You'll find cooled seats and lots of other great tech in the new cars for 2017.
There are some pretty amazing features tucked under the hoods of cars and trucks these days. And also in the dash, in the seats, and just about every other part of the new-for-2017 vehicles. Additional driver aids, more efficient engines, and other bells and whistles help you get to your destination more smoothly and comfortably than ever.
But did you know that a lot of these cool new features already exist in some late-model used cars? It’s true. And, you can experience these features yourself, without paying new-car prices. Read on to learn about some of the latest and greatest car and truck tech!
More driver-assist aids.
For 2017, engines get smaller and still put out plenty of power, thanks to the addition of turbochargers. A turbo can use an engine’s output to increase efficiency without sacrificing horsepower. Cars and trucks — and especially larger passenger vehicles like those from the Mercedes, BMW, and Audi stables — now come with turbocharged four-cylinder engines where they used to have larger six-cylinder motors. This means more on-demand power and, depending on your driving habits, fewer trips to the fuel pump! The list of turbocharged vehicles include:
- Ford Mustang EcoBoost®
- Mercedes-Benz C250, CLA250, and GL450
- Chevrolet Cruze
- Ford Explorer Sport
- Subaru WRX STI
- Mini Cooper S and Clubman S
- Volvo XC90
More comfort for drivers (and their passengers).
Heated seats. Cooled seats. Heated steering wheels. In 2017, drivers are more constantly on-the-go than ever before. Find pilot-friendly add-ons in vehicles like these:
- Cooled front seats: Ford Fusion, Hyundai Sonata, and Kia Forte
- Heated steering wheel: BMW, Cadillac CTS, Kia Optima
Some of the latest comfy tech for cars includes seats that actively massage their occupants.
Heated seats aren’t new, and neither are cooled seats — but they’re now more popular and available on more models than ever. Cooled seats don’t have dedicated cooling elements (no tiny air conditioners!); they keep drivers comfortable with a combination of perforated cushioning and small fans inside the seats to help draw heat away from your passengers’, er, posteriors.
Some of the latest comfy tech for cars: seats that actively massage their occupants. You can find these seats in the latest Mercedes-Benz vehicles, including the 2016 Mercedes-Benz E400, and BMW 7 Series vehicles like the 740i. Domestically, you’ll find these seats in SUVs like the 2016 Ford Explorer and the 2016 Lincoln MKX. Air chambers inflate inside these seats, and the insides pulse and roll to help drivers stay loose on long drives. In some cases, passengers can get this same treatment!
It’s true that drivers are less willing than ever to put up with uncomfortable cars. For long trips, you can’t beat the entertainment options in the latest lines of vehicles — like individual HDMI jacks that let the kiddos port their movies onto an overhead screen, Bluetooth® for hands-free calls ahead to your destination, and tech like Apple CarPlay™ and Android Auto™ that lets you synch your mobile devices to your onboard, in-dash entertainment.
“Some of these cars are so ‘connected’ with entertainment options these days, they’re like rolling hot spots.”
- Veteran CarMax Car Purchasing Associate
One of our veteran CarMax associates is a fan of in-car entertainment systems, and he’s been watching all the changes in technology. During his 10-plus years at CarMax, he’s seen the onboard DVD players give way to streaming options that include mobile device connectivity. “Everyone is streaming in the back seats these days,” he says. “Some of these cars are so ‘connected’ with entertainment options these days, they’re like rolling hot spots.” He’s talking about the built-in Wi-Fi service now offered by Chevrolet in vehicles like the 2016 Chevrolet Impala and 2016 Chevrolet Tahoe.
Fully-sized cars and trucks that weigh even less
One good way to get more miles per gallon: get your vehicles to weigh less. That’s what automakers are thinking; they’re now using new technology and construction methods to remove weight from their vehicles without sacrificing crashworthiness. The Ford F-150’s aluminum bodywork helps to shave several hundred pounds from its curb weight. The new Jeep Wrangler will have plenty of aluminum in its body panels, too. The 2014 Lincoln MKT has a liftgate made with magnesium, a metal that’s very strong and weighs even less than aluminum; the Chrysler Pacifica comes with aluminum sliding doors and a tailgate that’s also made of magnesium. You can see some early steps toward building with super-light, super-strong carbon fiber in the Chevrolet Corvette. With its lightweight body panels, the new ‘Vettes are very fast and quite light (they’re a little over 3,000 pounds). Use of these advanced materials as a weight-saving technique is likely a sign of more to come.
More gears in your transmission
Some in the industry are predicting that by 2020 or so, half of new cars’ transmissions will have seven or more gears in their gearboxes. In the meantime, efficiency-minded drivers will like the newer models out there, like the Chevrolet Camaro (10 gears in the ZL1’s automatic transmission) and the new Ford F-150 (also 10 gears in the new EcoBoost model). All Jeep Cherokees sold since 2013, including the 2016 Jeep Cherokee, have nine-speed automatic transmissions. It’s got taller gears as well as lower gears that are better for off-roading. Why so many speeds? Taller gears (those found at the high end of a transmission) let you cruise more effortlessly at lower RPMs, and this translates to better fuel economy. More gears for more miles per gallon!
More electric vehicles.
The best hybrid and electric vehicles have ranges that keep improving, year after year. The new Tesla boasts of being able to cover close to 300 miles on a single charge. The new Chevy Bolt is a hybrid electric car that its makers say gives drivers nearly 240 miles of travel on a single full charge. And, if you’re in the mood for something new, small, and commuter-friendly, there’s the Mitsubishi
i-MiEV. If you want to drive the best hybrid cars and electric cars now and can’t wait for the all-new cars, check out these hybrid and electric vehicles:
Cars and trucks, for the foreseeable future, will be vehicles that come in just about every shape and size — and they’re already customizable enough to meet the many unique needs of their drivers and their families. If you’re a fan of the latest technologies, keep an eye on all of these vehicles; they promise to get even more technologically advanced in the next few years!
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