Short Report: The 2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio more than lives up to the hype, but certainly isn’t perfect

Full Car Details More Reviews The old saying goes: never meet your heroes. I’m not so sure if that’s always true – I did meet the Obamas once, and they were delightful – but there’s some weight to the idea that if you hold your idols in such high regard, you’re bound to be disappointed when you actually meet them. The saying applies to non-human heroes too. How many times have you been somewhere that you’ve been aching to go and been let down? Or seen a movie that you’ve been waiting months for, and found it just okay? For car lovers, we’ve got numerous automotive heroes too. I almost never want to drive a Porsche 930 Turbo (my all-time halo car) because I fear it will just be… well, a 35-year-old car. The same goes for the 2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio, a car that has had the attention of the entire automotive world for the better part of the last year or more. It’s been hailed as a triumphant return to making cars that aren’t small, crappy hatchbacks for the storied Italian brand, and the noble steed the brand is riding in its return to the U.S. market for the first time in decades. It’s also been hailed as one of the best performance sedans ever, and currently holds the record for four-door production cars at the famed Nürburgring, with a blistering 7:32 lap time. The Giulia has garnered numerous awards (even from us) and captured the hearts of car nerds the world over. It’s also a car I’ve been itching to drive basically since it debuted last year. But I’d be lying if I said the old adage wasn’t weighing on my mind. What if it’s ugly in person? What if it breaks down on me? Or worse yet… what if it just flat-out sucks? Well, I’m happy to report that none of the above worries were validated over the course of a Continue Reading

Tesla shares drift lower as Model S fails to ace some safety tests

(Reuters) - Shares of Tesla Inc fell for the third straight day on Thursday, after its Model S sedan failed to get the top score in some tests conducted by a U.S. safety group and a larger rival secured supplies to power its electric vehicle program. Tesla's shares have fallen about 13 percent this week, wiping off nearly $8 billion from the company's market capitalization, following the carmaker's lower-than-expected deliveries and rising competition in the electric car market. Thursday's 5 percent drop puts the stock on course for its worst weekly performance since February last year. The steep fall also knocked the company off its perch as the most valuable U.S. carmaker, with General Motors reclaiming the spot on Thursday. At current levels, GM has a market capitalization of $52.71 billion, while Tesla was valued at about $51.8 billion. Tesla on Monday reported lower-than-expected delivery numbers, citing a "severe" shortfall of new battery packs. This was followed on Wednesday by Goldman Sachs cutting its six-month price target to $180 from $190. Andrew Left of short seller Citron Research told CNBC in a phone interview that he thinks that is fair in the short term. Meanwhile, global carmakers are racing to bolster their battery supplies. On Thursday, Reuters reported that mining giant Glencore had signed a major deal to sell up to 20,000 tonnes of cobalt products to a Chinese firm, a move that in turn helps Volkswagen secure car batteries for its shift to electric vehicles. Zhejiang Geely Holding Group-owned [GEELY.UL] Volvo said on Wednesday all car models it launches after 2019 will be electric or hybrids. In the tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the seat belt in Tesla's Model S was not effective and could lead to the driver's head striking the steering wheel hard through the air bag. Ford's Lincoln Continental, the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and Toyota Motor Corp's Avalon received the highest Continue Reading

Ratings and Review: The 2017 Volvo S90 is sexy, smart and safe. Is that enough to woo midsize luxury sedan buyers?

Full Car Details More Reviews Anyone who follows U.S. weather patterns knows just how rare it is that Southern California experiences a full week of dark and stormy weather, and especially as of late, with the state entering its sixth year of a historic drought. Nevertheless, during the week that I drove Volvo’s new 2017 S90 midsize luxury sedan, California received wave after wave of manna from the skies, liquid gold to fill reservoirs, replenishing ground water and moistening parched soil. If there exists a luxury car built to battle inclement weather, the Volvo S90 is it. The Swedes know a thing or two about creating a comfortable, cozy, hygge environment in which to ride out the storm, and the all-wheel-drive S90 T6 rose to the task amid the flooding rains and mudslides. Built on Volvo’s newest global platform, which is also used for the XC90 crossover SUV and the V90 wagon, the S90 sedan starts at under $48,000. Ladling on the extras quickly sends the price soaring, and my test vehicle, equipped with Inscription trim and plenty of additional swag, wore a window sticker reading $66,940 (with $995 in destination charges). After a week of kid shuttling, commuting, and touring suddenly lush regions of southern California resplendent in greenery, it is clear that with the S90 Volvo can expand its ownership base, but perhaps not to the degree it would like. Design: 9.7 rating Are you starting to receive invitations to join the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) in the mail? If so, you’ll easily remember when the default shape for Volvos was a box. Designers seemingly used a T-square to shape their sedans and wagons – and not much else. Back then if you got a 3-year-old to draw a picture of a car, the Volvo 940 my dad drove when I was growing up was what you’d end up with. Time passes, designs evolve and Volvo’s new top-tier sedan is Continue Reading

Spousal Report: With the 2017 Fusion, Ford fails to fix a glaring flaw

Full Car Details More Reviews Ford has for half a decade offered one of the most diverse lineups in the midsize family sedan segment. From the basic Fusion S to the upscale Fusion Titanium, and from small displacement turbocharged engines paired with an optional all-wheel-drive system to hybrid versions with available plug-in capability and nearly 20 miles of emissions-free electric driving before switching to gasoline, Ford offers a little something for everyone in the Fusion. For the 2017 model year, the Fusion only gets better. This year, new Fusion Sport and Fusion Platinum trim levels join the lineup. The Sport amounts to more than the name implies, as it adds a twin-turbocharged 2.7-liter V6 engine, AWD, an adaptive damping suspension, a Sport driving mode, and subtle “I-go-fast” styling enhancements. The Platinum impinges upon Lincoln territory with quilted leather seats, an extended leather treatment for the dashboard and door panels, and a full roster of convenience, infotainment and safety technologies. Additional upgrades include a new Sync 3 infotainment system, a redesigned center console with a rotary electronic shifter, and upgraded driver assistance and collision avoidance systems including adaptive cruise control with full stop-and-go functionality, a pedestrian detection system, an automatic emergency braking system, a lane keeping assist system, and a semi-autonomous parking system that works for parallel and perpendicular spaces. In order to put this freshened family sedan to the test, Daily News Autos editor Christian Wardlaw and his wife, contributing writer Liz Kim, spent a week driving a 2017 Ford Fusion Sport with the V6 Sport Upgrade package, the Driver Assist package, adaptive cruise control, ventilated front seats, a navigation system, and summer performance tires. The price tag came to $40,680 (including the destination charge of $875). This is their story… How it Looks Continue Reading

Neonode banks on touch-sensitive steering wheel to let drivers use in-car entertainment

Optical touch technology company Neonode is set to demonstrate a super-sensory cart steering wheel that could be used instead of buttons or even voice control to activate vehicle telematics systems. A number of car manufacturers and technology companies alike believe that the future of the connected car and of operating in-car entertainment and informatics systems is via voice control. Ford has worked with Microsoft to develop the SYNC platform which cedes to users' vocal demands, while Mercedes, Honda, Chevrolet and a host of others are looking to embed Apple's Siri virtual assistant at the heart of their in-vehicle entertainment systems. However, Neonode Inc believes there is another way, namely via a gesture-and-touch-sensitive steering wheel. The Next-Generation Neonode-powered steering wheel will allow drivers to use gesturing and touch to control audio, visual, and in-car telematic systems rather than steering-wheel and steering column-mounted buttons and switches. It is not clear if the device, which will be showcased at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES, January 8-11 in Las Vegas) this month, has already attracted partners within the automotive world, but doing away with steering-wheel mounted buttons, particularly on performance cars, could really help to elevate the driving experience. For example, the latest Ferrari 458 Italia and its big brother the F12 Berlinetta both feature a number of wheel-mounted and integrated controls that are actually a liability when driving conditions are hard and the wheel isn't perfectly straight. The driver is forced to look down at the wheel to locate the turning signals, traction control or suspension settings when he or she should have both eyes on the road. Of the announcement, Neonode CEO Thomas Eriksson said: "We have made it our mission to develop the next generation of touch solutions, significantly raising the bar and perception of possibilities. Our patented MultiSensing technology has emerged from Continue Reading

Chrysler to turn vehicles into wireless hotspots

DETROIT - People who buy Chrysler LLC vehicles next year will have the option of turning their cars and trucks into wireless Internet hotspots.   The company plans to announce Thursday that the feature will be available as part of its "uconnect" system that will debut in most 2009 Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep models.   The wireless Internet will come as a dealer-installed option and will work over cellular telephone links. It will come with a monthly fee which has not yet been determined, spokesman Todd Goyer said.   Goyer said people will be able to use laptop computers in their cars and trucks just as if they were in an office or home.   To access the Internet, vehicles will need to have "uconnect" hardware, which Chrysler will unveil to compete with Ford's "Sync" and other in-car electronic systems.   The uconnect system will link cellular telephones and personal music players to the car's onboard electronics, with the ability to control an Apple iPod with radio and steering wheel controls. The system also has navigation and real-time traffic features, controlled by voice recognition or a touch screen.   It also includes the company's in-car 30-gigabyte hard drive, with options for three-channel satellite television service and satellite radio.   Goyer said the wireless system will work while vehicles are moving so they can be used by passengers. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

COURT OF LAST RESORT. Former phenom hits back at IMG, father in struggle to return to top of tennis world

BRADENTON, Fla. - The photograph in Mirjana Lucic's hands is only seven years old, even if it sometimes seems from another lifetime. It shows her in the sun-baked afterglow of Wimbledon triumph, moments after defeating Nathalie Tauziat of France to move into the 1999 semifinals of the most fabled tennis tournament on Earth. In the image, 17-year-old Lucic is pumping her fists, smiling broadly, stepping forward with strength and confidence, her long blonde hair hanging like a rope behind her. She was one of the foremost phenoms in tennis then, a 6-foot kid with punishing power and courage to match, having fled her native Croatia with her mother and four siblings a year before, to escape the lifelong beatings she says were inflicted on her by her father, Marinko Lucic. Mirjana Lucic wasn't just an immensely promising player. She was a poster girl for resilience and survival, and that is precisely what she dreams of being again, after vanishing from the tour so completely you half expect her photo to turn up on a milk carton. What's been the hardest part to deal with? The financial hardship that has limited her to a single tournament each of the last two years? The 50-pound weight gain? The bitter lawsuit against IMG, her former management company and the most powerful force in the sport, which she accuses of using medication, mind games and willful deceit to sabotage her career? Or is it the sordid residue of her fractured home life, and the crushing burden of supporting an entire family before you are even of legal age? Whatever the outcome of her dueling litigation with IMG, which sued her first for defaulting on promissory notes and emphatically denies all allegations, it's hard to think of another athlete who has been caught in a messier tangle of events, or who stands as a better example of the ugly underbelly of youthful stardom. The same management company that has made Maria Sharapova a marketing wunderkind - and quite likely the most recognized name Continue Reading

Volkswagen’s Golf R is the turbocharged antidote to common luxury cars

Full Car Details More Reviews The best thing the VW Golf R has going for it is the VW badge on the grill. It’s also the car’s biggest handicap. With 292-horsepower and all-wheel-drive, the Golf R is a rapid and effective sports car, with a level of power and sophistication you expect from an outright German luxury brand. Unfortunately, with a starting price north of $36-grand, the Golf R happens to also carry a German luxury car price-tag. Let’s stick with how this VeeDub drives, for the moment, and then we’ll get back to the marketing and value proposition side of things. FOLLOW DAILY NEWS AUTOS ON FACEBOOK. 'LIKE' US HERE. From the outside, the Golf R is subtly and tastefully set apart from lesser Golf hatchbacks by larger front air intakes, quad exhaust tips poking out of the rear, and a set of very handsome 19-inch “Cadiz” alloy wheels. Generally speaking, however, you’d have to be a VW fan to quickly recognize this Golf has something special in its bag of tricks. That’s really the point of this car. Those who actually know what it is are the ones guaranteed to love it. Now, let’s punch the gas! All four wheels dig into the asphalt to propel the Golf R onwards to a 0 to 60 mph time estimated at 4.9 seconds. That sounds a little slow, based on our time with the VW. Strong acceleration is only part of the allure here, however. The controls all feel perfectly balanced, the dynamics are fluid and expertly honed, and the brakes bring this 3,400 lb. hatchback to quick stops. The handling, for example, doesn’t have any of the artificially hefty push-and-pull that often masquerades as ‘sporty feeling’ in many modern cars and crossovers. Power into a corner and the Golf R gets you through with absolutely no nervousness, no steering wheel twitch, and with a ride that remains firm but never punishingly stiff even on imperfect Continue Reading

City cabs to be outfitted with high-tech warning systems for pilot program

Vision Zero is going high tech. The Taxi and Limousine Commission is testing a system designed to warn cabbies when they are in imminent danger of hitting a pedestrian, bicyclist or car. A total of six cabs and livery cars so far have been outfitted with the Mobileye Accident Avoidance system, which includes a windshield-mounted camera to scan the road ahead. Computer software identifies and classifies objects, and calculates risk based on speed and distance, said Guy Palumbo, a regional representative for IonFleets, which is providing the equipment for the pilot program. A series of alerts — an audible alarm, flashing dashboard light and a vibrating steering wheel or seat — will prompt the driver to slam the brakes, Palumbo said. The TLC expects to expand the 12-month program, which began Tuesday, to include safe-driving systems installed in additional cabs, TLC officials said. “There is some very promising technology out there that we hope can help us achieve the goals of Vision Zero, and the more we learn about it through this pilot, the more effective we will be when adding it to our tool belt,” TLC Chairwoman Meera Joshi said in a statement. Vision Zero is a City Hall initiative that aims to eliminate traffic fatalities across the five boroughs. Other components include redesigning dangerous boulevards and increasing police enforcement of traffic laws. Some car manufacturers offer crash-prevention technology as options or standard features. The TLC still needs to determine how equipment fares in cabs that are driven all day and all night on city streets, officials said. The system that was installed for the pilot also includes a camera focused on the driver and a “black box” event recorder, Palumbo said. Initially, the TLC will collect data from incidents of “events” such as hard-stops, sharp turns, tailgating, speeding, lane departures, near-collissions and Continue Reading

Review: 2015 Kia Soul helps to preserve souls, and sanity

Full Car Details More Reviews You never know what lies around the next curve, and that’s why buying a safe car matters. A fellow dad that I’ve gotten to know through our kids’ school understands the importance of choosing a vehicle with excellent crash-test ratings better than many people. He’s a police officer, and he works nights. Safety is important to him in part because of what he has witnessed on Southern California highways, but also because he has personal experience with surviving the unexpected. FOLLOW DAILY NEWS AUTOS ON FACEBOOK. 'LIKE' US HERE.  Last December, after two consecutive night shifts separated by a day of holiday-related family gatherings, this exhausted husband, father, and public servant fell asleep while driving home in his new Kia Soul, and rolled it on a freeway interchange transition ramp. Having walked away from the wreck with little more than bumps and bruises, he credits the Kia’s top-notch crash-test ratings for his survival. With a single exception, the Soul earns the highest possible ratings in every single collision-related assessment conducted by the NHTSA and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Where does it fall just a bit short? The front passenger seating position earns a 4-star rating instead of 5 stars in the NHTSA’s frontal-impact test. Nevertheless, the Soul’s overall performance is undeniably impressive, especially for a vehicle that costs as little as $16,015 (including the $825 destination charge). LEARN MORE ABOUT THE KIA SOUL HERE. My test car, painted Alien green, was a bit pricier than that. Equipped with Exclaim trim (represented with an exclamation mark), a set of floor mats, and “The Whole Shabang Package” (yes, it’s really called this), totaled up to $26,835. Even at that price it’s absolutely worth every penny, because the Soul oozes Continue Reading