In-Car Tech

5 Things you need to know about the 2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class's MBUX infotainment system

Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

The next-gen 2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class will come with the latest iteration of MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience) infotainment system. The 2021 E-Class Coupe and Cabriolet will be the best-networked cars in the Mercedes-Benz and Mercedes-AMG passenger-car portfolio.

Here's what you need to know.

The system includes two large screens, side by side.

The MBUX display includes two 12.3-inch screens that are contained under one piece of glass that spans from in front of the driver to the center of the dashboard. These screens are where the instrument cluster is shown and where technology, like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, are displayed.

There's voice assistant technology that learns your habits.

2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class MBUX

Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

Need some help? Signal the MBUX voice assistant by saying, "Hey, Mercedes."

The system is designed to continuously learn. Are you an Atlanta Braves fan? You can can learn that and prompt you to turn on the radio to the station where the game is playing when it begins.

The MBUX is able to perform a number of weather-related functions, utilizing the voice assist to read the forecast to the driver. The car can even tell you what the snow report is for your favorite ski area.

It can recognize your movements.

The MBUX Interior Assistant recognizes movement. When a hand is approaching a touch screen or the center console touch pad, the system is triggered to change the display and highlight elements. This is similar to a computer mouse hovering over a button on a webpage and the button slightly changes its appearance to let the user know that it is selected.

There's specific functions for AMG models.

The Mercedes-AMG E 53 Coupe and Cabriolet feature MBUX systems with additional AMG-specific functions and displays. Mercedes explains the features:

"These include, for example, the visualization of the driving programs and telemetry data on the touchscreen multimedia display. In the instrument cluster, the driver can switch between three distinct display styles including "Supersport" mode, which is particularly striking, with a central, round tachometer and perspective horizontal displays to the left and right of the tachometer, creating an impression of depth. In addition, various special displays such as engine data, gear indicator, warm-up, setup, G-meter and race timer can be selected via the AMG menu."

The MBUX system interacts with the new Mercedes steering wheel.

2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class's MBUX steering wheel

Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

The automaker has redesigned its steering wheel to include capacitive sensor technology. With this technology, some functions will operate similar to how your smartphone operates.

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Nuts & Bolts

 
 

The 2020 Toyota Yaris punches above its weight.

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

Folks are always fascinated about what I do for a living. "Oh, you drive a different car every week? That's so exciting!"

What follows is a fairly predictable set of questions. "What's your favorite car?" (Rolls-Royce Wraith). "Have you ever driven on a race track?" (Numerous times.) "What's the fastest you've driven?" (180 MPH in a Porsche Panamera on the Autobahn in Germany.)

But then I'll start asking them questions, trying to learn about what they drive and why. What car do you have and why did you buy it? What other cars did you consider? What do you look for in an automobile?

2020 Toyota Yaris The Yaris has Toyota looks up front.Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

It's my own form of market research. I can't review a car if I don't understand who my reader is and how to best guide them. It's part of why I don't dive too deep into horsepower and performance figures — I've found that, performance cars excepted, most vehicles perform adequately for the everyday tasks that people buy them for.

That brings us to this week's car, which is perhaps one of the least-interesting cars I've tested — but in a very good way. The sub-$20,000 2020 Toyota Yaris Hatchback is aimed solidly at folks who want an affordable, entry-level vehicle that's safe, practical, and with just a touch of luxury-ishness.

My tester was the (slightly) fancier XLE trim, pricing out at $19,680. It's equipped with an adequate if unexciting 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine churning out a whopping 106-horsepower. The engine might be tiny, but it comes with the added bonus of 32/40/35 mpg (city/highway/combined) fuel economy. It's paired to a six-speed automatic transmission (and a real transmission too, not a continuously variable unit that some folks love to hate).

2020 Toyota Yaris The hatchback is convenient but the car also comes in a sedan variant.Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

It has 16-inch wheels, a bunch of airbags, LED headlights, rain-sensing windshield wipers, and a seven-inch color touch screen complete with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It has push-button start, keyless entry, and power windows, locks and mirrors. Oh, and there's automatic climate control too, which I've seen missing on cars that cost way more than this.

Here's where things get a bit confusing. Toyota sells the Yaris in other markets around the world, and it's their own in-house vehicle. But the Yaris sold in America is a rebadged Mazda2 that's assembled at Mazda's facility in Salamanca, Mexico. It's related to the Toyota Yaris sedan which used to be called the Scion iA, which is also built by Mazda, but also has the Toyota brand on it.

Whatever.

2020 Toyota Yaris The Yaris rides okay, about what you’d expect for a sub-$20,000 vehicle.Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

I've driven a lot of Mazdas and a lot of Toyotas, and it's obvious to me that this is a Mazda. That's not a bad thing. Mazdas vehicles have punched above their weight for a long time (I had a 2011 Mazda3 for years, and I've praised them frequently in these pages), bringing both upscale materials and design to lower-priced segments. That's true here too. The Mazda2 — I mean, Toyota Yaris Hatchback — doesn't feel like a stripped down econobox. It's small and maneuverable and the engine, though a little noisy, gets you through traffic nicely.

It's a great new car for a teenager or for someone looking to spend as little money on a new car as possible. New cars, after all, come with new car warranties and can appeal to folks who don't want to imagine what came before when buying something used.

The Yaris competes with the Honda Fit, which is a perennial favorite in this class, and it seems a little nicer and a little more polished, though with less rear-seat legroom if you anticipate carrying adults back there.

2020 Toyota Yaris Even low-cost models have an infotainment screen these days.Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

The front is comfortable and attractive enough, with solid buttons and knobs and dials that are all pleasing to touch and fiddle with (which isn't as common as you'd think). It seems to be a better car than it's bargain-basement price would indicate, with a solid ride, comfortable seats and two reliable names behind it.

I took it to Costco (as I have with all my COVID-era test drives) and, with the 60/40 seats folded down, was able to fill it with ease. It swallowed up toilet paper and paper towels and a case of Diet Dr. Pepper and all manner of other things. It's no Rolls-Royce Wraith, but I'd be happy to recommend the little Yaris to someone looking for a new car that won't break the bank.

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The design study gives customers an idea of what to expect out of the next-gen QX60

Photo courtesy of Infiniti Motors

It’s not the next-gen Infiniti QX60, but it is darn close. The Infiniti QX60 Monograph is a concept car and design study of the forthcoming new version of the three-row SUV.

"We commenced the design of the Monograph knowing this was an opportune time to start a discussion about where we are planning to take the QX60 in the future and more broadly, where we are heading as a brand with our design language'" said Alfonso Albaisa, senior vice president, Global Design, Nissan Motor Co. Ltd.

Infiniti QX60 Monograph Slim headlights and an athletic stance make the face of the SUV unique.Photo courtesy of Infiniti Motors

Consider it a detailed plan. Even Infiniti itself is relaying that the QX60 Monograph “provides tangible insight” into the new model from proportions to design elements. With the new QX60, Infiniti looks to not break the mold, which their buyers love, but instead refine what customers expect.

"In crafting this Monograph, we wanted to change the tonality of the QX60 and transform the nameplate from a sculptural and architectural point of view. We raised the visual center of gravity, giving it a strong, straight shoulder line that carries through to the hood, with a higher, more prominent grille, and longer-looking cabin to deliver a sense of muscularity and a commanding presence" Albaisa said.

The QX60 Monograph is more muscular than the current QX60, with distinctive athletic styling that sets it apart from the usual SUV crowd and gives it its own Infiniti identity. A long wheelbase, teardrop-like greenhouse, and sweeping lines give the SUV a new profile. A horizontal window line and wide backside are designed to give the concept a sense of poise and stability.

Infiniti QX60 Monograph The SUV’s grille features a fresh design.Photo courtesy of Infiniti Motors

Infiniti is showcasing the QX60 Monograph with a platinum plant color that mimics the qualities of liquid metal. It features a black roof that is on-trend for the current design environment. On top of the car is a panoramic roof that features a “kimono fold” pattern.

"The QX60 Monograph embodies the Japanese concept of 'Ma,' a sense of minimalism where designers seek harmony, adding just the right amount of elements with very specific meaning to create something special. This is evident on the body, where at a glance it is simple, but when you get closer, you see that there are elements that are playing against each other in a sense of harmony." Albaisa explains.

At the front of the SUV is a new take on the traditional Infiniti grille - a two dimensional surface that projects a sense of three-dimensional depth. It’s a mesh pattern that repeats on the car’s side intakes.

Infiniti QX60 Monograph Infiniti has given the SUV a black roof.Photo courtesy of Infiniti Motors

Infiniti calls the lighting at the front and rear of the SUV “Digital Piano Key” technology saying that it projects a “futuristic appearance”. The taillights are tinted and appear to wrap around the sides of the vehicle. The lamps are accompanied by a glowing “infinite road” brand emblem.

Infiniti QX60 Monograph The model’s taillights appear to wrap around the vehicle.Photo courtesy of Infiniti Motors

The interior of the model was not shown and not detailed as part of this design study. It is expected that a thoroughly modern, new interior is on tap for the next-gen QX60.

The production version of the next generation QX60 is expected in 2021.

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