By Kevin Harrison
It’s pretty amazing how quickly technology can advance an industry and the automotive sector is no exception.
At CarDriven.ca, we test brand new vehicles each week and thus, get the opportunity to try out the latest and greatest technologies being stuffed into new cars. We thought it would be good to start off 2015 listing our top 5 favourite modern advancements in new vehicles:
1) The Heated Steering Wheel
This is by far the best, and our personal favourite modern advancement within the automobile and it is particularly welcome amongst any Canadian driver at winter time. With just the push of a button, your hands get to experience what your buttocks have been raving about for years. Not only does it warm up your hands in a reasonably quick fashion, but it all but eliminates the need for gloves giving the driver unobstructed access to controls and, crucially, a better grip on the steering wheel.
2) Adaptive Cruise Control
Generally, we aren’t huge fans of driver aids. Not only does it take away from the pleasure of driving, but it induces laziness in the driver, which can also lead to inattentiveness. Besides, if you need your car to be able to park itself, then you shouldn’t be driving. However, adaptive cruise control is the exception.
Adaptive cruise allows you to set the distance between you and the vehicle ahead of you. If the vehicle slows down, with adaptive cruise control on, your vehicle will do the same to keep the set distance between you. Some systems will even bring your vehicle to a complete stop in an emergency situation. Should a slow moving vehicle take an exit or switch lanes, the vehicle will automatically accelerate back up to your set speed. It’s all very seamless and most systems work well.
We see this as a good safety advancement more so than a luxury feature so for that reason, it makes the list.
3) LED Lighting
While most people may consider Light Emitting Diodes (LED) lighting to be nothing more than an exercise in how to attract attention, we think LEDs are a good thing. They are inherently brighter than conventional bulbs, illuminate quicker, use less energy and last longer. LEDs are mostly used for daytime running lights, however more and more vehicles are using them for brake lights, turn signals and even headlight units. Not only do LEDs make your vehicle more visible, but they provide good lighting to see others without intensely blinding other drivers. The best part is, you can get LED technology in almost any vehicle segment these days.
4) Electric Motors
While not exactly a modern invention, more and more manufacturers are incorporating electric motors into their products. It all started with hybrids back in the late 90’s where an electric motor was found under the hood to ease the gas use of the conventional engine, all while providing extra power. Hybrid technology as advanced so much that even the likes of Porsche and Ferrari are proving that you don’t need to have cylinders to have some fun. But, crucially, electric motors help to ease oil use across the globe making for more environmentally friendly transportation (assuming your city or town uses sustainable resources to power electricity). More infrastructure to accommodate electrified vehicles is popping up providing economic development as well.
5) In-car internet
You may not have experienced this yet, but a few manufacturers are starting to incorporate the ability to access the internet without using up all your phone data; namely GM and Mercedes-Benz. Not only does this give the driver something to do while they wait to pick up a tardy friend, but it also gives kids something to do on long trips and countless answers to all the questions in your head that could easily be found on Google. But more importantly it can be used as a safety device is you need help and forgot your phone or if your vehicle is not equipped with roadside assistance.