When it comes to buying cars, a prospective customer almost always wants it to have either the latest features or for it to offer the most value for their money. To help shoppers who are looking to buy a new vehicle next year, world-renowned vehicle valuation and automotive research company Kelley Blue Book has come out with its list of 10 Best Automotive Technologies of 2018. These are:
1. Connected Mobile Apps: Most carmakers offer some sort of connected smartphone app, but some are better than others. Look for one that lets the owner remotely lock and unlock the doors, check the status of things like fuel and tire pressure, and even remotely start the car to warm things up on a cold winter’s morning.
2. Teen Driver Technology: Many cars have some kind of teen-driver limitations built in that can notify parents if the car is driven over a certain speed, disable the stereo if seatbelts aren’t used, and even keep the stereo from being turned up past level 7–never mind full blast! Chevrolet’s Teen Driver feature also offers a Report Card that will tell parents if safety systems like ABS or forward collision alert have been triggered while Junior was behind the wheel.
3. Adaptive Cruise Control: By using an array of sensors built into the car, adaptive cruise control can match the speed of the car ahead, meaning drivers don’t need to be constantly hitting the gas and brake in highway traffic.
4. LED/Xenon Headlights: Headlights are the only thing between drivers and a crash when driving at night, so Kelley Blue Book thinks better headlight tech is essential. Whether it’s LED bulbs that never need replacing or older but still-excellent xenon systems, illuminating the road is the best way to avoid nighttime collisions. Many luxury cars have “swiveling” bulbs that turn with the road to illuminate around corners, while auto-high beam systems will keep the vehicle from blinding other drivers, while maximizing the view of the driver’s surroundings.
5. Apple CarPlay/Android Auto: Plug in a smart phone and it takes over that big screen, replacing it with something that looks a lot more familiar and easy to use. Basically every manufacturer (except Toyota/Lexus) has promised support for at least one or both Apple and Google’s systems, but not all trim levels will support them. Make sure to verify the car has the right options, and that it matches the preferred mobile devices.
6. USB Ports: A car full of people is a car full of devices, and everyone needs to keep their battery topped up. So, check and see how many USB ports the car has. Pretty much every new car comes with one or two, but some–like the Chrysler Pacifica, which has nine in a minivan that only holds seven passengers–come with many more than that.
7. Rear Cross-Traffic Alert: Thanks to sensors built into the rear of the car, the system can alert the driver to approaching vehicles, shopping carts, or pedestrians who might wander behind the vehicle without the operator noticing.
8. Lane Departure Warning: Lane departure warning systems use cameras to determine if a car has drifted across a marked lane line, giving a visual or audible notification (or even a vibration through the seat or steering wheel) that the driver moved too far out of the lane.
9. Automatic Emergency Braking: Automatic Emergency Braking or AEB uses a variety of sensors to determine if a forward collision is imminent and automatically applies the brakes to diminish the severity or avoid a crash entirely.
10. 360-Degree Camera: By combining cameras on every side of the car with some clever computing power, the car’s display can show a virtual top-down view of the vehicle’s surroundings. The systems are getting cheaper and cheaper, and are available on even moderately priced cars these days.
“Where driving dynamics, comfort and safety are concerned, modern vehicles are steadily marching down a path toward parity. As such, technology has blossomed into one of the last great differentiators amongst competing models,” said Kelley Blue Book Group Managing Editor Michael Harley. “The tech we’ve identified as the best for 2018 should be considered when searching for your next new vehicle. Regardless of price point, it shouldn’t be too difficult to find a vehicle with most of them–and they’re all very helpful.”
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