Sure, any car or truck can get you from the proverbial Point A to Point B, and these days most can be expected to make quick and pleasant work of it. But it's a car or truck's most fanciful features that make one stand out from another in a crowded parking lot. These are items that can not only enhance a given model's performance, safety, and comfort, in some cases they can even enhance a motorist's personal productivity.
To help you keep current, here's a quick look at some of the most fanciful vehicular gizmos and gadgets that are debuting for the 2019 model year.
For starters, virtually every automaker is introducing added connectivity and infotainment features to their fleets, with most now offering the Android Auto and/or Apple Car Play smartphone interfaces in addition to garden-variety Bluetooth. A number of models are debuting connections with home electronic-assist devices for 2019. Among them is the new Genesis G70 compact sports sedan. It can connect with an Amazon Alexa-enabled device to afford remote voice control that can, say, remotely lock or unlock the doors and remotely start with a specified interior temperature. The redesigned Hyundai Veloster sports coupe can wirelessly connect with an occupant's Android Wear/Apple Watch.
Both the updated 2019 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and GMC Sierra 1500 full-size pickup trucks leverage their enhanced connectivity systems to make towing easier and safer. Their advanced trailering systems interface with a smartphone app with functions that include a pre-departure checklist, maintenance reminders, trailer light test, trailer electrical diagnostics, trailer tire-pressure monitoring, and can track other vital statistics.
Especially at the high end of the model range, automakers are developing advanced technology that improves their cars and crossovers' performance. The new-for-2019 Lincoln Aviator crossover SUV and the redesigned Audi A8 luxury sedan both offer a feature that uses cameras to scan the road ahead and automatically adjusts the suspension in anticipation of changing road conditions to maintain a smooth ride.
The new Toyota Corolla Hatchback and Lexus UX compact crossover SUV reinvent the gearless CVT automatic transmission by essentially adding a gear to the works. This so-called "launch gear" drives either vehicle exclusively at speeds up to 25 miles per hour, after which the transmission switches over to the belt-and-pulley system. This is claimed to improve the CVT's efficiency in lower-speed ratios, which in turn affords stronger and smoother off-the-line acceleration.
Though it's more of a simulated performance enhancer, the redesigned-for-2019 Toyota Avalon full-size sedan comes with an Intake Sound Generator, Active Noise Control, and Engine Sound Enhancement to add a touch of aural excitement to what would otherwise be a hushed noise-insulated cabin. The new full-electric Jaguar i-Pace goes a step further by piping in simulated engine sounds upon acceleration to compensate for the fact that an electric motor is virtually silent in its operation.
To help ensure an owner is getting the most bang for his or her performance buck, the 2019 Mercedes-Benz AMG GT Four-Door Coupe offers an AMG "track pace" feature that allows drivers to capture and analyze more than 80 vehicle-specific sets of performance data. This includes car-nerd need-to-know numbers on such things aslateral and longitudinal acceleration, 0-60 mph times, accelerator and brake pedal position, and the car's steering and drift angle, either viewed in review or displayed in real time.
Safety First And Foremost
Safety is always a major selling point in the new-vehicle business, and automakers have been scrambling in recent years to add the latest accident avoidance systems at various price points. The latest twists on the technology are able to help prevent an even wider range of crashes. The 2019 Audi A8 not only offers a frontal auto-braking safety system can help prevent against cross-traffic collisions at intersections, it rides on an active suspension that can help minimize the effects of a side impact collision. It does this by automatically raising the body by 3.5 inches (so the other car would hit the most rigid part of the body) if sensors detect a crash is imminent.
Both the new Lincoln Nautilus and the 2019 Ford Edge crossover SUVs premiere a safety feature called Evasive Steering Assist. This system uses cameras to keep an electric eye on slower moving traffic and stationary vehicles in the vehicle's path and help the driver steer around them to help avoid a crash.
As if that's not enough, the 2019 Mercedes-Benz CLS four-door coupe offers a Pre-Safe Impulse Side system that can nudge front occupants sideways in anticipation of a side impact to reduce the risk of injury. The car also comes standard with a leading-edge Pre-Safe Sound function to protect a passenger's hearing. The system emits a brief rushing sound if it determines a crash is imminent. This causes an ear muscle to contract in a reflex action to help protect reduce the risk of hearing discomfort or damage in an impact.
Convenience And Exclusivity
And then there's some of the more fanciful features that exist simply for convenience or bragging rights. Already, come luxury cars can be fitted with frippery like heated armrests and multi-program massaging seats; some Mercedes-Benz models include an "Energizing Comfort" control that adjusts various vehicle functions to relax or refresh occupants according to predefined programs.
What's next? The aforementioned Jaguar iPace electrified crossover taps the latest artificialintelligence technology to actually anticipate a motorist's needs. The vehicle can learn a driver's preferences and adjust the climate control settings, seat position and radio stations automatically. It can also do this at different times of the day to accommodate, say, a more determined morning commute with news and traffic reports, and a more laid-back ride home set to smooth jazz.
From the "why didn't somebody come up with this sooner" department, the above Chevrolet Silverado 1500 pickup can be fitted with the industry's first power operated tailgate that raises and lowers itself at the touch of a button. Meanwhile, the GMC Sierra 1500 includes a new MultiPro Tailgate with six separate functions and positions that can make loading and unloading easier, and can be configured as a standing workstation.
Finally, here's one new-car feature that's truly for the birds. In addition to coming with a whopping 19 cup and bottle holders and eight USB charging points across its three rows of seats,the new-for-2019 Subaru Ascent offers an "eBird" function. Using crowdsourced information, this outdoorsy item alerts onboard bird watchers to local sightings and where to find specific species. It's shared with other Subaru modelsas part of the automaker's "Starlink" multimedia system.