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Robotic Precision - Ladue News: Import

Robotic Precision

Wheels: High-Tech Options

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Posted: Friday, January 4, 2008 12:00 am | Updated: 9:47 pm, Tue Aug 9, 2011.

Just as computers now dominate our personal and professional lives, they do the same inside our cars. The new technology found in cars today is astonishing. The highly anticipated 2009 Jaguar XF is going to be a technological showcase when it comes out early next year. It will offer all the latest electronic goodies, along with stunning styling at a pretty reasonable price, starting at $50,000. It is clear that for the XF Jaguar borrowed a lot of styling cues from its drop-dead gorgeous XK coupe, one of the best looking sedan on the road.

The key fob will automatically unlock the doors without having to fuss with a key or even press a button. Starting the car is accomplished with a push of the pulsing start button, which causes the gear selector to rise from the center console and triggers the air vents on the dashboard to rotate 90 degrees from their parked position to their functional open position. It’s as if the car is coming alive when you press the start button.

Jaguar’s aim with all this technology is to aid drivers, not confuse them, so things like a touch screen to control radio, ventilation and navigation features is used instead of an array of buttons. In a nod to American tastes, the center console has three cup holders, including one for extra large drinks. You wouldn’t want your Big Gulp spilling all over that rich leather. Interior lighting is phosphor blue ‘halo’ lighting like that used in cell phones to provide a cool, contemporary, soothing atmosphere. The leather-covered, three-spoke steering wheel and instruments were lifted from the XK, adding to the XF’s sporty character.

The interior is spacious, with electrically adjustable front seats—heated and cooled. The new JaguarSense system turns on interior lights and opens the glove box with the touch of a finger, using a sensor to anticipate an approaching finger and activate the switch. The state of the art audio system pounds out 440 watts to 14 speakers in surround sound. You can even hook your iPod to it.

Blind spot monitors and parking sensors are new technological safety features. You can also get a rear-mounted parking camera. An adaptive cruise control will keep the XF a specified distance behind the car ahead of it.

Lots of attention was paid to getting just the right exhaust note in this car. Formulated in the equivalent of a music recording studio, the car growls like a sports car when pushed, but stays quiet and refined while cruising. Tony Longhibler, salesman at Moore Jaguar Aston Martin says, “The XF offers the latest technology with traditional Jaguar luxury. It’s going to be the best of both worlds in a fabulous-looking package.”

Another car packing all the hottest technology is the new Lexus LS 600h L, now the Lexus hybrid flagship, with a price to match: over $104,000 before adding option packages.

Mechanically, the LS 600h L has some innovative features, like an automatic brake that remains on (once you’ve applied it) until you tap the gas. Rotating headlights turn with the steering wheel to illuminate upcoming curves. Traction control and vehicle stability control help keep you on course. The 5.0 liter V-8 engine with hybrid system add an electric motor that increases power and fuel economy while lowering emissions. Fuel economy is 20 city, 22 highway. Power is distributed to all four wheels via an electronic, continuously variable transmission.

The LS 600h L can even park itself. Jim Evans of Dave Mungenast Lexus explains: “Advanced parking guidance uses a back-up camera and parking sensors to distinguish surrounding cars and line up the car to parallel park, park at an angle, or park straight in. All the driver has to do is occasionally apply the brake.”

The trunk can be opened or closed with the touch of a button. A transmitter replaces the key, so when you approach the car you don’t have to unlock the door, but rather just open it, and then press a button to start the engine, never needing to remove the transmitter from your pocket or purse.

Rear seats not only recline but are heated and cooled and can include foldaway tables. Four-zone climate control is available that senses the body surface temperature of the rear seat passengers and automatically adjusts the heating or cooling to ensure passenger comfort. In case the view out the window isn’t captivating enough, a rear seat DVD player has two wireless headphones to entertain those lucky enough to occupy the rear seat. If they get peckish, a rear seat cool box can keep the champagne and hors d’oeuvres chilled. Rear window cover screens deploy at the touch of a button to shield rear seat passengers from the sun.

Adaptive cruise control allows you to maintain a pre-set distance from the car in front of you. The optional active stabilizer system uses sensors and a computer to determine the amount of force needed to help keep the vehicle flat in a turn, and increases roll resistance by twisting the stabilizer bars, which pre-loads them to help them behave like thicker sway bars without having to compromise a smooth ride.

Real estate developer Scott Seldin recently purchased a Lexus LS 600h L hybrid and loves it. “The hybrid battery motor is so quiet nobody can hear you coming or going,” he says. “The navigation system even tells you if there’s a tie-up ahead so you can re-route. The controls are on a touch screen, so it’s very easy to use. The back seat is huge, and there’s a DVD monitor for the rear seat passengers to watch.”

Robert W. Paster is also an attorney in private practice, concentrating in estate planning and probate.

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