Kristin Shaw

In this interview, Kristin talks with Shane Heidemann, chief engineer at Nissan, about the new 2020 Titan XD and its Pro-4X model. After hitting the trail for some mud, the two talk about the underpinnings of the truck and what has (and hasn’t) changed with this new Titan.

For more on the 2020 Nissan Titan XD, check out Kristin’s interview with Ari:

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Like horsepower? Driving fast? Having your hair flip in your face because someone shoved down the throttle? Kristin rides with Gary Patterson, president of Shelby American and true performance lover. They talk fun times in cars, safe teen driving, why he married his wife, and why the unexpectedly good handling in the Shelby GT500 is, well, unexpected.

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Toyota van

FC Dallas and Toyota are taking care of those who are taking care of the community by delivering meals to the volunteers at Frisco FastPacs, an organization that provides meals for students in the Frisco Independent School District.

An original member of Major League Soccer since the league’s inception in 1996, FC Dallas plays its regular season from February to October at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas. FC Dallas won the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup in 1997 and 2016 as well as the MLS Supporters’ Shield in 2016.

The donated meals were originally intended for upcoming FC Dallas matches at Toyota Stadium. Because of the suspension of MLS play and the growing need for resources and volunteers, FC Dallas and Toyota recognized the need to help the volunteers who are providing such a vital service in our community. Legends Hospitality chefs worked to prepare and package the meals.

“We’re proud to work with Legends Hospitality and the food and beverage team at Toyota Stadium to provide these meals to the volunteers who are tirelessly working to ensure that FISD students do not go hungry during this unprecedented time,” said FC Dallas Foundation Manager Brooke Leverette.

Frisco FastPacs is a service that delivers weekend meals to all 72 Frisco Independent School District campuses, serving more than 1,000 children, to ensure they do not go hungry when school is not in session. Following FISD’s response to extend spring break until Friday, March 20 due to COVID-19 (coronavirus pandemic), Frisco FastPacs is currently working with the district and Lovepacs Frisco to provide meals to those students in need at six different middle schools.

“Mr. Rogers always said that in scary times, we should look for the helpers,” said Frisco Fastpacs Executive Director Heather Canterbury. “Our Fastpacs volunteers have stepped up unbelievably to be those helpers in in this crisis. To have FC Dallas and Toyota take care of our people so they can keep taking care of these kids means everything.”

Original press release here

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2021 Hyundai Elantra

Hyundai officially launched its all-new 2021 Elantra and Elantra Hybrid today at The Lot Studios in West Hollywood with a virtual event broadcast around the world. This marks the world debut of the latest version of the popular compact sedan. The 2021 Elantra showcases Hyundai’s latest ambitions, including a hybrid electric vehicle technology and segment-first wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity.

Highlights we like for the 2021 Elantra   

  • Longer wheelbase, wider stance, lower roofline
  • First-ever Elantra Hybrid with more than 50 MPG estimated combined fuel economy on hybrid model
  • Segment-first wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • Segment-first Hyundai Digital Key allows Elantra to be unlocked, started and driven without a physical key via a smartphone or NFC card
  • Standard SmartSense safety and convenience technologies
  • Two available 10.25-inch multimedia screens under one piece of glass
  • Dual Bluetooth support is available: two devices can be paired at the same time—one for phone calls and one for streaming audio.

While some manufacturers are cutting way back on the car side of the business, Hyundai is doubling down by offering an all-new sedan with both gas and hybrid powertrains. Brian Smith, chief operating officer, Hyundai Motor America, says they have sold more than 3.4 million Elantras in the U.S. and more than 13.8 million worldwide.

Two Available 10.25-inch Screens
The 2021 Elantra has two futuristic 10.25-inch screens all under one piece of glass. The cluster has different views: utility, driver assistance and navigation. The optional infotainment system displays a wide variety of information across its 10.25-inch split touchscreen.

The navigation system includes a bird’s-eye view in navigation maps, and drivers get connected routing, which provides multiple navigation options and real-time route updates. Server-based routing makes the onboard navigation experience similar to current smartphone navigation apps.

2021 Hyundai Elantra wireless

Leave the Cellphone Cords Behind

Hyundai Elantra’s standard eight-inch display interface allows owners to ditch the cords because wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are available as segment-first features, allowing one to leave the phone in a pocket or purse. From a safety perspective, this is smart because hopefully it will encourage more people to keep their devices out of their hands.

SmartSense Safety Features
The 2021 Elantra offers a new array of standard advanced safety technologies:

  • Forward collision-avoidance assist with pedestrian detection uses the car’s front-facing camera to help detect an imminent collision with a vehicle or pedestrian and avoid impact or minimize damage by braking automatically
  • Lane keeping assist helps prevent accidental lane departure by sensing road markings, automatically steering the car if necessary
  • Lane following assist may automatically adjust steering to help keep the vehicle centered in its lane of travel. LFA can help keep the vehicle centered on both highways and city streets.
  • High beam assist eliminates the need for drivers to manually switch high beams on and off at night
  • Driver attention warning system that monitors a spectrum of driver-related characteristics to help detect driver fatigue
  • Rearview camera with dynamic guidelines

Optional SmartSense Features

  • Blind-spot collision avoidance assist with rear cross-traffic collision-avoidance assist helps detect a vehicle in the drivers’ blind spot while the turn signal is on.
  • Smart cruise control makes highway and long-distance driving more comfortable. Using a radar sensor mounted on the lower front grille, the system maintains a set distance from the vehicle ahead in varied traffic conditions by automatically adjusting vehicle speed as needed.
  • Highway driving assist is a driving convenience system that assists drivers in maintaining the center of the lane and at an appropriate speed while keeping a safe distance from the car in front.
  • Safe exit warning may sound an alert when a vehicle approaches from behind, letting passengers know it may not be safe to open the door to exit the vehicle.
  • Reverse parking collision avoidance assist helps detect pedestrians and obstacles with a rearview camera and ultrasonic sensors. The system can provide warnings and apply emergency braking to assist in the avoidance of a collision.

Standard Interior Features

  • Eight-inch color display audio system with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and HD Radio
  • Bluetooth and steering wheel audio controls
  • Drive mode select
  • Rearview camera with dynamic guidelines

Optional Interior Features include Blue Link system with three years of complimentary Blue Link services; Qi wireless charging; a 10.25-inch infotainment system with faster processor, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, and connected routing, and a powerful Bose premium sound system with eight speakers.

Blue Link
The new Elantra line still features Hyundai’s Blue Link Connected Car System, which uses embedded telematics to allow drivers to remote-start their vehicle and control interior temperature using the MyHyundai smartphone app. The app also allows users to either remotely lock or unlock their doors, and to find their vehicle in a crowded parking lot with Car Finder and remote horn and lights.

In addition, Blue Link in the new Elantra arrives with cloud-based navigation, which offers free traffic information and POI searches.

Voice Recognition System
The all-new Elantra has an enhanced natural language voice recognition system with more and better feature control, more speed and accuracy in voice recognition and responses, and an ability to understand context, such as the user’s location to support natural interactions.

Using a natural voice, one can control the:

  • Climate on/off
  • Air conditioner on/off
  • Heat on/off
  • Fan high/low
  • Defrost on
  • Set fan to face, feet, or face and feet
  • Defrost on and set fan to feet
  • Warm up/cool down
  • Air intake system on
  • Turn on/off heated seats (driver/passenger)
  • Set heated seat levels 1, 2, or 3 (driver/passenger)
  • Rear window defroster on/off
  • Turn on/off the heated steering wheel
  • And additional functions

To activate controls, the driver uses the “push to talk button” on the steering wheel and say the requested command. Conversations will sound like, “Air conditioner on,” “Set fan to face,” or “Turn on my heated seat.” There are also more requests the system can handle. A user can say via Blue Link, “What is the temperature in St. Louis?”, “When is Mother’s Day?”, “Find me a Starbucks”, or “Who won the game last night?”

Digital Key
The 2021 Elantra has an optional smartphone-based Hyundai Digital Key. Digital Key uses a dedicated mobile app, Near Field Communication and Bluetooth Low Energy technology to allow the 2021 Elantra to be unlocked, started, and driven without a physical key via applicable Android smartphones.

Elantra’s Digital Key also allows secure sharing of virtual keys with family and friends.  Elantra owners can tailor the different vehicle functions available to each shared virtual key, and the key can be made available for only a defined amount of time. The vehicle owner can preset the duration of vehicle use or limit the use to only certain features when loaning the vehicle, and keys can also be revoked remotely. For additional convenience, such as using a valet service or visiting a Hyundai dealer, Hyundai Digital Key also works with an NFC card, which is provided with each vehicle. Each Elantra still comes with traditional keys. Hyundai Digital Key is compatible only with phones using the Android operating system. Hyundai Digital Key uses Near Field Communication (NFC) technology, which exhibits a high level of security. NFC wireless data communication takes place only when the device and the reader are placed several centimeters apart.

Production of the 2021 Elantra starts in the fall in Ulsan, Korea and at Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama, and sales begin in the fourth quarter.

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Can you fall in love with a truck?

When it’s a RAM 1500 Rebel equipped with a host of off-road specialty equipment and a load, throaty exhaust, the answer – at least, for me – is a resounding YES.

The Ram 1500 was fully redesigned for model year 2019, and it’s more of the same. And when I say more of the same, I mean more of the same innovation and attention to detail. First, the brand reduced the weight of the 1500 by more than 200 pounds, and at the same time increased the payload and towing capacity. On top of that, a mild hybrid power system (called eTorque) made its debut.

Available in seven trim levels (Tradesman, HFE, Big Horn, Rebel, Laramie, Longhorn and Limited), the 1500 is in its fifth generation and is competitive. The Tradesman is spare and designed to work hard, the Big Horn is right in the middle with comfort touches and durable exterior, and the Limited is a luxury car in truck form. Standard on all trims is a 3.6L V6 (305 hp, 269 lb-ft of torque). The optional upgrade (not available on the HFE) is a 5.7L V8 generating 395 hp and 410 lb-ft of torque.

Mopar accessories on tap

The RAM 1500 is one of the most-accessorized vehicles with over 200 options available. The vehicle I tested this time around was a Mopar Rebel, which has all of the thrills and chills of off-roading ruggedness and a smattering of accessories that contribute to the look and feel of this truck. This truck was made for mud and off-pavement adventures, and we put it to the test.

Add-ons included:

  • Off-road running boards
  • Off-road wheel flares
  • RAM bar with five-inch LED lights
  • Door sill guards
  • Mopar cat-back exhaust

What the %^& is a cat-back exhaust? 

According to Auto Anything, a cat-back exhaust system is a simple power modification that frees up your exhaust gas flow and produces a fierce engine note. The term “cat-back exhaust” can be defined as the section of an exhaust system that attaches after the last catalytic converter in the system. Aftermarket exhaust systems are designed to be freer flowing than a stock exhaust, which means the engine can release more horsepower and torque. What you can’t see, you can hear: the roar is definitely noticeable. In the best ways, of course.


In the bed of this RAM 1500 Rebel, a DECKED system had been installed, sporting two full bed-length drawers. For an additional $1,150 for a 5’7” bed length, the DECKED system is made from 100% recycled HDPE (high density polyethylene, commonly known as plastic) co-molded to a galvanized recycled steel subframe. The drawers can hold 200 pounds each, and they’re weatherproof, including rain, snow, extreme UV light, and severe temperatures.

What I liked about the DECKED system is that it requires no drilling or alteration of the truck whatsoever. The oversized handles are designed for use with gloves and made for work, but it’s just as capable and useful for a drawer full of groceries, tailgating supplies, camping gear, or sports equipment. What you might consider, if you like the idea of the DECKED system, is that it does not work with the RamBox Cargo Management system. Nor is it compatible with any in-bed towing packages like 5th Wheel and Gooseneck packages.

More fun, more everything

For model year 2019, there is more rear-seat space than its predecessor; a smooth, sedan-like suspension; quiet cabin; updated technology, and more.

The Rebel comes standard with:

  • Skid plates
  • Front tow hooks
  • Specialized off-road tires
  • Fortified shocks and suspension
  • Electronic-locking rear axle
  • Hill descent control
  • Class iv hitch receiver
  • LED headlights and foglights
  • 115-volt power outlet
  • Power-adjustable driver seat
  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • 12-inch touchscreen display

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Kristin talks about the Corvette and why it’s so great. While all the talk right now is on the new mid-engined 2020 model, Kristin loves the 2019 Grand Sport model with its beautiful red and massive appeal. Here’s her take.

For a full review, see Kristin’s writeup on Cars Her Way:

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