As shoppers prepare to buy new models, they may be struck by a few changes on the lot. Vehicles tend to be more powerful, offer seating that's easily maneuverable, favor high-rise views with somewhat smaller interiors and boast solid gas mileage.
They're also filled with high-tech equipment, once options found only in luxury cars but now standard, or in less high-priced packages, for all types of vehicles.
In naming the 2017 Toyota Prius as one of the 10 cars with the best technology for the money, U.S. News and World Report this spring noted that all Prius lift-back models include the Toyota Safety Sense suite of driver assistance and safety technologies. The year before, the equipment groupings were part of a $1,935 option package.
On the Chevy side, the new Chevrolet Sonic carries a 7-inch touch-screen infotainment system that supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, all in a subcompact car starting at $15,145.
Other tech highlights include:
Audi A4: “Upgrade to the MMI Plus system with an Audi Connect data connection and you’ll get Google Earth mapping on the 8.3-inch navigation screen and a touchpad interface that recognizes handwritten instructions.”
Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivan: Along with plug-in electric power, the new model comes with standard three-zone automatic temperature control and Chrysler’s 8.4-inch UConnect infotainment system.
Kia Niro: The compact car is available with Kia's UVO eServices connected car features, which include a parking location reminder, remote diagnostics and 911 connect.
Toyota RAV4 hybrid: Forward collision warning with pedestrian detection and automatic emergency braking are standard on all trim levels, plus the Toyota Safety Sense features.
Volvo S90: “All S90 models come standard with Pilot Assist, a system that can take care of steering, acceleration, and braking with little human intervention required. The S90 also features City Safety, which will automatically brake to avoid collisions with pedestrians or cyclists and large animal detection to reduce accidents involving wildlife.”
Chevrolet Colorado: The truck is available with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a 4G LTE data connection that supports a Wi-Fi hot spot.
Ford F-150: America's best-selling pickup includes a blind spot warning system that take into account the length of a trailer being towed, and automatic towing can be activated by turning a knob “the direction you want the trailer to go.” The truck does the rest.
Chevrolet Bolt EV: The electric vehicle’s top-end Bolt EV Premier showcases an available electronic rear view mirror that displays a camera image of the road behind the car and a 360-degree camera system that helps maneuvering in tight spaces. Forward collision warning with pedestrian detection and automatic emergency braking are available.