In-Car Tech

USB-A vs. USB-C ports: Answering questions you have about your car but forgot to ask

2021 Chrysler Pacifica Pinnacle interior with the new integrated Ultra console. A new LED light feature on the wireless charging system provides information on the charging status: a blue light indicates charging, red a foreign object detected and green signifies charging is complete.

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

If you're reading this, it's a safe bet that you own both a car and a smartphone. And, if I'm going to be presumptuous, it's likely that you have your smartphone in your car whenever you're driving somewhere and that you probably want to charge your phone when you're in your car.

But this isn't always an easy endeavor, especially if you have a brand new car. So here's a quick walkthrough of the various USB plugs you might find in your new car — as well as the various plugs you might find on your smartphone.

2020 Honda CR-V Hybrid The 2020 Honda CR-V Hybrid has only USB-A ports up front, alongside a wireless charging pad.The automaker labels these ports with their available charging power.Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc.

The standard rectangular USB that's available in most cars from the past ten years is called the USB-A outlet. It's the one that's particularly frustrating because you'll inevitably try to insert the plug upside down. It's pretty universal, and, depending on your car, will either provide just power or (more likely) will let you play music and other audio through the stereo system.

One thing to note is whether it's a "high-power" port or not. Some newer vehicles will output up to 2.4 amps from their port, while older (or cheaper) cars will provide much less power. It's even possible that, if you're using the GPS on your phone for example, it might not even offer enough power to actually charge up your phone.

The USB-A is the most common and universal plug — but there's something new that you'll be seeing more and more.

Newer vehicles (and newer computers) might have the newest and fanciest USB-C plug. It has rounded edges and is much smaller, more useful, and more powerful than the older USB-A plug.

2020 Toyota RAV4 Adventure The 2020 Toyota RAV4 Adventure hides its AUX ad USB-A ports below a labeled hatch in the center console.Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

First, and perhaps most importantly, you'll never insert your cable upside down ever again — it works whichever way you plug it in, which is particularly useful. Second, it's capable of providing much more power to your device, charging it much, much faster than the USB-A port if your car supports it — and some USB-C outlets might even be able to power a laptop.

Regardless of which plug you have in your car, high-quality cables are essential and are extremely cheap. I prefer Anker's Powerline cables, and they come in a huge variety of colors, lengths, and types. If you have an iPhone, you can get a three-foot Anker USB-A to Lightning cable for under $10 each, and a USB-C to Lightning cable for a few dollars more than that. Spare cables are always a nice thing to have, and these are some of the best you can buy.

If you have an Android, things are slightly more complicated because there are a few different possibilities for what plug your phone might have. There are a few options, but double check which plug your phone has before you buy and you'll be prepared for whichever USB port your new car has!

Finally, there are adapters that allow you to go from USB-C to USB-A to use your old cables with the new-fangled outlets on the new car, but they're as much as a replacement cable would be, so you're better off just buying a new, high-quality cable for about ten bucks.

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The LEGO Speed Champions series is adding two new Dodge models to its lineup.

Photo courtesy of Stellantis

The new LEGO Speed Champions series is expanding by two. A 1970 Dodge Challenger T/A and Mopar Dodge//SRT Top Fuel Dragster are being added to the growing collection. They are the first purple vehicle and first Top Fuel Dragster in the Speed Champion series.

"Owning, or aspiring to own, a Dodge muscle car is as much about the lifestyle of joining the Brotherhood of Muscle as it is about the vehicle purchase," said Tim Kuniskis, Dodge Brand Chief Executive Officer – Stellantis. "As a result, our brand enthusiasts are passionate about all things Dodge, including the latest cool collectibles. So, following the success of the Dodge 2018 LEGO Speed Champion building set, fans will now be able to build and show off not only the first ever 8-inch-wide (8W) muscle car, but also the first ever Plum Crazy 1970 Dodge Challenger T/A, along with an incredibly detailed 13½-long Top Fuel Dragster."

LEGO Speed Champions Dodge box The 627-piece Challenger T/A and Dragster include box art of their Rea-life counterparts. Photo courtesy of Stellantis

LEGO has had the Challenger over two inches high, five inches long, and 2.5 inches wide. The Dragster is four inches high thanks to its wing, and has a body that is 13.5 inches long and 2.5 inches wide.

The set features a male Challenger driver in Dodge-branded clothing. The Dragster has a female driver in a Dodge race suit.

"In 2021, we are extremely excited to reteam with Dodge and expand the Speed Champions 8W Vehicle Collection even further by including new vehicle types and building experiences, for the first time, that appeal to vehicle fans of all ages," said Christopher Stamp, LEGO Design Lead.

LEGO Speed Champions Dodge The set includes two models.Photo courtesy of Stellantis

The models will be released on June 1, 2021 at LEGO.com. Pricing for the models is not yet available.

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The 2022 IONIQ 5 will feature futuristic styling.

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

The 2022 Hyundai Ioniq 5 was announced earlier this year, but today we learned quite a bit more about the new EV, including that it will sport some impressive charging figures. As the automaker's first dedicated electric vehicle, the Ioniq 5 rollout is an important one, and will take place in stages across late 2021 and early 2022.

Hyundai will offer the Ioniq 5 with two different electric motor options. The base configuration includes a single motor that produces 225 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, and is paired with two-wheel drive. This configuration will be capable of up to 300 miles of range per charge. The upgraded model will come with a dual-motor system and all-wheel drive. It derives a total of 320 horsepower from its motors and can reach 60 mph from a standstill in five seconds. The speedier Ioniq 5's range will reach up to 244 miles on a charge.

2022 Hyundai IONIQ 5 The IONIQ 5 is Hyundai's first dedicated EV.Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

The Ioniq 5's most impressive specs, however, are in its charging speeds. The vehicle supports 800-volt charging and can run 400-volt charging without the need for additional adapters or hardware. Hyundai says it's the first patented technology that uses the motor and inverter to boost 400 volts to 800 volts, which will equate to blazing charging speeds. The Ioniq 5 can charge from 10 percent to 80 percent in 18 minutes, and can regain up to 68 miles of range with just a five minute charge using a 350-kW fast charger. The car can fully recharge in 6 hours and 43 minutes using Level 2 charging.

To provide juice for that fast charging, Hyundai is working with Electrify America to provide over 600 charging stations to owners of the Ioniq 5. Hyundai will also give buyers free charging across the Electrify America network with unlimited 30-minute sessions for two years following the date of purchase.

2022 Hyundai IONIQ 5 The vehicle can provide power for other electric devices.Photo courtesy of Hyundai

EVs are increasingly offering the ability to provide power for other things, which is a trick that the Ioniq 5 will be able to pull off. Hyundai says that it will have the ability to recharge any electric device, including scooters, bicycles, or camping equipment, and notes that it will even be able to provide power to another EV. The function is called V2L, or vehicle-to-load, and provides up to 1.9 kW power using a standard 120-volt outlet. The Ioniq 5's charging port provides power through an available accessory adaptor.

The Ioniq 5 will start hitting dealers' lots this fall, but availability will vary depending on where you live. Buyers in states that are California EV-compliant will get the vehicle first, with others to follow at some point in 2022.

2022 Hyundai IONIQ 5 Two 12-inch displays grace the IONIQ 5's dash.Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

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