US-based automotive portal Autotrader has released its annual list of must have car technology for 2017.
The rate of acceleration is growing when it comes to all things technology, and the world of cars is no different.
"What once seemed like something only for 'The Jetsons' is quickly becoming everyday reality in the automotive landscape," said Brian Moody, executive editor for Autotrader in a statement.
"And it's not just vehicles with a high price-point; now many mainstream family cars are equipped with technology features only seen on top-of-the-line luxury vehicles just a few short years ago."
Car shoppers should embrace all of the conveniences and safety features offered by new-car technology, but they also need to educate themselves so they fully understand what these features can – and just as importantly, what they cannot – do.
Advanced Self-Driving Capabilities
Automakers like Mercedes-Benz, Tesla and Volvo are rolling out self-driving systems that can put many autonomous features together in one advanced package, appealing to even the most die-hard auto enthusiasts especially when it comes to the more boring parts of driving like commutes or long highway trips. While Tesla's Autopilot may currently be among the most advanced (and better-known) of these systems, several other automakers offer an impressive look at the future, including Volvo's Pilot Assist system.
Formerly only seen on ultra-high-end sports cars, now adaptive suspension is making its way into other models, allowing you to custom tailor your car's suspension based on the experience you want to have, with modes like "comfort" and "sport." For drivers who often find themselves critiquing a car's ride, or for those who spend a lot of time on rough roads or driving tight corners, the ability to change your driving experience with the push of a button can be well worth the cost.
Autonomous Safety Features
Many new vehicles now offer a suite of autonomous safety tech, including lane keep assist, automatic forward collision braking and adaptive cruise control - and the great news is that these systems are getting more affordable and no longer only reserved for pricey luxury cars. Affordable new compact models like Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra and Mazda Mazda3 all feature impressive autonomous safety tech features.
Car Care Apps
Say goodbye to the little sticker on the corner of your windshield that reminds you of your next oil change; now many cars deliver this information and more in a handy app, making it easier to keep track of everything. Some automakers like Hyundai even have the Hyundai Assurance Car Care App, which not only tells you when your vehicle needs its next service, but it can even schedule it for you.
Gesture control is the wave of the automotive future. It allows you to control various features of your vehicle using gestures instead of pressing a button, touching a screen or using voice commands. Currently BMW is the only automaker to offer this feature (and only on its high-end 7 Series), but expect this to reach more vehicles in the coming years.
Larger Screens, More Screens
Huge screens seem to be replacing many gauges and buttons in the cockpit of new cars, operating similar to a smartphone with ultra-sensitive touch and the ability for details to be reconfigured. While some may worry about the future reliability of such screens in lieu of simple buttons, experts praise the more clean presentation and easier-to-use infotainment systems versus former complex controls or tiny buttons.
Electric drivetrain technology is now becoming more widespread and delivers not only the obvious fuel-economy benefit, but also performance benefits. Modern exotic sports cars like the Acura NSX, BMW i8, Porsche 918 Spyder and LaFerrari all feature electric drivetrains. For everyday drivers, features ranging from fully electric to plug-in gas/electric hybrids mean several options for the driving masses.