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Spotlight

Top car trends to look out for in 2017

Posted February 1
Updated 12:19 p.m. Friday

This story was written for our sponsor, LeithCars.com.

Just 10 years ago, smart phones didn't even exist. Today, they organize and expedite so much of our lives that we rarely spend 10 minutes apart from them.

It seems every year, technological advances pick up speed. In the auto industry, the pace of change is exciting and sometimes a bit overwhelming for consumers.

"The best thing we can do for our clients is to spend time with them demonstrating the technology in the vehicles," explained Ben Metzler, business manager for Mercedes-Benz of Cary. "We've found that a combination of hands-on learning -- along with access to instructional videos available online to reinforce the hands-on experience -- provides the most confidence and comfort with the usability of the features."

Metzler reassured, "You can't really break anything in the car by hitting buttons or scrolling through menus, so we encourage clients to be adventurous and not be intimidated. Often, the most difficult part of the experience is trusting the technology to do what it is designed to do with regards to the complex Driver Assistance features that are beginning to enter the marketplace."

The automobile, despite cosmetic and innovative improvements, has remained basically the same since its inception -- an internal combustion engine powering a vehicle steered by a conscious being. In our fast-changing world though, even these basics of the automobile are up in the air.

Here are some trends to keep an eye out for in 2017.

Hybrid and Fully Electric Vehicles

Our old, trusty friend the gas-powered internal combustion engine has been getting upgraded and sometimes even replaced altogether in recent vehicles. Fuel efficiency is one reason for this, despite persistent low gas prices, but another is that people have become increasingly concerned about our vehicle exhaust's impact on the environment.

In the 2017 models of electric and hybrid vehicles, there are some exciting developments, with improvements in power, price and range.

A noteworthy model that exemplifies power in this category would be the Porsche Panamera E-Hybrid, which can go zero to 60 in 4.4 seconds with 462 combined horsepower (combustion engine and electric motor).

Price improvements are evident in electric cars like the Nissan LEAF, which starts at $30,680 and offers the owner some enticing benefits like a federal income tax credit of $0 up to $7,500 for the purchase of a new qualified plug-in electric drive motor vehicle.

North Carolina has a "No Charge to Charge" offer that allows you two years of complimentary public charging with a special all-access card when you buy or lease a new Nissan LEAF.

Semi-Autonomous Cars

If moving away from the traditional internal combustion engine gives some consumers anxiety, getting rid of the human driver multiplies it.

There is still a lot of work being done to work out the kinks, but some new options will be available this year. Many vehicles will be available with self-parking and some with steering assistance.

The autonomous parking is a great feature that will help many who struggle to parallel park. On top of that, Mercedes-Benz has models that offer steering and lane assistance while you drive.

Cool Cabin Tech

While the robots aren't fully ready to take over the driving, they are capable of entertaining, guiding and otherwise serving us as we drive.

More and more vehicles are including both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. These systems work directly with your phone apps to provide you navigation, music and much more all through voice activation.

It's a great way to basically continue to do what you would have done on your phone while keeping your eyes on the road.

Technological advances in cars

Other perks in 2017 models are Wi-Fi hotspots, wireless phone charging docks and infrared cameras so you can detect wildlife far ahead.

"As the technology evolves, we are seeing more and more integration between Mercedes-Benz and major tech companies to allow a seamless experience both in and out of the vehicles," Metzler pointed out. "The evolution is no longer placed on a single company or manufacturer, but more on how everything is intertwined, and how that ultimately benefits our clients and their daily lives."

Moving Forward

The car industry has always been at the forefront of technological progress. It’s anyone's guess where we will be in 10 more short years.

Mind-reading autonomous flying cars? As crazy as that sounds, as science fiction slowly becomes our reality, anything is possible.

This story was written for our sponsor, LeithCars.com.

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