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The Latest High-Tech Car Features

From essentials to indulgences, here’s what to look for

  • Courtesy Volvo

    Blind-Spot Monitoring and Cross-Traffic Alert

    En español | Sensors keep an eye on rear blind spots and peer up and down the street for traffic before you back out.   Verdict: Essential

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  • John F. Martin for Cadillac

    Backup Cameras/Parking Sensors

    All new cars must have backup cameras by 2018; parking sensors warn when you're approaching obstacles.   Verdict: Essential     

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  • Courtesy Volvo

    Collision-Avoidance System

    Most systems use radar and cameras to detect an imminent crash and apply the brakes; some can bring the car to a full stop.   Verdict: Essential  

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  • Courtesy GMC

    Lane-Departure Warning/Lane Centering

    If you drift out of your lane, the car sounds an alert and even nudges you back on track.   Verdict: Essential  

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  • Courtesy BMW

    Heads-Up Displays

    By projecting speed, navigational directions and other dashboard info directly onto the windshield, HUDs help drivers keep their eyes on the road.   Verdict: Useful but optional  

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  • Courtesy Ford

    Inflatable Seat Belts

    Ford and Mercedes are leading the way with this technology, which helps cushion the torso during a crash.   Verdict: Useful but optional  

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  • Courtesy Volvo

    Self-Parking

    Hate parallel parking? This feature can do the job for you.   Verdict: Useful but optional  

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  • Courtesy Chevrolet

    Adaptive Cruise Control

    Sensors detect traffic ahead and match your speed. Tesla's Autopilot can also read signs, follow lane markings and change lanes automatically.   Verdict: Useful but optional

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  • Courtesy Kia

    Heated Steering Wheel

    Snow-belt drivers might find this a cozy amenity. Or, you know, wear gloves.   Verdict: Handy indulgence

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  • Courtesy GM

    Built-In Wi-Fi Hot Spots

    In-car wireless lets you surf en route (if you're not driving).   Verdict: Handy indulgence

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  • Courtesy BMW

    Hands-Free Trunk/Liftgate Release

    Just wave a foot or stand behind the car to open the trunk automatically.   Verdict: Handy indulgence

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