By Bahar Ferguson

There is no doubt that today’s technology is amazing. With technology by our side, we can achieve almost anything. In fact, technology is so amazing that it can almost help that car next to you turn on its blinkers as it cuts you off. 

Since automatic blinkers are not a reality yet, let’s take a look at some of the tech that the top car companies put on their vehicles.

Toyota was the world’s leading car brand through 2018 — it increased its sales to exceed 8 million vehicles worldwide. With more 2019 Toyota models flooding the streets than any other brand, this is going to be the most common car technology out there.

One of Toyota’s most popular models, the Corolla, comes equipped with standard Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 (TSS 2.0). TSS 2.0 includes technology like a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection. The pre-collision system uses millimeter-wave radar and a low-light camera with shape recognition to detect objects within your striking distance. If you do not apply the brakes on your own in time, the system will automatically do so in order to reduce speed and lessen the severity of an accident.

Another advanced feature of the 2020 Corolla is the lane-departure alert with steering assist. This is a lane and edge-of-road monitoring system that keeps a driver on the road. If a driver begins to stray into a nearby lane or off the side of the road for some reason, this system will provide an audible and visual alert. If the alert goes unnoticed by the driver, the system may take matters into its own hands and gently correct steering to keep the vehicle on an appropriate path.

While being kept in your lane thanks to lane departure alert and steering assist, you’ll also be kept at the appropriate speed limit at all times, thanks to their adaptive cruise control. This cruise control technology uses aspects of their other Toyota Safety Sense features to help your car maintain a pre-selected speed while leaving you the ability to slow down or speed up, depending on the conditions. This means your cruise control will automatically slow you down when approaching a slower vehicle and it will speed back up to your set speed once that vehicle is out of the way. This technology is found only on the CVT model and may be difficult to trust at first, but by the time you finish a road trip or two, you’ll be thrilled to have it.

It would be hard to cover technology in Toyota vehicles and not mention the Prius. From memes to bumper stickers, I am sure you’ve become acquainted with this car by now. And while there are a lot of stereotypes for this car, that doesn’t change the fact that it’s got a lot of tech.

The first thing you’ll notice on entering the Prius is its large 11.6-inch multimedia display. This giant touchscreen control panel is the brains for the whole car. From this larger touchscreen, you can adjust the climate, see car fluid levels and other information and, thanks to Apple CarPlay; follow Apple Maps; read your iMessages; and control your music. You can even connect Amazon Alexa to your control panel, enabling you to ask Alexa for the news and weather or to control any smart-home devices.

The technology doesn’t stop at the control panel. The windshield has a color heads-up display i, allowing you to focus on the road while maintaining your speed, turn-by-turn directions and battery life. This technology is derived from fighter pilot displays and helps keep drivers focused on the road.

You can find the next impressive piece of technology just below the control panel. It may not look like much — or anything at all, actually. But if you were to put your phone on it, you’d notice something awesome. This is the QI-compatible, wireless-charging, non-slip surface. Gone are the days of arguing over the only phone charger. All you have to do is set your phone down and let it charge. Thanks to this charging station, you can free up additional USB ports for other guests or devices.

Moving from Toyota to Volkswagen, another top-selling worldwide car company, you’ll find vehicles with just as much impressive technology. The Jetta, for example, has a completely customizable 10-inch digital cockpit display. You get to choose what is displayed in front of you as you drive. You can select anything from fuel economy to travel time, GPS, elevation or speed. Anything you choose will be displayed digitally at high resolution.

Want to stay in touch with your Jetta while away from it? Then download the VW Car-Net app. This mobile application is perfect for staying up to date with your car’s current condition. You’ll receive notifications if you left a door open, if your car is left unlocked or even when rain is in the forecast and your sunroof is open. You can also use the app to receive a vehicle health report so you can check the diagnostics of your car.

I think it is important to notice that in this article, I only covered common and affordable vehicles. While cars like BMW and Tesla will have far more technological bells and whistles at an inflated price, your everyday cars are still loaded with technology. That doesn’t mean that a BMW or a Tesla isn’t better than a Toyota or VW. It just means you don’t have to break the bank to get a car with great tech. 

Bahar Ferguson is president of Wasatch I.T., a Utah provider of outsourced IT services for small and medium-sized businesses.

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