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 you 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, 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 we move closer to a fully-automated future, 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.
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. 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, 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 we're still years from a vehicle that can drive itself without any human input, 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 85 miles per hour, 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.
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