2012
04.05

Admittedly, I am not your typical car guy, but even I couldn’t help but get revved up when the 2013 Viper roared onto stage during Chrysler’s exclusive unveil at the New York International Auto Show yesterday. Peggy and I were on-hand at this event to present a few of our 2012 Connected World Connected Car of the Year trophies, and what we got was glimpse into what 2013 and beyond could hold for the connected car market.

After presenting Chrysler with its trophy and plaque for the Chrysler 300, featuring Uconnect Touch, among other technologies, we joined the throngs of other media as the automaker announced an impressive redesign of its hot sports car. But amid all the talk of the Viper’s hand-assembled 8.4-liter all-aluminum, V-10 overhead-valve engine and sleek interior and exterior design, the folks at Chrysler slipped another little nugget about its redesigned sports car: infotainment.

Did we hear that right; that the 2013 Viper would feature the latest in-vehicle infotainment with a sleek LCD screen? You bet. That blend of power and performance with safety, convenience, and infotainment that we described in the feature is making its way into the sports car segment of vehicles as well, with the 2013 Viper perhaps being a model we should consider for next year.

As you know, our selections this year came in the small, mid-size, luxury, and ultra-luxury segments, with the intent of giving readers options at various price ranges—knowing that driving a connected car doesn’t necessarily mean you need to break the bank. Connected models is such segments as sports car, EV, and SUV were limited, but that could be changing in the years to come, as evidenced by the big unveil by Chrysler yesterday.

But I must say, the SUV category, for all intents and purposes, still leaves much to be desired when it comes to being connected. Not to call out any automaker in particular, but I was left, shall I say, uninspired by the big unveil at the show by Hyundai with its 2013 Sante Fe, aimed at families with two or more children. While executives talked the talk during the presentation, emphasizing things like safety and security—and even debuted a few nice safety features in the model—I felt that when it came to the in-vehicle infotainment systems, the emphasis on reducing driver distraction simply left much to be desired.

Of course, as you know April is Distracted Driving Awareness month, a topic very near and dear to the hearts of the Connected World staff. This was the type of technology we were on the lookout for at the show, and would like to see more of this coming out of the SUV segment from the automakers.

But on that note of preventing driver distraction, Audi continues to push forward with some great features in its Audi connect that help reduce distraction on the road. Honored for its 2012 Audi A8, we presented the team with its award and proceeded to have some very insightful conversations with the team for what is in store going forward.

The team at Audi is very enthusiastic, and has some great things in store for the system going forward. It was great to hear the enthusiasm in the voices of the Audi team as they talked how technology can be a powerful tool for helping drivers stay focused on the road ahead.

I already cannot wait to sit down and start judging for the 2013 Connected World Connected Car of the Year.

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