Much like the vehicles sold by the leading brands, the auto industry moves fast. Technology quickly proliferates and what’s considered a luxury feature in high-end models one year may become the standard for all vehicles the next.
In 2016, there are more than a handful of luxury technologies that can now be found in vehicles at every price range.
1. Seamless Multimedia Interfaces
Automotive software is notoriously bad in vehicles outside of the luxury class. It’s rarely intuitive, lacks basic functions drivers assume would exist, and has tons of quirks and complexities that simply don’t make since. Well, it appears that we’ve finally caught up. Apple and Google have partnered with automotive software developers to enhance the multimedia interface of select GM, Hyundai, Kia, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Volkswagen, and Honda models.
Now, these multimedia systems feature smartphone-like interfaces that give drivers hands-free access to SMS, navigation, and even third-party apps like Spotify and iHeartRadio. And even if the vehicle you want doesn’t come with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto built in, you can purchase aftermarket solutions for a few hundred dollars.
2. Heated Steering Wheels
“Heated steering wheels might be of little value to people in the southern states, but for drivers in colder climates, it is the next best thing to a heated seat and warm cup of coffee,” says Derek Mau of VehicleHistory.com.
In the past, drivers have been forced to warm up their vehicles ahead of time and put on gloves just to keep their hands from going numb behind the wheel. Well, these days are gone. Not only can you find heated steering wheel options on luxury cars, but this handy feature is available in cold weather packages for models like the Dodge Challenger, Kia Optima, and Jeep Renegade.
3. Blind Spot Monitors and Backup Cameras
If you’ve ever driven a vehicle with a blind spot monitor or backup camera and then switched to a vehicle without, you have a full appreciation for just how valuable these technologies are. Thankfully, there’s been some real progress in this area over the years. You can find cameras and monitors on almost any model these days and there’s even legislation in place that could potentially require backup cameras to be installed on all new vehicles by as soon as 2018.
4. Adaptive Cruise Control
One of the neatest technologies to emerge in recent years is adaptive cruise control (ACC). Unlike standard cruise control, ACC automatically adjusts the speed of your vehicle to keep pace with the vehicle in front of you.
“After the driver sets the car’s maximum speed, a front-facing radar sensor monitors the speed and distance of the car ahead of it and changes the speed to stay 2, 3, or 4 seconds behind the leading car,” says Mau. “If a car merges into your lane while ACC is engaged, your vehicle speed will automatically be adjusted until the correct distance is obtained.” You can currently find ACC on vehicles from Honda, Mazda, Audi, Toyota, Lexus, and more.
5. Keyless Start
It’s very rare that you enter a vehicle with your hands empty. From groceries and bags to children and pets, few people are able to easily reach for their keys to unlock their vehicle. This is where keyless entry and keyless start come into play. As long as you have the key in your pocket or purse, you can simply touch a button to get in and go. Even better, this technology is now an option at virtually every price point.
Look for These Technologies
When you buy your next vehicle, keep an eye out for technologies like these. From comfort to safety, you don’t know what you’re missing until you try!