Good For: Promoting progress. The 500L drives about as different as it looks, and reflects some interesting new engineering that has been reserved for luxury cars. Under the hood, there is a 1.4L turbo engine that does away with the traditional throttle body valve, relying completely on the "MultiAir" variable value timing and lift to control air flow into the engine. The system offers better performance and superior efficiency. Drop the automatic transmission into drive or reverse and the first thing you notice is that there is no torque converter to apply creeping power at idle. You have to give it some gas and then it goes like a computer-operated manual transmission clutch. Gear ratios are as short as what you would expect on a manual transmission, since we can no longer leverage the torque converter at lower revs. The transmission's affinity for higher RPMs minimizes turbo lag and accentuates the nice exhaust note. It has good tendencies to be in the gear I would be in if I was operating a stick shifter, and I am always aware because this is the only car I know that displays which gear it is in, even in fully automatic mode.
Compromises: Typical tradeoffs to riding the bleeding edge apply, as we don't have much real world data on how the new MultiAir system holds up in long term reliability. MultiAir's hydraulic design is even a bit different from the electro-magnetic system that BMW has used for some time now. Opting for the manual transmission takes you off the edge a little, which is still the option I would choose. I am surprised automatic engine start-stop is not available, especially since the clutch transmission can accomodate this easier than the traditional automatic.
Overall reaction - Thumb up: At first glance, the idea of stretching the design of the 500 supermini to a tall 5-door contradicts its heritage. But the 500L considers the modern requirements for an economy car, and dares to promote new ideas in automotive engineering to the masses. Unlike other small cars the 500L accomodates 4 very comfortably. The rear seats are huge with recline and fore-aft adjustments to optimize cargo space behind it. Fiat even brings us convex segments to the side mirrors, which is already a safety requirement in countries like Belgium. At minimum, the 500L is a memorable driving experience. Even the one touch lane change turn signal blinks 5 times instead of the 3 that other cars do.
Saturday, 24th of October, 2015
The Myth of Basic Science - "... the linear dogma so prevalent in the world of science and politics—that science drives innovation, which drives commerce—is mostly wrong. It misunderstands where innovation comes from. Indeed, it generally gets it backward."
Friday, 23rd of October, 2015
Wednesday, 21st of October, 2015
Monday, 19th of October, 2015
Friday, 16th of October, 2015
Wednesday, 14th of October, 2015
Friday, 9th of October, 2015
Friday, 2nd of October, 2015
Good For: Laptop with disfunctional input devices - Lenovo has dropped the optical drive from the T-series to make it thinner, though it is not as thin as many other laptops these days. A touch screen is now available, but the screen still has a classic 2-hinge attachment preventing it from being used as a tablet. The 68+ battery bulges from the bottom, lifting the back for a more comfortable typing position. It will run the laptop for as long as I might want to work in one day: at least 12.5 hours with wi-fi on.
Compromises: The trackpad is completely ruined. All the buttons are gone, so if still use the trackpoint, your "buttons" are now just touch-sensitive zones defined inside the trackpad. It often does not respond correctly, regardless of whether you just touch the zone or press hard enough to get the tactile feedback of the entire trackpad working as a gigantic button. Lenovo went the wrong way with the keyboard, as well. Dedicated buttons for volume are gone, and the F-keys now serve as multimedia controls and the F-keys require using Fn.
Overall reaction: Two thumbs down: I have preferred the Thinkpad line of laptops for over a decade, but the only thing to like about the new T-series is the battery life. They even changed the power adapter, making it incompatible with my current practice of having Thinkpad power adapters all over the house to use regardless of what room I am working in. At least in an office, on a docking station, I don't have to even touch these input devices.
Good For: Jeep builds another car. I drove the Patriot last year, and Jeep has offered the mechanically identical Compass alongside the Patriot for their first run of a car-based SUV. The only noticeable differences inside and out between the two cars is the body styling. The same "Freedom Drive I" 4x4 system delivers the same, respectable off-road capabilities as the Patriot. Versatility also seems equivalent, and the Compass also has a deep compartment to accomodate a full sized spare.
Compromises: I liked the CVT's optimization of power, but Jeep has switched most trims to use a Hyundai-sourced 6-speed automatic. It's better than many other automatics, but I'm glad a manual transmission is also still available. None of these options mask the Jeep's fuel efficiency, which is worse than some larger 6-cylinder vehicles.
Overall reaction - None: I like the Jeep Patriot as a fun and affordable off-road capable vehicle. The Compass price points north of the Patriot, however, and is more expensive even when equipped with identical options.