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Autotrader IDs Must-Have Auto Tech

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【Summary】Autotrader IDs Must-Have Auto Tech

Original Timothy Healey    Dec 05, 2016 12:45 AM PT
Autotrader IDs Must-Have Auto Tech

The words "must-have" are fairly common around the holiday season. The online car-shopping portal Autotrader has identified its own list of "must-have" car tech going into next year.

The must-haves appear in regard to "editor's picks," as opposed to the results of consumer surveys. In effect, these may not be items consumers say they're clamoring for, but rather de facto tech the experts deem essential in the coming year.

The list includes advanced self-driving tech, such as Tesla's Autopilot and Volvo's Pilot Assist. These features allow for limited autonomous driving, although Autopilot has been controversial.

Adaptive suspensions are next on the list. These suspensions, which have been on the market for some time but have mostly been limited to luxury vehicles and sports cars, are becoming more mainstream. Adaptive suspensions allow drivers to adjust the suspension based on road condition and driving style – for example – "comfort" for a highway cruise and "sport" for spirited driving on a curvy road.

Next up is autonomous safety features, such as lane-keep assist and adaptive cruise control. As the name suggests, these are autonomous driving features that skew towards assisting with safety rather than convenience. And like other features on Autotrader's list, these features aren't necessarily new. But they are becoming more affordable and more available in "mainstream" models with lower price points. Popular compact cars are now available with these features.

Car-care apps are becoming more popular too. These apps can tell when your car is due for its next service, and in some cases help you schedule it.

Gesture control is only available on one model right now, the BMW 7-Series. But according to the Autotrader folks, it will be a must-have feature once it hits more of the market. As the name implies, it allows drivers and passengers to use gestures to control certain vehicle functions.

More screens are also on tap for the future – and many will be larger. There are reliability and cost of repair concerns, but many automakers are betting consumers will like the "cleaner" look of screens more than a complex array of buttons. Even if these screens do end up covered in finger prints as drivers and passengers use them to operate vehicle controls. There has in fact been some pushback on screens, as some automakers have returned basic controls to buttons and knobs – think Ford and Sync – but in general, screens will remain a part of future interiors.

Finally, Autotrader thinks that more and more cars will have drivetrains with some sort of EV component in the near future. This doesn't necessarily mean full EVs – it could mean anything from electric motors that boost performance in a gas-powered car to more hybrids and plug-in hybrids.

All of this tech will be available in most new-car models in the near term, and since much of it will be optional or available only on select models. It will be up to each customer to determine his or her own version of "must-have."

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