It’s a bit surprising that automakers tend to add innovative tech features to their lowest-priced cars. After all, it’s common for a $80,000 business sedan like a BMW or Mercedes-Benz to have adaptive cruise control and side-imaging cameras to help you park. Yet, when Audi outfitted their first car with a high-speed 4G LTE hotspot, they picked the A3. And, later this summer, the first car to sport the new Sync 3 voice-control and touchscreen tech will be a 2016 Ford Fiesta compact car. These small cars are more affordable, yet appeal to a wider tech-savvy audience.
1. 2016 Ford Fiesta ($TBD)
Here’s the small car to buy this summer. It’s the first Ford (along with the Escape) that will use Sync 3, the much advanced voice-activated service and touchscreen. You can swipe through contact lists and drag to zoom in easily on a map to get directions. Voice searches will be much more reliable and AI-driven.
2. 2015 Nissan Versa Note SL ($18,660)
The base model for this compact car costs just $14,190. Yet, the slightly more expensive SL model includes an around-view camera that you might normally expect in an Infiniti. Four cameras positioned on the side, front, and back give you a 360-degree view.
3. 2015 Kia Soul EV ($33,700)
It’s easy to call the Kia Soul EV one of the most high-tech small cars you’ll find. You can expect about 93 miles of power per charge thanks to a 27kWh lithium battery. The UVO app shows current charge state remotely. A unique “driver only” climate setting saves power.
4. 2015 Chevy Spark ($13,095)
Keep an eye on the Spark. It has several “big car” tech features like blind-spot and lane departure warnings. For 2016, it’s one of the lowest priced cars that will support either Apple CarPlay or Android Auto for integration with your smartphone.
5. 2015 Audi A3 ($29,900)
The A3 is one of the most high-tech small cars you’ll find, thanks to the 4G LTE service which acts as a hotspot for anyone using a mobile device. The recently released turbo-diesel version of this car has another tech innovation: driving about 600 miles before you need to refuel.
6. 2015 VW Golf GTI ($24,785)
The popular GTI is fun to drive; several trim levels have a turbo-charged engine for peppy acceleration. For the tech savvy, check into the Car-Net service. You can receive text alerts when the car goes outside of a set region or exceeds the speed limit.
7. Lexus IS 350 F ($40,065)
This sporty luxury car is a bit spendier than other small cars, but it has a V6 engine at 306-horsepower. An app called Enform Remote tells you if someone in your family (or a friend) has driven too many miles or exceeded the speed limit.
8. 2015 Dodge Dart ($16,495)
The best feature on this compact but sporty car is the massive 8.4-inch touchscreen. It lets you zoom in on a destination and actually see how that pizza place is situated at the intersection without squinting. The screen is responsive and crisp enough to avoid distracted driving problems.
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