Today’s new vehicles are boasting more tech than ever before, and automotive technologies command center stage as car shoppers compare one vehicle to the next when deciding what to buy. From safety and security measures to communication and connectivity features, electronic technology is an integral part of how a driver interacts with their vehicle, and how their vehicle interacts with neighboring cars on the road.
“In 2022, a car’s technology features can be a make-or-break factor in the vehicle purchase decision,” said Jason Allan, director of editorial for Kelley Blue Book. “Like most anything else we can point to in modern life, tech advancements in new cars have evolved at lightning speed in recent years, rapidly becoming one of the top priorities and considerations for car shoppers when choosing which vehicle to buy. Some new-car technologies serve as safety shields that hopefully never need to be used, but drivers can take comfort knowing they are there. Others assist with parking and visibility, while some technologies help the driver stay connected with others or quickly contact emergency services. Ultimately, the ideal automotive tech features should make things easier without causing driver distraction.”
Kelley Blue Book’s 10 Best Automotive Technologies of 2022
1. Advanced Driver Assistance Systems
This is a category of systems that can ensure you know when a vehicle is in your blind spot, keep you a safe distance from the car in front of you, and keep your vehicle from drifting into another lane. These advanced driver assist systems (ADAS) often come in bundled safety suites, but even if a model you are shopping for doesn’t have ADAS as a suite of safety features, many are sold as standalone options or as part of a specific trim level. Key ADAS features to look for include adaptive cruise control, blind-spot alert, cross-traffic alerts, forward collision warning/avoidance, lane departure warning, lane-keep assist and reverse brake assist.
2. Automatic Emergency Braking
When the car senses that a collision is imminent, Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) activates your car’s brakes, potentially avoiding or minimizing an accident. AEB can react faster than a person and can start working before you hit the brakes. If you are braking and it senses you need to stop sooner, AEB also can brake harder than the pressure you’re applying. While AEB is part of many advanced driver assist systems, this is an essential system that may be a standalone feature, and it should be considered a high priority.
3. Connected Mobile Apps/Digital Key
Almost every car company has an app you can download for your car. Some are better than others, but the most advanced let you remotely lock and unlock the doors, check the status of fuel level (or range level in an EV) and tire pressure, and even remotely start the car – which is especially nice on a cold winter’s morning. The digital key has extra security measures built in that tie only your phone to your car. With it, you can hold the smartphone near the door to lock and unlock your car. You can even drive the car with just the phone. It uses several levels of security to ensure that only you – and people you give specific permission to – can get into and drive your car.
4. Teen Driver Tech
This is a bundle of tech features that are aimed squarely at parents with younger drivers in the house. Examples include GM’s Teen Driver suite of features, Ford and Lincoln’s MyKey system, Hyundai’s BlueLink system, and Volkswagen’s Car-Net. The features serve as a safeguard for new drivers, putting parents’ minds at ease when handing over the key fob. Some examples of teen driver tech system features include notifying parents if a car is driven above a certain speed, disabling the audio if seatbelts aren’t in use, audio volume controls, do-not-disturb for smartphones, setting curfews, geofencing and more. Many of these systems also generate a report card of sorts that can inform parents of how their teen did behind the wheel.
5. Safe Exit Assist to Protect Cyclists
Bike riders have to be as concerned with parked cars as they are with moving vehicles in the city. A feature that helps riders and drivers alike is the exit warning. The alert uses rear-looking sensors to detect approaching bicycles and traffic, ensuring a passenger doesn’t open a car door just as a cyclist comes by. Exit warning systems work for several minutes after the engine is shut off. If the sensors see an approaching bicyclist or vehicle, they alert the passenger with a series of bright lights. The most advanced systems will physically lock the door to prevent it from being swung open into the path of the approaching object.
6. Wireless Smartphone Connectivity and Charging
Wireless smartphone connectivity and/or charging is a great way to declutter the area around the transmission shifter. And because wireless charging uses a charging pad, that spot in the vehicle serves as a handy storage spot for your phone, too. We recommend looking for a vehicle in your price range that offers both wireless connectivity and charging.
7. 360-Degree Camera
A 360-degree camera is a very popular feature that’s becoming easy to find in new cars of all price ranges. It’s incredibly convenient and easy to use, and it helps reduce damage to your car. A 360-degree camera can make sure you don’t hit anything while you’re parking. Not only can this keep your car scratch- and dent-free, but it can reduce insurance claims from low-speed crashes. This camera is a great help when parking a large vehicle, and it provides invaluable assistance while parallel parking. By combining cameras on every side of the car with some clever tech, your car’s display can show a virtual top-down view of your surroundings – showing you the sides of your garage for example, or whether you’re between the parking lines at the grocery store.
8. Emergency Services/Stolen Vehicle Tracking Software
More than 810,000 motor vehicles were stolen in 2020 – a shocking number, stressing the importance of having built-in vehicle tracking technology. Several automakers offer this feature. If your vehicle is equipped with one of these systems, law enforcement can find your vehicle more easily – and they can find it faster, potentially reducing damage to your car. But it doesn’t just help when your car is stolen. These systems also can help get rescue services to you after a crash by pinpointing a vehicle’s exact location. That same location information can be used to find someone during a national disaster, to find an aging family member who may need help, or to make sure your teen driver is safe.
9. Blind-Spot View Monitor
A blind-spot monitor comes in handy with an easy-to-view screen that shows what is on either side of your car when changing lanes. It uses a small camera on either side of your car to display what traffic may be in the lane next to you. This can help prevent you from hitting another car, motorcycle, or a person on a bicycle. There are different versions of this technology, but we prefer easy-to-see displays within the gauge cluster, such as in Genesis, Kia and Hyundai vehicles.
10. Video Rearview Mirror
If you’ve ever been to a big-box store and filled your SUV to the roof with supplies, you know what it’s like to lose use of your rearview mirror. However, a video rearview mirror solves this problem. It uses a rear-mounted camera that displays the view behind your vehicle. This type of rearview mirror is in the same spot as the traditional version, but you can toggle between the regular and the video view. It also is helpful when towing, because you get a wider view of the road while also keeping an eye on your trailer.