Look for Siri Eyes Free Integration on a host of 2014 GM vehicles. Previously offered on the Chevrolet Sonic and Spark, Apple's voice-activated "intelligent assistant" — requiring neither the driver's hands nor eyes for use — will now be available on the Chevrolet Camaro, Cruze, Equinox, Malibu, SS and Volt, the automaker announced Monday.
Through the vehicles' available Chevrolet MyLink multimedia system, users with a compatible iPhone running the iOS 6 or iOS 7 operating systems can direct Siri to perform a number of tasks while they keep their eyes on the road and hands on the wheel. To use the feature, motorists connect their iPhone with the MyLink radio via Bluetooth, pair with the system and use the steering-wheel voice-activation button to begin and end sessions. In addition to the feature's no-look use, it prevents the iPhone's screen from lighting up, further mitigating distraction.
If you read our series on the business of redesigns, you know that reimagining a car from the ground up can be a billion-dollar feat to implement the industry's latest technology, keep up with ever-improving competition and ultimately (hopefully) increase sales. They usually do just that: In Cars.com's analysis of 61 redesigns from 2009 to 2012, sales for the average remake saw an increase of 32.6% in the months following.
Why? Just look at their predecessors. Some undertakings replace a onetime star that lingered well past its freshness date (see the Volkswagen New Beetle), while others are the successor to a product doomed from the get-go (see the Dodge Caliber). Whatever you call it, the most improved overhauls can sometimes create butterflies out of automotive caterpillars. An important note: Sometimes the changes go beyond just interiors and drivetrains, and sometimes the car being replaced was so poor that the automaker gave the new version an all-new name.
The last time we named the most-improved cars, we considered models that showed progress through successive generations in the 2000s. This time, our editors nominated the most improved single redesigns from the past 15 years.
Vehicles Affected: Approximately 1,558 model-year 2013 and 2014 Chevrolet Sonics
The Problem: Faulty fuel-tank strap welds could allow the strap bracket to separate, causing the fuel tank to rest on the exhaust pipe or plastic fuel-tank shield. If the fuel-tank shield and fuel-filler neck do not support the fuel tank, it may separate from the vehicle. If punctured and in the presence of an ignition source, a fire may occur. The automaker discovered the issue in the assembly plant and said there have been no customer complaints, crashes, injuries or fires resulting from the problem; most of the vehicles are in dealer stock.
The Fix: Dealers will inspect the bracket straps and make any necessary repairs for free.
What Owners Should Do: GM said motorists experiencing the problem may hear a rattling or scraping noise. Owners can call Chevrolet at 866-694-6546 or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's vehicle-safety hotline at 888-327-4236, or go to www.safercar.gov.
When Cars.com reviewer David Thomas tested the 2013 Chevrolet Sonic's sporty version, the RS, he found little reason to pay the extra money when the LTZ hatchback version was just as powerful, and the additional "sportiness" marginal at best. Still, he said the RS is a fun, zippy compact with excellent fuel economy.
The Sonic that Thomas drove was Victory Red with a Jet Black interior and came with all RS-standard equipment at a cost of $20,995, including an $810 destination charge. The engine was a turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder mated to a six-speed manual transmission, good for 138 horsepower and EPA-estimated fuel economy of 27/34 mpg city/highway. The Sonic earned the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's 2013 Top Safety Pick award, but fell short in the new small overlap front test, earning a "marginal" rating.
A half-dozen compact cars have earned the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's Top Safety Pick+ honor, the nonprofit vehicle-safety advocacy group announced today. Of the 12 models evaluated, top awardees included the two- and four-door versions of the 2013 Honda Civic, 2013 Dodge Dart, 2013 Ford Focus, 2013 Hyundai Elantra and 2014 Scion tC. All of these received Good or Acceptable ratings overall in five different crash tests.
Six other cars — the 2013 Chevrolet Sonic, 2013 Chevrolet Cruze, 2013 Volkswagen Beetle, 2013 Nissan Sentra, 2013 Kia Soul and 2014 Kia Forte — earned Marginal or Poor ratings. "In some cases dummies' heads struck hard structures like the windshield pillar and instrument panel," IIHS media relations associate Kristin Nevels said in a statement.
Changes to the popular Chevrolet Sonic for the 2014 model year are few but welcome. The subcompact adds new safety equipment, available tech features, a new trim package and expanded color options. Meanwhile, the price has technically been reduced by $15 — though an equivalent hike in the destination charge brings the starting price back up to $14,995, same as 2013.
Cars.com reviewer Dave Thomas says Chevrolet's compact Sonic is a well-balanced and affordable car, but the sport-oriented RS version doesn't fit that description. Shoppers expecting more power and added driving excitement from the RS will end up paying more without really seeing a big return on the investment.
Unless your neighbors sell a lot of Mary Kay cosmetics, pink cars are pretty scarce, but it seems like Chevy is on a mission to make pink the new black. The bow-tie brand is releasing its second pink car, the 2014 Chevrolet Sonic, in Deep Magenta Metallic.
It's the first in a series of limited-edition colors and boldly more Malibu-Barbie- esque than Chevy's last bubble-gum-inspired offering, the Spark in Techno Pink.
"We know that about one-third of our Sonic buyers note exterior color as an 'extremely important' factor in their purchase process — a higher percentage than other small car buyers," Michelle Killen, lead creative designer in General Motors' color and trim studio and exterior paint expert for Chevrolet, said in a statement.
But why pink? According to GM designers, the color is a "lasting trend," but it doesn't sound like many car shoppers agree. Chevrolet spokeswoman Annalisa Bluhm told us Techno Pink only "accounts for 10% of all Sparks sold — and they are not all to ladies, either!"
The Sonic in Deep Magenta Metallic will be available August through October. Next up will be Cool Blue from November until March followed by Dragon Green during the first quarter of 2014.
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