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Love tech? Here are the best cars for you

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We get it, you’re looking for technology. You want the biggest screens, the smartest interfaces and most clever elements packed into your car. This is the right list for you. We asked our editors to choose the best vehicles for anyone wanting the best technology on the market today. The best part is, not everything on this list is a luxury car. Believe it or not, you can get a lot of tech in some more affordable packages. Read on for the full list.

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Andrew Krok/Roadshow

Whether you’re talking about the cabin tech or the stuff that lives under the body, there’s all sorts of new technology hiding out in Ford’s first electric Mustang, which just so happens to also be a crossover SUV.

Slide into the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E‘s cabin and you’re immediately greeted with a honkin’ 15.5-inch portrait display. This screen covers the traditional infotainment duties, but it also hides a wealth of vehicle settings and other related features that let you customize all sorts of vehicle parameters. It’s also Ford’s best iteration of its Sync software to date.

Ford has given the Mach-E’s underlying tech some modularity, too. Want just a single electric motor on the rear axle? Great! If you want all-wheel drive, just slap another one in the front. Want a bigger battery? Don’t worry, Ford can slap one of those in, too. And with even more variants on the horizon, there’s bound to be a Mach-E variant that will fit your needs — and your performance joneses, too.

-Andrew Krok, reviews editor

Mercedes-Benz

Whenever a new Mercedes-Benz S-Class hits the scene, it comes with a whole bunch of new tech. Whether it’s a novel infotainment feature, an important new safety system or just some gee-whiz feature to impress your passengers, the S-Class never ceases to impress. That’s especially true with the new 2021 model.

For the driver, the new S-Class offers a 3D gauge cluster and a huge — and I mean huge — head-up display. The HUD projects the equivalent of a 77-inch diagonal display onto the dashboard, and has augmented reality overlays to ensure you’ll never miss a tricky turn while using the navigation system. There’s also a brand-new version of Mercedes’ excellent MBUX infotainment system, with the ability to share data between other passengers’ screens, including the rear occupants. Audio tech more your jam? There’s an optional Burmester 4D sound system with 30 speakers. And don’t even get me started on the heated, cooling, massaging seats, cabin fragrance integration or the door handles that automatically pop out as you approach.

Arguably more important is the new S-Class’ list of safety tech, which starts with an industry first: a rear-seat airbag. This bag deploys from the back of the front seat and envelops the rear passenger in a wing-shape cushion, preventing injury in the event of a crash. In addition, a whole bevy of driver-assistance goodies come standard on every S-Class, including adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, cross-traffic assist, automatic parking assist and more. Whether your tech preferences surround luxury, entertainment or safety, the 2021 S-Class has you covered.

– Steven Ewing, managing editor

Tesla

Want the perfect intersection of futurism and function? For me, that’s Tesla. And there’s no better option these days than the 2021 Model Y. The newest interior refresh of this all-electric crossover SUV does away with many of the nitpicks owners zeroed in on (say “goodbye” to the glossy black center console and all the fingerprints that came with it). 

Tesla’s always updating its software with new features; far more than any other manufacturer out there, I’d wager. Those over-the-air updates for this EV include a good balance of performance tweaks and fun easter eggs. Even though there’s no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, the 15-inch infotainment screen is loaded with Google Maps and Spotify, so you probably won’t miss much.

The Model Y has also picked up a 5-star safety rating in every category from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, so not only are you getting a crossover that will continue to evolve technologically long after it rolls off the assembly line, you’re getting one that promises to be incredibly safe for you and your family. If you love tech, what better option than a vehicle that is tech, from the ground up? 

-Ashley Esqueda, senior video producer, CNET

Nissan

I like low-cost cars, as evidenced by my not buying a brand-new one since 1993 — massive depreciation isn’t a feature I want on my spec sheet. But if I had to buy something new, it might be a 2021 Nissan Versa. Starting at $15,930 including delivery, the Versa is a good-looking car, inside and out, which neutralizes the typical No. 1 turnoff of low-cost cars.

Even on the bottom S trim level, Lane Departure Warning and Automatic Emergency Braking are standard. S is also the only trim that comes with a manual transmission, which I would welcome, not to make some “gasoline in my veins” statement, but to carry through the economic and industrial elegance of the machine. The Versa gets 32 miles per gallon city and 40 mpg on the highway.

An S trim Versa has a 7-inch touchscreen central display, but it doesn’t offer CarPlay or Android Auto. Being an Android user, I won’t actually mind since my phone OS has a car mode that essentially turns the phone into an automotive head unit, a function that CarPlay doesn’t offer. Once I get a high-quality phone mount for my Versa I’ll have a $16,000 car with modern streaming, navigation, communication, and the best voice interface in the world. (For those of you who want embedded CarPlay or Android Auto, you’ll have to pony up for one of the Versa’s higher trims.)

-Brian Cooley, editor at large

Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow

Ford’s F-Series pickup is America’s best-selling new vehicle of any kind, be it truck, car or SUV. It might not seem particularly intuitive that a beast-of-burden pickup truck might also be one of America’s best high-tech models, but in this case, it is — handily so. 

One of the best things about the redesigned 2021 Ford F-150 is its available PowerBoost hybrid option, which piggybacks atop the engine range’s top-dog 3.5-liter twin-turbo EcoBoost V6. By adding an electric motor to the existing six-cylinder engine, the Blue Oval has created a more fuel-efficient powertrain whose 430 hp and 570 lb-ft of torque can tow 12,700 pounds.

In addition to great tech features like Sync 4 infotainment with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android auto, along with bumper-to-bumper OTA updates. Plus, there’s a trick power folding shifter that creates a large, desk-like work surface and first-class lay-flat seats for naps on the job site. That’s all well and good,…



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