by Staff Reports

Thinking of buying a new car this year? If you haven’t perused the dealerships in a while, you’ll notice a lot has changed in vehicles and their offerings.

Today’s vehicles, in general, are larger, have robust computers and are geared toward helping you drive more safely. And the vehicles of the future will likely bring even more of this technology to the road.

Earlier this year, the CES technology conference in Las Vegas and the North American International Auto show in Detroit provided a glimpse into the hottest trends on four wheels, as well as the technology of the future.

Here are four areas to keep an eye out for:

Autonomous driving

While fully autonomous cars won’t be available for a while, the technology is ever improving and will likely be implemented over time.

Vehicles such as Waymo by Google and the manufacturer Ford have both announced they have self-driving vehicles in the works. In the meantime, there is much technology already being placed in cars, such as driver-assist technologies and sensors that alert you to vehicles and objects around you. There is also adaptive cruise control, which will adjust your speed based on the distance of the car in front of you.


What drives like a car, but looks like an SUV? A crossover! Like the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V, these car/SUV blends have the feel of a car but many of the features of an SUV. They are continuing to grow in popularity and more and more car manufacturers are offering them. In fact, nearly one-third of new vehicles purchased by Americans last year were crossovers.

Recently, Nissen debuted a new crossover, as did Mazda and Ford. Experts say these vehicles are increasing in popularity because they offer more space and flexibility, but also remain more fuel efficient than full-sized SUVs and trucks. And, of course, there is also more space – a feature appreciated by both young families with children and seniors alike.

Still, big vehicles do remain popular, and Volkswagen, Subaru and Ford all have some new options coming soon.

Lots of data

When you think smart technology, you likely think of your phone. However, cars are increasingly coming with Internet connectivity, and officials and manufacturers are working on ways to leverage this technology for safety.

Some manufactures, such as Ford and Toyota, have launched a system that connects to Apple iOS and Google Android. As well, Ford has announced that some of its cars will use Amazon Echo and Alexa to allow drivers and passengers to use voice commands to instruct their cars to do things.

There are currently many talks about the issues of privacy and security, in light of all of this new technology, as well as the dangers associated with car hacking.

More electric vehicles

Now more than ever, manufacturers are producing electric and hybrid vehicles.

Ford announced that it aims to produce 13 electric models by 2020, while Mercedes plans to make 10 by 2025. Volkswagen is also working on 30.

Still, despite the fuel savings and benefit to the environment, electric car purchases have declined. In fact, the number sold has gone down by about one-quarter last year as compared to the year before.

Still, experts are hopeful that as electric car technology improves and people can drive them further distances, that they will become more attractive to buyers.