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White House taps safety official to lead NHTSA

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The White House said Friday President Donald Trump intends to nominate Heidi King, an auto safety official, to head up the NHTSA. King’s nomination comes at a contentious time for the agency that oversees fuel-efficiency and car-safety rules.

Since September, King has served as deputy administrator.

MORE: Automakers fight EPA but tout green cars

King will face a Senate confirmation before she can assume the position and will likely be grilled over the government’s plan to rework Obama-era fuel-economy targets and about why the NHTSA has been so slow to put congressional regulations into place.

This week, EPA chief Scott Pruitt said the fuel-economy rules jointly put into place by his agency and the NHTSA are “not appropriate and should be revised.”

Pruitt has signaled his intent to either dismantle those rules or to rework them into less aggressive targets.

King told a Senate panel in March that the NHTSA expects to propose fuel economy standards this month for a five-year period and is working “to make sure that the federal family is aligned in the path forward.”

The NHTSA is also deep into an investigation with the NTSB and Arizona authorities over a fatal crash last month involving a self-driving Uber test car and a pedestrian in suburban Phoenix.

— by Ruben Porras

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a most international compact car

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The 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback has had its passport stamped more than a few times. Debuting next week at the 2018 New York auto show, the 2019 Corolla Hatchback that Toyota previewed Friday is decidedly international.

The new Corolla Hatchback replaces the Corolla iM in Toyota’s lineup, and like its predecessor, its first passport stamp occurred in Europe. There, the hatchback is known as the Toyota Auris, and it’s similarly new. That’s important because it helps explain the new five-door’s pert dimensions—just 172 inches from bumper to bumper—and its continental styling. The Corolla Hatchback’s lines are edgier and more angular than the Corolla sedan with which it’ll share showroom space. Up front, standard LED headlights on both SE and XSE trim levels give it a beak-like appearance. At the rear, its truncated tail repeats a similar, avian-esque style with a bulky spoiler taking up residence at the top of the hatchback.

MORE: Read our 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback preview

The Corolla Hatchback’s interior is similarly Euro-styled, with a no-nonsense approach. An 8.0-inch touchscreen for infotainment takes up residence above the climate controls and includes standard Apple CarPlay (but no Android connectivity). The higher-spec Corolla Hatchback XSE also includes a 7.0-inch TFT in the instrument cluster and can be further upgraded with JBL-branded speakers.

Toyota makes cloth upholstery standard on the SE trim, while a mix of leather and fabric adorns the XSE trim’s seats. All trims feature a leather-wrapped steering wheel, automatic climate controls, keyless ignition, and USB ports. The XSE trim has heated front seats, power adjustment for the driver’s seat, and contrasting stitching on the doors and instrument panel.

Toyota says there is room for five in the Corolla Hatchback, but the automaker hasn’t released specifications for its cargo-hauling ability. It’s a few inches shorter than the five-door version of the Honda Civic, however. 

Under its hood, the Corolla Hatchback features a 2.0-liter inline-4, but Toyota hasn’t specified horsepower or torque figures. Reaffirming its Euro-centric bonafides, it comes standard with a 6-speed manual transmission. A continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) is optional on both trim levels, where it is fitted with paddle shifters to simulate 10 stepped gears.

The Corolla Hatchback features a fully independent suspension underneath, an upgrade over the torsion-beam setup found in the Corolla sedan. Wheel sizes range from 16- to 18-inches.

Like most other Toyotas, the Corolla Hatchback features a high degree of collision-avoidance tech as standard—automatic emergency braking that can detect pedestrians and cyclists, adaptive cruise control, and active lane control, and automatic high-beam headlights.

The 2019 Corolla Hatchback will be built in Japan—another stamp in its passport—before going on sale in the U.S. this summer. Pricing won’t be announced until closer to the on-sale date, but it’s not likely to stray far from the 2018 Corolla iM’s roughly $19,500 base price.

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2019 Ram 1500 driven, Ford Bronco teased, Ford goes all-in on hybrids: What’s New @ The Car Connection

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2019 Ram 15002019 Ram 1500 first drive: the luxury car of pickup trucks The 2019 Ram 1500 has fully adapted to the way most drivers use their trucks: livability trumps utility. Ford Co-Pilot360 safety systems are coming, ready to take on Honda and Toyota Ford announced a raft of standard safety systems for its cars, crossover SUVs, and trucks at a press…

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