Written by by Kyle Lizenby, CNN
Edmunds.com, the online vehicle sales company, has released its list of the latest trendiest cars in the United States.
Driven by a mix of performance, luxury and innovation, the list focuses on how key features can elevate a car over the competition, the team behind the trendspotting report wrote. “People are willing to pay a lot for enhanced levels of performance, appearance, luxury and technology,” said Justin Snyder, director of trend analysis at Edmunds.com.
“We have explored over two dozen features that we felt would be among the most exciting things for people to see on cars over the next year,” he added. “In addition to what’s technologically possible on their cars, we also look at what can make a car stand out from the pack.”
You don’t need to leave the city to show off your taste for expensive goodies in a new car. Visually, the concept of the display interior is evolving rapidly. LUX, Audi’s first high-end display of sorts, took shape in a sleek top-of-the-line Audi A8 three years ago. Today, the German manufacturer unveiled the new Virtual Cockpit, a modular display board mounted on a driver’s center console that shows a user’s navigation, media and infotainment information. (Audi should receive the honor of “Car of the Year” in February from Motor Trend, if only for one week.)
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Don’t be discouraged if you’re not located in the heart of Silicon Valley; new technologies also deliver the wow factor on a budget.The e-Brake braking system Volvo unveiled last year uses a motorcycle-based compression-ignition technology that unleashes the brakes. The company also showcased an air-pump strategy that uses compressed air rather than hot exhaust gases. Smart City Auto, a small US startup, showcased its tech features that cater to cargo hauling. One clever trick in their cargo concept is an “Electronator” that reconfigures the axle on the ground to maximize carrying capacity.
TVS’ Supersport 650Ti. Credit: Courtesy TVS
Catering to the consumer’s wildest vehicle fantasy is increasingly tricky as car makers jostle to enhance capability and performance in ways that can stand out amid the more expensive luxury cars. New wave engineered racers look set to break new ground. Auctions that feature exotic cars from the past decade or so are big business, as buyers fight to win one of these rare rides — a platter of emotional value when you consider the price tag. And they are also full of vivid color schemes and style extras that will send even the most data-obsessed driver scurrying.
Less excited is the prospect of owning the connected car of the future, which can take advantage of sensors to analyze and even control the human body, from the right seat. For the automotive enthusiasts out there, the future of the car also looks like space. According to Sebastian Troich, the startup that runs a commercial space flight agency in the Mojave Desert, the first fully-functional cars could be taking to the road by 2020.
A concept car that can drive itself. Credit: courtesy Artemio M. Garza
Many of the recent technology trends have crossed over into the mainstream. Many of the cars on Edmunds’ list have large screens that can display software and performance data. One new feature that starts to crack the tech barrier is voice recognition software that can change your music, adjust the air-conditioning and instruct your car to use cruise control.
To view Edmunds’ full list of the coolest cars, go to www.edmunds.com/carguide.