Cadillac Debuts Video Rearview Mirror in 2016 CT6

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Cadillac announced Thursday that the 2016 CT6, its forthcoming flagship car that signals a brand-wide nameplate change, will offer streaming video of what's behind you in the center rearview mirror. The video overlays the mirror, but drivers can switch back to the mirror view at the touch of a button. Cadillac estimates it will improve the field of vision by 300 percent, as it removes passengers, head restraints, window pillars and the vehicle's roofline from your line of sight.

Related: Cadillac Changes All Model Names to Alphanumeric, Starts With CT6, Etc.

It reads a lot like Nissan's Smart Rearview Mirror, but that has yet to reach our shores. And it won't be the first time an automaker has streamed real-time video of what's behind you. Tesla and Land Rover have true rearview cameras — not just backup cameras — that do just that.

Like Nissan, Cadillac claims the camera reduces glare and picks up your surroundings even in low-light situations. The display itself is a TFT LCD, or thin-film-transistor liquid-crystal display, that measures 1,280 by 240 pixels; it draws video from a rear-mounted high-definition camera lens with a specialized coating to repel water and dirt.

By Kelsey Mays | December 19, 2014 | Comments (0)

Night Drivers Need This Button

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It seems that the older I get, the more sensitive I am to driving at night, whether its lights on the roads or the light coming from test cars' multimedia systems. And I'm not alone.

Related: More Safety News

Most adults have trouble adjusting to bright lights as they age. "The pupil shrinks from a diameter of about five millimeters when we're young adults to about three millimeters in old age," according to an article on night vision in Harvard Health Publications. "A smaller pupil means less lights can enter the eye ... and [is] part of the reason older eyes have a harder time adjusting to changes in light — going from darkness into bright light and vice versa."

Pair this phenomenon with the increasing size of electronic screens in cars and it's a recipe for difficulty driving at night. Chrysler's Uconnect system features an 8.4-inch screen; the new Volvo XC90's touch-screen is iPad sized and inspired, and the Tesla Model S features a mac-daddy 17-inch screen. These screens emit a continuous glow, and it can be difficult to see after looking at a tablet-sized glowing screen and then back to the dark road ahead while driving at night. Want to turn the glow down while its in night mode or even turn it off? With many systems, you'll have to stare directly into the glowing embers, so to speak, long enough to toggle through several menu screens to turn off the screen.

By Kristin Varela | December 18, 2014 | Comments (4)

Tested: Clickit Sport Car Dog Harness

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Earlier this year we tested Sleepypod's Clickit Utility dog harness, the top performer in the Center for Pet Safety's 2013 crashworthy study. CPS now conducts voluntary certification tests of pet safety harnesses, and Sleepypod's newest harness — the Clickit Sport — is the first harness to achieve certification. The Clickit Sport earned CPS' top rating of five stars for each size in which it is offered (CPS ratings are assigned by size categories and not across a brand).

Related: Tested: Clickit Car Dog Harness

Since the Clickit Sport is significantly different from the Clickit Utility, we took it for a test drive and found the new harness to be more dog and human friendly.

By Jen Burklow | December 16, 2014 | Comments (1)

Goodbye, MyFord Touch; Hello, Sync 3

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MyFord Touch, maligned for its unintuitive touch-sensitive buttons, tiny touch-screen icons and overall lag, will finally head into the sunset. This is exactly 1,800 days since we first reported on the system, which appeared in the restyled 2011 Ford Edge and its 2011 Lincoln MKX sibling.

Related: 2015 Ford Fusion Review

Four years, 11 months and 5 days later, meet Sync 3. The third generation of Ford's Sync system (the automaker already markets Sync 2 in Europe), Sync 3 promises conversational voice recognition, less complexity, smartphone-like pinch and swipe touch-screen motions, better app integration and over-the-air updates through home WiFi networks, according to Ford.

By Kelsey Mays | December 11, 2014 | Comments (0)

Study: AAA Finds Safety Systems Still Have Kinks

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Blind spot monitors are one of those features that didn't exist when I started reviewing cars more than a decade ago, but now, according to AAA, nearly three-quarters of model-year 2014 vehicles offer blind spot detection and 50 percent offer a lane departure warning system as options. During the last several years of testing cars with these systems, I've found that I can't live without them. I was even thinking about asking for an aftermarket blind spot detection system for my own car as a Christmas present (it's between that and a spa day).

Related: Consumers Want Backup Cameras, Blind Spot Systems

However, as much as we like to think that the technology in our cars is unflappable, AAA reminds us that in-car safety features may not be perfect and are only as smart as the humans who operate them.

In partnership with the Automobile Club of Southern California's Automotive Research Center, AAA Automotive Engineering released the results of a blind spot monitoring and lane departure warning system usability study today, and their findings aren't what you'd expect:

By Kristin Varela | December 9, 2014 | Comments (1)

Dude, Where's My Self-Driving Car? Experts Discuss Viability

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The U.S. Department of Transportation classifies self-driving cars across five grades, from Level Zero to Level 4. Most new cars have Level 1 or 2 capabilities, meaning they have anything from electronic stability control (Level 1) to adaptive cruise control with active steering to keep you between your lane markings (Level 2). Various automakers' self-driving test fleets represent Level 3, while cars that can drive without anyone inside represent Level 4.

Related: More 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show Coverage

How long will it take to reach that final stage in meaningful numbers? Google's Snoopy-faced, self-puttering runabout is essentially there, and automakers insist the capabilities are closer than you think. But complications exist. At the Los Angeles Auto Show’s Connected Car Expo Tuesday, panelists and other experts held forth on the possibilities and obstacles to come.

By Kelsey Mays | November 19, 2014 | Comments (3)

Texting-While-Driving Study Likens Phone Use to Drug Addiction

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When Huey Lewis sang "I Want a New Drug" back in the '80s, he could not have foreseen that one day that newfangled pharmaceutical wouldn't come in pill form but as a phone — and that it would be one of the more dangerous drugs on the market. The active substance in this new "drug" is happiness-enhancing dopamine, and according to a study commissioned by communications giant AT&T, the "high" you get from using your mobile device is akin to being addicted.

Related: Texting-While-Driving Consequences Vary By State

The study, conducted by the University of Connecticut School of Medicine in cooperation with the "Texting & Driving … It Can Wait" campaign, found that more and more people are demonstrating compulsive behavior — dubbed "cell-phone addiction" — with three-quarters of people admitting to at least glancing at their phones while behind the wheel. That's despite 90 percent of people reporting that they know better.

"We compulsively check our phones because every time we get an update through text, email or social media, we experience an elevation of dopamine, which is a neurochemical in the brain that makes us feel happy," Dr. David Greenfield, assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine and founder of the Internet and Technology Addiction, said in a statement. "If that desire for a dopamine fix leads us to check our phones while we're driving, a simple text can turn deadly."

By Matt Schmitz | November 6, 2014 | Comments (1)

Video: These Over-the-Top Features Will Make You Drool

With car options, there are luxury features that make your driving experience more pleasurable in a tasteful, elegant manner. And then there are over-the-top features that exist in large part so you can boast to whomever will listen. Watch the video above as Cars.com reviewer Kelsey Mays introduces some of these show-offy features, from self-parking to hot-stone massage seats.

By Matt Schmitz | October 17, 2014 | Comments (1)

In-Car Entertainment Systems: Yea or Nay?

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Early in my automotive journalism and parenting careers, I had this grand "no-DVDs-in-the-car" stance. (I'm pretty sure I was still making my own baby food back then, too — ha!). Then I took a couple of road trips with my two toddlers in a test car with a DVD system, and I became a convert after an "Angelina Ballerina" DVD performed wonders by diverting an in-car tantrum. My sister-in-law still likes to bring up my change in policy to get a laugh at family get-togethers.

Read More #FamilyCarAdvice

Now that my "babies" have entered a new stage in life, I've changed tunes yet again. My freshly blended "Brady Bunch" family is comprised of my daughters, ages 14 and 12, and my stepdaughter, age 10. Today, technology inundates practically every facet of our lives. My oldest got an iPhone when she turned 12, worked on an iPad for all her middle-school classes and is now required to have a laptop for high school. Her Spanish seminars use Google Hangouts, she Face Times with me to keep me up-to-date on all the latest teen goings-on while I'm on business trips, she choreographs dances using an app to catalog her ideas — and the list goes on and on. My other two girls listen to music, play games and watch movies on their devices when traveling overseas to visit grandparents in South Africa. Our family's weekly dinner menu and grocery list are accessible by all of us, online calendars are used to manage three kids' schedules in three different schools in three different cities — and once again, the list seemingly never ends.

I'm sure many of you can relate to the fact that having dedicated time to talk to my kids, with full attention on both sides, is a rarity. The best chance of that happening these days is in the car … without a DVD entertainment system.

By Kristin Varela | October 15, 2014 | Comments (3)

Video: These In-Car Apps Aren't Worth Your Cash

When shopping for a new car, buyers are bombarded now more than ever with optional tech upgrades, from backup cameras to Wi-Fi hotspots and from social-media feeds to internet radio. Which of these features will enhance your driving experience and which should you kick to the curb? Cars.com reviewer Kelsey Mays will help you decide in the video above.

By Matt Schmitz | October 10, 2014 | Comments (0)

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