“The availability for technology in cars is exploding now,” according to Greg O’Daniel, general manager and owner of O’Daniel Automotive Group. “Sometimes consumers are overwhelmed with the number of options, but these are things people are using on a daily basis somewhere else anyway, whether it be on their iPhone or computer. Manufacturers are trying to include the Apple CarPlay and Android interfaces – and not only the conveniences that people want, but also in terms of driving safety.”
There is a common misconception that all these new gadgets are only available for luxury or higher-end cars. O’Daniel explains that many manufacturers are making everyday cars technologically savvy as well. “All of the newest technology is available in some of the most affordable cars,” he says. “You don’t have to spend $100,000 to get the same safety and convenience features.”
One of the most popular options is Apple CarPlay, where the driver simply plugs in their phone and a screen will display all apps and maps linked to that device to have everything at their fingertips. This feature is so commonly requested that it has almost become a standard feature on new cars. “We are pretty excited that all but one of our Jeeps here at the dealership has it available,” says O’Daniel.
Another option made possible with new technology is adaptive cruise control, which automatically keeps your car a certain distance from the car in front of you without having to adjust it on the fly or use the brake pedal. Some types of adaptive cruise control work at all speeds, even down to a stop, which is key when driving through larger cities with stop-and-go traffic. It might take a little time to relinquish some control and to learn to trust the vehicle, but most drivers agree that it is a great new option to have once they’ve become proficient in using it.
Lane keep assist is another new safety feature in vehicles. If the driver gets tired and begins to doze off, the car will recognize the shift and actually keep the vehicle in the lane if it gets too close to the dividing line. Additionally, blind spot monitoring has been around for a while, but it now works in a parking lot, according to O’Daniel. When backing out of a crowded parking lot, the car will warn the driver with a signal if another car is coming quickly from behind unexpectedly.
Some vehicle manufacturers offer more active driving options than others. Cadillac and Tesla, allow the driver to take their hands off the wheel and the car will monitor head position to make sure the driver is still alert and focused on the road.
Self-parking cars are another thing to look for in newer vehicles, says O’Daniel. “The Chrysler Pacifica, for example, offers the self-parking feature,” he says. “And it goes beyond parallel parking as well. If you’re driving along a street, the car will actually spot an open space and measure it – beeping if it knows the car will fit there. You’ll then take your hands off the wheel, but still use the gas and brake for control, as the car steers itself into the space.”
Communication devices like satellite radio and GPS have become commonplace, but now they can offer even more by providing traffic information, gas prices, movie theatre listings and live sporting updates, actually linking the game to the XM broadcast channel. “There’s also an app where you are able to start your car remotely from your phone,” says O’Daniel. “If you’re at work and your remote starter is out of range, you can start your car from your smartphone. You can also link (Amazon’s) Alexa in your home so you can start your car by voice command.”
There are several other optional features available for new vehicles. Porsche is using new technology to include 360-degree camera views of your car from above. This would be helpful when parking in a tight spot. And some Audis have a touch pad where you can use your finger to write a location you’d like a map for; perhaps a nearby shopping center or school. Some models even project your digital speedometer on the windshield.
Technology is ever-changing, especially in cars. The possibilities are seemingly endless with so many advanced capabilities for both safety and entertainment.
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