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Toyota to test autonomous driving scenarios
As development of autonomous vehicle technology progresses, the need to test ever more complex scenarios becomes a problem. Testing is happening on public roads, but the everyday driving issues we all face aren’t the biggest challenge. Instead, it’s the worst case scenarios that pose a problem for engineers to decipher. Toyota plans to test out those scenarios at a new facility in Michigan.
The Toyota Research Institute is currently building a new test facility at Michigan Technical Resource Park (MITRP) in Ottawa Lake, Michigan. The 60-acre site will be used solely for replicating what Toyota is calling “edge case” driving scenarios. These are the kinds of things we hope never to experience in the real world, but autonomous vehicles will need to be able to handle them when they do happen.
Test Drive: 2018 Chrysler Pacifica
By Greg Zyla
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Entry price: $26,995
Price as tested: $49,665
This week, we’re driving Chrysler’s seventh-generation 2018 Pacifica, now in its second year of an all-new design. This new Pacifica is clearly the company’s most impressive minivan in its 34-year history and a pleasure to drive during our weeklong test.
Pacifica is a direct descendant of the famous Chrysler-built Dodge and Plymouth minivans that debuted in September 1983 as a 1984 model. These unique vehicles were called the Dodge Caravan and Plymouth Voyager and successfully filled the void of consumers who needed station wagon roominess but didn’t have much to choose from. Thanks to perfect timing from then Chrysler Chairman Lee Iacocca, the tables were set for success as baby boomer marriages evolved into growing families and there, in the many Chrysler dealerships, sat the new Dodge and Plymouth minivans.
As for mechanicals, the 1984 Chrysler minivans were more or less Plymouth Reliant and Dodge Reliant “K-Cars” on steroids. The “K-Car” was Chrysler’s front drive, four-cylinder compact car that debuted in 1981 also to a fair amount of success.
Chrysler engineers stretched K-Car’s wheelbase from 99.6-inches to 112-inches and added the novel seven-passenger minivan body all while delivering smaller size maneuverability and good fuel mileage. Chrysler sold some 200,000 minivans the first 16-months thanks to excellent advertising coupled with the excitement of a brand new multi-passenger vehicle.
These new minivans launched Chrysler Corporation back into sustained profitability for nearly a decade as the company enjoyed little or no competition. Through the seven generations, the Dodge and Chrysler minivans grew to wheelbases of over 120-inches while retaining the “minivan” nomenclature based on history more so than actual mass/weight proportions.
So how good is the 2018 Chrysler Pacifica?
Well, how about winning the “North American Utility Vehicle of the Year” at last year’s world famous Detroit Auto Show followed by a J.D. Power “Highest Ranked Minivan in Initial Quality” award. The new architecture features a completely revamped exterior and a new interior with lots of storage and cargo abilities. A class first nine-speed automatic transmission couples with a 3.6-liter V6 that produces 287 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque.