Behind the Wheel

Car smarts

Now that antilock brakes have become universal, automakers are developing even more sophisticated means of keeping drivers secure. "Auto intelligence" is the industry buzzword, and such innovations could prevent a million collisions every year. So what can the new safety features do for you?

SAFETY DEVICE Lane departure warning system
HOW IT WORKS A small camera mounted on the rearview mirror detects when the car is changing lanes without turn-signal activation, setting off a warning bell.
CARS THAT HAVE IT The Infiniti FX and M45

SAFETY DEVICE Smart cruise control
HOW IT WORKS Radars allow the driver to regulate speed by following the vehicle in front at a fixed distance. The Audi A8 sedan has the best version with four distance settings.
CARS THAT HAVE IT Besides the Audi, smart cruise control can be found in Infinitis, Lexuses, and Acuras, as well as in the BMW 5- and 7-series, Cadillac XLR, Jaguar XK models, and the Mercedes S-, C-, and E-classes.

SAFETY DEVICE Rear warning system
HOW IT WORKS In some models, a rearview camera projects images onto a dashboard screen. But these make the driver swivel his head. The common audible warning mechanism works just as well.
CARS THAT HAVE IT The Lexus RX330, Infiniti FX45, and Toyota Sienna minivan have cameras. Audible radar-based systems are in virtually every luxury car.
—Phil Patton