Popular Mechanics Jan/Feb 2018

Discover the latest in technology, engineering, and tools with Popular Mechanics. Plus, get essential advice on your home and car, useful DIY ideas, in-depth explanations on how things work, and more!

United States
10 Issues

in this issue

3 min
from the editor

Volume I I REMEMBER WHEN Bruce Springsteen’s Greatest Hits album came out. I was in college, and I walked through the snow down to the record store (the record store!) and bought it on compact disc. For a fan of any musician, greatest hits albums were always a little strange. You were used to hearing songs in the context of the other songs on the record. Now here they were all out of order, and only the hits, not the B-sides and non-radio-friendly tracks where they belonged. In Springsteen’s case, all the hits were there, of course— “Born to Run,” “Hungry Heart,” “Born in the U.S.A.” (And also, curiously, “Atlantic City.” Was that a hit?) I loved them all as songs, but I wondered if this album would sound like an…

1 min
popular mechanics everywhere

ONLINE! In 2007, China used a missile to shoot one of its own defunct satellites out of the sky. Which prompted U.S. military leaders to work even harder to protect our orbiting spacecraft. We talked to Air Force Space Command about protecting U.S. satellites from attack, the challenges of serving as space traffic control for tens of thousands of objects in orbit, and keeping GPS running for the world. Find the exclusive interview at popularmechanics.com/AFSPC. ON TAP! This fall, Popular Mechanics partnered with Blue Point Brewing Company to learn about and design our very own beer. The 1902 Lager— named after the year PM was founded—is inspired by America’s crisp pre-Prohibition pilsners. We updated the style with oats and juicy American hops for a surprising yet satisfying pint. Find out more about it…

8 min
how kia got good

I WASN’T SURE Kia would go for it. I was going to visit the factory in West Point, Georgia, an hour southwest of Atlanta, and drive 400-something miles home to North Carolina in a Sorento SX Limited plucked straight off the assembly line. Handing a freshly built car over to a magazine writer requires confidence in your product—no break-in mileage, and no making sure that I get a perfect car. But Kia agreed. It’s a bold play, one that demonstrates that it has a point to prove. Kia spent the early 2000s, its formative years, as the butt of jokes. Its cars were a reliable fixture at the bottom of the J.D. Power Initial Quality Study (IQS), which tallies owners’ complaints after three months of driving. As recently as 2005, Kia…

1 min
the newest car company:

It isn’t Tesla or Faraday Future—it’s Genesis, Hyundai’s luxury division, which officially hung its shingle in late 2015. Hyundai has sold Genesis-branded cars for years, but those were merely the beachhead to get U.S. buyers accustomed to the idea of an upscale Korean car. Now, Genesis is its own company and its latest sedans crib directly from the Lexus strategy in the early ’90s: Meet or beat the established player in quality, performance, and luxury at a significantly lower price. New Genesis models, like the twin-turbo, rear-wheel-drive G80 Sport (left), are an enticing proposition for the brand-agnostic: You’re paying for the car, not the badge. At least, not yet.…

1 min
finally! a site selling indie food and spirits

America holds a bounty of handcrafted whiskeys, bacons, and hot sauces that are easy to covet but only stocked locally. That’s why Mouth.com was created. The site’s buyers comb the country to bring the very best small-batch food and drink, like Colorado’s The Real Dill Pickles and California’s True Jerky (get the Korean BBQ beef), into a single online shop that ships coast to coast. “Mouth found us four months after we started selling at a San Diego farmer’s market,” says James Evans, sales director at True Jerky. “Now we’re starting national distribution.” Mouth’s gift boxes and guides for events like weddings, housewarmings, and birthdays simplify your shopping, while also making you appear far more thoughtful than the guy showing up with a gift card. Nobody needs to know the…

1 min
measure rooms for remodeling projects on your phone

Last winter, we hired an interior designer. She scheduled a time to come over, spent 30 minutes measuring our living room, and sent that info to a CAD artist who set it up with all the proposed furniture. We had to pay that CAD artist, too. PLNAR, a new room-mapping app that runs on Apple’s ARKit, doesn’t totally replace that, but it definitely would have saved us time and a little money. With my iPhone, I measured the same room in less than two minutes. After you mark out the perimeter by aiming the phone at the floor and tapping a button at every corner or new surface, you can mark off walls, doors, and openings. There’s a lot of clutter in the room while we figure out where to…