's Top 10 New Features of 2007

Automakers are continually developing new technologies to make cars safer and more futuristic. Here is a list of Staff’s favorite automotive features from 2007. The 2008 Infiniti EX35 received the most mentions, including the top spot with its Lane Departure Prevention.

Best New Feature: Lane Departure Prevention
Where you can find it? Infiniti EX35

Infiniti's Lane Departure Prevention builds on conventional lane-departure warning systems, which detect lane markings and sound a chime if you drift astray. LDP goes one step further by gently applying the brakes to certain wheels to nudge you back on course. Hit the turn signal or steer the wheel slightly, and the system deactivates. On straight roads, it intervenes with just a hint of deceleration, and the dashboard chime alerts you of its actions.

Scratch Shield Paint
Where you can find it? Infiniti EX35

On the Infiniti EX35, Scratch Shield Paint combines a highly elastic resin with the clear coat finish. The resulting surface is said to maintain a glossy appearance over the years, and it can actually undo minor damage in the course of a few days. While Scratch Shield won't repair dents or gashes, Infiniti says it can restore things like fingernail scratches under the door handles.

Around View Monitor
Where you can find it? Infiniti EX35

Let's be clear on one thing: Infiniti's Around View Monitor ain't pretty. With cameras mounted on each side of the car, its fish-eye, top-down view distorts any three-dimensional object nearby. But is it effective? You bet. With a 360-degree view of exactly what's around your car, it reduces getting into narrow parking spots and crowded alleys to a science. You have to see it — and park it — to believe it.

Full-Size Hybrid SUVs/Trucks
Where you can find it? Cadillac Escalade, Chevrolet Silverado, Chevrolet Tahoe, Chrysler Aspen, Dodge Durango, GMC Yukon

To date, hybrid technology has graced only compact and midsize SUVs. Sharing a new 2-Mode Hybrid system, several GM and Chrysler Group full-size SUV models and a pickup truck deliver significant mileage gains — if early estimates prove accurate. Some environmentalists cry heresy over this development, but we can't see how fuel economy improvement in the vehicles that need it most could be a bad thing. The trucks give up almost none of their hauling and towing capabilities, remaining useful to the people who really need them and would buy full-size anyway, hybrid or not.

Integrated Booster Seats
Where you can find it? Volvo V70, Volvo XC70

In the new Volvo V70, the cushions of the outboard rear seats can easily be raised to one of two levels to better accommodate children, which means no more fumbling around with an aftermarket booster seat. What's more, Volvo says the side curtain airbags in the V70 extend lower, which in conjunction with the raised seating position gives a child's head greater protection in a side-impact collision.

Heartbeat Sensor
Where you can find it? Volvo S80

We're dubious about the usefulness of a heartbeat sensor, but we were won over by the fact that such a futuristic feature is available in today's cars. The heartbeat sensor, which Volvo says can help you determine if someone is lying in wait inside your car, is part of the S80 sedan's Personal Car Communicator fob that can also do other things, like tell you if your car is locked or unlocked up to about 300 feet away.

Easy Third-Row Access
Where you can find it? Hyundai Veracruz

Getting into the third row in SUVs has gotten progressively easier in recent years, but the Hyundai Veracruz has a three-step system that outshines the competition. First, there's a one-hand release latch that moves the second-row seat up, sliding it forward on rails. Secondly, there's a cubbyhole tucked inside the Veracruz wall, right where little ones will need it to help themselves into the car. Finally, the second-row seats come with a handle that lets third-row occupants pull the seats back toward them, helping kids trying to get into the second row.

Sirius Satellite TV
Where you can find it? Chrysler minivans

Chrysler's new Sirius Satellite TV allows your kids to watch one of three channels (the Disney Channel, Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network) on one or both of the rear swing-down screens; if it's just one, the other can show a DVD or video game.

Sync Hands-Free System
Where you can find it? Various Ford, Lincoln and Mercury models

Sync allows drivers to control Bluetooth phones and MP3 players and storage devices that have a USB input using simple voice commands — it even reads text messages from compatible phones. Sync is standard on most uplevel trims in a dozen Ford, Lincoln and Mercury models; it's a $395 option on base trim levels.

Volvo Blind Spot Information System
Where you can find it? C30, S40, S80, V50, V70, XC70, XC90

The new Volvo S80, V70 and XC70 have an optional blind spot information system that alerts drivers to cars that are hard to spot using mirrors. Two cameras are attached to the side mirrors, and a pale orange light illuminates whenever changing lanes would lead to hitting someone in the dreaded blind spot. A single button turns the system on and off if you're in heavy traffic, but the faded hue of the lights doesn't distract from driving.

Comment On This Story

Comment: (Max. 10000 characters)  
Please leave blank:
* Please note that every comment is moderated.

Newsletter: Sign up to receive latest news, articles, and much more.

Read the latest

Auto Focus Blog: A blog covering fleets, auto rental and the business of cars

Auto Rental Summit: Five Trend Lines

Taking in the seminars, discussions, and networking at the 2016 Auto Rental Summit, trend lines emerged around shifts in model mix, data protection issues, increasing labor costs, workforce engagement, and new platforms to rent cars.

Why Do We Visit Capitol Hill?

Members of the American Car Rental Association met with U.S. senators, representatives, and their aides last week. Here’s why bringing the message to this forum matters.

The Customer Isn’t Always Right

Not caving to a customer with a blatant agenda may have consequences, especially for a small rental company that relies on stellar Yelp ratings to advertise. But business integrity must prevail.

Job Finder: Access Top Talent. Fill Key Positions.