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What Will be the Top Car Tech of 2018?

In-car tech should be a major consideration when choosing a new car. (Image: AFP Relaxnews)

In-car tech should be a major consideration when choosing a new car. (Image: AFP Relaxnews)

In-car tech should be a major consideration when choosing a new car.

With the leaps and bounds being made in automotive technology, what a 2018 model-year vehicle offers in terms of in-car entertainment and assistance features should now be at the top of your list when trying to make a purchasing or leasing decision on a new car, according to the experts at Kelley Blue Book.

"Where driving dynamics, comfort and safety are concerned, modern vehicles are steadily marching down a path toward parity," said Michael Harley, group managing editor for Kelley Blue Book.

But not all technological features were created equal, and so the vehicle valuation and information service has put together what it believes will be the top 10 in-demand, car-ownership experience-improving features for the coming year and the options that will make the car more attractive than its peers when it comes to getting the best possible trade-in price down the road.

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"The tech we've identified as the best for 2018 should be considered when searching for your next new vehicle. Regardless of price point, it shouldn't be too difficult to find a vehicle with most of them -- and they're all very helpful," said Harley.

Apple CarPlay/Android Auto Compatibility

According to Strategy Analytics, most consumers in the US, Europe and China are already prepared to pay a premium to make sure their car offers full connectivity with their smartphone so that they can use its features safely while behind the wheel. Little wonder that with the exception of Toyota and Lexus, every major carmaker has now pledged support for one or both of the technologies.

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Connected mobile apps

Many premium car companies already offer a smartphone companion app that lets owners remotely lock, unlock and start their car, adjust climate control or locate the vehicle in a crowded parking lot. And thanks to much of the technology behind the system being developed by an automotive supplier -- Bosch -- the features are quickly trickling down to mainstream motors.

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Autonomous Emergency Braking

A host of independent studies plus data from insurance companies already proves without a shadow of doubt that this system, which monitors the car's surrounds and hits the brakes automatically to avoid a collision, whether with a pedestrian, cyclist or other vehicles, is saving lives and cutting insurance premiums. Though the feature won't be mandatory on US cars for several years, most manufacturers are already offering it as a cost option, or in the case of VW and Volvo, as standard equipment.

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A 360° camera

A feature pioneered by Japanese carmakers, this camera array gives drivers a virtual birdseye view of everything around the car and displays it on the screen in the center console. It's fast becoming an option on even entry-level models.

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USB ports

Drivers and passengers want to be able to charge their phones and tablets on the go and don't want to have to carry around a 12-volt adaptor and a host of cables to do so. For example, the new Ford Excursion offers seating for eight and USB ports for every single row of passengers as standard.

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Teen driver technology

A huge range of vehicles, from the Ford Fiesta and Volvo XC90 to the Dodge Challenger Hellcat, offer a system where owners can program the keys so that when the car is borrowed, engine power and speed limit are capped, the distance traveled can be monitored and the sound system's volume locked down. What's more Chevrolet's system also complements these lock-down features with a report card telling worried parents if the car had to brake suddenly.

Rear cross-traffic alert

Using sensors to keep an eye on things like cars passing behind, shopping carts rolling across carparks and people walking behind the car, it makes reversing out of a space simple and safe.

Adaptive Cruise Control

US drivers, in particular, spend an inordinate amount of time behind the wheel, particularly in congested highway driving situations. Adaptive cruise control can automatically maintain a safe speed behind the car in front, slowing down or speeding up as gaps narrow and widen.

Lane Departure Warning

Over longer drives, it can be easy to let the mind, and as a result, the car drift. Lane departure warning systems alert the driver when he or she is straying across the line and some systems, such as in the latest Mercedes and Volvo models, can apply opposite lock to the steering wheel to automatically maintain lane discipline.

LED/Xenon Headlights

They may seem like little more than a flashy, unnecessary option, but LED lights, in particular, are brighter, quicker to respond and never need changing. What's more, in recent IIHS car crash and safety testing, many cars have come under criticism for the poor quality of their headlights for spotting and avoiding collisions at night time.

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