auto

New bells and whistles for 2009 models

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 Lane departure warning: This will warn you if you drift from one lane into another without using a turn signal. With some makers the warning is a light, a buzzer or a vibrating steering wheel (similar to driving over a pitted road).

Others take a more active approach: applying the brakes slightly or altering the direction of the vehicle. "We're getting some feedback that drivers find the feature annoying in some situations," he says. "The big question is: Will drivers respond in a way that avoids a crash?" says Zuby. With some false warnings, "it can be disconcerting," especially if you're trying to pass another car and your vehicle is braking or changing course, he says. "Some systems are going to be better than others at avoiding those situations," Zuby says.

Manufacturers using versions of this technology include Audi, BMW, Buick, Cadillac, Infiniti and Volvo.

 Blind-spot detection: Cameras (sometimes with sonar), help the driver when something encroaches into those blind spots. "If you indicate a lane change, and there's something there, it will throw a warning saying 'Do you really want to do that?'" says Zuby.

Manufacturers using versions of this technology include: Audi, Buick, Cadillac, Mazda, Mercedes and Volvo.

 Adaptive headlights: Ever wish you could see around corners? Some vehicles have the technology to do just that. At night, as you turn, instead of headlights going straight ahead and lighting the path where your car isn't, they turn and shift the focus to your car's actual path.

Manufacturers using versions of this technology include Acura, Audi, BMW, Buick, Cadillac, Infiniti, Jaguar, Land Rover, Lexus, Lincoln, Maserati, Porsche, Volkswagen and Volvo.

 Adaptive cruise control: Makes adjustments to your cruise control based on the speed and closing distance between you and vehicles in front of you.

Some makers using versions of this technology include: Chrysler, Honda, Infiniti, Subaru and Toyota.

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