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Buying & Leasing a Car

Hot Trends in 2007 Cars

The latest technology in safety and entertainment on the road.

Tech for distracted drivers

If inattention while driving ever leads to close calls, two new systems appearing on higher-priced cars can help. Adaptive cruise control uses lasers or radar to maintain a safe following distance. Most systems operate above 20 miles per hour, but the Audi Q7's works in stop-and-go traffic and will actually stop the car. And the newest lane-departure warning systems -- such as those on Audi's Q7 and Volvo's S80 -- warn you if a car is in your blind spot as you move over.

Help for the parking impaired

A lot of higher-end vehicles have systems that beep when you get too close to another car, and some even have rear back-up cameras with on-screen, computer-generated tire tracks that help guide you into a space. But the new Lexus LS 460 is the first car sold in the U.S. to actually parallel-park itself. Pull in front of a spot, push a couple of buttons on the screen and put your hands in the air -- the car does the steering for you. All you do is apply the brake. It can back into a mall spot, too.

iPods to go

Tired of using a store-bought gizmo to connect your iPod to your car stereo? No worries. About 70% of 2007 models let you plug in iPods directly. But the standard connection in most models is a cheap jack. That means you must control the music from your iPod, which is a hassle if you're trying to steer at the same time. Many carmakers offer integrated systems that let you control the iPod through your audio-system controls, but that option will set you back about $200.

Safety strides

Adding electronic stability control to every new car could save 10,000 lives a year, according to a recent study. That was enough to prompt the feds to propose requiring the technology, which uses a car's anti-lock braking system to prevent skids, on all vehicles by the 2012 model year. More than 150 2007 models -- mainly SUVs and high-priced cars -- already offer the safety feature as standard equipment. Side and side-curtain airbags are even more prevalent, showing up on even the least expensive vehicles.