The Friday Five:The VW World Car, Under 20 Mini, Easily Tricked Teslas Edition

Christian Wardlaw | Apr 23, 2021

This week, several new electric vehicles debuted at the 2021 Shanghai Auto Show, and we did a deep dive on the new 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS flagship sedan. 

Our latest reviews include the redesigned 2022 Hyundai Tucson and the ready-to-retire 2022 Kia Sportage. And, if you’re trying to decide between a 2021 Hyundai Sonata and a 2021 Kia K5, we’ve got a comparison article that might help you to make a decision. Our five fun facts series adds the 2022 Hyundai Tucson, 2021 Toyota 4Runner, and 2021 Toyota Camry.

Ford announced details about its new BlueCruise hands-free driving technology. We also covered news about changes to the 2022 Lexus ES, prices for the 2023 Cadillac Lyriq, and safety ratings for the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E and 2021 Volvo XC40 Recharge. 

But that’s not everything that was happening in the automotive space.

Volkswagen ID.4 Wins World Car of the Year - Find the best Volkswagen deals!

Volkswagen’s first serious swing at building a long-range electric vehicle is apparently a home run, with the new ID.4 crossover SUV winning the 2021 World Car of the Year award. Over 90 automotive journalists from 24 countries cast ballots to nominate a winner, and VW’s new EV came out on top. 

2022 Volkswagen ID.4 Blue Front Quarter

Based on VW’s modular MEB platform, the small SUV earned praise for technological advancements such as its 82-kilowatt-hour (kWh) battery, over-the-air software updates, its suite of advanced driving assistance systems (ADAS), and the ID.Light feature using LED lights on the dashboard to communicate with the driver through colors and blinking. 

The Volkswagen ID.4 supplies an estimated 250 miles of range on a single charge and starts at $39,995, not including any federal or local incentives. 

BMW Adds AWD to M3 and M4 - Find the best BMW deals!

Love the looks and performance of the BMW M3 and M4, but need a little more traction for slippery roads? BMW now offers xDrive all-wheel drive for these performance monsters, starting with the 2022 model year. 

It’s a rear-biased system with an electronically controlled multi-plate clutch that sends power to the front wheels only when necessary. In addition to adding traction during inclement weather, BMW says it improves agility overall. You can even turn off the system to preserve rear-drive handling characteristics regardless of the situation. 

BMW prices the 2022 M3 Competition xDrive Sedan at $76,900 and the M4 Competition xDrive Coupe at $78,800 (plus a $995 destination charge). They both have a 503-horsepower twin-turbo inline 6-cylinder engine, which will zoom you from zero to 60 mph in about 3.4 seconds. 

These 2022 BMW models will be in dealer showrooms this August.

Mini Cooper Oxford Edition Still Under 20 Grand - Find the best MINI deals!

You get more for your money when you buy a 2022 Mini Oxford Edition Hardtop, especially now that the price drops by $3,150 compared to the 2021 Oxford Edition. The two-door starts at $19,750, while the four-door is $20,750. You will need to add $850 for destination charges.

Not only is the Oxford Edition more affordable, but you also get added content compared to the standard Cooper Hardtop. Heated front seats, dual-zone climate control, metallic paint choices, and a dark-gray headliner all come standard. Mini says this extra equipment represents a $6,150 value over a comparably equipped Cooper Hardtop. 

2022 Volkswagen Taos Price Set Under 23 Grand - Find the best Volkswagen deals!

Volkswagen released pricing for its all-new 2022 Taos small SUV, and it ranges from $22,995 to $31,490, plus a $1,195 destination charge. The automaker’s 4Motion AWD costs extra, and the price premium varies depending on trim level.

The base Taos S comes with goodies like Volkswagen’s Digital Cockpit instrumentation, LED headlights, smartphone mirroring, and Wi-Fi hotspot capability. But it doesn’t have so much as a forward-collision warning system with automatic emergency braking. That costs extra.

Next, we have the Taos SE, equipped with some, but not all, of Volkswagen’s IQ Drive collection of ADAS. It also gets remote engine starting, heated front seats, wireless phone charging, and dark-tinted rear privacy glass. 

Finally, the Taos SEL equips the SUV with all of the IQ Drive ADAS features, plus bigger wheels, adaptive headlights, leather, dual-zone climate control, upgraded cabin tech, and 10-color ambient cabin lighting.

All Taos’ employ a 158-horsepower 1.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine and either an 8-speed automatic or 7-speed dual-clutch transmission (DCT).

Tesla Autopilot Easily Tricked - Find the best Tesla deals!

More than 40,000 Americans perish on the road every year, but it makes big news when they do so in a Tesla. That’s because a significant component of Tesla’s marketing rests on its Autopilot ADAS and, more recently, the upgrade the automaker refers to as “Full Self-Driving” capability.

The inference is that the car can drive itself, but it really can’t, and if you read Tesla’s fine print, the company makes that clear. Every Tesla on the road still needs a driver who is alert and ready to take charge if Autopilot or Full Self Driving fail. And, as if it weren’t obvious, that person should be sitting in the driver’s seat.

Recently, after a fatal crash in Texas, investigators determined nobody was sitting in the driver’s seat of the Model S, which burned to nothing but a shell. Reportedly, people with knowledge of the situation claimed the victims, one sitting in the front passenger’s seat and one in the back seat, had gone out to test the car’s self-driving capabilities.

What happened after they departed in the Model S remains under investigation. But Consumer Reports showed just how easy it is to trick a Tesla into thinking there’s an alert driver behind the steering wheel. 

By sitting in the driver’s seat with the seat belt clicked, putting a weight on the steering wheel to simulate a hand, and sliding over to the passenger seat, CR was able to get their Tesla Model Y test vehicle to drive “up and down the half-mile lane of our (private test) track.” We discovered that you could even order one of these steering wheel weights online. 

The Consumer Reports article concludes that Tesla needs to improve its technology to ensure that a driver is sitting behind the wheel at all times. Other automakers that offer similar technology, such as GM Super Cruise and Ford BlueCruise, use driver monitoring cameras to prevent what happened in Texas from occurring in one of its vehicles.

BMW, Consumer Reports, Mini, and Volkswagen are the sources of information for this article. It was accurate on April 23, 2021, but it may have changed since that date.

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