High-tech car features that may make life easier and save lives

Consumer Reports has listed several cool features you can now get on vehicles.

There was a time when intermittent windshield wipers and speed control (now more commonly known as cruise control) were considered cutting-edge features to have in a car. Since that time, technology has advanced tremendously, and now, new high-tech systems — not yet known to the average Joe or Jane — are popping up in vehicles from every carmaker.

Consumer Reports has listed several vehicle features that can make your life easier — and maybe even save your life.

Take for example, the Easy-Fill Tire Alert system that’s available in several Nissan and Infiniti models. Gone are the days of trying to read that air pressure gauge and manually scanning to see if each tire looks balanced. This system can detect how much air needs to be added or let out and alert you with the chirp of a horn.

BMW and Ford have made your trip to the grocery store a little easier to handle, especially if you have your hands full. With a helpful new system, a simple swing of the foot under the rear bumper and trunk lid results in the trunk door opening automatically. This feature does require the car to have a keyless-entry system, but it’s definitely something worth considering for convenience’s sake.

For many consumers, a little peace and quiet can go a long way. It's easy to see why people would welcome the active noise cancellation feature that can be found in a number of Acura, Chevrolet, Honda and Ford models. This system uses microphones to detect certain sound waves produced by road or engine noise, and then generates an opposing audio signal through the speakers to cancel out the noise.

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Mercedes-Benz and Subaru have taken road safety to a whole new level. For the sleep-deprived or fatigued driver, Mercedes-Benz’s Attention Assist System will monitor driving behavior. From the duration of time spent driving to erratic steering and infrequent use of the car’s controls and switches, the system may conclude the driver is not up to par and will suggest that a break is in order. Similarly, Subaru's Lane Sway Warning System detects if the vehicle is drifting out of its lane by sounding a warning to the driver..

Speaking of safety, airbags can be found in most modern vehicles, but now Ford has gone one step further by offering mini airbags stitched inside rear seatbelts' webbing. The extra width helps spread the force of an impact on a passenger’s body, which may help reduce neck and chest injuries. This feature is available now on the Explorer and Flex SUVs.

As engineers and researchers work on the next technological breakthrough, carmakers will continue to push for that next feature that may take the “driver” out of driving. With the self-parking feature already available and the self-driving car in the works, one can only wonder how much longer it will be before the flying car becomes a daily commuter.

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