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INFORMATION ACCESS | DRIVER INTERFACES
Conveying information to the driver efficiently and without distraction is, evidently, an extreme challenge for automobile manufacturers. They’ve all struggled with everything from logically organizing instrument displays and controls to making functions on the new LCDs easily accessible. The systems have improved substantially, and manufacturers now offer navigation, entertainment and vehicle-systems controls that are intuitive and easily navigable.
Power 335 hp, 310 lb.-ft. of torque, V8
Performance 060 in 6.0 sec., 130 mph top speed
Screen-based interfaces allow drivers to control audio and navigation functions, climate, and even suspension settings.
Audi A6. Audi has mastered this art. The elegant Multi Media Interface allows the driver to oversee vehicle systems without a dizzying array of buttons or a maddening hierarchy of menus and submenus. A second, smaller information screen sits between the speedometer and the tachometer for easy reference while driving.
Many Japanese systems, such as those found in the luxury Lexus and Acura lines, are almost as good as the Audi’s, but the American manufacturers often have unwieldy, unintuitive systems that are more distraction than true driver aid.
The best displays are high up, near the driver’s line of sight, with controls positioned between the two front seats. Steer clear of poorly laid-out radio controls. Fortunately, many controls are migrating to the steering wheel, where they should be.
Off-Road Information Screen Stuck in a rut? If you don’t know what your wheels are doing, it can be awfully hard to get out. The Land Rover LR3’s color touchscreen tells you, among other things, the steering angle, whether a wheel is off the ground, and how the differentials are set.$50,000
Head-Up Display It’s fighter-jet technology for the street. The head-up display for the Chevrolet Corvette, a 186mph hot rod, features a floating field of data, projected on the windshield just above the dashboard, that might otherwise draw eyes from the road. It includes speed, revs, fuel level, even cornering forces. $48,900
Hybrid Management Screen Drivers can maximize the efficiency of their hybrids by adjusting their driving style. The Ford Escape Hybrid has an LCD with a real-time power path offering graphic indicators of fuel consumption, battery charge levels, and how the motors are working together. $28,600
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