Car TalkTom Magliozzi, left, and Ray Magliozzi, hosts of National Public Radio's Car Talk

    Non Impediti Ratione Cogitationis  sounds like the type of Latin phrase you'd see on the seal of a Harvard Square club. And it is — except it means "unencumbered by the thought process," the answer given by Tom Magliozzi over the years as to how he and his brother Ray could Click and Clack into answers so quickly every Saturday on National Public Radio's "Car Talk."

    Such was the life's work of Tom Magliozzi, who died today at 77 years old due to complications from Alzheimer's. A graduate of MIT and a college professor, Magliozzi will forever be remembered for the shade-tree wisdom shared with a cackle behind one-liners such as "“How do you know if you've got a good mechanic? By the size of his boat.”

    "Tom was the most buoyant, engaging, brilliant, and funny person I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with," said Doug Berman, the show's longtime executive producer. "The legacy he and his brother leave us, Car Talk, has changed radio broadcasting, and has had a life-altering effect on

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  • The 2015 Yahoo Autos Value Car of the Year: Honda Fit

    The value class at our annual Yahoo Autos Car of the Year awards always turns (some might say devolves) into a free-for-all. We keep close tabs on the sticker prices of our test cars, and when one of the editors isn’t making progress in arguing their case in another class, they always reach for the value hammer. Yes, the Kia K900 is far less expensive than a BMW 5-Series. Yes, the Dodge Challenger Hellcat can whoop some Aston Martins.

    But this year’s value winner easily survived all such comers. The 2015 Honda Fit was the lowest-priced vehicle among all our nominees with a $21,590 price tag, including its navigation system, and it won in large part because we often found ourselves asking why the Fit had features some of our other cars didn’t at more than twice the price.

    The new 2015 Fit feels bigger than its predecessor, but that’s an illusion of its stubby bodywork; the car actually lost 1.6 inches of overall length. Inside, Honda still demonstrates the packaging magic that made the

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  • With awkward World Series MVP award, Chevy owns "technology and stuff"

    For several years, the most valuable players of America's biggest sporting events have also won the keys to a new Chevrolet, in a marketing pitch that echoes the old "I'm going to Disneyland" magic of yesteryear. Super Bowl MVP Malcolm Smith got a Silverado; this summer's All-Star MVP Mike Trout scored an even sweeter Corvette. After last night's historic World Series win in game seven for the San Francisco Giants, Madison Bumgarner dutifully reported to the poduim to take ownership of a brand-new Chevy Colorado — only to witness the wildest pitch of the night.

    Already the fame of Rikk Wilde, Chevy's zone manager for Kansas City thrown onto the world stage with only notecards for a life raft, has spread wildly online — with not just his line about the Colorado being filled with "technology and stuff" trending on Twitter, but his own parody account.

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