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Month: October 2018

1.3M Ford Focus compact cars recalled over stall risk

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Ford on Wednesday said that it plans to recall nearly 1.3 million compact cars to address an emissions system component that can cause engines to stall.

The recall applies to 2012 through 2018 Ford Focus compact cars with a 2.0-liter inline-4 engine. Ford discontinued the Focus compact car in the U.S. after the 2018 model year.

At fault is an emissions system canister purge valve that Ford said in government filings can “stick open.” If the valve fails to close, it can cause excessive vacuum buildup that the automaker says could lead to the engine stalling. The fuel tank could also deform due to pressure.

MORE: Read our 2018 Ford Focus review

Symptoms of the issue include a check-engine light, an erratic or inaccurate fuel gauge, the loss of engine power, or even an engine stall. Ford recommended that Focus owners keep their vehicles’ fuel tanks at least half full until the recall is performed.

To fix the issue, Ford will install a software update to the cars’ internal computer system that will better detect the purge valve’s status. Ford said that its dealers will inspect the purge valve and, in some cases, replace the unit if it is found to be stuck open.

Ford said that the recall stemmed from complaints from Focus owners over power loss and inaccurate fuel gauges.

The recall will be performed at no cost to Focus owners and the automaker plans to begin alerting owners of affected vehicles by mid-December.

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2019 BMW X7 Review, Ratings, Specs, Prices, and Photos

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The 2019 BMW X7 is the German automaker’s late entry into the three-row luxury crossover SUV arena. That’s not to say that BMW hasn’t tried before with third-row seating in its X5, but the X7 promises hospitable rearmost seats thanks to a wheelbase that grows about 5 inches and an overall length increased by about 9 inches to 203.3 inches.

That puts the 2019 X7 a hair longer than the Mercedes-Benz GLS and a few inches bigger than the Audi Q7, but the three mirror one another in many ways. The X7 will launch in two versions: xDrive40i with a 3.0-liter twin-turbo inline-6 and xDrive50i with a 4.4-liter twin-turbo V-8. Both engines use an 8-speed automatic transmission to put power to all four wheels. The xDrive40i will likely be the more popular of the two and its 335-horsepower engine should be up to the task of moving about 5,400 pounds of SUV. The xDrive50i’s V-8 puts out 456 hp and 479 pound-feet of torque.

Both X7s are rated to tow up to 7,500 pounds with the optional trailer hitch.

Review continues below

Underneath, the X7 rides on a full air suspension that can lower the vehicle for easier passenger and cargo loading. The X7’s double-wishbone front suspension and five-link rear setup are largely cribbed from the X5. Dynamic dampers allow the driver to dial in either a softer or firmer ride at the tap of a button.

Uniquely, the X7 can be ordered with a system that ties the air suspension into forward-looking cameras that watch the road ahead and adjust suspension parameters before the SUV hits road imperfections. The system is paired with a package that also includes active rear-wheel steering and brakes massaged by BMW’s M division. On V-8 models, the package also includes a sport rear differential.

BMW promises some degree of off-road capability for the X7 as well via an optional package, although the automaker hasn’t detailed what will be included.

Inside, the X7 draws heavily from the X5—hardly a surprise since the two vehicles share a platform and will be built at the same assembly plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina. A pair of 12.3-inch screens are standard equipment. One in the instrument cluster is configurable and handles basic driving data, while the other is a touchscreen for infotainment. BMW will include navigation and Apple CarPlay as standard, but the latter requires a $80 per year subscription after the first year. The X7’s infotainment system can respond to voice commands following the prompt, “Hey BMW.”

BMW says that the infotainment system will employ artificial intelligence to learn a driver’s habits, such as their workplace and their home, and will suggest alternate routes in high-traffic situations. Both Harman Kardon and Bowers & Wilkins audio systems will be on what’s likely to be an extensive options list.

The X7 will come standard with three rows of seats and seating for seven, although a package with dual captain’s chairs swaps out the second row bench for a two-seat affair.

When it goes on sale in March of 2019, the X7 will cost $74,895 to start. V-8-powered X7s are pricier—about $93,600. BMW will begin accepting orders for the X7 online, a first for the automaker.

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US to allow brighter, self-dimming headlights on new cars

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With many new cars, trucks, and SUVs failing to meet more stringent headlight safety standards from the federal government and the IIHS, the NHTSA announced Thursday it plans to change regulations to help headlight development.

The agency said in its report that it plans to allow development of “adaptive driving beam” headlights on new cars, which essentially operate as high-beam headlights as default, and dim specific portions of the beam when an oncoming vehicle is detected by sensors.

MORE: Scientific study examines morality of self-driving car maneuvers involving pedestrians

The NHTSA said in a statement that the technology “has the potential to reduce the risk of crashes by increasing visibility without increasing glare,” and will offer safety benefits for pedestrians, cyclists, and even animals.

This move comes after many 2018 and 2019 model year vehicles have performed poorly in both government and independent headlight tests with new criteria. The tests have been particularly tough for anything less than top-of-the-line LED headlight units, which can be expensive and are not available on all models.

Audi, Toyota, and other automakers have been lobbying the NHTSA to update headlight standards for years, the former in an attempt to get its laser headlight technology approved for use on U.S. roads like it currently is in Europe and other markets.

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