From a safety and connectivity stance, Volkswagen is doing it all for the 2016 model year. With one sweet Ken Griffey Jr. swing, fresh infotainment and driver assistance features have been deployed on nearly every Volkswagen model. (Full information and availability for the 2016 Passat will be released at a later date.)
None of the features in this list is revolutionary from a technological view. Yet there’s no doubt they’ll easily influence shoppers. Hence, we queried a friend of Motor Trend—a current and original owner of a sixth-generation Jetta that possesses precisely none of these features—to approach the list of new and newish niceties as the majority of new-car buyers do: read about said features and then pre-emptively pass judgment. Rest assured, our anonymous volunteer also admitted she’d be the world’s most lenient teacher.
Blind-Spot Monitor with Rear Traffic Alert
Brief: Radar sensors at the vehicle’s rear keep their eyes open for hazards.
Judgment: “Great idea in theory, but I’d be afraid of it somehow malfunctioning, so I’d probably be double-checking the blind spots anyway. Can’t say all drivers are this careful, though.”
VW Car-Net app for Apple Watch
Brief: Through software coding magic and continuous connection, your $17,000 watch (there are $349 versions, too) can control select vehicle functions at your convenience.
Judgment: “Sounds pretty interesting, but not something I’d use, as I don’t have or plan to have an Apple Watch.”
Lane Departure Warning (Lane Assist)
Brief: Electric power steering can actively countersteer if the vehicle slips out of its lane at speeds above 40 mph. The Touareg’s hydraulically assisted steering limits the feature to a vibration warning without automated countersteering.
Judgment: “Sounds like a good idea. Let’s hope people don’t take this as a challenge to drive with their knees. (Look ma, no hands!)”
Adaptive Cruise Control
Brief: Radar helps the cruise control regulate the speed and following distance. Certain models can come to a full stop and resume operation from the stop with driver prompting.
Judgment: “I rarely use cruise control, so if it were to cost a lot or something, I’m not sure I’d be able to justify it.”
Park Distance Control
Brief: Ultrasonic sensors fitted to the bumpers, visual and audible warnings, and parking guidance lines in the backup camera display collude for greater transparency during park jobs.
Judgment: “Definitely helps with apartment living where the parking spaces are small and neighbors think lines mean ‘park on the lines.’ “
Automatic Post-Collision Braking System
Brief: Seeks to limit secondary collisions after a crash by automatically holding the brakes.
Judgment: “Seems like a good safety feature to brake for the driver if their reflexes don’t kick in to hit the brakes when they’ve already run into something.”
Volkswagen App-Connect (Android Auto/Apple CarPlay/MirrorLink)
Brief: Found in all but the base 5-inch Modular Infotainment Platform II (MIB II), the much-hyped “smartphone on the car screen” solutions have arrived simultaneously.
Judgment: “I’m all for smarter cars, but it sounds expensive!”
Forward Collision Warning and Autonomous Emergency Braking (Front Assist)
Brief: The system can quickly calculate closing speeds and automatically brake the vehicle to avoid or mitigate crashes if it decides the driver hasn’t reacted in a reasonable time.
Judgment: “Features like these help bad drivers become better drivers (except not really because the car is doing it for them).”
Parking Steering Assistant
Brief: Electronics control the steering in automated parallel or perpendicular parking situations for optimal entry, exit, and distance keeping. The driver manages speed and the gear shifts.
Judgment: “As someone who sometimes looks like Austin Powers when they’re trying to parallel park, I’d love some assistance.”
Brief: USB connectivity has come to all 2016 model Volkswagens. The 2016 Jetta GLI is shown here.
Judgment: “Wish I had a USB port in my current Jetta! I won’t miss the iPhone 4/4S MDI plug in the glove compartment at all!”