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Monday, February 5, 2018

Let’s Talk Tech: Automotive Technology Advancements

New cars connect your phone by Bluetooth simply by tapping them on the dashboard.  Keys are a thing of the past--just start the car using your cell phone.  Keep the phone charged on your vehicle’s wireless charging pad.  Besides the back-up and 360-degree camera, cameras can check the kids in the back or watch what happens after the valet attendant takes your vehicle.  Use Amazon Alexa to connect to your smart home to program the thermostat or turn on the lights.  Set adaptive cruise control to do the work for you in stop/start rush hour traffic.  Ride safe with active steering systems that go beyond lane keep assist and collision alert, actually steering you around potential collisions.  These technologies are not futuristic predictions; they’re already here.  
Test drives of Audi’s S5 Cabriolet and S4 Sedan and the Nissan Rouge gave us an opportunity to see some of the technologies people are talking about.

Your wrist sits atop a yacht-inspired gear lever while you tap, click and swipe a touchpad fitted just in front of it to communicate with Audi’s MMI (multimedia interface) system.  Choose Classic Mode on the 12.3 inch Virtual Cockpit display to get normal instrument cluster. Change it to Infotainment Mode for GoogleEarth 3D satellite imagery to help you navigate, or Sport Mode to track performance on a tachometer and inset speedometer.  Audi Connect links your car to the outside world, either through your phone, or through a SIM card in the car and creates a Wi-Fi hotspot from that connection.

Nissan’s ProPILOT Assist, available on Rouge and LEAF models, utilizes a forward-facing camera and radar to help the driver stay in the center of the driving lane and maintain their preset vehicle speed while maintaining a gap to the preceding vehicles or slowing the vehicle to a complete stop and holding it during traffic jam conditions. 


Butt bells and whistles alone are not enough to sell a car.  Our Audis also scored A+ in fun-to-drive points--in both cases, the S referring to Sports package options.  Both of our Audi test cars featured the 3.0-liter TFSI® twin-scroll turbocharged DOHC V6 engine with 354 hp and 369 lb-ft torque, Quattro all-wheel-drive system and 8-speed Tiptronic transmission. Cabins also exceed expectations with the right mix of high-quality materials delivering modern, understated luxury.  The Nissan Pro-Pilot system proves that advanced technologies can still be packaged affordably.  Our Rogue with SL Platinum Package (including ProPILOT Assist) was $36K.  We found it to have a comfortable ride and notable for its unmistakable design and thoughtful storage solutions.  It’s easy to see why Nissan’s compact crossover Rogue is the best-selling model across its broad line-up.  

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