The 15 Best Gadgets For Your Car

  • By Website Team Technicians
  • 01 Feb, 2017

Getting stranded with a dead car battery or being caught off guard by a flat tire is not only stressful, it’s potentially dangerous. Fortunately, here is the list of gadgets on the market today that can help you be better prepared for whatever the road throws at you.

By Cadie Thompson

Dashcam

The forward facing camera won't protect you physically, but the footage it captures can be used to prove who is responsible for and car crash.

The Z-Edge dashcam can shoot 30 frames per second and will switch on automatically when you turn on your car and shut off once you switch the ignition off.

Smartphone Mount

A smartphone mount can make navigation a lot less stressful.

Instead of constantly looking down at your phone for directions, you can use a mount to keep your Google Maps or Apple Maps app within your line of vision.

Portable Jumper Starter Kit

A jump starter kit is basically a battery source that allows you to start your car when it dies by simply hooking the clamps on the kit to the car's battery. But it can also be used as a backup power source.

The Suaoki portable jump starter kit also has a flashlight built in. Suaoki claims that its kit can start a vehicle 22 times on charge.

Bluetooth car kit

You don't have to buy a new car to be able to connect your smartphone to your vehicle via Bluetooth.

Belkin's Bluetooth car kit plugs into your car so that you can play music and make calls over your car's speakers hands-free.

USB car charger

A dead smartphone is the last thing you want while travelling. If you don't have a USB port in your car, or if you need more than one port, this Maxboost USB charger is a good option.

Smart car adaptor

Automatic is a small car adaptor that you plug into the on-board diagnostics port of your car to get all kinds of data about your vehicle. The device -- which pairs with your phone via Bluetooth -- diagnoses engine problems, remembers where you parked, displays your trip history, and can even call for help in the case of an accident.

Earlier this year the company also rolled out the Automatic app gallery, which features apps for business, convenience and savings, and safety. For example, the Concur app lets drivers track mileage for work trips, making expenses extremely easy.

You can also connect the device to your Amazon Echo so that you can do things like ask Alexa how much fuel you have or how much you drove last week.

GPS tracker

While this gadget is probably more useful for parents trying to keep tabs on their teens, it can also come in handy in the unfortunate event someone tries steals your vehicle.

The Spy Tec portable GPS tracker even allows you to set up a geo-fence and will notify you via email or text if the car goes outside the pre-determined area.

Radar detector

You shouldn't speed, but if you're going to do it, you'll want to get yourself a radar detector to alert you of any possible speed traps.

Blind spot mirrors

One of the best features in new cars these days is the blind spot alert function. The feature is basically just a light built into the side view mirror that flashes when someone is in your blind spot.

However, if you have an older vehicle, you can get the same sort of function by just adding blind spot mirrors.

Tire pressure monitoring system

A tire pressure monitoring system lets you easily keep tabs on the health of your tires.

Carchet's monitoring system measures both the temperature and the pressure of the tires. It comes with four sensors that attach to each tire and a monitoring display that plugs into your vehicle's cigarette lighter. The display shows the pressure of each tire so that you can easily detect when something is wrong.

Seat belt cutter & window glass breaker

This device is exactly what it sounds like. It can be used to cut seat belts and break car windows in the case you or someone else is trapped after an accident.

This Resqme seat belt cutter and window glass breaker goes on your keychain.

Drop Stop

This is a simple car accessory, but it's incredibly useful.

The Drop Stop fits between your seat and the center console so that you never lose anything in that annoying crevice ever again.

Mobile WiFi hotspot

Transforming your car into a travelling WiFi spot can help you stay connected wherever you go.

Mobileye 560

Mobileye's consumer product gives drivers real-time updates that can help prevent accidents.

The system consists of a smart camera that is installed on the front of the windshield, an audio alert buzzer, and a display so the driver can view the warnings.

Basically, Mobileye's smart camera has a computer in it that's capable of doing things like measuring the distance between vehicles, reading the speed limit, and detecting when pedestrians are nearby. This technology lets the car warn the driver when it senses a dangerous situation.

A back-up camera

The Pearl  RearVision system  transforms your smartphone into a backup camera so that you can see around your car when you are reversing.

The system basically consists of three components: the licence-plate frame with its two high-definition cameras, an adaptor that plugs into your OBD port, and a magnetic mount for your smartphone that sticks to your dashboard.

Once the adaptor is plugged into the car, it enables the camera's to stream footage to the driver's smartphone. It also analyses the video stream for obstacles and will alert the driver if it senses a possible collision.

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By Website Team Technicians 03 Aug, 2017

As it becomes clear they're swimming in a shrinking pool, fish instinctively take up the struggle for available space and oxygen. Suddenly, all bets are off and only the strongest and most competitive manage to rise above an increasingly agitated pack to fight another day.

 

And so it goes in the Australian new car ecosystem. The 'light' category is still one of the largest in market, where the likes of Hyundai's Accent, the Mazda2, and Toyota's evergreen Yaris live. But the line on the sales chart is ever so consistently heading south.

Year-to-date sales for light cars under $25k are down no less than 20 per cent, and that's on the back of 16 per cent drop over the course of 2016. Meanwhile, medium SUVs are up close to 10 per cent.

Enter Kia's Rio hatch, the brand's global best-seller, with claimed annual sales "approaching 500,000", which is undoubtedly a big number. But in Australia, the Rio is a middle order player in a light car field of around 15 determined competitors.

Which means the new fourth generation Rio, launched here in January this year, is critical to Kia's chances of grabbing a larger slice of the rapidly diminishing light car pie.

Not surprising then, that the entry-level S model boasts upgraded multimedia connectivity and enhanced safety tech, not to mention improved dynamics and more space. Sounds good, but is it enough to get a jump on the light car big guns?

 

Is there anything interesting about its design?

The architect of Kia's recent styling revolution is Peter Schreyer, a gifted designer that raised automotive eyebrows around the world when he upped stumps at Volkswagen Group in 2006 to join the Korean carmaker.

Under his watch, the Kia design team has internationalised and unified the look of the entire range, from the tiny Picanto to the jumbo-size Carnival people mover.

A signature element across the line-up is the tabbed 'Tiger Nose' grille, and the new Rio proudly wears a sleek and neatly refined version of it, with distinctive, raked headlights sitting either side.

From there though, the overall look is pretty much hatch by-the-numbers. Inoffensive but uninspiring, with a generic approach to the profile and rear treatment.

An odd touch is a pronounced handle on the rear hatch door. Flying in the face of the current trend towards low-key integration of this type of function, it looks like a clumsy throwback to the 1980s.

Inside, the dash is cool and clean, with the central 7.0-inch multimedia touchscreen standing proud of the main fascia. Key controls are clear and simple, while the soft-form instrument binnacle houses a large speedo and tachometer, with a multi-function LCD display (including a digital speed read-out) between them.

The Rio S interior colour palette ranges all the way from grey to dark grey, with tightly woven and subtly textured cloth trim on the seats.

One small whinge relates to the four button blanks in the console. Yes, the S is the base model, but blanks in place of controls for 'stuff' fitted to higher variants really rams the fact home.

How practical is the space inside?

Measuring just over 4.0m long, 1.7m wide, and 1.45m high, the Rio fits the light car template to a tee. Its 2.6m wheelbase plants the wheels close to each corner to maximise interior space, and the result is surprisingly generous accommodation.

Plenty of space up front, with two cupholders (of different sizes) in the centre console and bottle bins (big enough for 1.5-litre bottles) in the doors. There's also a storage box between the front seats and a decent glovebox.

For powering and connecting purposes you'll find a 12 volt outlet, an auxiliary line-in socket, a USB port, as well as a drop-down sunglasses box in the roof. And if you're on the gaspers, there's even a cigarette lighter (the ashtray is removable).

Swings and roundabouts in the back, with a handy amount of head and legroom (for this 183cm tester) offset by the lack of controllable air vents, central armrest or cupholders.

Three adults across the back will be uncomfortably tight for anything other than short journeys, but there's a 12 volt power socket, USB port, a map pocket on the back of the front passenger seat (only), and (500ml) bottle bins in the doors.

Open the rear hatch and you're greeted with 325 litres of cargo space with the 60/40 split fold rear seat upright. That's enough to hold our three piece suitcase set (35, 68 and 105 litres), or the CarsGuide pram, albeit in an awkwardly side-on position.

Fold the rear seats down (flat) and the load space increases to a substantial 980 litres. As well as the main cargo area, there's a handy storage bin on the passenger side, a light, parcel hooks, and four tie down anchor points. The spare is a space saver.

Towing capacity is understandably limited, with 450kg allowed for an unbraked trailer and 1000kg for a braked trailer.


Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?

 

The Rio S manual wears a $16,990 price tag (before on-road costs) which positions it more than 10 per cent above entry-level offerings from key segment players like the Hyundai Accent Active, Mazda2 Neo, and Toyota Yaris Ascent.

For that money you'll be on the receiving end of standard features including remote central locking (with keyless entry), the 7.0-inch multimedia screen managing a six-speaker audio system with Bluetooth connectivity as well as Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility, (manual) air conditioning, auto headlights, and reverse parking sensors.

Not bad for a five-door hatch at the budget end of the spectrum, but forget cruise control, sat nav or alloy wheels. For those you'll need to step up to the Si at $21,490, and if your heart's set on rain-sensing wipers, climate control air and a sunroof, the top-spec SLi is your only choice at $22,990.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?

The single Rio engine option is the 'Kappa' 1.4-litre, naturally aspirated petrol four cylinder, producing a modest 74kW at a peaky 6000rpm, and 133Nm at a relatively high 4000rpm.

It's an all-alloy, overhead cam, 16-valve design, featuring variable valve timing (inlet and exhaust). It drives the front wheels through a six-speed manual (as tested here) or four speed automatic transmission.

How much fuel does it consume?

Kia quotes combined (urban/extra urban) fuel economy of 5.6L/100km for the six-speed manual Rio S, emitting 129g/km of CO2 in the process.

That's a pretty handy number, and the other good news is the engine is tuned to run on regular 91 unleaded. At that rate, the tank's 45-litre capacity equates to a theoretical range of around 800km.

Over roughly 350km of city, suburban and freeway running, we recorded 8.4L/100km (courtesy of the on-board computer), which still converts to a handy 535 kays between fills.

What's it like to drive?

Kia claims the new Rio's bodyshell is stiffer than the outgoing model's, which has allowed a more compliant (strut front, torsion beam rear) suspension set-up, and like every other Kia model offered in Australia, the Rio's underpinnings have been comprehensively revised and tweaked by local tuning guru Graeme Gambold.

The results are impressive, with a balance between ride comfort, body control and dynamic response cars costing at least twice as much would be proud to call their own.

With just 74kW on hand to shift 1.1 tonnes of hatchback, and that peak number arriving at a lofty 6000rpm, you'd hope for some low down torque to help with step-off acceleration and mid-range kick.

But no such luck. Torque is less than mega, and with the peak arriving way up at 4000rpm, when you need some extra urge for a snappy lane change or overtaking there's simply nobody home.

In terms of the driving environment, while the interior looks good, the feel bit doesn't exactly measure up. The plastics used around the dash, doors and console are so hard, it's like driving a Tuppaware container on wheels. In fact, those trusty, air-tight receptacles are probably more forgiving than the Rio's main cabin surfaces.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?

Warranty

Basic warranty

7 years / unlimited km warranty

The oversize ace up the Rio's sleeve is Kia's industry-leading seven year/unlimited km warranty, which includes seven years roadside assist and seven years capped price servicing. Whoa.

Servicing is recommended every 12 months or 15,000km (whichever comes first), and the cost of each of those services is detailed on Kia Australia's website, including detail on everything that's replaced, inspected or otherwise checked each time. Cue applause...

For the record, (guide) costs over those seven years are - $226, $382, $277, $561, $255, $470, and $270.

By Website Team Technicians 03 Aug, 2017

The 2017 Hyundai i30 SR Premium gives you 150kW of power and a load of standard features that belie its modest $34k price. It begs the question: how much hot hatch do you really need?

You are looking at the flagship of Hyundai's hyped third-generation i30 range. It's called the SR Premium, and it's designed to make prospective Volkswagen Golf GTI buyers pause.

On paper the Korean contender looks the goods. It's quick, has thoroughly reworked suspension and standard features that belie its $33,950 before on-road costs list price.

The argument: It's not quite as fast or potent as the German, but it is about 10 grand cheaper and not a million miles removed. So how much hot hatch do you really need?

Rivals trying to do exactly the same thing include the Ford Focus Titanium, Holden Astra RS-V, Honda Civic RS, Mazda 3 SP25 Astina and Renault Megane GT-Line.

Let's break this down. Under the bonnet is the same 1.6-litre GDi turbocharged petrol engine used in the Elantra SR, making 150kW of power and 265Nm of torque, the latter from 1500rpm.

This engine sends its power to the front wheels via a standard DCT seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox with paddles - only the base $25,950 i30 SR with less equipment gets a six-speed manual option.

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Listen to the 2017 Hyundai i30 SR from 0-100km/h.

By Website Team Technicians 09 Apr, 2017

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By Adil Khan

For decades, people have been speculating on topics ranging from car colour affecting insurance premiums to outlandish service intervals. You might ask yourself why these misconceptions exist and where these myths come from. It’s partially due to the lack of transparency in the industry itself as well as the fact that most people find the world of cars to be a little confusing. Whatever the reason, we’re debunking five of the silliest misconceptions about cars, once and for all.

By Website Team Technicians 03 Apr, 2017

By Craig Jamieson

Ah, the Skyline. Against a skyline. Nice.

The Skyline, in our opinion, is the car that made Nissan.

 

Never mind that it was actually invented by Prince – no, not the ‘Purple Rain’ one, the Japanese car manufacturer, which merged with Nissan in the 1960s. Nissan kept the excellent ‘Skyline’ name – and the somewhat suspect ‘Gloria’, but we digress.

 

The Skyline nameplate dates all the way back to the late 1950s, but it’s the 1989 R32 Skyline GTR that really put Nissan on the map. Even though there had been quite a few highlights in the range over the years – the original 1969 GTR, for instance, and the R31 GTS-R – the R32 left an indelible mark, both on the road and in motorsport.

By Website Team Technicians 28 Mar, 2017

By KBB.com

Families have moved on from the family sedan.

Looking at sales trends, soccer fields and school drop-off lines it’s clear that today’s family car is actually an SUV. And the family-friendliest vehicle of them all, the minivan, continues to appeal with its purpose-built practicality.

As SUVs have grown more comfortable and more efficient over the years, families and car shoppers in general have demonstrated an increasing preference for the elevated driving position, superior cargo versatility and higher profile of SUVs. Whether it’s the sliding doors and cavernous interior of a minivan or the high-riding nature and available all-wheel drive of an SUV, each of these vehicles is simply more functional as a family car than a traditional sedan.

~ Best 2-Row SUVs for Families

2017 Honda CR-V

Totally redesigned for 2017, the CR-V is the best-selling SUV in the country and one of our most awarded cars every year.

By Website Team Technicians 27 Mar, 2017