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Ten of the newest, most high-tech features for your car

Ten new high-tech features for your car

When consumers go looking for new cars, they'll often say that they're looking for certain things. What kind of gas mileage does it get? What will it cost to maintain? What kind of safety features does it have? Again, that's what consumers will say they're looking for.
In reality, they're looking for a few other things too, things that can hold almost as much sway over the decision-making process as any practical concern. Namely, does it look cool? Would Daniel Craig be seen driving this? And does it come with new, high-tech gadgets worthy of a fictional British superspy?
Karl Brauer, a senior director at the car valuation and analysis company Kelley Blue Book, understands this, and he provided with a list of 10 new high-tech features for cars. They address every part of the driving experience, from road safety to avoiding traffic jams and much, much more.
What are some of the most exciting new high-tech gadgets for your car? Read's list to find out.
By Daniel BukszpanUpdated 31 Oct. 2013
Tune in to the new season of "The Car Chasers" on CNBC Prime, all new episodes Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT.

Crash avoidance

No matter how good a car's rear crumple zone is, some collisions cause major damage no matter what. According to Brauer, this situation is being addressed by car manufacturers, who are shifting emphasis from crash protection to crash avoidance. After all, a semi coming at you at 95 mph can't do any damage if it never hits you.
"Technologies like Volvo's City Safety System and Infiniti's Forward Collision Warning will stop a vehicle even if the driver's foot doesn't go near the brake pedal," he said. "This technology reduces not only the injuries to vehicle occupants and pedestrians, but insurance costs for everyone."

Maximum efficiency

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the cost of gasoline during the week of Oct. 28, 2013, is $3.30 a gallon. At that price, motorists want all the fuel efficiency they can get, and Brauer said that most car companies now offer a wide range of under-hood technologies to provide it.
"These features aren't restricted to hybrids or electric vehicles," he said. "The high performance Porsche Cayenne includes variable valve timing, cylinder deactivation and engine stop-start technology, that latter of which shuts the engine off when at a stop and automatically restarts it when the driver takes his foot off the brake."

Hi-fi audio

For many commuters, the radio is the one thing that makes sitting in eternal bumper-to-bumper traffic a bearable experience. But why listen to the Steve Miller Band and Bachman-Turner Overdrive through two small, tinny dashboard speakers when there are systems that can turn a car into a travelling arena rock event?
"An audio system like Land Rover's Meridian sound system, with 380 watts, 13 speakers, 12 channels and multiple digital signal processing modes can recreate the most lavish concert hall listening experience," Brauer said. "These systems use optimized speaker placement throughout a car's interior to create maximum acoustic imaging and aural punch, rivaling the most advanced home audio setups."

Lane keeping

When operating a motor vehicle, we're supposed to keep our eyes on the road, our hands on the wheel and our attention front and center. In real life, however, drivers don't always follow the rules, and even the most conscientious motorist can get distracted. It's at moments like those that automatic lane keeping comes in handy.
"Cars like the 2014 Mercedes-Benz S-Class and Infiniti Q50 can actually keep a vehicle within its assigned lane without any driver input," Brauer said. "While no manufacturer encourages 'hands-free' behavior, a combination of sensors and steering motors will keep many modern vehicles 'between the lines' on both straight and curving roadways."

Remote control

In 20th century science fiction accounts of the year 2000, everything was to be controlled remotely, including cars. Thirteen years into the 21st century, the car that can be driven remotely is still a figment of the imagination, but that doesn't mean we can't still do some cool stuff with our cars from far away. 
"We can't yet drive our cars by remote control, but we can track their location, unlock their doors, start their engine or even fire up their air conditioning system from miles away," Brauer said.
"GM is one of several manufacturers to offer such features through its OnStar communication and security system. These same systems let also the vehicles talk back to their owners, sending service and maintenance information through text or email messages."

Smart cruise control

For a motorist driving across an uninterrupted expanse of highway, cruise control has always been a godsend. However, motorists can now benefit from this technology, and they don't need to be driving across Texas to do it. Yes, smart cruise control has arrived, and it can help drivers in a variety of contexts.
"Today's smart cruise control systems, such as Lexus' Adaptive Cruise Control, use a combination of sensors and lasers to track the velocity and location of surrounding traffic," Brauer said. "These systems then match the speed of surrounding vehicles while maintaining a safe following distance via accelerator and brake control, making smart cruise control a true 'set it and forget it' feature."


Cars that drive themselves may not exist yet, but cars that give drivers a helping hand while parking are another story. "Self-driving cars are still a ways out, but several self-parking cars have already arrived," Brauer said.
"Many are luxury vehicles, like the Mercedes-Benz GL or BMW 7 Series, but Ford's $25,000 Focus Titanium also includes the company's Active Park Assist system, which will do the steering for you when you parallel park," he explained. "You still have to control the gas and brake pedal."

Traffic avoidance

In-car navigation has existed for too long to still be defined as cutting-edge technology. However, a car that detects heavy traffic and warns a motorist to stay away from it is a welcome advancement. 
"The next evolution in navigational guidance comes from driving a car that knows the surrounding traffic conditions and takes them into account when picking the most effective route from point A to point B," Brauer said. "Acura's Real-Time Traffic system monitors all nearby roadways and can suggest alternative routes if the traffic patterns change during your trip."

Vocal texting

Every day, more than nine people are killed and more than 1,060 people injured in car crashes involving distracted drivers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The CDC listed three main types of distraction for drivers—taking their eyes off the road, their hands off the wheel and their minds off of driving. Texting while driving combines all three of these distractions, making it an especially dangerous activity for motorists.
"For most drivers the only smart option—and in many states, the legally required one—is to put the phone down and ignore texts until you reach your destination," Brauer said. "But Nissan offers a technology through its NissanConnect system that will read incoming text messages and reply with simple text responses using voice control—no typing required."

In-car Wi-Fi

Americans want to be online for as long as possible, wherever possible, with the best connection possible. Unfortunately, this isn't always an option within the confines of a car. Luckily, several automakers have figured out that if you build a rolling Wi-Fi hotspot, motorists will come.
"Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep all offer a system called Uconnect Access that will let you stay online while on the road," Brauer said. "Audi has gone a step further by being the first automaker to offer 4G LTE connection speeds in its upcoming A3 sedan."

The Car Chasers

Jeff Allen and Perry Barndt are gamblers—their game being classic and exotic cars. They travel the country looking to buy and sell them. Whether it's a rare Shelby Mustang or a vintage hot rod, the key is buy low and sell high, something that doesn't always happen.
Selling cars is a dangerous business, but perhaps there's no greater risk than negotiating with your own father. Tom Souter, Jeff's dad, runs a classic car dealership around the corner from Jeff's shop in Lubbock, Texas. They are not just regular trading partners; they are trading partners hell-bent on one-upmanship. Tom said doing a deal with his son is like being locked in a closet with a porcupine: "It's gonna hurt, but you know it won't kill you."
Tune in to the new season of "The Car Chasers" on CNBC Prime, all new episodes Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT.

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