Though automakers may go too far describing cars as “smartphones on wheels,” consumers who want to take their tech on the road have more options than ever before. That includes having music, places to eat, and driving directions ready for you at the tap of a button. Better yet, since we’re talking about cars, the ideal vehicle gives drivers all that and much more without taking their eyes off the road. Automakers have responded to the challenge. While you will need a luxury model to access the most space-age tech features on the market, even budget cars offer hands-free connectivity and advanced safety tech as options in 2017. We’ve all come to expect Bluetooth and voice commands, but the top tech cars go way beyond the basics. Here are 25 cars with great connectivity features for those with tech at the top of their wish list.
1. Mazda CX-5
The redesigned Mazda CX-5 punches well above its weight. Befitting its brand heritage, CX-5’s driving experience equals or bests entry-level luxury models like BMW X1 and Lexus NX 200. But CX-5’s tech game makes it a legitimate value play. With the premium package in Grand Touring trim ($32,165), you get the active display feature. In effect, it is a hologram projected on the windshield displaying your current speed, local speed limits, upcoming traffic signs, and even your next turn via the navigation system.
2. Chrysler Pacifica
In a minivan like the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica, the goal of connectivity is making the driver’s job easier while kids stay occupied in the back. Pacifica is more than up to the challenge when you opt for the UConnect Theater. The system includes two 10-inch HD touchscreens, a Blue-ray player, wireless headphones, and games for kids (or adults) to download. Up front, the 8.4-inch touchscreen and Siri Eyes Free system helps you handle whatever you need while keeping your eyes on the traffic ahead.
3. Audi A4
The Audi A4 connectivity suite begins with the largest digital instrument cluster in a class that includes Jaguar XE, BMW 328i, and Mercedes-Benz C300. This 12.3-inch display drives the car’s “virtual cockpit” right below the steering wheel. When you want, it transforms the entire area into the navigation screen. Meanwhile, the useful Apple CarPlay comes standard, and owners can add Audi connect with a WiFi hotspot for a 4G LTE connection that can power eight devices.
4. Tesla Model S P100D
Consumers have come to expect the latest tech from the Silicon Valley-based Tesla, and Model S P100D delivers. With the industry’s largest touchscreen (a whopping 17 inches), the electric sport sedan makes navigation simple and keeps drivers informed about when and where to charge. On the highway, you can take hands off the wheel and feet off the pedals to let Autopilot handle driving duties. When you need to take the wheel, the car alerts you.
5. Hyundai Elantra
Budget car shoppers might go for the base Hyundai Elantra ($17,150), but those looking for connectivity at a decent price should check on the 2017 Elantra in sport ($21,650) or limited ($22,350) trims. These models boast access to Blue Link, the feature that offers collision protection, vehicle status reports, emergency assistance, remote start or stop, and remote climate control. Apple and Android watch apps connect owners to Elantra Blue Link with even greater ease.
6. 2018 Chevrolet Equinox
2017 General Motors models made several leaps forward in tech, and the 2018 Chevy Equinox continues moving the automaker in that direction. The redesigned model features most of the latest advanced safety features like automatic braking and lane departure alert. If you prefer to feel (rather than hear) warnings, drivers can program Equinox to send vibrations to the seat when the vehicle faces danger. Meanwhile, the vehicle’s WiFi hot spot can power seven devices on the 4G network.
7. Volvo XC90
The Volvo XC90 starts with a vertical touchscreen that lets you sort through navigation options, music choices, or when connected to Apple CarPlay, texts on your phone. XC90 was the first vehicle to offer the integrated Spotify app — it later became available in the S90 sedan. To keep your options open without looking down at the screen when driving, XC90 features a heads-up display that projects directions and caller names onto the windshield while adapting to exterior lighting conditions.
8. Toyota Prius Prime
There are many things separating Toyota Prius Prime from other hybrids, and even the standard Prius. For starters, it has the capacity for driving 25 miles on electric power and charges in a regular home outlet. But its 11.4-inch touchscreen impresses on trims starting at $28,800 (tax credits of $4,500 are available on this model). Navigation systems, USB outlets, and 12V power outlets come standard in every model. In the two higher trims, owners can add a wireless smartphone charger and the heads-up display to view drive data while their eyes stay on the road.
9. 2018 Ford Mustang
While purists might balk, drivers looking for connectivity can option on the first digital display found in a Mustang in the 2018 edition. Ford’s 12-inch LCD cluster rivals Audi A4 in user-friendliness and size. You can customize the layout so you focus on speed, or other data like lap times when you take it to the track. The ’18 Mustang is easily the most connected model to date. Moreover, since the V6 model is no longer available, every Mustang is now a bona fide performance vehicle.
10. 2018 Honda Odyssey
Once Chrysler raised the minivan bar with Pacifica, it was only a matter of time before Honda responded, and the 2018 Odyssey does just that. Starting in mid-2017, consumers have access to this high-tech minivan featuring a ceiling camera and other controls to keep an eye on activity in the back seats. Meanwhile, the cabin control allows everyone to cue up playlists, change the temperature settings, or add an address to navigation settings.
11. Rolls Royce Wraith
For cars that start at $300,000, you tend to expect a lot, and Rolls Royce Wraith delivers. Billed as the Rolls people drive (as opposed to riding along in the back seat), its most remarkable feature is the satellite-assisted transmission. Instead of concerning yourself with shifting into the proper gear depending on the situation, Wraith’s GPS system reads the terrain on your route and selects the appropriate gear. It’s next-level connectivity for the 1%, and as impressive as tech features come.
12. Lexus RX
To be fair, the tech options available in the Lexus RX 350 F Sport deserve a separate discussion, but we’ll attempt a summary here. This model offers a digital instrument cluster, the brand’s Enform app suite, a 12.3-inch high-resolution split-screen media display, and standard Siri Eyes Free. For those who plan on traveling with the kids frequently, the dual-screen rear entertainment setup is worthy of your consideration. Remote starting and vehicle diagnostic checks also come standard.
13. BMW 5 Series
It may look like your average, handsome BMW sedan, but inside the cabin the all-new 5 Series features big tech upgrades for 2017. The full-color heads-up display is larger than earlier versions, the voice control system got an update, and a new message dictation system allows drivers to draft ideas on the go. Meanwhile, predictive parking and booking services take the hassle out of finding a spot once you arrive at a destination. Finally, in a feature typically reserved for minivans and SUVs, the 5 Series offers an optional dual-screen entertainment system for the back seats.
14. Chevrolet Corvette Z06
Corvettes always projected more elegance than brutish American muscle cars, but the 2017 Z06 ‘Vette takes technological sophistication to another dimension. Like other plugged in ’17 GM models, it features the OnStar built-in 4G LTE hotspot, Chevy’s MyLink app suite, and a heads-up display. For even more tech, opt for the performance data recorder that helps you improve times at the track and choose “valet mode” to run the video camera and collect data when someone else is driving your Z06.
15. Mercedes S-Class Cabriolet
The Mercedes-Benz S-Class sedan has pioneered many safety and tech features over the years. In the 1970s it was the first vehicle with antilock brake systems (ABS). In the 1990s, it was already featuring voice-activated phone prompts. These days, the S-Class is as advanced as ever, but the 2017 S-Class Cabriolet may sport the most cutting-edge tech of all. It features roll bars that pop out when sensors identify the danger. Oh, and when you get chilly while riding with the top down, this car’s “Airscarf” sends warm air out of the headrest.
16. Buick Lacrosse
Available tech in the 2017 Buick lineup continues the brand’s march away from its stuffy past image. The eight-inch IntelliLink touch screen lets you connect with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay while the 4G LTE WiFi hotspot supplies bandwidth for eight devices. To keep streaming without reserve, Buick offers unlimited in-car data packages for $20 a month.
17. Acura MDX
To keep 41 options from overwhelming drivers and passengers, Acura shrunk the number to nine categories you can access from the multi-use display console inside the 2017 MDX. Siri Eyes Free, integrated Pandora, and full iPhone compatibility keeps your eyes on the road. In the back seat, kids can enjoy the dual-screen rear entertainment system that comes with wireless headphones and sunscreens to block the glare on bright days.
18. Range Rover Evoque
This Range Rover is made for the city and features adaptive dynamics for a smooth driving experience. On the connectivity front, Land Rover’s InControl system makes it easy to integrate apps from your smartphone and run them on the in-car WiFi. Using the remote and protect features, you can check fuel levels and locate your vehicle in a large parking lot. Should you need roadside assistance, the service provider will have your car’s diagnostic report upon arrival.
19. Honda Accord Hybrid
Starting below $30,000, the 2017 Honda Accord Hybrid will not flash the tech features of a luxury car, but it comes close. The safety suite comes standard in all trims, meaning that adaptive cruise control, lane assist, and forward collision warning, among other features, are included. Yet maybe its best feature is the multi-angle rearview camera. We have found standard cameras hard to read in other vehicles, and the new ’17 Accord Hybrid’s camera offers three views, including overhead, to neutralize blind spots.
20. Chevrolet Bolt EV
In many ways, the Chevy Bolt EV is a tech showcase for GM. The all-electric hatch sports the longest driving range of an EV below $40,000, achieves 128 mpg in city driving, and comes standard with programmable charge control. However, the premier trim raises the stakes for Bolt. It features a rear camera mirror with auto dimming, allowing drivers to see behind them at eye level. Another superior feature is the surround view camera that fully erases blind spots.
21. Porsche 911
Porsche 911 Carrera’s communication management system has everything you would expect in a vehicle with a six-figure price tag. In a nod to the average age of its consumers, it even has a CD player. However, Porsche Connect Plus makes it special. Besides offering high-speed internet service, Porsche owners in China and Japan have access to concierge service from the vehicle. North American drivers will have to settle for real-time traffic updates.
22. 2018 Jaguar XE
For 2018, Jaguar took XE sport sedan tech to another level. You can set the 12-inch interactive display to 3D map mode and run the heads-up display to avoid looking away when checking speed or directions. As in Range Rovers, the XE runs InControl apps on the 10-inch touchscreen. If you add the WiFi hotspot to the list of features, you can run up to eight wireless devices on the signal.
23. Kia K900
The Kia K900 has the safety tech to match its luxury profile. Among this model’s notable features, advanced smart cruise control sets a distance for your car to keep from the vehicle ahead. On the connectivity front, one K900 highlight is the Lexicon surround sound system. Working with a 900-watt amplifier and 17 speakers, drivers are certain to hear their text readouts and phone conversations loud and clear. A customizable heads-up display keeps your eyes on the road.
24. Genesis G90
Like the K900 luxury cruiser by Kia, the Genesis high-end sedan goes big on standard safety equipment and connection tech in its effort to compete. A 12-inch navigation screen lets Genesis G90 drivers set the destination while the heads-up display makes it easy to reach without distraction. As far as seeing around corners, G90 does its best with a forward-view cornering camera that assists safety sensors in passenger protection.
25. GMC Sierra Denali
While a pickup truck is built for performance first and comfort second, GMC Sierra Denali does a good job catering to both. The ’17 Denali sports an 8-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth, MyMedia to connect to your libraries, and voice commands. A wireless charger and available 4G WiFi hotspot can keep a team working on projects and answering emails while they ride along. Remote start and climate control is also an option in this Sierra. Check out Autos Cheat Sheet on Facebook