Best High-Tech Cars on the Road
High-tech advances in cars and trucks have moved well beyond in-dash, connected infotainment. From safety innovations that can see deer in the dark to emergency braking and semi-autonomous pilot systems, technological improvements are being introduced at a rapid rate; in some cases, they’re even standard features. Here are the current leaders in the race to put technology on the road.
Volvo S90 (from $46,950)
The Volvo S90 has more standard safety technology than any other vehicle on the road: pedestrian, cyclist and large-animal detection; lane keeping and auto braking up to 80 mph; and road-edge detection. Throw in bending headlights that illuminate curves; parking assist; and a 9-inch, touch-screen-based, connected car system and you’ve got a winner.
Corvette Stingray Coupe (from $56,395)
The first car to add a built-in GoPro-style video camera, this Corvette is a blast to drive. The sports car’s 720p performance-data and video recorder has modes for the track (rpm and lap times included), fun (speed and G force) and touring (outside temperature and elevation). It’s probably not a good idea to post videos of overly energetic drives, but when you’re not hammering the throttle, there’s the in-dash, 8-inch, touch-screen system that includes Apple’s CarPlay to keep you entertained.
Sierra 1500 Denali (from $51,190)
Pickup trucks are much better behaved these days than they used to be. The Sierra Denali model includes high-tech appointments such as a wireless charging pad, collision warnings and automatic high-beams. A nifty Bose sound system uses active noise-cancellation to keep the cabin comfortable, and although this truck is as wide as a grizzly, drivers will quickly master its girth thanks to haptic vibrations in the seat that tell you when you’re straying too far left or right (without alerting your passengers).
Chevrolet Volt (from $35,690)
Much maligned for initial marketing missteps, the second-gen Chevy Volt nevertheless represents a technical milestone thanks to its plug-in, hybrid design that can run like an EV (up to 53 miles) but use gas when that runs out. Result: no range anxiety. Proving this car’s technological leadership, there will be a slew of copycat designs introduced this year, including models from the likes of Hyundai and Toyota.
Rolls-Royce Wraith ($398,350 as tested)
Supple yet powerful, this Rolls-Royce has a 6.6-liter V12 engine and a 600-watt sound system that’s pretty darn swell. But the tech highlight in this bespoke beast is a satellite-assisted transmission. It uses topographic information about the road ahead to automatically adjust the shifting of the car for smooth mountain ascents and easy downhills. Nifty feature: If the exterior temperature dips below 37 degrees Fahrenheit, an alert lets you know there’s an increased risk of ice on the road.
BMW 7 Series ($97,400 as tested)
BMW’s big, bold 7 Series boasts a dozen tech embellishments that the company calls firsts for a luxury sedan, including a gesture-recognition camera system, a key fob with an LCD status-display screen and a carbon-fiber-reinforced cabin. Also on tap, a semi-autonomous driver-assist system that follows lane markings and other cars at speeds of up to 130 mph. Nice touch: Its cruise control can recognize posted speed limits and slow and speed up the car to match.
Mercedes-Benz S-Class Cabriolet (from $132,325)
Possibly the sweetest luxury convertible available, the new baby Benz comes with an array of safety tech that keeps this car ahead of the competition. Systems anticipate impacts, and there’s pedestrian detection, auto braking, cross-traffic detection, a night-vision system, active lane-keeping and a rollover-protection system with roof bars that are automatically triggered by yaw sensors.
Tesla S P90D (from $112,000)
The Tesla S is nothing if not technologically audacious. Not only does this pure electric sedan go from 0 mph to 60 mph in 3.1 seconds, but it also offers an optional suite of semi-autonomous driving functions that push the hardware limits of the vehicle, including self-parking and return functions. However, following a tragic accident involving Tesla’s Autopilot that resulted in a driver’s death, there are questions about what restrictions and changes Tesla may need to make to its design.