Automotive technology has evolved at such a rapid rate that modern consumer vehicles today include many features that were only offered on high-end models just a few years ago, and at a considerable cost. But thanks to economies of scale, technologies once considered exotic, like adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go, are available on compact sedans suited to commuters. Here’s our take on the must-have tech features you should consider when buying a new vehicle.
- Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
While automakers are constantly striving to make their on-screen infotainment systems faster and easier to use, many drivers prefer the familiar and often superior features of their smartphones. They may also want to use smartphone apps like Waze that are not on their in-car system.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto allow a simplified version of your smartphone screen to appear on your car’s dashboard screen. The in-car system must be equipped with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, and the good news is that the functionality migrates to anything but the base trim level in most new vehicles.
- Blind spot warning
As the name suggests, a blind spot warning system alerts drivers of a vehicle in their blind spot. Sensors monitor the area along the rear sides of the car and when a vehicle in an adjacent lane is detected, a warning light will illuminate, usually in the side mirror on the corresponding side. If the driver ignores the warning and the signals to move in that lane, then most systems will flash the alert and possibly sound a warning as well.
Some systems additionally provide brake intervention, meaning they apply the brake to a wheel on one side of the car to prevent the driver from stepping into the adjacent lane when a vehicle is detected in the corner. dead.
- Lane Keeping Aid
Lane Keep Assist works like a semi-autonomous driving feature, but is designed to help rather than supplant the driver. Cameras read lane markings and sometimes also follow the car ahead to establish lane limits, meaning the systems require well-marked roads. When the system is able to establish the lane limits, an indicator in the instrument cluster will turn green, signaling that the system is ready to assist with steering tasks.
The best lane keeping assist systems will steer smoothly to keep the car’s position in the center of the lane. Weaker systems sometimes go back and forth from one side of the track to the other. Lane Keep Assist often struggles on twisty roads, so it’s best to use it on highways. System steering inputs are generally smooth and easily overridden by the driver.
While Lane Keep Assist can briefly handle steering tasks, the systems are designed for use with driver intervention, and if the driver’s hand is not detected on the steering wheel, they issue a warning. to put your hands on the wheel.
- Keyless entry and access, push button start
The next step beyond key fob remotes is passive keyless entry, which is paired with push-button start and allows the driver to unlock, start, turn off and lock the car without touching the key fob.
The system works by sensing the remote in your pocket or purse, and it unlocks the door when you pull the handle or press a button on the handle. Inside the car, a simple ignition button starts the car, as long as the remote control is detected.
To lock the car after parking, there is usually a dot or tactile button on the exterior door handle that you press to lock the car, again with the remote on you. A flashing of the lights and / or a beep of the horn confirms that the car is locked.
- Connected mobile applications
Connected mobile apps allow owners to access a variety of vehicle information and perform a multitude of vehicle-related functions through their smartphones. Specifics vary by make and model, but information may include: fuel level, battery charge level and range (in electric vehicles), location of a parked vehicle, whether the car is locked or unlocked, and whether any windows or the sunroof is open.
The functions activated by the application may include remote start; planning service; locking, unlocking and starting the engine (when combined with a digital key); notification when the vehicle exceeds a certain speed or moves outside a geographically fenced area; and the ability to send a destination from your phone to your car’s navigation system.
Connected mobile applications are often paid. Each brand has its own name for its app, for example: Lincoln Way, MyFord Mobile, AcuraLink, BMW Connected, Mercedes me and Volvo on Call.
- Rear cross traffic alert
The rear cross traffic alert is often combined with a blind spot warning because they use the same cameras or radar sensors, but the rear cross traffic alert serves a different function. When reversing, it warns the driver of approaching traffic in either direction, usually with an audible and visual warning. Some systems combine rear cross traffic alert and automatic braking, which means that if the driver ignores the warning, the car will automatically brake to avoid backing into the path of an oncoming vehicle.
- Automatic emergency braking
Automatic Emergency Braking, combined with Forward Collision Warning, is one of the most important safety advancements of recent years and has been proven to reduce rear-end collisions. It is especially useful in heavy traffic, where a moment of inattention can find a driver looking up to see the traffic stopped in front of him.
This system sweeps the road ahead, and if the approaching speed of an idling or stopped vehicle ahead indicates the danger of a collision, it first issues a warning (a flashing light sometimes accompanied by a warning tone). alert) and if the driver does not respond. whether braking or steering, the system will automatically apply the brakes. Automatic brake application can either prevent or at least mitigate the force of the collision.
- Adaptive cruise control with Traffic Assist
Basic versions of Adaptive Cruise Control, once set, can slow the vehicle below the set speed when traffic ahead slows down, and then return to the set speed once it is cleared. But it only works above 30mph or more, and if the cars ahead drop below that speed, the system will shut off (with a warning to the driver).
Advanced versions of Adaptive Cruise Control include Traffic Assist (sometimes referred to as Adaptive All-Speed Cruise Control or Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop and Go) and continue to operate until stopped, making it much more useful in heavy traffic. . With most advanced systems, if the stop lasts only a moment or two, the car can start again on its own. If the stop lasts longer, the driver usually has to give the accelerator a boost or press one of the cruise control buttons to get back into motion, at which point the system re-engages.
- 360 degree camera
Backup cameras are currently mandatory in all new cars, but larger vehicles and those with compromised visibility really benefit from more rugged 360-degree cameras. With this feature, a series of cameras around the car send information to a central computer, which can assemble a top-to-bottom view around the car that can be displayed on a split screen with the rear camera view, this which greatly facilitates maneuverability in tight spaces.
- Teen Driver Technology
Households with young drivers will want to take advantage of teenage driver technology, which can function as an electronic monitor of newly licensed drivers by setting limits and combating bad behavior.
Depending on the functions offered by the vehicle manufacturer, the vehicle keys or the remote controls can be programmed to: set a speed warning; set a speed limit; prevent the vehicle from shifting if the driver’s seat belt is unbuckled; prevent the audio system from turning on unless all front passengers have fastened their seat belts; set a lower maximum volume for stereo; prevent deactivation of active safety functions; and block adult content on satellite radio.
After a teenager uses the family car, the owner can get reports on the teenager’s driving history, including distance traveled, top speed, how often the accelerator was pressed and whether certain security systems have been triggered.