It’s not just about the thunk of the car door or the roar of the engine anymore. It’s about the beep of the touch screen and that voice reading Facebook updates. High-tech amenities once were limited to the most luxurious vehicles. Now automakers realize that even value-priced cars need to be connected in order to lure shoppers, especially as smartphones become the center of our digital worlds. At the same time, the industry is getting seriously smart about safety. From adaptive cruise control to detecting pedestrians, your car now has your back in more ways than one. These are the top teched-out cars of 2013.
The 2013 Dart features Dodge’s Uconnect smartphone integration system, which allows you to make calls, listen to text messages and stream music from your Android or iOS device. Wi-Fi capabilities allow you to set up your own secure private network within the Dart, turning the car into a mobile hotspot with a 150-foot range. Dodge also offers this sporty compact with a 7-inch reconfigurable digital instrument cluster. Options include navigation, standard speedometer, driving efficiency and vehicle status modes.
Electric carmaker Tesla’s Model S is a four-wheeled technology showcase. Not only is the Model S a performance-focused electric car — with the ability to rocket from 0 to 60 in 5.6 seconds — it packs one of the slickest interiors in the biz. The Model S eschews traditional physical instrument clusters in favor of a completely digital layout. That starts with a massive 17-inch touchscreen display, which provides all manner of info, including navigation, media and climate controls. Want to surf the Web? The Model S is Wi-Fi-ready, so you can get online from the in-dash display as long as the car is in park.
For 2013, Honda's Accord gets a complete styling makeover. But the Accord’s biggest enhancements come in the form of its new Honda-Link infotainment system. With HondaLink, you can access your smartphone’s calling, texting and music playback features via Bluetooth or USB tethering. And with Harman’s Aha Internet radio integration, you cam also access Web-based radio, scour news stations, get Facebook updates, and search for places to eat using Yelp—all via Aha’s various audio stations.
The centerpiece of the 2013 Lexus LS’ technology package is its new 12.3-inch multi-display screen. From here users can view a large map for navigation while simultaneously selecting music, adjusting climate controls and making phone calls. All of these features can be accessed via steering wheel-mounted controls or through Lexus’ next-generation Remote Touch interface. Check the box on your order form for Lexus Enform with App Suite and you’ll be able to connect your smartphone to your LS 460, as well as access such apps as Bing local search, Facebook Places, iHeartRadio, MovieTicketscom, OpenTable, Pandora and Yelp.
Audi’s volume seller, the A4, receives some serious tech upgrades for 2013 including the automaker's Audi Connect system. Previously available only on the high-end A8 and A7, Audi Connect uses an onboard T-Mobile 3G connection to give users access to Google Voice Local Search, Google Maps and Earth and Internet radio. Plus, A4 owners get Wi-Fi hotspot functionality for up to eight devices, real-time local weather, travel info and news. The A4’s MMI Navigation Plus system features a 7-inch display, 40GB hard drive and Audi’s Nvidia Tegra-powered MMI interface, which features handwriting recognition.
Toyota's 2013 Avalon is one of the most teched-out cars the automaker has ever produced. Fitted with Toyota's Entune infotainment system, the Avalon gives drivers access to Bing Local Search, iHeartRadio, MovieTickets.com, OpenTable, Pandora and more. Toyota also realizes that you need a place to put your smartphone when it’s connected to your car. The eBin is a compartment specifically made to hold your phone and hide its tangle of wires.
Mercedes’ all-new GL-Class SUV features the German carmaker’s new mbrace2 infotainment system. The vehicle uses an in-car 3G data connection to provide access to a host of Mercedes-developed apps, including Mercedes-specific versions of AP News Feed, Facebook, Google Local Search and Yelp. The GL-Class also offers users the ability to connect their smartphones via Bluetooth or USB in order to make and receive calls, listen to text messages and stream music.
Ford has completely reinvented the Fusion for 2013. In addition to a new exterior and interior design, this plug-in hybrid features Ford’s Sync and MyFord Touch systems, complete with an 8-inch touch screen in the vehicle’s center stack and Ford’s SmartGauge configurable displays surrounding the speedometer. Because the Fusion Energi is a hybrid, Ford includes its EcoGuide cluster option, which provides users with the ability to track their overall driving efficiency using Efficiency Leaves. The leaves give drivers a general idea of how efficiently they are driving.
The newest member of Cadillac’s fleet maybe the smallest, but it certainly isn’t short on tech. At the heart of the ATS is its 8-inch touch screen, which comes complete with haptic feedback and proximity sensors that detect when your hand is approaching. Powering the touch screen is Cadillac’s CUE (Cadillac User Experience) system, which allows you to control your smartphone, check the weather, search for directions and view important driving information on your windshield via the ATS’ heads-up display.
Buick is a resurging brand, and what better way to show that off to consumers than to trick out your best-selling luxury crossover? The 2013 Buick Enclave’s new IntelliLink infotainment system sports a 7-inch touch-screen display; Bluetooth and USB smartphone integration; access to Pandora, SiriusXM and Stitcher; and an optional rear-seat DVD system. But the Enclave’s biggest enhancement is its revolutionary “front center side airbag.” Located between the driver and front seat passenger, the air bag automatically deploys during a side collision, creating a barrier between the driver and passenger that helps prevent injuries.