Amidst the abundant, ubiquitous technology that seems to surround us at every turn, it’s no surprise that even the handy, reliable car is undergoing transformations and rapid advancements. Some of these things are significant new safety features that could save your life, or that of your passengers, on your next road trip; others are just super cool gadgets and gizmos that make the journey that much more fun.
Either way, enjoy our round-up of eight crazy car features that could revolutionise your next road trip!
In-car coffee maker
Most road trip drivers will agree that a regular dose of caffeine is a necessary – even mandatory – requirement on the road. Now there are a range of products on the market that can help you save time and money on your road trip coffees: portable coffee machines, similar to high-tech thermos, mean you can brew up your next caffeine hit on the go, and from the comfort of the passenger seat.
Convertible bed seats
Ahh, imagine the savings you’d make on accommodation if you could convert the seats in your car into beds come nighttime. In fact, this one isn’t as farfetched as it seems, with the super-configurable SUV, the Honda Element, boasting the impressive talent of switching its seats into two long, thin beds when they’re folded backwards. Impressive, huh?
The new Hyundai Equus’ boasts top-quality rear seats that can be heated, cooled, reclined and even, yes, you read right, used to massage your rear passengers’ weary backs! The in-built massage function on these seats will soothe away those stress knots in no time, making for a supremely comfortable driving experience.
Self-parking is so common these days that it can be easy to forget how Jeston-esque it really is: a car that can park itself?! Taking it to the next level, Volvo’s new Pedestrian Detection System is the latest safety advancement enabling the car itself to warn the driver if a passenger is in the way. In addition to detecting the wandering walker, this system uses a radar and rear-view mirror camera to automatically activate the car’s brake. Handy – and potentially life-saving.
Inflatable rear seat belts
You’ll shake your head and wonder how no one thought of this important new safety feature before: Ford’s impressive inflatable seat belts really perfect rear passenger safety, inflating immediately in the event of a crash. This cushions the impact throughout the body, unlike conventional seat belts, which is especially important for super young or elderly passengers who are more vulnerable to head and neck injuries in car crashes.
We’re happy to announce that this one isn’t as farfetched as it sounds; in fact, the BMW 7-Series Sedan includes infrared night vision, using a camera in the front bumper that can detect movement and, hence, people up to 300 feet ahead. Anything detected is then projected onto the navigation screen, helping to alert the driver to potential dangers and risks up ahead, and potentially cutting your reaction time significantly. Sci-fi and super safe.
Social networking on the go
MINI drivers with iPhones have the exciting prospect of maintaining their social networks and social media on the run. Using USB connections, hi-res display and the MINI joystick, you can receive Facebook and Twitter posts inside your car, and even access Google’s local search, all sent to your car’s display screen. Given the safety threats of using your phone while driving, we advise that this nifty feature is probably best for passengers, however.
Heated steering wheel
Those embarking on a winter road trip will find warmth and comfort in the recent innovation of a heated, leather-wrapped steering wheel. This revolutionary feature was introduced in the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland Summit, warming hearts – and cold hands! – all around the world.