The luxury vehicle market has long been the proving ground for the latest comfort and convenience features. Those best received become commonplace in every market — like power windows, for example. Many of today’s new drivers have never known the toil of manually cranking windows up and down, but power windows were once considered a mark of cutting-edge luxury.
Here are ten of the latest comforts and conveniences to look for in the near (or in some cases, distant) future.
Smart Climate Control: Nearly every vehicle market now accommodates the popularity of dual-zone climate control, which allows both driver and passenger-side occupants to ride at their ideal temperature. Some systems even cater to backseat passengers. But in the future, climate control is getting smarter. Now only available in the highest-end luxury vehicles, Smart Climate Control technology uses an infrared sensor to read a passenger’s body temperature and change the vehicle’s climate accordingly.
Cooled Seats: Heated front seats are now crucial for many drivers when the weather gets frightful, but what can drivers do to battle stifling summertime heat? Automakers have made two different types of seat-cooling systems available — one that pumps air conditioning fluid through the driver’s seat to keep it cool and another that blasts air through thousands of tiny perforations in the seat to keep things from getting too sticky.
Panoramic Roof: On to a more accessible feature, panoramic roofs often span several times the area of a normal sunroof and enhance the exterior and interior appearance of many new vehicles. Many also include built-in sunshades to protect occupants from the sun’s rays.
Refreshment Technologies: Yes, refreshment technologies. Many new model vehicles include heated or cooled cup holders to keep beverages at their optimum temperature, and some include refrigerated areas for drink storage. For many new models, this refrigerated area is part of the glove box, but some high-end luxury vehicles are starting to offer refrigerated consoles between the rear seats.
Massaging Seats: These represent the pinnacle of driving comfort, but don’t hold your breath — it will be a long while before massaging seats make an appearance outside the high-end luxury market. However, there is no doubt they will be worth the wait. Some massaging seats currently in production feature four levels of back stimulation to prevent road weariness for you (or your chauffeur).
Adaptive Cruise Control: In some cases, enhanced luxury can also mean enhanced safety. Such is the case with adaptive cruise control. Instead of maintaining a set speed like normal cruise control, it uses front-mounted sensors to maintain a set distance between you and the vehicle in front. You can specify the distance you’d like to keep and also set a maximum speed for your vehicle. In addition to being a mark of high luxury, this technology may prevent accidents by reacting to sudden stops more quickly than some drivers might be able to.
Self-Parking Systems: Many drivers dread the dents and disruptions that can occur when parallel parking goes awry, but in big cities, there is often no alternative. Luckily, several automakers have introduced self-parking technology that uses sensors to determine the best path into a space. While some self-parking systems only show you the most direct path, the most high-tech systems allow you to simply sit back and watch the wheel turn.
Keyless Entry/Start Systems: For something that has already made a splash beyond the luxury market, keyless entry/start systems make it so you’ll never have to dig for your keys again. As long as your key fob is nearby (in your purse or pocket, for example) you can unlock and lock your doors, and turn your engine on and off with the touch of a button.
Night View Sensors: Here’s another instance where high-tech luxury means increased safety. Night view sensors detect any objects in front of your vehicle that are obscured by darkness, some reading up to 500 feet ahead. And while early sensors were only able to detect heat, the newest ones pick up anything in your path. The latest technology is also able to display obstacles ahead on a small dashboard monitor.
Blind Spot Monitors: Yet another example of luxurious safety, blind spot monitors drastically reduce the dangers of highway driving. With this technology, motion sensors detect the presence of surrounding vehicles and alert you when it’s unsafe to switch lanes.
Those are just ten of the latest technologies to keep an eye on. New indulgences, both technological and tactile, are constantly in development to increase the decadence of your ride, and many will likely become standard in the new models of the future. In the meantime, just keep holding on to your leather-trimmed wishes and massaging-seat dreams.
© 2009 AutoTrader.com, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
"AutoTrader.com" is a registered trademark of TPI Holdings, Inc. used under exclusive license.