Long gone are the days of vehicle engines with carburetors and car radios only capable of tuning AM stations. Technology dominates the convenience and safety features of modern vehicles.
With Edmunds set to announce tech-driven awards next month, Autotrader put together its list this week of the Best New Automotive Technology for 2019. Autotrader editors highlighted safety enhancements and smartphone integrations top this year’s list of tech options shoppers should consider.
“From surround-view cameras to steering avoidance, new technology features can give drivers a better look at what’s around them or extra help to prevent collisions,” said Tara Trompeter, managing editor for Autotrader.
“Car buyers can find many of these technology options in every segment, from sub-compact cars to full-size SUVs, making it worth checking closely to see what’s available across different models and brands,” Trompeter continued.
With the latest technology moving into more vehicles every year, Autotrader noted that buyers may be surprised at what they find in the recently released 2019 models. The editors at Autotrader have highlighted some of their top technology picks that should land on every car buyer’s check-list.
High resolution, multi-angle surround view cameras
Surround view cameras are moving from luxury vehicles into mainstream sedans and family SUVs, including vehicles from Chevrolet and Nissan. These cameras can improve visibility outside of the vehicle to minimize blind spots and assist with parking. They also can be used inside the vehicle to keep an eye on back-seat passengers. Traditionally low-res feeds also are now being replaced with crisp, clean, high-res imagery.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
Many automakers are now offering a better way to connect your smartphone to the vehicle’s infotainment screen, allowing owners to take advantage of your apps, contacts and music. Chief among the benefits is the ability to use smartphone navigation apps. A few automakers, such as BMW, also are offering the connection wirelessly.
Tired of keeping track of those charging cords? New smartphones from Google, Apple and Samsung offer wireless charging capability. Automakers, including Honda, Hyundai, Ford and Toyota, have taken note and now offer a standard or optional feature to wirelessly charge your devices through charging pads, typically in the center console.
Vehicle control via an App
Taking even greater advantage of your smartphone, Autotrader pointed out that automakers are increasingly allowing you to interact with your vehicles remotely using a mobile app. Honk the horn, flash the lights, start the car or monitor the area around your vehicle — all from the app. Tesla is a leader in this segment, while Buick, Chevrolet, BMW, Lincoln, Volvo and others offer their own solutions. Most are free or require a small monthly subscription fee.
As the industry moves closer to a fully-automated future, Autotrader indicated new features inch closer to that reality. Vehicles from Volvo, Lexus and others can be had with steering avoidance systems able to automatically swerve to miss objects in the road ahead or keep your car centered in the lane.
Autotrader mentioned digital gauges in some models are replacing static, physical gauges to create a dynamic screen for sharing more relevant and customizable information. Audi’s Virtual Cockpit system is one of the leading designs in the industry, but more mainstream automakers, including Ford and Mazda, have adopted their own variations of the digital gauge cluster as well. Editors think these gauges can provide a better view of vehicle behavior and performance, such as fuel efficiency, and also can incorporate navigation directions.
A more advanced feature found in luxury lines, Autotrader explained road scanning uses cameras to search the road ahead for imperfections and automatically adjust the vehicle’s suspension to account for them. Mercedes-Benz’s Magic Body Control is among the leaders in this area. While not widely available yet, road scanning systems can deliver a smoother, quieter ride and should be considered for high-end vehicles.
While Autotrader acknowledged we’re still years from a vehicle that can drive itself without any human input, editors mentioned semi-autonomous driving features that compensate for human error are becoming more commonplace. The most noteworthy development in this area is Cadillac's Super Cruise system, which can pilot the vehicle at speeds of zero to 85mph, allowing the driver to take their hands off the wheel. Tesla and other automakers have their own versions of this technology, and more automakers are expected to introduce their own versions in the very near future.
Edmunds announces second annual tech driven awards program
The vehicle-shopping experts at Edmunds this week announced the second annual Edmunds Tech Driven Awards program honoring innovative automotive technologies.
New this year, Edmunds will divide the program into two stages: one for automotive technologies debuting at CES 2019 and the second for technologies available in vehicles today.
“Excellence in automotive technology isn’t just about the future — it’s also about the amazing progress we’ve made in vehicles on the road today — so we set out to honor both with the second iteration of our Edmunds Tech Driven Awards,” said Alistair Weaver, editor in chief and vice president of editorial at Edmunds.
“CES is the ultimate intersection of Motor City and Silicon Valley, so we’re excited to once again award the CES exhibitors out to change the automotive industry in the coming years,” Weaver continued. “But we also recognize the importance of all automakers who are setting a new standard by offering the most groundbreaking technologies in vehicles shoppers can buy now.”
The Edmunds CES Tech Driven Awards will honor the most innovative automotive technologies, vehicles, concepts or products debuting at CES by official CES exhibitors. Awards will not be divided into categories but instead will function as a “best-in-show” recognition of exhibitors that Edmunds editors believe have the greatest combination of future tech potential and actual deployment.
The second piece of the Edmunds Tech Driven program will recognize the automakers that have done the best job at integrating state-of-the-art technology into vehicles currently available for sale. These automakers are pushing the industry forward with each new generation and creating innovations that really matter to both drivers and passengers. Winners will be honored in three different categories:
● Most innovative new in-car feature
● Most innovative new engineering technology feature
● Most innovative new safety or driving aid
The Edmunds CES Tech Driven Awards will be announced and awarded on-site at CES 2019 in Las Vegas on Jan. 9. The second group of Edmunds Tech Driven winners will be announced and honored later in February.