Heads-Up Displays
Credit: Illustration by Larry Jost

Once the province of high-performance cars with fighter-jet pretensions (see Corvette), a heads-up display function was one of the pleasant surprises I discovered in the four-cylinder Buick LaCrosse with eAssist that I drove recently. I found myself thinking, "Why doesn't every car have this?" Soon, Pioneer will sell a system that you can install in any car. Mercedes and Audi are working on gesture-based displays, and GM is tinkering with a system that uses lasers to augment the reality beyond the windshield. (Looking for a chalupa? There's a laser-outlined Taco Bell right over there!) But frankly, all we really need are the basics, as delivered by current systems from GM, BMW, and Audi: speed, navigation, radio stations. Projecting that kind of basic information on the windshield helps refocus your attention to a place where it increasingly isn't: the road. If most new gadgets tend to distract you from the act of driving, it's nice to have at least one that serves as the antidote.