The Future of Driving: 10 Technologies You Need in Your Next New Car

New car technology can be confounding, but don't skip it – or turn it off. Here are the must-have features that will set you up for the future of driving.

Mazda Cx-30 Turbo
Apple CarPlay in the Mazda CX-30 Turbo. Photo: Scotty Reiss

These Features Will Make You a Better, Less Stressed Driver

If it’s been a minute since you bought your last new car, you’ll no doubt be surprised at all the tech offerings and how advanced they can seem. Cameras, navigation, safety systems and driver assistance have all advanced dramatically since they were first introduced. They are the standard now and give us a peek at the future of driving.

Many of these tech features can be confusing if you’ve never used them, and they are becoming the standard, so they are included or optional in most new cars. These systems often are seen on dashboards, as buttons with unfamiliar symbols or beeping notifications. Many drivers find them annoying and turn them off (most can be accessed via the multimedia system) or simply overlook these features, but the assistance they provide make driving not only safer, but more pleasant and less stressful.

And then, it would be a shame to buy a new car and not get the tech that is the standard — penalizing your future driving and resale value. Since some of these features can be combined in option packages — or, simply missing from some budget-focused trim levels — it can be a bit of a treasure hunt to know if they are included.

These are the features that we recommend you have in your next car to ensure you have the most current technology and that you’re set for the next decade with your new car.

Connecting To Apple Carplay Or Android Auto Is Simple Enough With This Large 14-Inch Infotainment Screen. This Is The Future Of Driving New Car Technology

Connecting to Apple CarPlay or Android Auto is simple enough with this large 14-inch infotainment screen. Photo: Allison Bell

1. Wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto (Sometimes Called Projection Phone)

What it Is: Your Apple or Android phone provides text, navigation, music apps and more on the multimedia system

How it Works: Connect via Bluetooth the first time, then your phone will connect automatically each time you get into the car

Why You Need It: Most cars that have this also have a wireless charge pad, too; just drop your phone on the pad and you’re both connected to the system and charging your phone without cables

Some of our Favorite Cars That Have It: Honda Pilot, Lexus RXVolkswagen. Note that some Hyundai, Genesis and Kia models have this feature, but not all of them do

One Of My Favorite Tech Features Is Brake Hold, Part Of The Future Of Driving New Car Technology

One of my favorite tech features is brake hold, seen here in the Honda CR-V Hybrid. Photo: Scotty Reiss

2. Brake Hold (Sometimes Called Auto Hold)

What it Is: A temporary parking brake for use at traffic lights or drive through lines; you can take your foot off the brake without moving the car

How it Works: Activate by pressing the brake hold button and use it by pushing the brake pedal to the floor; when you do, the system will hold your car in the brake position until you tap the accelerator

Why You Need It: Who knew that holding the brake for minutes at a time could be so exhausting!

Some of our Favorite Cars That Have It Audi Q5, Honda CR-V Hybrid, Toyota Grand Highlander

The Large, Clear Rear View Camera, And The Choice Of Multiple Camera Angles This Is The Future Of Driving New Car Technology

The large, clear rear view camera, and the choice of multiple camera angles, in the Alfa Romeo Tonale. Photo: Scotty Reiss

3. HD Rear View Camera with Motion Detection

What it Is: High definition rear view camera

How it Works: With much clearer, crisper images and wider angles, these rear view cameras allow you to see more of the road behind you as well as approaching pedestrians, vehicles and more

Why You Need It: These systems can see things you can’t and will alert you when something or someone is approaching your car while you’re in reverse

Some of our Favorite Cars That Have It: BMW 5 Series, Mazda CX-90, Kia Telluride, Infiniti QX60

A Digital Rearview Mirror Is The Future Of Driving New Car Technology

Pack your cargo area to the roof if you want to — the Chevy Tahoe’s rear camera mirror gives you a crystal clear view of what’s behind you. Photo: Allison Bell

4. Digital Rear View Mirror

What it Is: A rear view mirror that doubles as a rear view camera

How it Works: A camera mounted on the car’s roof captures a wide angle view of the road behind you

Why You Need It: These cameras have a much wider angle than a car’s rear window, giving you a much better view of the road and traffic. At night the digital rear view camera also provides a much brighter, crisper view, making things much easier to see

Some of our Favorite Cars That Have It: Hyundai Palisade, Toyota Prius, Chevy Blazer EV

Head Up Display In The Mazda Cx-90

Head up display in the Mazda CX-90. Photo: Scotty Reiss

5. Head Up Display

What it Is: A driver display featuring key information such as speed, road signs, radio stations, navigation and more

How it Works: An image is projected on the windshield in front of the driver; controls on the driver display or multimedia system (often, controls for this are on the steering wheel) allows the HUD to be customized

Why You Need It: These systems have been used by pilots and race car drivers for years because it gives them instant access to key information while keeping their eyes focused on the road. As screens and the number of systems grow, HUDs keep the most important details right in sight

Some of our Favorite Cars That Have It: Mazda CX-50, Audi Q7, Jeep Wagoneer

The Bmw X7 Has A Forward Facing Camera The Future Of Driving New Car Technology

The BMW X7 has a forward facing camera. Photo: Scotty Reiss

6. Forward Facing Camera

What it Is: An exterior camera that shows what can be seen from the front  bumper, from other cars, approaching traffic, obstacles like potholes, parking barriers or walls

How it Works: A grille-mounted camera captures the images that are displayed on the multimedia system when the camera image is selected; some cars allow you to set the front camera to automatically come on when the car slows below a designated speed

Why You Need It: This technology is likely to become required for large cars and SUVs with high ground clearance and large hood liens

Some of our Favorite Cars That Have It: Lexus TX, Chevy Suburban/Tahoe, BMW X7

Acura Tlx

Safety systems like lane departure assist and adaptive cruise control will be displayed on the driver information screen in the 2021 Acura TLX. Photo: A Girls Guide to cars

7. Adaptive Cruise Control

What it Is: For use on limited access highways, this cruise control system, using a radar and cameras, adapts your car’s speed to the traffic ahead

How it Works: Set your desired speed and while monitoring the traffic around you, the car will slow or increase your speed, even coming to a full stop if traffic does. You can set the follow distance between you and the car ahead (short, medium or long) and accelerate without turning off the system, but taping the brake will deactivate it.

Why You Need It: Take the stress out of highway driving, long distance driving and especially, stop and go traffic; let the car do the work

Some of our Favorite Cars That Have It: Genesis GV80, Toyota Grand Highlander, Mercedes-Ben EQS SUV, Subaru Outback

Sync 4 Includes Voice Assistance!

Ford’s Sync 4 includes voice assistance. Toggle on the wake work to activate it. Photo: Scotty Reiss

8. Voice Assistance

What it Is: Rather than touching the multimedia screen, ask the system to set a number of features, such as navigation, air conditioning, radio station selection or heated seats

How it Works: After activating voice assistance under the vehicle’s settings, use the wake word (Hey, Toyota) to ask for what you want. Some systems will even roll down the windows or close the doors

Why You Need It: Voice is the new touch: Ask for what you want rather

Some of our Favorite Cars That Have It: Jeep Grand Cherokee, Alfa Romeo Tonale, Toyota Grand Highlander, Volvo EX30, BMW (7 Series has the door closing function)

The Driver'S Information Screen With Blind Spot Monitor And Key Information, Such As Auto Hold, Remaining Battery Charge And That I-Pedal Is Engaged

The driver’s information screen with blind spot monitor and key information, such as auto hold, remaining battery charge and that i-Pedal is engaged. Photo: Scotty Reiss

9. One-Pedal Driving (in Electric Cars)

What it Is: Use only the accelerator to control speed, including coming to full stop

How it Works: Activate one-pedal driving either via the left paddle or a button or option on the multimedia system. Once activated, the system uses regenerative braking to slow the car when you ease off the accelerator and will come to a stop without using the brake pedal

Why You Need It: This is one of the reasons that electric car drivers LOVE driving EVs: The control you have over your speed, the ease of driving using only one pedal and the efficiency of not using any more energy than is really necessary is simply brilliant

Some of our Favorite Cars That Have It: Tesla, Hyundai Ioniq 5, Kia Niro EV, Chevrolet Blazer EV

Mercedes-Benz Amg Gls 63

Parking sensors i the Mercedes-Benz AMG GLS 63 light up in the head up display to let you know you’re about to hit the wall. ?Scotty Reiss

10. Parking Sensors

What it Is: Sensors that alert you when you’re too close to an object outside the car

How it Works: Sensors embedded in the bumpers and side panels sense objects are you approach

Why You Need It: With the increasing cost of automotive repair work, keeping those little scrapes and dings out of your bumpers and doors is a great thing. Sensing other things that may be in your way — your kids bike, your garage door, a concrete parking barrier — may prevent even worse damage

Some of our Favorite Cars That Have It: Volkswagen, Lincoln Navigator, Ford Mustang Mach-E, BMW X5

One last bit of advice: There’s a learning curve to new technology, so  approach it with an open mind. Keeping your eyes on the road with head up display, asking for what you want with voice assist and keeping your bumpers clean of scrapes and dents by listening to your parking sensors will make the time in your car all the better.

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Journalist, entrepreneur and mom. Expertise includes new cars, family cars, 3-row SUVs, child passenger car seats and automotive careers... More about Scotty Reiss