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Best New Automotive Tech of 2021


Automotive technology is getting more advanced every year. From under the hood to inside the cabin, there are always new bells and whistles to talk about in the automotive world. Some new technologies improve performance, some improve efficiency, and some just make your daily drive a little more convenient.

Here are some of the best automotive technologies for 2021.

2021 Cadillac Escalade

2021 Cadillac Escalade

The days of Cadillac’s flagship being a huge sedan are over. With the all-new 2021 model, the Cadillac Escalade has cemented its place as the American luxury brand’s showcase for new and luxurious technologies.

Let’s start with advanced Super Cruise. Super Cruise is one of the best-kept secrets in automotive technology. It’s a semi-autonomous technology suite that until recently was only available on the Cadillac CT6, which was never a big seller. It’s arguably the most advanced system of its kind since it allows for hands-free driving on the highway (you still need to stay alert and keep your eyes on the road). Super Cruise is now more advanced than ever on the new Escalade with the addition of lane-changing capability.

The new Escalade also boasts a curved 4K OLED display with a whopping 38 inches of total diagonal display space. That’s one massive and beautiful display with three different screens. There’s a driver information center on the driver’s left, an instrument cluster right in front of the driver, and an infotainment screen in the center stack. Surround Vision is now standard and n Augmented Reality-enabled navigation with live street views with directional overlays is available.

Famed audio brand AKG has created its very first car stereo for the new Cadillac Escalade called Studio Reference. It uses 36 strategically-placed speakers to create a professional-level sound for all occupants of this full-size SUV. It also has what Cadillac calls Conversation Enhancement which uses microphones and speakers to make it easier for the Escalade’s many occupants to talk to each other without shouting across the cavernous interior. Find a Cadillac Escalade for sale

2021 Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S

2021 Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S

We had the pleasure of meeting an all-new Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class in 2020. For 2021, the more raucous, but equally luxurious AMG GLE 63 S has arrived. This high-performance luxury SUV combines luxury, technology, and raw power in a graceful way that few other brands can match.

Under the hood lies a twin-turbo V8 engine pumping out 603 horsepower. Believe it or not, that’s just the beginning of what makes this SUV cool. This engine is also equipped with an EQ Boost starter/generator mild hybrid system powering a 48-volt electrical system. It gives the engine a performance bump of 21 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque. It also makes for smooth and quick automatic stop/start technology which has been infamously clunky in some applications in competing brands.

Helping this SUV perform more like a proper sports car, the GLE 63 S uses AMG Active Ride Control to minimize body roll. It achieves this with electromechanical actuators up front and rear anti-roll bars to keep this super SUV level while cornering. This system also makes the GLE more comfortable on the road. Find a Mercedes-Benz GLE 63 S AMG for sale

2021 Rolls-Royce Ghost

2021 Rolls-Royce Ghost

We know what you’re thinking, the new Ghost (all-new for 2021) is so expensive, no one can afford it. True, it is expensive, but that’s usually where leaps in technological advancement come from. Remember when Tesla taught us that what we really wanted was a luxury electric car? Yeah, that kind of thing.

Also, the $300,000 Ghost has been the brand’s best-selling vehicle. In addition to the expected Rolls tech surrounding hand-crafting a car, the new Ghost has a few tech features that only serve to enhance its Rolls-Royce-ness.

The Ghost’s “Flagbearer” system uses cameras to see the road ahead and adjust accordingly. The result is an amazingly smooth ride virtually free of bumps and unpleasantness. Rolls-Royce’s Planar Suspension System uses a combination of air-suspension, sensors, cameras, weights, dampers, and a transmission that uses GPS information to select the best gear for the corner ahead. This system is an amazing combination of high-tech advances and simple physics. The result is a car feels like it’s gliding over the road. Find a Rolls-Royce Ghost for sale

Aftermarket Head-Up Display

Hudway Drive

A head-up display was considered a luxurious feature that was only found in high-end cars not that long ago. However, in 2021, anyone with a car and a smartphone can have an advanced head-up display. One good example is the Hudway Drive. This $229 device can mount to any dashboard, plug into a 12V outlet, and connect to your phone to show you important information. It can show you your speed, turn-by-turn navigation, and notifications from your phone like calls and text messages.

The Hudway Drive can even show you things like the weather and your fuel level. It delivers all of this useful information right in your line of sight so you can keep your eyes on the road with minimal distractions. Customize it to show you everything you want to see and —  just as importantly — not show you anything you don’t want to see.

You can step up your game further by getting cameras from Hudway to make your HUD do even more. You can get a night vision camera, a backup camera, and even side-view cameras to help you with backing up and keeping an eye on your blind spot more easily.

If you’ve been driving around with your phone mounted somewhere on your dash, a head-up display that talks to your phone is a very nice upgrade.

Hydrogen-Powered Cars

2021 Toyota Mirai

There have been varying degrees of hype around hydrogen fuel cell cars for decades. The idea dates back more than a century. However, we’re at a point where we have real cars powered by nothing but hydrogen on the road. It’s a segment that’s growing, albeit quite slowly.

The Toyota Mirai gets a big update for 2021. In a surprising move, the hydrogen-powered Mirai has evolved from a hatchback into a premium sedan. It’s gone from being a quirky and weird-looking oddity to a bit more of a traditional look that you wouldn’t guess is an alternative fuel vehicle at first glance.

The Hyundai Nexo is an EV that also uses an electrochemical process to generate electricity. The Nexo is only available in California, but it’s the only hydrogen-fuelled SUV you can get in the U.S. The Nexo has a sophisticated look, pretty good range, and a roomy cargo hold that helps make it a practical crossover.

Honda’s Clarity Fuel-Cell is also a real-world car that some consumers can get and drive today.

Currently, there are about 50 hydrogen refueling stations in the U.S. In Japan, there are approximately 80. Find a Toyota Mirai for sale or Find a Hyundai Nexo for sale

Hummer EV CrabWalk

HMMER EV Crab wheels

There’s a lot to love about the upcoming 2022 GMC Hummer EV. Not only does it have a daring look and an insane electric powertrain with up to 1,000 horsepower and 11,500 lb-ft of torque, but it has a fascinating feature called CrabWalk.

CrabWalk is a new twist on four-wheel steering, which is a concept that is nothing new. Since the Hummer is a big truck that aims to be a proficient off-roader, it needs all the help it can get from modern technology to be more maneuverable. The Hummer’s rear wheels can turn up to 10 degrees in either direction. In conjunction with the front wheels, the Hummer can move diagonally without the body of the truck turning at all. This should prove useful for getting out of tight spots on the trails. There are also cameras (with washers) under the body to show you what’s going on around the truck while CrabWalking.

The new Hummer will be available by the end of 2021.

Lexus AR Play

Lexus AR Play

Lexus AR Play is a new app that can give you a tour of the all-new 2021 IS using augmented reality. Augmented reality is kind of like virtual reality, but instead of immersing you in a totally virtual world, it’s a sort of hybrid between virtual reality and real reality. For example, Lexus AR Play virtually puts an IS in your driveway allowing you to do a 360-degree tour and even open the doors and check out the interior. You can even drive it around remotely from the app.

You might think this is a silly gimmick and you could just look at pictures of the car online, but there are a lot of perks that AR offers. Customize your virtual IS with whatever paint color, interior color, wheel design, and interior features that you’d like. Customizing your own IS and getting a thorough tour of it gives you a much better idea of what that car is like in person compared to just looking at photos.

This app is available now on the Apple App Store and Google Play. Find a Lexus for sale

Nissan ProPilot Assist 2.0

Nissan ProPilot

Nissan’s ProPilot 2.0 is a system that will allow “hands-free” driving. Nissan says it like this: “ProPILOT Assist 2.0 gives you the option to experience hands-off single-lane driving, as well as hands-on guided lane changing abilities.” The first car to employ this will be the all-electric Nissan Ariya SUV. This will be available as soon as late 2021.

ProPilot 2.0 uses a combination of cameras and sensors to read lanes and electronically control steering, accelerator, and braking components. It’s essentially a super-sophisticated lane control/adaptive cruise control system but the “hands-off” part means the system won’t time out. The result will be less driver fatigue on long trips and, probably, fewer rear-end and lane-change accidents. Find a Nissan for sale

Toyota Hybrids

Toyota Hybrids

The best way to say this is that Toyota has forced the “Democratization of hybrids.” Toyota didn’t invent the hybrid, many automakers experimented with them for decades. But Toyota has done for hybrids what Henry Ford did for the automobile, they brought it to the masses. Now, some models come only as a hybrid.

Especially noteworthy is the fact that both the 2021 Toyota Sienna and 2021 Toyota Venza are offered only as a hybrid. There’s also a plug-in hybrid version of the Toyota RAV4 called the RAV4 Prime. The fact that it’s a separate model is important. Increasingly, automakers like Toyota are calling their cars “hybrid,” they just make the car (like the Sienna) and give the tech and features that best suit the buyer – if that happens to be a hybrid, great. Find a Toyota Hybrid for sale

Trombia Technologies Electric Autonomous Street Sweeper

Trombia Free

Here’s one that we weren’t expecting to see, but we’re excited about it. Finnish street maintenance tech company Trombia Technologies has launched the first-ever high-power, all-electric, autonomous street sweeper. It’s called the Trombia Free and it looks like a concept for a future machine, but this is a real thing that will be quietly sweeping streets starting in January 2021 as part of a pilot program. Mass deliveries could happen as soon as early 2022.

About 3 million metric tons of CO2 are pumped into the air by diesel-powered street sweepers annually according to Trombia CEO Antti Nikkanen. Electrifying those machines could seriously cut those emissions down without compromising on power and performance.

Mass deliveries of the Trombia Free could happen as soon as early 2022. That means a robot could be sweeping the streets in your neighborhood sooner than you might think and those streets will be cleaner than ever.

Eric Brandt
Eric Brandt is an author specializing in Oversteer content, new car reviews, and finding the best car, truck, and SUV deals each month. Born and raised in Wisconsin, Eric can often be found exploring the north woods on his 1983 Honda Gold Wing when the weather allows it. Father of four, husband of one, and unapologetic minivan enthusiast. Eric mastered driving stick by having a 3-cylinder Chevy... Read More about Eric Brandt

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