Some great technology is now available in cheap cars, too

Car brake

Today's cars are loaded with all sorts of gee-wizardry that was unheard of, or only available on uber-expensive luxury models, just a few years ago.

A few of these high-tech upgrades are courtesy of government regulations, and the rest are driven by consumer demand.

I was thinking about this after I had taken a Hyundai Accent for a test-drive and stopped to study its long list of standard and optional features.

This is Hyundai’s entry-level compact, and a loaded up Accent GLS sedan sells for a modest $16,495.

Yet here’s some of the great technology it offers, and that’s now available in most cars and trucks, regardless of how much they cost:

Stability Control. This safety feature senses when a car isn't traveling in the direction its being steered and applies brake pressure to help return the vehicle to its intended course. Beginning life as a safety feature on high-end sedans from Mercedes-Benz and BMW, stability control will be on every car beginning in 2012 by government mandate.

Satellite Radio. XM and Sirius began broadcasting just 10 years ago. Because signals are bounced from satellites rather than transmitted from a line-of-sight tower, the technology was ideally suited to moving vehicles, and carmakers began installing satellite-radio-capable audio systems in 2001. Today, satellite-radio-capable audio systems are the rule rather than the exception in cars, even entry-level cars like Accent.

iPod Integration. Although most cars offer some sort of auxiliary input jack to connect a personal music device to a car's audio system, actual iPod integration is now available in many cars. This allows the controls on your car’s audio-system to work all the functions of an iPod.

Bluetooth Cell-Phone Connectivity. This is hands-free, voice-activated technology integrating a cell phone into a car's communication's system. This technology is being driven by government regulatory pressure as well as consumer demand.

Remote Keyless Entry. Unlocking a car's doors with a key fob while several feet away was quite an innovation that didn't see any real widespread use until the late 1980s. Today, like other power accessories, such as windows and outboard mirrors, remote keyless entry is expected in all cars regardless of price.

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