If driving luxury cars has taught us anything, it's that we've been spoiled by high tech gadgets.
GPS navigation with traffic information
We've become so dependent on GPS navigation with traffic data that I have anxiety attacks when setting out for a cruise in a car that won't tell me where to go. Even the lowly Suzuki SX4 Sport comes with this hacked together pop-up GPS navigation with MSN Direct traffic data as standard. So when I see a luxury car lacking the traffic information, it's a serious disappointment.
While I can parallel park with the best of 'em, sometimes I just don't feel like it. Unfortunately, I could park for myself and be halfway through a burger in the time it took to activate the the older parking assist system from Lexus.
Hopefully, this upcoming system from Ford/Lincoln will better suit my need for an electronic valet.
You'd think that massage seats--like these in the 2009 Mercedes-Benz CL550--would be the ultimate driver distraction, but when you spend as much time in the seat as the Car Tech editors do, you begin to understand why seats that at least heat or cool our buns are almost a necessity.
Standard on the Mazda Mazda6 at the Grand Touring trim level, Bluetooth hands-free calling is easier to set up and use now, thanks to onscreen controls that let users bypass the finicky voice command system. With many states passing hands-free calling laws, Bluetooth is becoming more of a necessity than a luxury.
Toss in Bluetooth A2DP audio streaming while you're at it. This way I can stream music from my smartphone for the ultimate no-wire, one-device setup.
Buttons are so 20th century. After sampling some truly fantastic voice command systems, I don't want to have to take my hand off of the wheel to choose a song or set a destination. Ford's Sync system in the 2009 Lincoln MKS immediately comes to mind, as does Honda's impressive voice command system. Even this Uconnect system in the Dodge Challenger SRT-8 impresses...and it's a musclecar!
Backup cameras make parallel and reverse parking a snap. More importantly, they increase the safety of a vehicle for both the driver and pedestrians, especially in vehicles with poor rearward visibility.
What I really like is how Nissan took the concept a step further with its Around-View Camera on the 2009 Infiniti FX50S and 2008 EX35 Journey crossovers. This system gives a bird's-eye view of the vehicle, ensuring that your shiny wheels and the curb shall never meet.
Who buys CDs anymore? OK, I'm sure more than a few of you do, but I carry all of my music around on a digital audio player. At this point, iPod integration (or at least a USB port) should be standard equipment on just about any car built.
For long drives on wide and straight freeways, nothing beats cruise control. The problem is that no one around me seems to maintain a steady speed. Which is why I love adaptive cruise control so much. In the case of the Mercedes-Benz CL550, the system maintains a safe distance from the car ahead, minimizing futzing with the controls.
After navigating the streets of the San Francisco on a stiff sport suspension, I was practically begging for some sort of adaptive suspension. That way I could switch to a softer setting when the road gets rocky. Granted the Nissan GT-R's setup is still less than ideal (its settings range from hard to bone-jarring), but you get the point.
In the ultimate display of my ultimate laziness, I don't even want to take my keys out of my pocket to get into the car and drive. With RFID equipped smart keys, I don't have to.
We've seen this cool keyless entry and ignition systems on cars from Jaguar (such as the 2009 Jaguar XF), Mercedes-Benz, but even Mazda is starting to offer the system as standard on its top tier vehicles.