2019 Subaru Forester; Waze, Google Maps & CarPlay; Alexa Auto | Talking Cars #170


This week, we talk about the
2019 Subaru Forester, which we got to drive at our track. And Waze and Google
Maps are finally coming to Apple CarPlay. And then we answer
some of your questions, next on Talking Cars. [MUSIC PLAYING] And we’re back. I’m Keith Barry. I’m Jon Linkov. I’m Mike Quincy. And we’re going to start
right off with news. There’s a lot of news this
week about infotainment systems in cars. If you don’t know
what that means, which I hear a lot of
people don’t, infotainment, as the name suggests,
information and entertainment– not too much entertainment. Keep your eyes on the
road, on your dashboard. Sounds like a variety show. Yeah, it does, the
infotainment with– With Keith. Milton Berle. Yeah. Wow. So the big news is that– going way back. The big news is
that CarPlay, which is the Apple way of
basically projecting your phone onto your dashboard
in a lot of new cars, just got Waze and Google Maps. And that’s huge
because previously it had only been Apple Maps. Right, you’d only be able to
project Apple Maps in the iOS CarPlay universe. And Google Maps and
Waze, which Google owns, they were locked down
to the Android world. So now, whether Android allowed
Apple or Apple said fine, we’ll capitulate, you can
project these two mapping applications into the
screen on the center dash. Why is that important? OK, you’re no longer putting
it in the cup holder. You’re no longer seeing,
like you talked about, a 7 Series with
a big old suction cup on the front and the
person’s looking at the phone. And sensibly, it will cut
down on driver distraction. You program where your route is. You program your destination. And it’s right in there
in a larger display so it’s easier to see and
less time off the road. So why do people love
Waze and Google Maps? I mean, I use CarPlay, so
I’m stuck with Apple Maps. But I used Google Maps
for the first time driving home the other day. And it was a little
bit better, I think. Well, I think Apple
Maps, first of all, they took the three
dimensions and flattened it. [INTERPOSING VOICES] But seriously, it depends
on the universe you like. I like Waze, personally. OK. There’s a gamification of it. And I don’t really play
in that world with it. You have Strava though. I do have Strava for my bike. I also have Zwift. OK. We can’t have a Talking Cars
without talking about bikes. Bikes, yeah. Talking bikes and cars. Yeah, look me up on
Zwift, everybody. [LAUGHTER] But seriously, there’s
a whole aspect. You could have a gamification. You could have little guys who
eat dots while you’re driving and you get points. And yay, you’re a king and
you’re a queen, all that stuff. And it’s hard to do when
you have your phone– Well, it’s super distracting. You should be eyes on the road. That’s my issue
with Waze, is I know a number of people who are
interacting with their phones– not a big screen, their
phone– while, oh, there’s a police officer. And so they’re playing
with their phone while they’re using this. But I really don’t like
it when I’m a passenger and I’m seeing the driver
messing with their phone to try to get points and whatnot. Well, the thing I like about
these systems more than– I know you like using
in-car navigation. But what I like
is that these tend to be a lot more responsive. Google Maps, Waze,
they’ll route you around things that are– traffic
jams or things like that. Well, some integrated systems
are better than others. Some integrated systems
have automatic rerouting. I really like Android
Auto when we have cars that actually have it. Some cars we have don’t
have the application for it. And some news
about Android Auto. Some news about Android Auto
is that Toyota actually– sort of unconfirmed by
Toyota, but a lot of people are reporting that
Toyotas are going to come out with Android Auto. Just some recent ones
started adding CarPlay. And now finally, they’re
going to get Android Auto. And Toyota was one of
the last manufacturers to get on board with this. Which is weird. It is. But it also is– I mean, it’s taking
the manufacturer out of the equation. Because manufacturers
aren’t good at building smartphones for your dash. Yeah. That’s the thing. One of the big positives of
Android Auto and CarPlay, and whether you
love it or not, is that it takes away the
need for manufacturers to be almost IT
companies as well. They’re not good at that. Well, they’re not good at it. And as we’ve seen with
Lexus, for example, the interface controls with
the touchpad or the mouse. And we’ve seen Mazda’s
challenge with its knob. And there’s all kinds of ways. You have a screen. You plug in your phone. You set it, and you go. They can focus on other
parts of the vehicle. And they could just make sure
that the screen is there. They can make sure that
it’s got a fine processor to run these programs. And you’re taking a
lot out of their hands. Look, I’m not asking Apple
or Google to build a car. I know they’re all
talking about it. I would rather they work
on what they do well and let the car companies
work on what they do well. Yeah. And down the road, we can
have more of a convergence. Well, one of the things that
the car companies aren’t that great at is voice recognition. And they’ll buy
something third party, but this week we
also got some news about putting Alexa in the car. You looked into that, right? Sure. Amazon announced a new Echo
in the car, introductory price of about $25, maybe going up to
50 bucks as it gets rolled out. I think the good
news about this is that it’s very helpful for
people that maybe have an older car that don’t have voice
recognition system in the car, or they have a car
that’s really lousy. And we’ve all tested cars with–
some of the voice commands are terrible. Some are better than others. The better in-car
systems, in my opinion, can do what you’re asking
a lot of Alexa to do. A natural voice tone. Right. I mean, the articles that
you sent me that I read said, you could say,
Alexa, find me a Starbucks. Some of the systems
like from Hyundai, I can hit the button on
the steering wheel and say, find me a Starbucks. And it pops up. Other systems, you say,
find me a Starbucks. And it says, must pick category. Pick coffee shops. Within coffee shops,
pick Dunkin’ Donuts. And it’s more distracting than– Right. So the ones where there’s
just one touch and it goes, that’s really functional for me. If Alexa is going to do
this in the car world, then all the better. But there’s also some
downsides to this. Yeah, I’m a little ner– there are two downsides. So I tried out Alexa
in a car that we had. A lot of Alexa requires that
you download these skills. It’s like an app that
you use over voice. And it requires you to say
things in a very specific way. So for the Lexus
we were driving, you can check how much gas
it has from your house. You can say, Alexa, ask Lexus– which is a hard
thing to say, I’m getting tongue tied
just thinking about it– how much gas in the car? Lock the car. Start the car. The cool thing is that some
cars have it integrated in the other direction. So you can say, Alexa, turn
on my lights when I get home, and put on some jazz. You can do– it’s a long day. Alexa– I love coming into people’s
houses that have Alexa, and they’re listening to jazz. And I walk in, and I hijack. I say Alexa, play
the Sex Pistols. [LAUGHTER] Which is always really funny. But the other problem though
is that now Amazon knows what they’re listening to. And maybe now Alexa
is going to know– Amazon is this huge company. And let’s face it, the
reason why they’re doing this is because they’re trying to
make you buy things in the car. Not a single moment
every day where you’re being asked to buy something. So if you ask it
for Starbucks a lot, what’s to say that they’re
not going to start, hey, there’s a new coffee
shop up the street. And we’re going to give you
$1 off your next cappuccino. In other words, you’re
not even prompting it. It’s just going to interject. We don’t know if
that’s going to happen. You’re going to be
driving, and you’re going to hear a voice all of a
sudden that says, hey, Keith, there’s a coffee shop over
there you haven’t tried yet. And the privacy
concerns are huge. That’s why I don’t
run any of that. My house is new enough I
can put in all that stuff. I could put it in a Nest
or a thermostat like that. I could have even the window
shades that go up and down. I don’t want that. I don’t want that interference. And like you were talking
about, I’ve been in a house with five kids who come in,
and they’re all just screaming, Alexa, Alexa, Alexa. You put that in a car. Put on Frozen. Put on this. Put on that. Oh my god. No, no, no. Voice commands are hard enough
in a car with passengers. You’re like everyone, sh, turn
the air conditioning down, let alone anything else. No, not for me. So from the future to
something a little bit retro, the new
Subaru Forester we rented when we have
it at the track. And I say that not
because it isn’t brand new and it doesn’t have all
the latest features. And we’re going
to talk about some of the latest safety features. But there are some things
about that car that are just– I mean, they didn’t
change any of the things that we liked about it. Yeah. Is that cool? The things that
make the Forester both a top performer
in our tests and also a really highly ranked
vehicle in owner satisfaction in our survey, our
auto survey, members tell us they like
the visibility. This thing has windows. Windows? Like the windows around
in this room, OK? They’re about this
big, the side windows. The roof pillars are tiny, so
it gives you great visibility as well in the corners. But the Subarus have
always done very well in government roof crash tests. They haven’t crushed. It’s tall inside. It’s almost pickup
truck-like inside. It’s gotten quieter. It’s very roomy. It’s got great capabilities,
as far as for cargo. I mean, these are just things
that have– it just checks off the list. And they made that cargo
area a little wider, easier to get into. Now it looks like a baby Ascent
from the big three-row SUV. And the Ascent looks
like a big Forester. But it also, from the
vehicle that we rented, it rides really well. We think it’s definitely
made some improvements over the last model. And listen, Subaru
is pretty smart. I mean, they’re not
going to mess this up. They’ve got a good thing going. And the one that we
rented was a Touring model and had a beautiful
interior, wonderful fit and finish, nice seats,
easy to use controls. It’s no wonder that a number
of Consumer Reports members and fans of Talking
Cars love this. No, it’s not super powerful. No. No, it’s a little down on power. I guess they said
it’s more power than the standard engine
of the last model, the last [INAUDIBLE]. [INTERPOSING VOICES] Yeah, but I mean, driving around
even the hills of Connecticut on the highway and passing
and merging and stuff. I mean, some of those hills
are pretty steep on them too. And it was fine. I didn’t have any complaints. Yeah. It’s perfectly adequate power. It’s not meant to
be a sporty car. They got rid of the
XT, the turbo version. There’s a lot of people
complaining about that, but it wasn’t a huge seller. Yeah. The days of making it a
WRX SUV with modifications are over for some people. I mean, that’s the people who
we’re interacting on Twitter with love that stuff. Yes. And how many of them are
actually buying a car? They’re buying it
secondhand and thirdhand. The interesting thing is that
the safety technology there, it’s going to have
standard eyesight, which includes forward collision
warning, automatic emergency braking. It has a lane departure warning. They have a new eye
tracking, a visibility– Is this like in Super Cruise
where it looks at your– makes sure you’re looking at the road? So it’s a very
slimmed down version of what General Motors
is doing with Super Cruise and the Cadillacs. So it’s basically looking
at you, at the driver, to see if they’re
paying attention. The interesting
thing about this is that while it says it’s
looking at your face, it’s looking at the
angle of your head. I noticed that. When I was driving, I’d
check my blind spot. And my eyes would
be on the road, but my head would
be kind of turned. And it would say– It gives you like,
pay attention. Look up. And Jake, Mr. Glass of
interesting stuff here– [LAUGHTER] –he brought that
attention at first. And he said, look, you
can drive like this. And you’re looking. Your eyes are
looking at the road. And it says, pay attention. Or you could do this and look
down, driving down the track and pretending to
look at your phone, and it doesn’t know that you’re
not looking at the road at all. So great to have a system
for driver attentiveness, but like many new technologies– Not quite there yet. Well, we’re going to
wait for a full verdict. You can work around it. Kelly, who’s our human
factors and user interface sort of genius, I’ve seen
her spending a lot of time in that car. We’re going to buy
her own, obviously. And she has been
really looking into it. So all the privacy concerns,
all the how does it work, I was there. And we’re getting
sort of half answers. And she’s going
to look into that. And she and Jake are
going to find out because I think this
is something we’re going to see a lot more of. Definitely. And once we buy our own car,
there’ll be more interaction probably with Subaru, I think,
and have some more answers and a little more details. Totally, totally. So that might be
a future question. But for now, we’ve
got some questions from you, our wonderful members. Keep them coming,
[email protected] We especially love video
ones because then we can take a break while
we show the video of you and take a sip of whatever’s
in your mug there. But this week, I’m going
to read the questions. The first one is,
“My wife and I are looking to purchase
the new Acura RDX, but are waiting for your
testing to complete it. How long do your
tests typically take? When you expect the RDX
results to be posted? Also, how does the
reliability data look so far in Honda’s
new 2.0 turbo engine and 10-speed transmission?” That’s the one that’s
in the RDX, right? “We really like the
car, but it’s new. So is its powertrain. And that has us worried
about long-term reliability. I love Talking Cars, by the way. The show is what convinced
me to become a CR member. Thanks. Chandler, Chicago.” Great. And if you love what we do, go
to CR.org and become a member. You’re going to find
people just like us, but they’re talking about all
kinds of things for your home. So on that note. So thanks, Chandler. Thank you. Thank you for the plug. On Acuras. RDX. Yeah. OK. Yeah, yeah. OK, so first of all, our
reliability data isn’t out yet. And it’s a new car. So it’s going to pretty much
be based on the overall Acura line. We do predict, based
on the manufacturer, particularly for a new
year, a new model– it’s a total redesign. So that’s the reliability side. As far as performance,
we do like it. We’re not going to be
giving away information because our testing
isn’t 100% complete. But now since, Chandler,
you’re a member, you can read all that. Chandler will be able to go
online and check that out probably in a short
period of time. Very short. Fun to drive,
pretty good response from the engine
transmission combination. It’s smooth. We did like it. Car’s really nice inside. I mean, we didn’t even
get a top premier version and extremely nice interior,
very driver-centric cockpit, the instrument panel,
and the center console. So we like that a lot. But. What we don’t like. Chandler, have you and
your wife tried out bringing your phones
to the dealer, or just trying to change
the radio station? The controls are atrocious. They’re atrocious controls. What gives me hope about Honda,
and I guess in this case Acura, it drives really nice. It has that old time Honda
feel for the steering and the handling and whatnot. But the controls, I
think, really let it down. But look, we want
data on new cars. We always need that information. And we really want our
members to send it to us. At the same time, we do say to
people, look, if you’re worried and a car’s totally redesigned,
skip the first year. Wait. Yeah. Exactly. So Chandler, you may
want to read our report and then wait towards
the end of the model year of this car at least. And the other good thing– Honda, sometimes they have
a tendency to fix things, especially with
infotainment systems that are wrong, very quickly,
like model year to model year. So they’re very responsive. Let’s hope they are with this. Next question, “Hello. I live in Long Island, and I
work as a salesman for a beer wholesaler. I put an average
of 300 to 400 miles a week on my 2006 Nissan
Ultima in stop and go traffic, and I would like to replace
it with a new vehicle. Considering the long,
cold, and snowy winters, I prefer an all-wheel
drive vehicle. My top choices are
the 2019 Toyota RAV4, 2019 XC40 from Volvo, and
the 2019 Subaru Outback. Because of the mileage, this
will be a purchase and not a lease. Considering the cost
and reliability, which should I pick? I’m also open to
other suggestions.” And that’s from
Cem in Long Island. Hello across the sound. Put some beer in the
Cross Sound Ferry for us. You’re a popular guy around
Super Bowl time, I guess. Exactly. Well, I’m going to take
this one from the beginning. I’m going to say– I’m going to give you
another suggestion entirely because I used to
have a job that was like this. And I don’t know about you,
but my job was actually– I got paid by the mile. I got reimbursed for the
mileage that I put on a car. And this is in New England. I got a Prius. I put snows on it
for the winter. And in stop and
go traffic, you’re not going to notice that
it doesn’t have the best acceleration. It has a ton of
room in the back. You’re going to get, in our
test, 55 miles a gallon. And it’s an incredibly
reliable car. So in that sense,
you might actually make money driving
this car if you’re getting reimbursed by the
mile, because it costs less to operate this than what
most reimbursements are. In stop and go traffic, that’s
where hybrids really shine. And that’s what I think. And someone who’s on
the road that much isn’t going to be
having to take it in for service nearly as much. Oh, exactly. Yeah, some other cars. Exactly. I would go with the Outback. First of all, it’s established
of the three choices. I’m going to answer
his question directly with the three choices
he’s asking about. Yeah, OK, OK. It’s roomy. It’s got the all-wheel drive. Even with good all-season
tires, he’s OK. With snows, he’ll be great. And it gets good fuel
economy for the category, for largest wagon. I think that’s a no brainer,
particularly if he’s bringing giant cardboard cutouts
of NFL players or someone lying in the back of the
car, something like that, or pictures of Dave
Abrams holding a beer up. [LAUGHTER] Yeah, I think the
Outback is a good one. It has to be Miami
Dolphins for Abrams. There we are. Woo! 3-0, 3-0, right? 3-0, baby. Yes. All right, tell us why you don’t
like the XC40 because we had a long conversation about this. Sorry, there’s one
right over there. I apologize. I was listening to
what you guys said. The Prius makes all
the sense in the world. Except for me, I still
can’t get past the styling. But that’s a different story. All right, get a [INAUDIBLE]. The Outback is an
excellent choice. I went slightly different route. I’m thinking because the typical
New York’s traffic, lots of stop and go, I’m with you on
the hybrid, but I’m RAV4 hybrid. Oh. I like the RAV4 because you’ve
got a little bit of ground clearance. If they’ve got to drive
through the snow, that helps. You’ve got all-wheel drive. You’ve got all the
standard safety features, got excellent fuel economy,
great reliability, standard forward collision warning,
automatic emergency braking. But I’m totally with
you on the hybrid thing with the city driving. 400 miles a week
in city driving? That’s when a hybrid
makes the most sense. Exactly. It totally does. The reason I didn’t
say the RAV4 hybrid, was redesigned this year. So you’re paying a
premium to get it because it’s a brand new model. Well, you get a leftover model. I would get a leftover. He has the ’19. So I would get a leftover
hybrid to make sure it has Toyota Safety Sense on it. Again, proven reliability
on the older model. Yeah, exactly. All right. Next question is from
Wayne in Berkeley. “In the past 10 or
20 years, dashboards have gone from varied
colors to all black. I find all black interiors
to be ugly and depressing. Why did this happen? Are automakers lemmings? I’d love to see some
brighter colored dashboards.” I’m with you. I’m with you, Wayne. I’m with you on this. I do agree. It’s hard to see out with
different colors, first of all. There is a lot of glare. We see a lot of steeply
raked windshields in cars, every
generation that’s coming through here, every model. Dashboards are getting
longer and longer. Longer and deeper. Which is more to– yeah. So a lot of it’s glare. A lot of it’s just hard. It’s easier to do a flat
black or something that’s not going to bounce back. There’s a lot of trim that
they do throughout the car to compensate for that. With that said– so we were
just in the new Lexus UX, which we didn’t love
for a lot of reasons, but it had a really cool– the
interior was blue and orange. So if you’re a Mets fan– [LAUGHTER] –it’s great. At least something
might make you happy. Yeah. But dark blue and
also Hyundai, I think, has a dark brown, kind
of chocolaty color. Well, in fact, the Forester
that we rented from Subaru had a brownish interior. You’re seeing a
reoccurrence of brown. There’s been a lot of fans
of brown, brown interiors, that color, color scheme. But we are starting to see– I mean, he had
mentioned also when he talked to us that Porsche
and some of the higher end car manufacturers have those
colorful interiors. And I think they’re
bringing it back. But the tops of the dashes
are always going to be black. You could get anything. You want to spend the
money on a Porsche, you’re getting alligator
skin with the bumps. There’s something
interesting there that I think we
talked about earlier, is that now with leases, that
new car manufacturers are becoming used car dealers. So when they get
these cars back, they have to sell
them back off a lease. So they don’t want a car– you, Wayne, to go out
there and order your banana yellow dashboard. To sample Quincy’s shirt here. Exactly. And then not be able
to ever sell that again because it’s the Wayne special. Hey, I’m not wearing
my orange today, OK. Exactly. I was reprimanded for
wearing too much orange. Orange and green interior,
bespoke, yes, yes. All right, so the next question. “Your show rocks!” Always a good way to start if
you want to get your question answered. Thank you. Your show rocks hard. “I’m starting a mobile
auto repair business, and I don’t want to
drive a Transit Connect, although they make sense. As I start out, this vehicle
will be my daily commuter as well. I would prefer something
like a compact truck, but the problem is that
most of them rate low. I know the Honda
Ridgeline rates high, but I think it’s too nice
and expensive for the trade’s market. So my question is,
which is better when it comes to
longevity, comfort, and daily commuting, the Chevy
Colorado or the Toyota Tacoma?” Well, I’m going
with the Colorado. And I’m going with
the diesel because I am a big fan of
highway diesel mileage. This vehicle did pretty well
in Consumer Reports testing. It’s a bit pricey. You can start adding
up the options on this. I would go with an
LT version, just to get the power
adjustable leather seats. One of the letdowns from our
testing of our last Colorado, the cloth seats were a little
flimsy, not very supportive. There is some reliability
issues with the Colorado. That’s one thing that
most Toyotas have, all over this one. But in terms of a
highway ride, it’s much more comfortable
than the Tacoma. The Tacoma has
great resale value. If you buy a Tacoma, when
you go to eventually sell it, you’re going to get
a lot more for it. Even if it’s been
used as a work truck. I mean, this is an
interesting dilemma because there aren’t a lot
of great smallish trucks. We’re going to be interested
to see the new Ford Ranger when that comes out. But for day-to-day
living, I would definitely go with the Colorado. The van makes more sense. Yeah. Kurt, Kurt, buy a van. [LAUGHTER] You know you want it. Look into your heart. There is a Transit– Wait, pull the camera
in, have a conversation. There’s a Transit Connect
just driving right there. You know you want it. Of the two trucks, I mean– look, they’re trucks. You put a load in the bed and
they’re going to ride better. OK, yes, the Tacoma’s horrible
without a load in the bed. It’s still a challenge
for the Tacoma, but OK. I put a bunch of stuff
in the bed and some stuff on the hitch, and
drove it from here to– our tested one out
to Cape Cod and back. And it’s fine. It’s a truck, but it’s
a lot more manageable. It’s not bouncing around. The Chevy is a much nicer
vehicle, much more comfortable. Get the leather seats. Toyota has its own
reliability issues. And like you were
saying, they’re both expensive in their own way. The Toyota has a very
high entry price. And getting a used
one is a challenge. My brother-in-law could not
find a really affordable Tacoma. And then he was finding TRDs. And he didn’t want something
with the Toyota racing development suspensions. We don’t want that. The one thing about the
Chevys, money on the hood. There is always a sale going
on at your local Chevy dealer with the wobbly
guy and all that. Find the time and
look for one that has something on the hood, money
on the hood, and you’ll do OK. You could even possibly
get an off lease one. You could just find a used
one– someone traded one in on the diesel, and they had a
gas one or something like that. So I would look that way. All right, well, you
know what I think. The van is– there’s a
reason you mentioned it. But staying with the
Transit or something else? I think stick with
the Transit Connect. They make such a work version. Yeah. You can lock your
tools up in it. You don’t have to worry about
getting an extra tool box. I mean, I know driving
around in a van is not the coolest,
most flashy thing. It is true. The trucks, you got to get those
side boxes if you have tools. Exactly. You have to do something
extra for that. But there’s a reason why so
many people drive those vans. They hate themselves. Yeah. Oh well. Well, if you hate yourself,
if you love yourself– [LAUGHTER] –if you have a question for
us, [email protected] We’d love to answer it soon. We’ll be back. Super producer Dave
Abrams hates us right now, but that’s a different story. We’ll have to do that again. [LAUGHTER] And let’s do the outro. [BEEP] If you have any questions– sorry. [LAUGHTER] [BEEP] If you do have any
questions, send them to [email protected] If you’d like to learn
more about the cars that we talked about,
check out the show notes. Thanks so much. See you soon. [MUSIC PLAYING]

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