High-technology is filtering down faster today than ever before, from expensive luxury cars into the affordable compact, sports and family car realm. Our top 10 are available on new Ford cars and SUVs due in 2016.
Here is our list of the 10 leading edge technologies to look out for when considering your next car purchase.
1. In-car Wi-Fi
These systems use an on-board Wi-Fi receiver that serves a few functions. Firstly, it can provide a Wi-Fi connection hotspot for occupants while tethered to, say, the front passenger's connected device. The whole family can connect their devices and make use of a local network for sharing - it'd better have some bandwidth in the seven-seater Ford Everest, in which in-car Wi-Fi comes standard. The in-car Wi-Fi receiver can also connect to a public network.
2. Active Noise Cancellation
This system works on a similar principle to noise-cancelling headphones. It uses three sensitive microphones to measure engine noise inside the car's cabin, and cancels any noise it detects by emitting opposing sound waves.
3. Voice Control
This is not new in itself, however Ford's SYNC2, among other more advanced systems, goes beyond voice activation of the audio system or a paired mobile phone, to allow the activation of the satellite navigation and air-conditioning systems, just by talking to them. SYNC2 is standard in the medium/large sedan/wagon the Ford Mondeo and in the all-new Ford Everest SUV among most new Ford vehicles and brings both convenience and safety, because the driver no longer needs to take their eyes off the road, or hands off the steering wheel.
4. Automatic High Beam
These clever systems are starting to appear in European luxury cars, but aren't yet common in popular many mainstream vehicles. One such vehicle is the Ford Everest, with a system that works using sensors that can distinguish between different sources of light, such as traffic and streetlights, and the headlights of oncoming vehicles, to activate the high beams when appropriate. Now, most of us will probably have been guilty of inadvertently dazzling the driver of a car coming the other way, despite our best efforts manning the high-beam stalk. Automatic high-beams take the hit-and-miss – and the effort – out of the task, which makes it easier and safer to light up the road ahead.
5. Active Park Assist
Self-parking systems have been available for a few years on affordable small European cars, as well as the Ford Focus and the Holden Commodore, and they're becoming more common. Active Park Assist systems start by measuring the suitability of a parallel parking space (perpendicular spots for newer systems) – will the car fit, in other words – before automatically steering the car into the space. The driver controls accelerator and brakes only, and it's certainly an eye-opener the first time you try it, just as long as you can bring yourself to take your hands from the steering wheel and watch the car do its work twirling the wheel.
6. Lane-Keeping Assist
These clever systems use sensors or cameras to detect whether the vehicle is drifting out of the driver's chosen lane. How does it know you are not just changing lanes? Lane-Keeping Assist systems only operate during a lane change without the side indicator on, so it'll be of no use to sloppy drivers. The driver is alerted via vibrations through the steering wheel, which is enough in most cases for the driver to right the car's course. However, if the driver still doesn't correct the car, the system will apply automatic corrective steering assistance. In Ford's Lane Keeping System, standard on the , the system works at road speeds over 65km/h on multi-lane roads with clear markings.
7. Tyre Pressure Monitors
Tyre pressure monitoring has been offered on expensive performance and luxury cars for many years. However, now that the technology has become common on European small cars, it is filtering far more quickly to more accessible family cars. Some systems use a pressure sensor on each tyre valve, which transmits the tyre pressure via RFID (radio-frequency identification) to the car's on-board computer, which can tell the driver if a tyre has dropped below a pre-set pressure. The system found in Ford's Everest Titanium model works on a different principle by instead using the electronic stability control system's wheel-speed sensors to measure differences in rotational speed between each wheel.
8. Memory Keys for Teen Safety
Assigning the driver's preferences for seat, side mirror and, in some luxury cars, steering wheel position to a personal key has been possible for some years. However, the MyKey system in new Fords gives the technology a family-oriented safety twist. Parents can program a key for their kids, to disable the radio until the seatbelts are fastened, reduce maximum radio volume and, in a feature that's especially handy in the performance-focused Fiesta ST (which has the system standard), even limit top speed and disable the ability to deactivate the electronic stability control system.
9. Ford AppLink
The integration of applications is big in new cars, especially for young drivers who are more engaged with their device than their drive. Each maker has its take on the best way to deliver infotainment to vehicle occupants, including the commercial Stitcher and Pandora streaming music Apps. One example is Ford Australia's AppLink system. AppLink can deliver talk, news and sport highlights from the Fairfax Radio Network, including both live and recorded content, and it allows occupants to call the selected radio station via voice command.
This article is sponsored by Ford Australia.