For those looking to trade in that old automobile for a hot new ride this summer, automakers are unleashing a bevy of cool new car features. With the rapid growth of technology, car makers are improving more than just the rideability and exterior design, but also complete interior functionality. So if you plan to shop around for a new ride, here are seven high-tech and alluring car features that will make your purchase a real upgrade. —Jeff Fortson
Some automakers have casted out archaic car fixtures, such as radio knobs and air conditioner switches. Instead—like today’s smartphones—many of Ford’s (and Lincoln’s) latest vehicles require the use of a touch screen application, which changes everything from the radio station to adjusting the heated seats.
Is that spare tire taking up room in your trunk? While many of the experts were advising drivers to clean out the trunk to increase gas mileage, not one knew General Motors was making plans to eliminate spare tires entirely. In its new Chevy Cruze, GM equips the compact with an on-board tire inflator kit. General Motors claims eliminating the spare sheds approximately 26 pounds in total car weight. If your tire is irreparable (even beyond the kit’s assistance), drivers can press GM’s trademark OnStar button on the rearview mirror to request emergency roadside assistance.
This feature makes driving on busy highways and freeways a bit more relaxing. Active Cruise Control maintains the desired speed when possible, while also keeping a predefined distance to any vehicles in the lane ahead.
Radar sensors at the front of the vehicle permanently scan the road in front. It automatically reduces power output from the engine and gently applies the brakes, holding your vehicle at a predefined distance to the vehicle ahead in hopes of avoiding a collision.
This distance is set as a number of seconds so that a safe reaction time is always available, relative to the current speed. When the lane ahead becomes clear, Active Cruise Control automatically returns your vehicle’s speed the preferred cruising range. Thankfully, this feature is available on a number of today’s high-end vehicles.
LANE CHANGING DEPARTURE WARNING/DEPARTURE SYSTEM (Infiniti)
Only a handful of automakers offer Lane Departure Warning (LDW) and Lane Departure Prevention (LDP) systems. The LDW and LDP systems work together using a small camera installed behind the windshield to detect lane markers in front of the vehicle. If the driver veers outside of his lane, he or she is immediately warned of the impending lane departure (sans the hollering you would normally receive from your front-seat passenger). If the driver does not return the vehicle back towards the center of the travel lane, the LDP system assists with a gentle application of the brakes, advising the driver to stay in his or her lane.
No more fumbling for your car keys in your pocket or purse. There’s no more fuss or hassle with getting into your car, since the vehicle automatically recognizes your key fob. Now you can get in, hit the push-button start and go without ever taking out a key to start the vehicle.
How many times has someone walked in front of your car on the road? Hopefully this next tool will keep you and the jaywalker safe next time. With Volvo’s Pedestrian Detection System, the driver first receives an audible warning combined with a streak of red flashing lights in the front windshield – warning of a person in path. This technology can help avoid a low speed collision by immediately grabbing the brakes. This feature will come in hand for chronic jaywalkers known to dash out without the right of way.