SANTA MONICA, California — The latest advanced automotive technology, once exclusively the domain of high-end cars, is rapidly filtering down to lower-cost models.
For example, when Chevrolet decided to add Google's Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility to 14 vehicles for 2016, it didn't just make in-car connectivity a feature in models like the Corvette and Impala but also in its more modestly priced cars, such as the midsize Malibu and the compact Cruze.
And when Ford introduced Sync 3, the latest version of its communication and entertainment system, the technology was made available on the 2016 Escape compact SUV and the Fiesta sedan and hatchback, as well as larger and pricier models, like the Taurus and Explorer.
And it's not just infotainment features that have made their way to smaller and lower-priced vehicles. Safety technology, too, has rapidly disbursed throughout model lineups.
Toyota's Safety Sense P package — with features like Pre-Collision Avoidance, Lane-Departure Alert, Pedestrian Detection, and Dynamic Radar Cruise Control — didn't just make an appearance on the Toyota Avalon premium sedan and the Land Cruiser SUV, it's also available on the 2016 Toyota Prius hybrid and the RAV4 compact SUV.
Backup cameras, introduced to the U.S. in 2002 on the Infiniti Q45 luxury sedan, are now becoming extremely common.
As previously reported by Edmunds, rearview cameras are standard equipment on about half the cars sold in the U.S. today, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has mandated that they come standard on all light vehicles by 2018.
Some of the latest safety technology making its way down the automotive food chain includes dynamic bending headlights.
While fixed headlights shine straight ahead, regardless of a vehicle's direction, the dynamic version use sensors to determine speed, steering input and other factors and then automatically adjust for road conditions and direction of travel.
While these high-tech headlights first appeared on such upper-end models as the Porsche Cayenne, Kia K900 and Lexus RX, they will be an optional feature on the affordable 2017 Hyundai Elantra, scheduled to arrive at dealerships in early 2016.
In light of the strides made so far, it's not a stretch to assume we'll be seeing even more advanced features like gesture-control, vehicle-to-vehicle communication, head-up displays and — eventually — full vehicle autonomy making their way to even entry-level models.
Edmunds says: Expect this trend to continue as automakers strive to win the hearts and wallets of car shoppers in even the most modest of vehicle categories.