Autoblog is currently in Petosky, Michigan poring over the 14 finalists in its 2014 Technology of the Year Award. The cars run the gamut from those with neat tech features to honest-to-goodness whole techie cars. Best of all is that “many of these technologies are housed in some pretty hilariously fun vehicles,” which includes American favorites Mustang and Fiesta.
Here’s a look at the cars and the technologies involved:
- 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat: SRT Performance Pages gives data on G-force, acceleration, braking, and lap times. Option is available for all SRT models.
- 2015 Subaru Forester: Subaru EyeSight includes adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, and pre-collision braking that can bring the car to a complete stop.
- 2015 Ford Mustang GT: Track Apps with Line Lock electronically locks the front brakes, allowing making burnouts a simple task. Track Apps also features acceleration timer for speed/distance, brake performance monitor, and launch control.
- 2014 Mercedes-Benz S550: Magic Body Control senses upcoming road conditions and adjusts the suspension accordingly via cameras that see bumps in the road. The result is a smooth ride without jarring passengers.
- 2015 Corvette Stingray convertible: The Performance Data Recorder with Valet gathers telemetry data using GPS, then records your track performance in 720p HD video. The Valet Mode allows you to record and replay in-car audio, not to mention turn off the infotainment system and lock the interior storage bins.
- 2014 Ford Fiesta: The 1.0L EcoBoost turbo-three is more powerful than the standard 1.6L four yet offers better mpg.
- 2014 BMW i8: This one is about the whole car, which includes a turbocharged 1.5L inline-three plus a 96-kilowatt electric motor. The gas motor powers the rear wheels while the electric motor (with two-stage gearbox) powers the front for an all-wheel drive hybrid. With lightweight materials and a carbon fiber-reinforced passenger cell, it’s high-tech all the way.
- 2014 BMW i3: Again, it’s the whole car, which uses a new construction form with carbon fiber-reinforced plastic body panels. Available as either a fully electric vehicle or as a range extended plug-in hybrid, total driving range is nearly doubled with an extender.
- 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C: Its carbon monocoque tub provides fantastic structural rigidity while keeping mass low. This is the first time this technique can be found on a car that’s not an exotic.
- Infiniti Q50S Hybrid: Direct Active Steer is the industry’s first steer-by-wire system. Predictive forward collision warning “can not only sense the relative velocity and distance of a vehicle directly ahead, but also of a vehicle traveling in front of the preceding one.” Another feature, Active Lane Control, keeps the vehicle positioned in its lane in conjunction with the steer-by-wire system and smart cruise control.
- 2015 BMW M4: In-car GoPro integration, which works via BMW’s infotainment system, WiFi, and a downloaded smartphone app, will allow you to control the GoPro through the iDrive system, including displaying a live image on the in-dash screen.
- 2015 GMC Canyon: Siri Eyes Free allows iPhone users to access Siri’s capabilities through the truck’s hands-free voice system. OnStar 4G LTE also offers in-car WiFi. (Both technologies are available for many GM vehicles.)
- 2014 Toyota Highlander: Driver Easy Speak uses the SUV’s existing Bluetooth telephony microphone to amplify the driver’s voice through the rear speakers − perfect for telling your little rugrats to stuff it.
- 2014 Dodge Ram 1500: Chrysler 3.0L EcoDiesel V6 offers improved towing capacity and fuel economy versus the standard 3.6L V6.
The winner will be announced at the Los Angeles Auto Show in a few weeks.