Baltimore, Maryland, United States
Apple, maker of tech items like the iPhone, iPad and Mac line of computers, is extending its reach into the automotive market, making a fairly big announcement ahead of the Geneva Motor Show. No, it hasn't bought Tesla (yet). Instead, Apple has announced CarPlay, an all-new means of controlling an iPhone through your car.
Now, this doesn't strike us as some gimmicky thing. It's become increasingly common for automakers to take advantage of the high-speed data streams its customers enjoy on their smartphones in order to integrate navigation, traffic, audio and other infotainment items into a car's touchscreen interface. The Chevrolet Spark and Sonic are two prime examples of this move, using an iPhone's data stream for Siri integration and data for a third-party navigation app.
Owners will be able to plug in their iPhones to their cars via the USB port and gain control of a number of the device's functions, all through a car's touchscreen.
Volvo is working to bring Spotify to its vehicles. Ericsson has announced it will provide its Connected Vehicle Cloud service to Volvo for future products, and Spotify streaming music is part of that service. Like Toyota Entune and other infotainment services, the Connected Vehicle Cloud will use the driver's smartphone as a modem to stream music and serve as a base for other applications, all of which will be controllable through the vehicle interface. Expect to see the service launch in 2014, though Ericsson stresses later generations will feature an embedded modem with its own SIM card that will piggyback off of the owner's phone data plan.
But that system won't show up in production vehicles until at least 2016. In the interim, Ericsson says it will continue to work with government agencies on its car-to-car communication efforts. That program could eventually help pave the way toward autonomous road trains capable of helping vehicles travel safely together while also reducing traffic congestion. Wired has a full break down of the Connected Vehicle Cloud strategy. You can read it here.
When people ask us what car we would recommend for them, it's usually not easy to answer. To make a useful recommendation we must consider which of the numerous vehicle segments fits their needs best, and then choose one of the many vehicles offered in each segment. For some people, new cars don't meet their expectations of value, because they lose so much of it the moment they are purchased and driven off the dealer lot. For them, there's always the used-car market, where great deals can be found, but cars' histories of reliability and maintenance records - and perhaps that Certified Pre-Owned warranty - become ever-important factors playing into purchase choice.
To help out, Edmunds has done us the favor of assembling a list of the best used vehicles money can buy, covering model years 2006-2011, according to what it considers the most important criteria when shopping for used autos: reliability, safety, value and availability. That means unreliable, unsafe, super-expensive or limited-edition models don't appear on the list, but instead cars from each segment that are more likely to satisfy the general population.
There are some real goodies on the list, including but not limited to vehicles such as the capable Honda Fit, the cultish Honda Accord coupe (which can be had with a 240-horsepower V6 and a six-speed manual transmission some years), and the powerful Chevrolet Corvette. While Edmunds' choice of the Volvo C70 for best used convertible baffled us at first (not that it's a bad car), it redeemed itself by stating that the Mazda MX-5 still is an unofficial top choice if you don't require more than two seats.