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The clever cars of the future: Los Angeles Auto Show 2012

We’ve had smart everything else – smart fridges, smart televisions, smart watches. So, it’s only natural that our cars are getting smarter too.

In moves which seem rather akin to one of the best-loved fictional cars ever, Knight Rider’s KITT, the car that can communicate, automobile manufacturers are installing new technology that means you can talk to your car or be alerted when there are traffic hazards like accidents.

The new gadgets were unveiled at the Los Angeles Auto Show 2012, one of the highlights of the industry calendar. Here, we take you through some of our favourite gizmos.

Toyota Rav4 Entune

This crossover supports new apps which work through its Entune system. At entry-level, you get the car’s standard touch-screen display but at the top end you get the infotainment screen with its Entune apps so you can carry out a Bing search, look for movie tickets before you get to the cinema or access the iHeartRadio service.

Chevy Spark and Siri

Going on sale early in the New Year, the 2013 Spark with Siri will be priced from $12,995. With such an affordable price point, it would appear Chevy’s game plan is to appeal to a younger market who will be keen to have such clever apps as part of their car dashboard. It works through Chevy’s MyLink system. As Chevy explains: “Life doesn’t stop while you’re in your car, so why should you? With Chevrolet MyLink, you’ll stay connected to everything most important to you and more while you’re out and about. Technology for your comfort, convenience and safety is all at your fingertips. Speak to friends, family and colleagues safely while driving. Enjoy your favourite music or news programs. And that’s just the beginning. So what is Chevrolet MyLink? It’s your life simply connected.”

One you are connected, you can make sure you’re driving safely without any distractions by using the Eyes Free mode on the iPhone so the screen is blanked and you can’t do web searches. You can, however, ask basic questions of Siri like asking for information about fuel prices, for directions if you’re lost or to dictate text messages.

Chrysler Sprint Velocity

Telecommunications company Sprint has teamed up with Chrysler to provide in-car infotainment. Sprint’s system is in the Ram pickup truck and Dodge Viper but is expected to be rolled out into other models and Sprint is also set to partner with other manufacturers in the future.

While details were scant, the UConnect system will use real-time monitoring so you get alerts if there’s been an accident or if there’s a traffic jam you need to avoid. Information feeds will also include news, sports scores and weather forecasts based on your location.

Mercedes Benz concept

Well, we might have to wait some time for this one, or a version of it, to come onto the market as it’s a concept car, but the Ener-G-Fore Concept sounds like a great idea for those who regularly travel across different surfaces. The car-of-the-future will utilise Terra-Scan technology to look at the road up ahead and change the suspension to suit it. So, if you hit a rough patch, your SUV should adjust to keep your ride comfortable.

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