Toyota Camry Driving, Cadillac Moving, Tesla Updating, Jetta Crashing: The Week In Reverse

September 27, 2014

“Can't the Camry look a little more exciting?” That's what Toyota hears often, but it's set out to change that with the 2015 Camry. We went for a first drive of the new Camry in Hawaii, and came away impressed with the major changes Toyota's undertaken just three years after the Camry was last reworked. The mid-size mainstay has hardly been transformed, but it has a new kind of flair that works well inside and out. It has way more composure and control, too. The new Camry is comfort-oriented, but it steers well, handles reasonably well, rides very well, and feels composed in nearly everything that you can give it--as long as you skip the outdated four-cylinder. With the gutsy, smooth 268-hp, 3.5-liter V-6, the Camry is now sure of itself in just about any situation.

Last week, the internet was abuzz over a software update -- namely, Apple's release of iOS8. But on Friday, electric car company Tesla announced a substantial software update of its own, and some of the new bells and whistles are even more interesting than those found on iPhones. For one, it will be delivered directly to the car through on-board data connections, without owners having to visit a service center. Some of the key new features include traffic-based navigation, remote start, location-based air suspension that lifts the car when it encounters known road problems, and better power management that lets the Model S go into a kind of sleep mode, just like your laptop.

Last week the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave its top accolade to the 2015 Volkswagen Jetta—and that now makes it one of the safest compact sedans if you shop by the ratings. For the new model year, the Jetta's A-pillars and door sills were strengthened, and Volkswagen added an available forward collision warning system. That feature allows the Jetta to earn a 'Basic' rating for front crash prevention—now necessary to earn the agency's Top Safety Pick Plus (TSP+) status. The Jetta also earned a 'good' score for small-overlap frontal impacts. In the same class, only the 2014 Honda Civic and 2014 Mazda3 currently achieve Top Safety Pick+ status.

And finally this week, Cadillac made big news twice. Early in the week, the GM luxury brand confirmed it will be spun off into a separate business unit and will establish a head office in New York--in Manhattan's SoHo district. The move will affect around 50 people, mostly in marketing and sales. Production of Cadillac vehicles will remain in Detroit. The move was followed this week by confirmation of a new Cadillac naming system. With a new large luxury sedan to come next year, Cadillac will change the way it names cars, using CT initials followed by a number. The first new vehicle will be an S-Class fighter dubbed the CT6. Both moves come under the leadership of new Cadillac chief Johan de Nysschen, who organized a similar name change at his last outpost, Infiniti.

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