Hooniverse Asks – What New Car Tech Gives You Wood?

Oh lord, won't you buy me a mer-ced-es benz, one with a phone so I can call all my friends. . .

CES has been in full swing this past week, and in fact Alex is currently there getting geeky with all the gadgets. While we may not be too interested in the Polar Bear TV (no wonder the damn things are going extinct), or ladies’ high heels with built-in speakers, there’s also a lot of car-related crap at the show, including GM’s EN-V electric Cylon helmet car, and a way to tune your car from an iPad.

If you’ve been following CES (thanks for all the links, Engadget) this past week then you may have seen some of this stuff, or maybe you just like to geek out in the automotive aisle at the Walmarts, where they have all kinds of electric air fresheners and cell phone holders that give you a free hand for your super-sized diet soda. Alex will have some news from the show a little later this week, but for now, have you seen anything that really got your geek squad mobilized?
Image source: [epicpetersautos.com]

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99 responses to “Hooniverse Asks – What New Car Tech Gives You Wood?”

  1. OA5599 Avatar

    I don't buy new cars, so don't really pay much attention to new-car tech. I do tend to buy used cars that were equipped with the period-correct toys, though.

  2. Ryans92L Avatar

    This photo is the dawn of cellphone EVIL!

    1. mdharrell Avatar

      Agreed. Couldn't have said it better myself.

  3. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
    Peter Tanshanomi

    Multi-mode "drive-by-wire" engine management.
    Haven't experienced it on a car yet, but the tri-mode engine mapping on the Aprilia Dorsoduro is eminently wantable.
    And, just because I mentioned the Dorsoduro, let's have a photo of it. Not because you can see the multi-mode engine mapping, just because it's so darn pretty:
    <img src="http://cdnmedia.endeavorsuite.com/images/catalogs/1497/products/detail/10f2b69a-f40c-4de3-b970-919328235d71.jpg&quot; width="500">

    1. joshuman Avatar

      Normally I think all rear license plate plasticy holder thingys should be cut off with a sawzall. That one on the Dorsoduro looks like it might sting.

      1. B72 Avatar

        It looks like an upside down hitch ball. You could flip a utility trailer upside down and drag it around while wearing a black turtleneck and shouting about nihilism.

        1. mdharrell Avatar

          Hell, now I want one.

          1. packratmatt Avatar

            Funny, the headlight looks kind of like Optimus Prime.

  4. SSurfer321 Avatar

    I don't know if it was shown at CES but I do like the new Owner's Manuals coming on Ipads.
    The only fatal flaw I see is dead Ipad batter + dead car battery = no owner's manual.

    1. FЯeeMan Avatar

      The other fatal flaw is – I don't own an iPad.
      Unless, of course, you mean that there's an iPad in the glove box, in which case, yeah, I guess that's OKish

      1. skitter Avatar

        I'd be even madder paying that much and not even getting the full factory service manual.

      2. SSurfer321 Avatar

        yes, Ipad is included.

  5. Froggmann_ Avatar

    Rocket launchers for commutes like this:
    <img src="http://i133.photobucket.com/albums/q53/Froggmann/Misc/Phone/18ce88ea.jpg&quot; width=600 /img">

    1. Maxichamp Avatar

      Ah, Orange County traffic…

    2. FЯeeMan Avatar

      Big, beat old truck + snow blade in July = lots of room on the highway!

    3. chrystlubitshi Avatar

      sebring seeking rocket launchers? i endorse this idea.

      1. tonyola Avatar

        But try to spare the Acura RSX and give the Mustang the benefit of the doubt – it might be a 2011.

        1. chrystlubitshi Avatar

          yes yes, i have nothing against either of those vehicles…. and honestly most vehicles out there would need to be safe.. so.. umm.. need to perfect the size/shape of the disabling charge so as not to harm anyone/anything.. just the specific offending vehicle…

          1. highmileage_v1 Avatar

            Bah. '69 Imperial with a railway tie bolted to either bumper. Big, powerful and expendable. Mind you, a couple of TOWs might help…

  6. tonyola Avatar

    So Velma moved to Germany and got a job as an executive secretary? By the way, I hope she parks before picking up the handset and uses that horrible-located dial.
    The new (at least recent) car tech that excites me is the Aux In on stereos. I can now take my entire music collection along with me on an iPod.

    1. chrystlubitshi Avatar

      i was incredibly happy when aftermarket head units gained the ability to read data discs containing MP3s… one can fit a sh*t ton of mp3s on a disk (in decent quality)… and some stereos actually have a decently easy to use interface as far as directory navigation goes… much better (in my opinion) than buying the stereo.. then buying the "ipod like device" (mp3 player) and then buying a specialized cable to be able to control it through the head unit… (and on and on..)
      in short. yes, handy.

  7. muthalovin Avatar

    I saw a head unit that you could slap your iPhone into (like the faceplate). It was a dock that basically let your iPhone be your deck.
    Well, that is pretty fancy, but it does not give me wood.
    I can live without a lot of fancy tech that would probably kill me and several pedestrians. I will stick with my CD player, 5 speed and Flowmaster exhaust. That is about all the technology I can handle.

    1. chrystlubitshi Avatar

      i think this may be what you're talking about (i've seen a couple of them… the other one was cooler.. but i'm too busy slacking at work to search for the other…)
      still.. no desire to own an iphone..

        1. chrystlubitshi Avatar

          ahh.. yes.. that'd be the other one i was thinking of… and yeah… never heard of them (oxygen audio) either… but, for those iphone enthusiasts out there… possibly a good idea (i am guessing that they work just as well with ipod touch models too.. which would make it that much more of a feasible product…)

    2. retro Avatar

      Who would bother with an iphone head unit when you could have this thing in your dash?
      <img src="http://ploader.net/files/02ab11d35f02ae22cd3aacf16d260ecd.jpg"&gt;

      1. muthalovin Avatar

        Wow, that is, uh, retro.
        Awwww YEAH!

      2. tonyola Avatar

        A $750 mp3 player? You don't need tubes unless:
        1. You're a guitar player; or,
        2. You masturbate frequently to Absolute Sound magazine.
        Welcome to the late 20th century and solid state.

        1. mdharrell Avatar

          With the obvious exception of nixie tubes, yes? Despite their recent trendiness, those can never go out of style.

        2. ZomBee Racer Avatar

          You don't need tasty food either. Beans and rice will keep you alive.
          Lest you be caught masturbating to Bacon Lovers quarterly.

          1. tonyola Avatar

            But bacon isn't an overpriced style item last time I checked.

          2. mdharrell Avatar

            True. I've seen expensive bacon but never have I seen overpriced bacon.

          3. Tim Odell Avatar
            Tim Odell

            I've been told Bacon has the lowest price elasticity of demand of any food item. People buy it, no matter the cost. And, off hand I really can't tell you what bacon costs, but that I just buy it when "required".

          4. dead_elvis Avatar

            I loves me some bacon – I know most people love bacon, but I'd say I'm approaching bacon fanaticism – and while this place <a href="http://(http://www.woolypigs.com/index.html)” target=”_blank”>(http://www.woolypigs.com/index.html) makes utterly transcendent bacon, I couldn't justify $22/lb. They used to sell it at the farmers' markets in Seattle, and the evil bastards would cook a bunch of it in an electric frying pan so the unsuspecting & easily addicted could have that first taste for free….
            /shakes fist angrily while dreaming of Mangalitsa bacon

      3. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
        Peter Tanshanomi

        Yea, you really need tiny VU needles to watch while you're driving.

        1. tonyola Avatar

          Besides, you don't need VU meters unless you're actually recording.

      4. Smells_Homeless Avatar

        I know it's kinda silly, but that thing shoots my "Want-O-Meter" to the peg. What car would it fit in with though? Maybe a Spyker.

  8. Syrax Avatar

    <img src="http://www.ubergizmo.com/photos/2008/12/splitview-command.jpg"/&gt;
    That Splitview thingy is quite cool. I've seen it personally in the new Range Rover, but Jags and Benzes have them too.

  9. Feds_II Avatar

    I'm going to go with EcoBoost, and other such advanced engine controls.
    Think about it: the F150 with the highest tow and haul ratings ALSO has the smallest engine, and the 2nd best fuel efficiency. That is some kickass future tech right there.
    On a pure gadgetry front: the aftermarket decks with touchscreen nav and bluetooth (on top of all the other aux in/sim card/etc frufru) do it for me. That way, you can take your boring old daily driver, and update it with right-now features, without fumbling for 100 different windshield suction cups and 12v adapters.

    1. skitter Avatar

      Direct injection is so dreamy….

    2. Tim Odell Avatar
      Tim Odell

      +1 to modern engine management. Good to see MEs and EEs earning their pay.
      Completely variable valve timing and lift, spark (timing, # of fires and voltages), fuel delivery, and turbo boost…
      The crazy thing to think about is what kids these days will be doing to tune such motors what "these days" is 15 years from now. Think about the aftermarket engine management options available today for the EFI of the 90s and early 00s, then map that forward…

      1. Feds_II Avatar

        We haven't got it in North America yet, but I am very much looking forward to Fiat's MultiAir. THROTTLE-LESS spark engine! Crazy!

        1. Tim Odell Avatar
          Tim Odell

          Current BMWs have that as well.
          They control "throttle" through a combination of spark and valves.
          It's worth noting that a number of very very early engines (like the model T's) worked without a throttle.

          1. discontinuuity Avatar

            I'm pretty sure Model T's had a throttle, it was just a lever on the steering wheel.

          2. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
            Peter Tanshanomi

            I need one of those levers. My spark is so retarded.

          3. zsm Avatar

            The BMW Valvetronic system has a butterfly valve still. When you start the engine it's partially closed so you get engine vacuum. Then when everything gets going the throttle opens and there is a vacuum pump for making engine vacuum. The throttle then controls the intake valves.

  10. RichardKopf Avatar

    The touchscreen in a Buick Reatta.
    I'm sorry. Still gives me wood.

  11. tiberiusẅisë Avatar

    I know its far from high tech but heated seats are so nice here in the northeast this time of year.

    1. Tim Odell Avatar
      Tim Odell

      Cooled seats are far better.

      1. Mr_Biggles Avatar

        They have those? That would be cool.
        If I ever bought a new car (hahaha), I would drop the buck for leather seats. We've had them in some past cars and I find they are so much easier to keep clean with dogs and kids…and me…making use of them. But they're damn cold in winter, which we've solved with heating, but also ass-burnin' and -sweatin' hot in summer. I didn't know you could get cooled ones.

        1. engineerd Avatar

          I worked with a Visteon engineer that was working on the cooled seats back in the early 00s. He said they had a test vehicle with them out in Arizona in the middle of summer and though they would be great, but they just made everyone have to pee. Obviously, the design was darn well perfected because the cooled seats in my in-laws' Lincoln MKZ are perfect on hot days.

          1. Mr_Biggles Avatar

            And they don't have to stop more often to pee?

          2. Clashtastic Avatar

            My dad had a first Gen Navigator wayyy back in the day as a company car one summer and heated and cooled seats, in the first and second row were clutch. I don't remember them making any one of us have to pee though…

        2. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
          Peter Tanshanomi

          I know the Lincoln Navigator is available with cooled seats.

          1. chrystlubitshi Avatar

            my parents had a '98 navi with the cooled seats… and they were nice.

      2. Deartháir Avatar

        Frankie the Lincoln has both heated and cooled seats, and he's rapidly taking on the role of road-trip car just for that reason. All our cars have at least heated seats — that's a requirement in Canada! — but only Frankie has both heated and cooled.
        And they're GLORIOUS.

      3. BЯдΖǐL-ЯЄРΘЯΤЄЯ Avatar

        I need cooled seats in my Opala (no airco in Brazil and vynil seats are no good combo over here)

    2. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
      Peter Tanshanomi

      I actually get more excited over heated steering wheels than seats. I find a long, insulated coat that covers my butt less bothersome while driving than wearing a pair of fat gloves. And the steel core of a steering wheel stays perceptibly colder longer than the fabric and foam in a seat does.

      1. Tim Odell Avatar
        Tim Odell

        I believe there are a few cars with heated and cooled wheels.
        In case it's not obvious, getting to touch cool things is a nice feature in southern California.

  12. Tim Odell Avatar
    Tim Odell

    Tech that's actually worth it to me:
    Radar/Laser/Whatever cruise control that you can set to your desired speed, but will hang back behind slower traffic.
    Cooled seats.
    Nav with traffic and (re-)routing based on traffic
    Tech that there's no longer and excuse not to have:
    One-touch up and down windows on all 4. Properly executed so half-way on the switch is normal and a full-push/pull is one-touch.
    Seats with:
    -Independent seat-bottom adjustment
    -Rib bolsters
    -Thigh bolsters
    -Lumbar adjustment in both in/out and up/down directions.
    Does anyone make auto-dimming side mirrors? Everything has the auto-dim center mirror, which I don't need b/c my back window is tinted. It's incredibly painful when some bastard's HIDs are blasting right through my side window.

    1. OA5599 Avatar

      My Jeep ZJ had auto-dim on the rearview and driver's side-view mirror. The electrochromatic stuff leaked out of the side mirror about 5 years ago, though, so now it just works like a normal mirror. It took about six weeks between when I noticed the leak starting and when it got all the way to the bottom, and during that time only the bottom portion of the mirror dimmed.

      1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
        Peter Tanshanomi

        My wife had several Buicks with auto-dimming mirrors. They eventually all just stayed a semi-dimmed greenish-brown color.

    2. engineerd Avatar

      I'm with you on all of those.
      Lexus (IIRC) and BMW both have auto-dimming side mirrors. The only reason I can think of for why they aren't more common is cost (both install and replacement). Your side mirrors are much more likely to get smashed by the lady pushing a shopping cart while talking on the phone oblivious to the rest of the world in parking lots than your center mirror.

      1. Mr_Biggles Avatar

        I have some good battle scars on the passenger mirror on our SUV that have nothing to do with the old lady. Many of the streets in our neighbourhood are one way and really narrow with parking on the left side. It's very common (and one of my pet peeves) when some asshat parks on the sidewalk on the other side instead of walking 6 car lengths from an empty spot. So far my right side mirror has always swung in on impact faster than his can swing out. Still, I'm not sure the dimming stuff would have survived.

      2. Deartháir Avatar

        Lynn's Yoda has those, and they are pretty handy. Would be far more useful on the Lincoln though, as her truck is above where most headlights are pointing, whereas the Lincoln is right at the level most trucks headlights are pointing at.

    3. tonyola Avatar

      I would never buy a car with optional built-in navigation. First, it's silly expensive. Second, it dates faster than anything else on the car. If I need nav, I'll get a Garmin or something similar for a fraction of the option cost. Even those are going to fade out in favor of phone/tablet apps.

      1. Tim Odell Avatar
        Tim Odell

        I agree that the price and un-future-proof-ness of OEM nav are big detractors, but I really really hate having to dick around with extra gizmos with cords on my console or dash.
        If I actually had a smartphone, I'd consider just rocking an app+mount solution, as I'm likely already carrying it and connecting it to the car. That said, I'd be wary of something like they're talking about above, as now you can't upgrade your phone without worrying about your head unit. That is, unless they were smart enough to make the dock modular so as to accommodate future phones.

        1. engineerd Avatar

          That's probably the greatest thing about SYNC. Microsoft and Ford are taking full advantage of the fact that people upgrade their cell phone before their car. Rather than having all the hardware and applications reside in the car, they reside in the phone, then they only have to be able to interface to them from the car.

        2. buzzboy7 Avatar

          Your folding map has a bunch of extra gizmos and cords? I've never had that problem 😉

          1. mdharrell Avatar

            The gizmos are romers and map measures. Quite useful for certain types of rallying. Sometimes cords are handy, too.
            <img src="http://www.claritas-online.co.uk/images/compasses/imperial_romer.jpg&quot; width="300">
            <img src="http://www.claritas-online.co.uk/images/map_measures/map_measures.jpg&quot; width="300">

      2. Maymar Avatar

        I imagine the growing number of integrated media systems will help drive down the cost of integrated GPS – once you've got a screen in the dash to display your mp3s/nanny leaf to keep you driving economically/drunken pictures from last night, the navigation isn't that big of a step. IIRC, nav is something like a $200 option on the new Grand Cherokee (partially because of uConnect, and partially because it's licensed from Garmin).

    4. chrystlubitshi Avatar

      '08 chrysler town and country (company vehicle) has an auto-tint side driver's mirror
      so.. i'm sure it was offered on other products of the same parent company

    5. fede6882 Avatar

      In the sad and little country where i live, a 95 fiat uno cs (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fiat_Uno#Brazil) 1.3L, about 60 hp, no torque, no radio, no electric windows, no a/c, no power steering, no adjustable steering (and a lot of other no have) and 110000 kilometers will cost you around 5500-6000 us dollars. so, really, anything is welcome, but i would say adjustable steering, the seats you describe, electric windows, a/c, and an engine with three figures power.
      a '06 peugeot with those, and some other little things will be like 16000-17000…
      we have no le mons here, as 500 won't get you a complete car, let alone running…

      1. Tim Odell Avatar
        Tim Odell

        Wow…um…bummer, man.
        That said, it's still damn near impossible to get a running car for $500. That's kinda the trick with LeMons…find something that's not running but that you're pretty sure you know how to fix. Extra points for doing so in the driveway of the place you're buying it.

  13. optflv Avatar

    I'm just going to geek out and say piezo injectors. On my OM642 equipped Jeep, it can have up to 7 (!!) injection events per power stroke. That's amazing. That level of control was beyond imagination just a decade ago, and opens up the world of refined direct-injection motors with high compression, efficiency, power, and refinement. It's the future!
    The rest of in-car tech these days seems to center around compensating for shitty driving. (Lane departure warnings, etc.) Boooooring.

  14. mdharrell Avatar

    It's not exactly new tech, but this antique aftermarket accessory ashtray will give anyone wood:
    <img src="http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5241/5342984251_e8b7e021e0.jpg&quot; width="450">

  15. retro Avatar

    My latest car has electric windows.
    Seriously. You just press a button. Not really sure how useful it is, but it's pretty amazing.

  16. engineerd Avatar

    I'm still fascinated by DSGs.

    1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
      Peter Tanshanomi

      I still want a MR2 Spyder with the sequential-shift six speed.

  17. Alff Avatar

    Built in garage door openers and remotely operated automatic doors in for minivans

    1. skitter Avatar

      I despise powered sliding doors.
      Get in van, start, shift to drive, why won't the door close?
      Later: Stopped, foot on brake, why won't the door open? Unlock, unlock, unlock, I hate you.

      1. Alff Avatar

        Smelly 40 lb. bulldog in arms, no hand free to swing door … voila.
        Buckled in driver's seat, ready to go. Seven year old has gone through the lengthy ritual of buckling into backseat but forgot to close door … bingo.
        Delivering boxes of hot meals to needy in a crappy neighborhood. Arms full but don't want to leave door open while I go into the house … bam!

  18. JeepyJayhawk Avatar

    Maybe it's just the snow today but… <img src=http://www.mattracks.com/assets/images/db_images/db_Mattracks_0141.jpg>

  19. Black Steelies Avatar

    Dual clutch auto-transmissions. One one hand, they make blindingly fast shifts every time and that is cool but on the other hand, they give another reason the manual transmission is further obsolete.

  20. dustin_driver Avatar

    I'm hot for microturbines powering electric motors, like in the Jaaaaag C-X75.
    <img src="http://www.uncrate.com/men/images/2010/09/jaguar-c-x75-xl.jpg&quot; width="500">

    1. highmileage_v1 Avatar

      Lucas electric motors?? Hmmm, long thoughtful silence…….

      1. dustin_driver Avatar

        Why yes, sir! Only the finest Lucas Electrics motors made right here on UK soil by the fine members of the Amalgamated Electrics Union! And all wires insulated with woven horse hair of the finest quality and protected by three layers of pure white linen paper anointed by Her Majesty herself!

        1. highmileage_v1 Avatar

          Well, if the linen is anointed by herself, how can I refuse!

      2. mdharrell Avatar

        "Lucas electric motors?? Hmmm, CLUNK, long thoughtful silence……."
        An apt operational description, but you omitted a step.

  21. ZomBee Racer Avatar

    Um…..I've got nothing. I'm pretty grateful for full synchromesh transmissions, and breaker-less ignition systems.
    Rain-Ex! Rain-Ex is awesome.

    1. buzzboy7 Avatar

      I was going to mention full syncromesh as well. That switch from 1st gear non-syncro to 1st gear syncro was such a major step in my life. Now I can downshift to first without stopping.

      1. mdharrell Avatar

        I, too, have never gotten good at double-clutching my downshifts. Don't tell anyone.

  22. buzzboy7 Avatar

    There is little new tech that excites me. The last thing to really excite me was the prevalence of 6 speeds and double overdrives. Other than that keep your crappy new tech.
    <img src="http://www.chrysler.com/shared/2008/crossfire/driving_dynamics/images/6_speed_manual.jpg"&gt;

  23. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

    I'm gonna say night-vision and HUDs. Ok, in most current cars the implementation has been pretty poor, and the system more of a gimmick than a true driver aid, but it does get us a step closer to how I'd like things to be.
    Nice, simple, intuitive dashboards are on their way out, this is more or less accepted. So it's about time we started putting the information where we need it. On the windscreen. At the moment, BMW, MB, Chevy (and the Pontiac Bonneville, of course) have HUD systems that present vital data, speed, revs, gear etc to the driver so he needn't take an eye from the road. All well and good.
    But imagine your sat-nav system being able to highlight your route on the windscreen in front of you in real-time? Not just an arrow, but a red line on the actual road you need to take? No separate nav screen, just a note on your screen highlighting the actual turn you need to take, as it approaches, it could even show you the racing line from apex to apex, just like your view on Gran Turismo.
    Rather than a seperate night-vision screen, why not project the actual obstacles onto your view as you'd see them from your drivers-eye perspective?
    Too much technology can blunt the driving experience. But hey, things are already getting silly, might as well go the whole hog.

    1. buzzboy7 Avatar

      I know what you mean abuot the intuitive dashboards. My mom bought a new Mazda 3(5 door, 2.5L, 6 speed) and I was out driving it the other day when I noticed a strange light was lit up on the dashboard. It freaked me out so I pulled over, turned off the car and got out the manual. Turns out that light means that the coolant isn't up to temp yet. A simple C-H gauge would have been nice, but nooo…

      1. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

        Isn't up to temp yet? That's nuts! I know cars can have variable red lines on the tach to prevent too much hoonism before things are warmed up, but a light just sounds wilfully confusing.