Driving dynamics refer to how a car handles on the road. Cars with great driving dynamics take corners without issue and are easier to control. MotorTrend ranked the BMW M2 Competition, the Chevrolet Camaro and the Ferrari 488 Pista as the top three best-handling vehicles of 2020.
However, the auto industry always evolves. While driving dynamics currently focus on how the driver is able to handle and maneuver the vehicle, electric vehicles are poised to change the drive and who holds the wheel. Many electric models now feature self-driving options, and cars with best driving dynamics could soon equate to models with these self-driving features.
Which vehicles currently offer self-driving driving modes? The site Auto-Pilot Review rounded up a list of all the manufacturers (and models) that feature some type of self-driving driving:
Self-driving Driving Modes Include Different Levels of Capabilities
Auto-Pilot Review explains that there are different levels of self-driving modes for driving. For example, lane assist safety features could be a form of self-driving driving. In addition, the site even classifies common features like cruise control as a ‘level 1’ type of self-driving control.
However, when consumers think about this driving mode, they likely perceive the car driving without much assistance from the driver. Today’s vehicles don’t offer full self-driving driving options, but some offer a ‘level 4’ that allows most driving to be handled by the vehicle’s intelligence.
Self-driving driving modes also could differ by manufacturer. Again, some might offer basic safety features that allow the car to avoid a collision and automatically stop (using data from sensors). Other safety systems offer alerts to warn a driver of a vehicle in the blind spot.
Electric vehicles and some hybrids might provide more advanced autopilot systems that allow the driver to rely on the vehicle’s embedded intelligence to handle some aspects of the drive. However, manufacturers like Tesla explain to drivers that autopilot features still require the diligence and attention of drivers.
Is Self-Driving the Future of Driving Dynamics?
While today’s vehicles rely on the driver to control the driving experience, the future of driving might switch the control to the vehicle. Fully self-driving vehicles are not available to consumers, but manufacturers could steer in this direction.
Consumers cannot purchase fully self-driving vehicles, but they might soon be able to ride in them. In some areas, self-driving rideshare (or e-hailing) vehicles are already being tested. Consumers might soon be able to hail a vehicle without a driver!
For example, Zoox (a subsidiary of Amazon) offers self-driving rideshare vehicles that are being tested out in several cities in California as well as in Seattle and Las Vegas.
TechCrunch explains that Zoox tests include a ‘human driver.’ Yet, these tests could showcase the beginning of a self-driving future.
Many modern cars offer numerous safety features either as standard features or upgraded features that take control of the vehicle. Again, lane assist technologies, blind spot warnings and even collision warning systems that stop the car to deter a crash all have become part of self-driving technologies that enhance the safety of many vehicles.
Creating a fully self-driving vehicle for consumers, though, might be years away. As Zoox needs to test out its technology to ensure the safest drive possible, auto manufacturers will need to perfect any fully self-driving driving modes, too.
When humans stop handling the vehicle, the driver will rely on computerized intelligence for navigation and to understand the nuances of the roadway rules. A self-driving car doesn’t simply need to navigate streets and highways, it also might need to communicate and sense the movements of other cars and traffic signals, too.
The Cars with the Best Driving Dynamics Now
Consumers might have a long wait for the drive to become a self-driving experience. Technology hasn’t taken over yet. Humans are still in control of the drive, and even humans that own a car with self-driving modes also must stay in control of that vehicle.
Cars are not yet intelligent enough to fully navigate without human input. The driving dynamics of today’s vehicles are still important for those who want the cars with the best control and that are fairly easy to handle.
Car shoppers can research the best-handling vehicles, but they might find that some recommendations are luxury models. Not every consumer can afford a Ferrari, for example.
To understand the driving dynamics of any car requires the driver to get behind the wheel. For this reason, car buyers shouldn’t skip the test drive.
A test drive allows the driver to better understand how the vehicle handles on the road. How does it navigate corners? Is it easy to drive?
Every driver or car buyer might have a different list of features that they demand in a car. Some drivers are fine with lagging acceleration; others want the quick power to easily accelerate and merge on a busy highway.
Car buyers also should be cognizant of how self-driving features could help them on the road. Review and research the safety offerings of the vehicle to understand all the options. While some features are standard (like a backup camera), others are an added option. Safety features that might be considered a part of self-driving capabilities include:
- Lane assist features
- Blind spot monitoring
- Front and all-around imaging
- Automatic braking
- Pedestrian warnings or detection
Some high-end vehicles include augmented reality heads-up displays that point out hazards ahead. They also show directional arrows to guide the drive and display speed data, too.
Electric Vehicles with Self-Driving Functions
Electric vehicles and hybrids now offer more advanced driving functions. When car shoppers are considering these vehicles, they need to understand the limitations of any feature that helps navigate the vehicle.
Again, Tesla explains to drivers that the Autopilot modes featured on the company’s models still require driver attentiveness. A driver cannot simply be hands-off when they choose to use autopilot modes; modern vehicles aren’t yet designed to drive without some degree of human assistance and attention.
When considering electric and hybrid vehicles that feature a higher level of technology, buyers might ask the dealership to explain the limitations and capabilities of the feature. Buyers also could ask if a sales team member could demonstrate the feature.
Driving a Vehicle with Self-Driving Capabilities and Features
Self-driving capabilities aren’t the same as an ‘autonomous’ vehicle, which is capable of fully navigating without human assistance. Self-driving capabilities still allow the computer to take some control of the drive, but the vehicle typically takes control when the driver doesn’t act quickly (like features that help the car avoid a collision).
Car buyers who are choosing a modern vehicle that offers safety features that include some self-driving functions could be a bit hesitant about how these work. These features also could require a bit of adjustment; for example, even cameras that show all angles of the vehicle could be overwhelming for a driver that isn’t used to the feature.
At the dealership, car buyers can ask for demonstrations of any features that make them a bit hesitant. In addition, some features even could be deactivated; many modern vehicles include a switch that, when activated, causes the engine to turn off at stoplights. This auto-stop/start function helps improve fuel efficiency.
Not all modern vehicles will include self-driving capabilities and features. Some buyers might simply decide that these features aren’t worth an extra cost or maybe they simply don’t desire the technology. Other drivers, though, might consider these features for added safety during the drive.
Explore Car Options with RelayCars
While a visit to the dealership is necessary for buyers who want to explore different features of a vehicle or take a test drive, buyers can use RelayCars to explore their vehicle options before visiting the dealership.
The RelayCars app is free to download via Google Play or the App Store. The app allows car buyers to explore vehicles in virtual reality (with Google Cardboard) or using 3D interactive car models. RelayCars includes thousands of makes and models for buyers to explore.
Once they choose a vehicle, they can navigate the 3D models using just a fingertip. Turn the car around or look inside at the interior. Shoppers can view vehicles in different paint hues, too.
For those who don’t want to download an app, they can visit the RelayCars website from a mobile device to explore them using the same 3D images found on the app. Look inside the interior or turn the car around to view it from any angle
Both the RelayCars app and website also provide shoppers with specs and pricing data for every vehicle. This helps buyers understand if the vehicle is in their budget.
RelayCars is open 24/7, and car shoppers can explore as many vehicles as they wish. Use RelayCars as a resource for previewing different vehicle options and for understanding the specs of different models. Then visit a dealership to see the car in person, take a test drive and ask for any clarification on self-driving features.