Best and Worst Automotive Technologies of the Past Decade

If you had been asked 10 years ago what you thought the cars of the future might be like, you might have said “they’d be able to fly.” But even if you’d given the question serious thought, it’s unlikely you would have envisioned the leaps forward car technology has made in that time. Lane departure warnings, GPS tracking, remote shutdown, semi-automated cars, and vastly improved body structures are just a few technologies you probably would not have anticipated.

With so many changes in technology that have been introduced, some have been leaps forward and others went nowhere. Here are three examples of both:

Best: Adaptive cruise control

The ability of a car to drive at a preset speed without the driver using the gas pedal is not a new feature, but adding sensors to the system and enabling the car to slow down or stop on its own and remain safely behind the car in front is a huge step forward. In addition, many cars now have steering assist, which is designed to “see” the lane markings and keep the vehicle in its lane. This is a huge leap forward for safety, and a big step toward fully autonomous cars.

Best: Integrated entertainment systems

Most cars have long since had some sort of radio and speakers installed to ensure you receive the correct tinny noise while driving. Stereos have improved over recent years, and the sound quality is much better. A much bigger leap forward has been made with entertainment systems that integrate everything. Center consoles now have controls for GPS, high-quality sound systems, climate controls, and sometimes even DVD players. These are often controlled by a central knob between the front seats, and the ease of use can be astounding.

Best: 360-degree cameras

Initially, only large cars had front and rear sensors and rear cameras to assist with tricky parking maneuvers. Now, the majority of cars are being made available with these features, making it possible to see all around the vehicle. Not only is this a huge advantage in parking, it is an important safety factor when driving in traffic.

Worst: Dual-screen infotainment systems

Although the improvement in the control over and functions of the entertainment system is one of the best steps forward, the attempt to make these systems dual-screen was not. The premise was to allow drivers to have two tasks available on-screen at the same time. In theory, this is an excellent idea. In practice, the control of these dual screens is complex and cumbersome. It can be a dangerous distraction for the driver and is, in reality, unnecessary.

Worst: LCD gauge clusters

Modern technology has given us head-up displays in many cars. No longer is it necessary to look down to check speed or other important information. With heads-up displays, the information you need is always available in your field of vision. Despite this advance, some manufacturers have also spent considerable time attempting to replace analog gauges in the dashboard with LCD displays. The problem is that in many cases, LCDs are simply replicas of the old analog gauges, but don’t always function as well as the originals. Also, heads-up displays are far more practical for drivers.

Worst: Capacitive touch buttons

Most phones and tablets are now touch screens, and the majority of people are used to this technology. When it’s put into a car, however, it actually becomes dangerous. We may struggle with certain controls when we first drive a car, but with time, we automatically know where to reach the necessary button or knob. The problem with touch screens is they have buttons that don’t make a audible or tactile “clunk,” so you cannot be sure if you pressed them so that they engaged. These capacitive touch buttons that many manufacturers feature in their cars have no feedback. Not knowing whether you have actually pressed the button can turn this technology into a danger if you are distracted trying to figure it out.

We’ve seen many car technologies materialize over the years, but it’s impossible for all of them to be revolutionary in a good way. Which of the ones mentioned here do you love or hate?

John Smith and!

John Smith


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