2020 Subaru Outback long-term update: Let’s talk touchscreen – Roadshow

Truly, it's a massive screen.

Nick Miotke/Roadshow

Tech sells. It's sexy. Just look at Tesla; there's absolutely a reason why its cars are very appealing to technology-minded folks, and there's no shame in that. This couldn't have been more apparent than when I brought Roadshow's long-term 2020 Subaru Outback to a local car wash a few weeks ago.

"Whoa, what year is this? That screen is huge!" an attendant said as they glanced at the interior. The vertical display measures 11.6 inches and makes up a very large portion of the center stack. Just seven physical buttons and two knobs line the outside for essentials like volume, climate and tuning. Everything else is handled via the touchscreen.

The big screen creates a clutter-free center stack, which looks pretty good.

Nick Miotke/Roadshow

Thankfully, the Starlink multimedia system is good. It's not superb, but it's good. Landing at the home screen provides massive app icons that you can't miss. There's the occasional lag when selecting an app, but nothing that truly ever irked me in the process. Our Outback Onyx Edition XT also includes built-in navigation that functions exactly as it should. The vehicle settings are plentiful and let me customize numerous things, such as how I want the power liftgate to operate, and I can even set a birthday reminder for a friend or family member.

Most importantly, the climate controls are simple. The button and screen placement feel natural, where each front-seat passenger has physical controls to change the temperature, but fan speed and direction happens on the touchscreen. These functions are always snappy, and I'm quite glad that's the case.

The car info screen, meanwhile, doesn't really do too much for ordinary drives, but for those that plan to take an Outback off-road, the incline/decline function is kind of neat. Or maybe you just want to know how steep your friend's driveway is. Either way, it's a nice touch. Outside of the incline/decline reader, the section displays the various active safety features currently activated and provides details on scheduled maintenance intervals. It's probably not a place where drivers will spend a lot of time, even if good information is housed within.

Thank goodness this all works well.

Nick Miotke/Roadshow

I'm a big fan of Apple CarPlay, so it's great the Outback includes the feature (and also Android Auto) standard. What is definitely not great, however, is how the automaker implements the system within the vertical touchscreen. Subaru's solution is to display the smartphone-mirroring tech horizontally. It results in some ridiculously small buttons, causing me to miss my intended selection a handful of times. Plus, it leaves a huge empty section of screen area below. It's just not the best, and after a while, I resorted to sliding my phone into the wireless charging cubby and using the built-in media via a Bluetooth stream. Honestly, that's easier.

Although not specifically related to the infotainment, I also need to say this for any audiophile readers out there: The six-speaker sound system is not a friend to any type of music. My colleague, Craig Cole mentioned this previously, but truly, the sound quality has me wondering if there's actually something wrong at certain times, with seriously muddled quality and overpowering digital bass boosters. Subaru does offer a 12-speaker Harman Kardon premium sound system that probably rectifies this issue. Unfortunately, it's not offered on the Outback Onyx Edition XT. If you want better sound quality, it requires stepping up to the Outback Limited XT, if you want to keep the turbocharged engine, or scaling back to the less-powerful Outback Limited, minus the XT badge and turbo. 

Overall, the big screen seems like a smart move by Subaru. It adds a much-needed dash of modernity to the Outback, which has stayed true to the long-roof wagon formula for so many years. With the Outback now out of my garage and back in Michigan, I had to say, "See you," just as the infotainment screen told me as I exited after each drive. But overall, the infotainment system is just another solid part of the generally likable Outback package.

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2020 Subaru Outback long-term update: Let’s talk touchscreen – Roadshow

Truly, it's a massive screen.

Nick Miotke/Roadshow

Tech sells. It's sexy. Just look at Tesla; there's absolutely a reason why its cars are very appealing to technology-minded folks, and there's no shame in that. This couldn't have been more apparent than when I brought Roadshow's long-term 2020 Subaru Outback to a local car wash a few weeks ago.

"Whoa, what year is this? That screen is huge!" an attendant said as they glanced at the interior. The vertical display measures 11.6 inches and makes up a very large portion of the center stack. Just seven physical buttons and two knobs line the outside for essentials like volume, climate and tuning. Everything else is handled via the touchscreen.

The big screen creates a clutter-free center stack, which looks pretty good.

Nick Miotke/Roadshow

Thankfully, the Starlink multimedia system is good. It's not superb, but it's good. Landing at the home screen provides massive app icons that you can't miss. There's the occasional lag when selecting an app, but nothing that truly ever irked me in the process. Our Outback Onyx Edition XT also includes built-in navigation that functions exactly as it should. The vehicle settings are plentiful and let me customize numerous things, such as how I want the power liftgate to operate, and I can even set a birthday reminder for a friend or family member.

Most importantly, the climate controls are simple. The button and screen placement feel natural, where each front-seat passenger has physical controls to change the temperature, but fan speed and direction happens on the touchscreen. These functions are always snappy, and I'm quite glad that's the case.

The car info screen, meanwhile, doesn't really do too much for ordinary drives, but for those that plan to take an Outback off-road, the incline/decline function is kind of neat. Or maybe you just want to know how steep your friend's driveway is. Either way, it's a nice touch. Outside of the incline/decline reader, the section displays the various active safety features currently activated and provides details on scheduled maintenance intervals. It's probably not a place where drivers will spend a lot of time, even if good information is housed within.

Thank goodness this all works well.

Nick Miotke/Roadshow

I'm a big fan of Apple CarPlay, so it's great the Outback includes the feature (and also Android Auto) standard. What is definitely not great, however, is how the automaker implements the system within the vertical touchscreen. Subaru's solution is to display the smartphone-mirroring tech horizontally. It results in some ridiculously small buttons, causing me to miss my intended selection a handful of times. Plus, it leaves a huge empty section of screen area below. It's just not the best, and after a while, I resorted to sliding my phone into the wireless charging cubby and using the built-in media via a Bluetooth stream. Honestly, that's easier.

Although not specifically related to the infotainment, I also need to say this for any audiophile readers out there: The six-speaker sound system is not a friend to any type of music. My colleague, Craig Cole mentioned this previously, but truly, the sound quality has me wondering if there's actually something wrong at certain times, with seriously muddled quality and overpowering digital bass boosters. Subaru does offer a 12-speaker Harman Kardon premium sound system that probably rectifies this issue. Unfortunately, it's not offered on the Outback Onyx Edition XT. If you want better sound quality, it requires stepping up to the Outback Limited XT, if you want to keep the turbocharged engine, or scaling back to the less-powerful Outback Limited, minus the XT badge and turbo. 

Overall, the big screen seems like a smart move by Subaru. It adds a much-needed dash of modernity to the Outback, which has stayed true to the long-roof wagon formula for so many years. With the Outback now out of my garage and back in Michigan, I had to say, "See you," just as the infotainment screen told me as I exited after each drive. But overall, the infotainment system is just another solid part of the generally likable Outback package.

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Tesla Battery Day recap: Model S Plaid, Cybertruck preorders and more – Roadshow

Tesla's Battery Day presentation on Tuesday brought with it a number of important updates, though CEO Elon Musk didn't touch on quite as many topics as originally expected. Nevertheless, a lot of news came out of the big event, so here's a look back at the headlines.

Tesla 'biscuit tin' battery

Essentially, the so-called biscuit tin is a new kind of battery cell that, while cylindrical in design and using lithium-ion chemistry, has very few similarities to previous cells. As Roadshow's Kyle Hyatt reported, "The most significant change happens inside the larger cell canister and involves removing the tabs that act as the positive and negative connection points between the anode and cathode and the battery casing."

Tesla says its new cell design should give its vehicles a 16% increase in range thanks to a 5x increase in energy. The new batteries are reportedly cheaper to produce, as well.

Model S Plaid

The long-awaited, range-topping Model S Plaid was announced during the event and, man, the specs are impressive. Musk said the Plaid should have a range of over 520 miles, a top speed of more than 200 mph, a 0-to-60-mph time of under 2 seconds and a quarter-mile time of less than 9 seconds. Hot damn.

The Model S Plaid is now available to configure and order on Tesla's website. The first deliveries are expected to begin in late 2021.

Half a million Cybertruck preorders

The big, brutish Tesla Cybertruck that debuted last November will enter production in the not-too-distant future, and apparently, a lot of folks are interested. Musk said the truck has roughly 600,000 preorders, which backs up an unofficial, third-party estimate from March.

Now, keep in mind, these are just preorders -- $100 fully refundable deposits from people who are potentially interested in a Cybertruck. How many the company will actually end up selling right off the bat obviously remains to be seen.

Full Self-Driving beta

Despite what the name of the Full Self-Driving option suggests, none of Tesla's products are self-driving cars. But Musk is working to unlock the full potential of his cars' Autopilot technology, and says a private beta test of the Full Self-Driving suite should be available in the coming months.

"We had to do a fundamental rewrite of the entire Autopilot software stack... We're now labeling 3D video, which is hugely different from when we were previously labeling single 2D images," Musk said. "We're now labeling entire video segments, taking all cameras simultaneously and labeling that. The sophistication of the neural net of the car and the overall logic of the car is improved dramatically."

Musk sums up his impressions clearly: "It's profound."

A $25K Tesla?

Remember the $35,000 Tesla Model 3? Yeah. Well. Anyway. Musk says an even cheaper, $25,000 car is being considered, and Musk thinks Tesla can do it thanks to reduced battery and manufacturing costs. 

"We're confident that long-term we can design and manufacture a compelling $25,000 electric vehicle," Musk said. It's expected to arrive in the next three years. We'll see.

Now playing: Watch this: Tesla Cybertruck: First ride in the pickup of the future

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First published Sept. 3.

Update, Sept. 22: Recaps the news from the Battery Day event.

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Nikola founder Trevor Milton steps down as chairman – Roadshow

Nikola founder Trevor Milton

Milton is out.

Nikola

Nikola founder and executive chairman of the hydrogen-electric truck startup, Trevor Milton, announced he stepped down from his position effective immediately on Monday.

Milton's departure comes nearly two weeks after a bombshell report from financial analysis firm (and Nikola short seller) Hindenburg accused the startup of being an "intricate fraud."

This story is breaking and will be updated.

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Cadillac Super Cruise subscription prices: Prepare to drop a few hundred bucks – Roadshow

You'll soon be able to drive hands-off like this in every Cadillac model.

Cadillac

Cadillac provided some much-needed clarity surrounding its impressive Super Cruise hands-free highway driving assistant. After a couple weeks of confusing news back in August, Cadillac shared final prices with Roadshow on Friday, and the technology will cost drivers $25 a month.

That's a total of $300 a year if you want your Cadillac to handle many highway driving tasks without putting a hand on the wheel. It's also, frankly, a little steep. Then again, Super Cruise is a darn good system. A Cadillac spokesperson added owners will be able to bundle Super Cruise capability with "select OnStar and Connected Services bundles for an additional $15 per month."

If you let the system's three-year free trial expire, the car's adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist systems will still work normally, but all Super Cruise functions will deactivate. Surely, there will be some sort of alert noting the hands-free highways driving assistant requires a payment -- a trend we're really not fans of at Roadshow.

With payment, General Motors activates map updates and the "precise GPS corrections required for Super Cruise to function," the spokesperson added. It also allows the car to contact OnStar in the event a driver doesn't respond to a series of alerts asking them to retake control of the car.

If you're wondering when Super Cruise became a subscription service, Cadillac told us previously it made the decision last year. Originally, we were all under the impression the function was built into the car for life when the technology debuted with the now-defunct Cadillac CT6. Instead, Cadillac changed its plan and will provide three years of service moving forward on all new Cadillacs. Those who fit the early adopter criteria (by buying one of the first CT6 sedans equipped with Super Cruise) get one extra complimentary year on Cadillac. Those owners won't need to cough up any cash until next year now.

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Cadillac dealers have to cough up $200,000 investment to sell EVs – Roadshow

EVs are the future, and dealers are going to have to pony up.

Cadillac

Operating a dealership isn't as simple as shoveling out cars from some retail space. Automakers have standards, and often, they have a lot of them. Kick it up a notch and move into selling luxury vehicles and parent automakers want to ensure customers are walking into a fine establishment. For Cadillac dealers, they're going to need to open up their business accounts in a big way if they want to sell the brand's future electric cars.

Rory Harvey, Cadillac's vice president of sales, service and marketing, told Automotive News Wednesday that the company will require dealers to make a $200,000 investment into their facilities if they want to sell electric cars wearing the iconic crest. While that sounds like a lofty sum of money, Cadillac worked closely with its dealer council to draw up the requirements. All dealers must follow franchise agreement regulations to a T, and the current agreement expires this November.

Should a dealer not want to make the investment, it will have to part ways with General Motors' luxury division. Harvey told the website its council communicated there "may be a few dealers" that don't "share the Cadillac vision," but by and large, he expects smooth sailing.

Cadillac did not immediately return Roadshow's request for comment on the investment requirements.

What does the $200,000 buy dealers? The big-ticket items are charging stations. It's hard to sell an EV if you don't have a place to charge them, after all. Harvey also told the website the cost could increase with time as Cadillac rolls out more EVs. GM already tasked the division with leading the automaker's all-electric future, so definitely expect a lot of electric cars from Cadillac this decade.

We'll first be treated to the Lyriq SUV, which Cadillac showed last month in prototype form. It won't actually launch until two years from now, however. We also know the brand has a hand-built electric flagship sedan in the pipeline, called the Celestiq. All of GM's future EVs will ride on a platform known as BEV3 and support the company's new Ultium battery technology. Just this week, GM also announced "Ultium Drive" as its blueprint for a family of electric powertrains to propel its future zero-emission cars.

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2021 Chevy Silverado receives Multi-Flex tailgate — GMC’s MultiPro feature in disguise – Roadshow

2021 Chevy Silverado Multi-Flex tailgate

Silverado, meet your new Swiss Army knife-like tailgate.

Chevrolet

The rumors can rest now. We've heard for a while the Chevrolet Silverado would get its own version of the GMC Sierra's MultiPro tailgate, and Chevy made it official on Wednesday. The tailgate's name? Multi-Flex.

The brand was light on details and said we'll learn a lot more about how the Multi-Flex tailgate serves the Chevy Silverado, but I can't foresee it deviating too much from GMC's MultiPro tailgate. The quick teaser video, posted in a tweet, shows the flexibility of the tailgate and all the options at owners' disposal.

If you opt for the MultiPro tailgate on your new GMC Sierra, the tailgate essentially folds out to reveal another mini tailgate for workstation purposes and there are extra functions for second-tier loading. It's hard to imagine the Silverado expanding these features since, well, the Sierra is supposed to be the more luxurious of the two trucks. If anything, the Chevy could dial back the features, but we'll have to wait and see.

The option will first roll out to 2021 Silverado pickups, but Chevy doesn't expect trucks with it to be available until early next year. We'll bring you details on the Multi-Flex tailgates availability, and hopefully prices, when Chevy talks more about the feature on Sept. 21.

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Kia’s first dedicated electric car coming to US next year, plans 6 more this decade – Roadshow

Kia future EVs

Lots of EVs on the way.

Kia

Kia on Tuesday revealed more information about what it calls "Plan S." That's Kia speak for its roadmap to a largely electric future. While we already knew a total of 11 electric cars are in the works, we now know seven of them are meant for the US. The Korean automaker teased the seven future EVs in a basic design sketch, above, but the middle vehicle is the focal point.

This vehicle, codenamed "CV," will launch next year and mark Kia's first dedicated electric car. So far, the brand has outfitted vehicles designed with an internal combustion engine with batteries and electric motors. The Niro EV and Soul EV (we have it on good authority the latter isn't meant for the US any longer) aren't dedicated electric cars. A vehicle designed from the start as an EV can execute its mission far better, most of the time. That's not to say the Niro EV and Soul EV are poor cars, but the CV should package all of the zero-emissions powertrain gear far better. Indeed, Kia mentioned its Electric Global Modular Platform will provide "best-in-class interior spaciousness" for the upcoming EVs in their respective segments.

We can't really tell what form the CV will take, since we only see the front view. It could be a sedan judging by this angle, but the greenhouse looks like it's on the taller side. Perhaps it's a hatchback. We just don't know yet. If we're taking a shot in the dark, the vehicle to the CV's left is the next Niro EV. The car to its right appears sportier with a seriously short front overhang. The brand said it plans to spread these electric cars across "several" segments, so hopefully we don't end up with a bunch of crossovers and SUVs.

The cars come from a $25 billion investment Kia made into EVs earlier this year, but don't expect them to all show up at once. The electric cars will gradually roll out through 2027.

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Kia’s first dedicated electric car coming to US next year, plans 6 more this decade – Roadshow

Kia future EVs

Lots of EVs on the way.

Kia

Kia on Tuesday revealed more information about what it calls "Plan S." That's Kia speak for its roadmap to a largely electric future. While we already knew a total of 11 electric cars are in the works, we now know seven of them are meant for the US. The Korean automaker teased the seven future EVs in a basic design sketch, above, but the middle vehicle is the focal point.

This vehicle, codenamed "CV," will launch next year and mark Kia's first dedicated electric car. So far, the brand has outfitted vehicles designed with an internal combustion engine with batteries and electric motors. The Niro EV and Soul EV (we have it on good authority the latter isn't meant for the US any longer) aren't dedicated electric cars. A vehicle designed from the start as an EV can execute its mission far better, most of the time. That's not to say the Niro EV and Soul EV are poor cars, but the CV should package all of the zero-emissions powertrain gear far better. Indeed, Kia mentioned its Electric Global Modular Platform will provide "best-in-class interior spaciousness" for the upcoming EVs in their respective segments.

We can't really tell what form the CV will take, since we only see the front view. It could be a sedan judging by this angle, but the greenhouse looks like it's on the taller side. Perhaps it's a hatchback. We just don't know yet. If we're taking a shot in the dark, the vehicle to the CV's left is the next Niro EV. The car to its right appears sportier with a seriously short front overhang. The brand said it plans to spread these electric cars across "several" segments, so hopefully we don't end up with a bunch of crossovers and SUVs.

The cars come from a $25 billion investment Kia made into EVs earlier this year, but don't expect them to all show up at once. The electric cars will gradually roll out through 2027.

Now playing: Watch this: 2020 Kia Soul debuts sharp new look, improved EV variant

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Best detailing sprays for cars in 2020 – Roadshow

Ah, the humble detailing spray. Detailing sprays are a fantastic tool because they can keep a car looking great between washes and waxes. Using one doesn't take much time at all, either, which makes it a great partner to help a vehicle pop for car shows and other events.

Store shelves, both physical and digital, are littered with so many different kinds of quick detailing sprays that it's understandable if you don't know which to buy. That's where we come in: We've tested our fair share on the cars that come in and out of the Roadshow garage. Below are the best detailing sprays we've had the pleasure of using in 2020.

Adam's

Alright, so we named this our best spray car wax for our 10 best car waxes of 2020, but as we noted then, this isn't actually a spray wax. It's a quick detailing spray and we like it so much that it deserves the overall spot on the list devoted to products like it. It's incredibly versatile. Use it to keep a car looking good between washes, combine it with a clay bar/mitt as your tool's lube. It certainly won't let you down no matter how you use it.

Mothers

We get it. A lot of detailing products aren't cheap, and detailing sprays can go pretty quickly if you have large vehicle. For the money, Mothers California Gold Instant Detailer does everything you expect it to and more. A note of warning: We never saw the product fill in spiderwebbing like Mothers suggests it does. Nevertheless, if you need a simple quick detailer, Mothers has you covered.

Chemical Guys

Car wrapping has become quite a trend in the past few years. Shops and owners come up with some truly wild designs, which sometimes paint just can't touch. But, you can't treat wrap like paint and it's a little more tedious to keep a wrapped car looking good. Wrap Detailer from Chemical Guys is the right stuff for those of you with a wrapped car, and the company's one of the few who accommodate a true spray detailer without wax, which isn't good to use with a slightly dirty car.

There are a handful of quick detailers on the market for wraps, but CG's Wrap Detailer proves itself with stunning results and provides a pretty decent value for the money. As the title says, it's also totally safe to use on wrap and it supposed to protect wrap from aging and block out UV rays. Just spray on and wipe it off with a clean microfiber towel to help make your wrap job look swell.

Chemical Guys

Ceramic coatings work, and if you pay good money to have one properly applied, it's a good idea to take care of it. We were smitten with Chemical Guys' Carbon Flex Vitalize Spray Sealant -- and not just on a vehicle with a ceramic coating.

While it worked wonders on a car with a ceramic coating and improved water sheeting, it also did a bang-on job on cars without one. We actually saw some lighter scratches fade away with this stuff applied. It's important to follow the directions as they're stated, and if you do, the results justify the steeper price tag.

P&S

We're big believers in P&S' Bead Maker Paint Protectant. Heck, we included it as a bonus product in our best waxes of 2020 roundup. However, it absolutely deserves a proper place here because of the magic it works.

Unlike a regular detailing spray, Bead Maker should always be applied after a fresh coat of wax. Spray the product on a dry surface, ideally, and wipe off with a clean microfiber towel. Give this stuff 8 hours of cure time and the results are spectacular. We've never seen water bead so well with just a spray product, and we've even applied it to exterior windows to help whisk away rain while driving. It works like a charm.

Best detailing spray details

Best detailing spray Brand Name Price
Overall Adam's Detail Spray $13
For the money Mothers California Gold Instant Detailer $7
Safe for wraps Chemical Guys Wrap Detailer $17
Ceramic coating Chemical Guys Carbon Flex Vitalize $23
Paint protection P&S Bead Maker Paint Protector $15

Notes about quick detailing sprays

  • Detailing sprays don't replace wax: These products are meant to help keep your car looking great between a wash and waxes. They're not a replacement, but a easy-to-use product that slots between them.
  • Spray detailers and spray waxes are very different: Don't confused a spray wax for a quick detailing spray. Spray waxes include, well, wax, and it's not the best thing to use on a slightly dirty car. Spray detailers are formulated to work on slightly dirty cars with dust and debris.
  • You can use ceramic spray detailer without a ceramic coat: One of our picks exemplifies this scenario. It's a darn good quick detailer, but it's also a bit pricey. Overall, you're probably better off choosing a different product.
P&S Bead Maker

We love us some Bead Maker here.

P&S

Enjoy your Roadshow-approved shine

With any of these spray detailers in your arsenal, you'll be sure to have a boss-looking car in your driveway to make other envious. Or maybe you want a little extra wow factor before pulling into the car meet. Regardless, these quick detailer products will accomplish a magnificent shine.

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