If you spend any time watching TV or listening to the radio, you’re bombarded on a daily basis with commercials about new cars. And these days, it’s not just ads about horsepower, headroom or seating for seven. Carmakers are talking to you about new technology features that make your drive safer, more informative and more entertaining.
What if you want tech, but aren’t ready for the new car payment? Is it possible to outfit your car with features like those found on the latest Audi or Chevy? The answer is yes. Here are five tech upgrades that match or even outshine the car commercials that made them famous.
#1: WiFi Hotspot Brings Internet to Your Backseat
Chevy showed off the 4G LTE wireless hotspot in its 2015 line over the holidays with a cute commercial comparing real-life icons and features with those you’d see using an Internet-enabled tablet. Kids in the backseat take that home experience with them, even on the open road.
Your kids can have fun in the backseat as well with the Delphi Connect with 4G LTE mobile hotspot. Available from Verizon Wireless, the nifty device requires no installation and plugs onto the OBD2 (on-board diagnostic) port under the driver-side dash. The cool thing is, not only do your kids get to watch Minecraft YouTube videos to their hearts’ delight, you get detailed information on your car’s health and can even upgrade the package to get location data and driving statistics when you loan the car to your other, older kids.
$199.99; subscription and airtime fees apply. verizonwireless.com
#2: Advanced Protection From Rear-End Collisions
Crash test dummies finally get a day off in Subaru’s latest commercials featuring its Eyesight technology. Instead of doing the head-on thing into a wall, special sensors in the vehicle see the upcoming obstacle and allow for a safe stop.
Advent gives your car an extra set of eyes as well. The LDWS100 provides a sharp audible tone to alert you of cars or other objects that are suddenly too close for comfort, giving you time to apply the brakes safely. But that’s only the beginning. The unit also features a front-facing camera that records what’s in front of you as you drive, saving it to internal memory for later playback. It’s a handy feature if you get into an accident, or happen to catch sight of a loose circus bear running across the highway.
#3: Back Up and Park Like a Pro
In Mitsubishi’s 2015 Outlander commercial, a mountain biker backs his new SUV into the perfect offroad spot, thanks to a rear-view camera and display that uses on-screen lines to tell you just how close you are to an obstacle (in this case, a rock wall). Then, for some strange reason, he proceeds to somersault over it.
Get that same safety experience on your commute to work, where you can avoid walls, bikes and wayward pedestrians. With vehicle-specific rear vision systems from Brandmotion, a waterproof camera mounts on your license plate frame or trunk lip to give you a wide-angle view of what’s behind you when you put your car into reverse gear. You can show the picture a number of ways: on the screen of a new radio, on your existing radio’s screen (select vehicles / models), or on a screen built into a rear-view mirror that replaces your existing mirror.
Price varies by vehicle make; brandmotion.com
#4: Lock, Unlock & Start, From Anywhere
OnStar is one of the most recognized technology names when it comes to new cars, and it’s improved significantly from the days of the live operator residing in that button on the roof console. Its newest commercials feature RemoteLink, a subscription service which lets you start your car and lock or unlock your doors from your smartphone. This means that distance is not a factor: The system works as long as both your phone and your car are in areas with working cell service.
Forget sweating it out while your car interior cools, or freezing while the heater gets going. With Viper SmartStart from Directed, you can upgrade your car to start and warm up (or cool down) from your smartphone as well. Once the system is installed, simply download its companion app from your smartphone’s app store, match it with your car, and securely take control of door locks and remote start, from your home, your workplace or just about anywhere. You can even keep track of your car’s location, so wandering mall parking lots will be a thing of the past.
Price based on options installed; subscription required. viper.com/smartstart
#5: The Safe Smartphone Experience
If you haven’t seen the commercials yet, you will see them soon. It’s been announced that more than 40 new vehicles will come with Apple CarPlay™ or Android Auto™ embedded into the factory radio, starting this year. Designed by Apple, CarPlay allows you to plug your iPhone® into your car and get access to select driving and entertainment apps using Siri® as well as the car radio’s touch screen. Android Auto, designed by Google, works similarly for Android-based smartphones, using voice-activated commands as the primary interface.
Why wait, when you can actually get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto today? Kenwood and Pioneer Electronics currently have in-dash multimedia receivers with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto built in. The cool part is, the smartphone experience is the same regardless of the radio. Look for an additional offering from Alpine Electronics soon.
Price varies by radio model. kenwood.com/usa, pioneerelectronics.com; alpine.com
Of course, just as the carmakers integrate this technology into new cars, solutions for your car need to be professionally integrated as well. There are hundreds of Mobile Electronics Certified Professionals around the country who are trained to upgrade your specific car with the latest tech toys. For more information, visit cea.org.
Brandmotion Camera: http://mwire.co/Brandmotion_Camera.jpg
Brandmotion Mirror: http://mwire.co/Brandmotion_Mirror.jpg
Kenwood Radio with Anrdoid Auto™: http://mwire.co/Kenwood_AndroidAuto.jpg
Pioneer Radio with Apple CarPlay™: http://mwire.co/Pioneer_CarPlay.jpg
Viper SmartStart on iPhone: http://mwire.co/Viper_SmartStart.jpg
Advent Lade Departure Warning System: http://mwire.co/Advent_LDWS100.png
Delphi Connect 4GLTE: http://mwire.co/Delphi_Connect_4GLTE.jpg
Brandmotion: Jeff Varick, [email protected]; (734) 619-1250
Kenwood: Tony Mercado, [email protected]; (310) 639-9000
Pioneer: Ted Cardenas, [email protected]; (310) 952-2000
Directed (Viper): Jim Jardin, [email protected]; (760) 599-1338
Advent (Voxx): Joe Dentamaro, [email protected]; (248) 307-3801