8 brilliant technical achievements in cars and trucks for 2015

These car tech advancements show how A.I., safety features, smartphone syncing, and entertainment are evolving.

Want to keep track of how technology is advancing? Just get behind the wheel. These cars and trucks use technology to make driving easier and safer. They show how interfaces in cars are becoming more intuitive and sync to your smartphone, but also use artificial intelligence to maintain speed and steer automatically as you drive on the highway.

1. 2016 Volvo XC90 with Pilot Assist

It only runs in very specific situations -- at slow speeds in stop and go traffic on a highway -- but Pilot Assist is an engineering milestone. The car adjusts speed and steering based on the car in front of you, mimicking the movements so you can go hands- and feet-free.

2. 2016 Ford Escape with Sync 3

Ford made a dramatic step forward with Sync 3, which now uses a much more intuitive and cleaner interface that previous versions. You can swipe through contacts as though you are on an iPad, and all of the functions are shown in one row of icons.

3. 2015 Tesla Model S Autopilot

There’s no question Tesla is leading the charge to autonomous driving. Autopilot debuted as a downloadable software path for current Model S owners. It allows the car to handle steering and speed on the highway, although it’s not fully autonomous on city streets.

4. 2016 Cadillac CTS with Apple CarPlay

One of the first cars to support the syncing service from Apple, the CTS shows features from your iPhone like your music playlist and maps. Most importantly, a long-press on the voice button takes you to Siri. You can ask for directions to a location and then see the navigation much faster.

5. 2016 Hyundai Sonata with Android Auto

Hyundai beat everyone to the punch by introducing the Sonata crossover as the first vehicle to support Android Auto. The biggest advancement has to do with voice commands. You can talk to Google in a conversational way, asking for directions or about weather conditions.

6. 2016 Ford F-150 with Pro Backup Assist

This ingenious tech makes backing up with a trailer much easier. You use a knob in the cab to steer the truck. The F-150 handles the speed and steering for you. Because of this, the truck won’t let you steer too abruptly or sharply and makes the process smoother.

7. 2016 Audi TT virtual cockpit

This amazing tech shows Google Earth in the instrument cluster (the one behind the steering wheel). As you drive, you can see a virtual road in 3D that highlights upcoming turns. This is particularly useful at night or on a rainy/snowy day.

8. 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee with Uconnect

Jeep (and Chrysler) improved their Uconnect platform in 2015. They added a feature called Do Not Disturb which suppresses incoming calls and texts; if you enable it, you can also use an automatic text message replay that you are busy and not taking calls.

Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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