‘Infotainment’ Systems Standard in New Car Models

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The most popular new car to hit the Mahoning Valley for the 2016 model year is likely to   be the redesigned Chevrolet Cruze. The changeover at General Motors’ Lordstown Complex is underway and the cars should be on showroom floors early next year.

But there’s another Chevy that consumers ought to keep an eye out for, says Nick Amendola, sales manager at Greenwood Chevrolet, Austintown.

“Probably the biggest thing is going to be the new Malibu. It’s a complete redesign that will be out in late winter,” he says. “I’ve seen it in Chicago and it has a very European look. The dash is fairly futuristic. There’s a lot more legroom in the back. It’s just a beautiful car.”

While there’s no indication yet of the starting price for the new Malibu, many expect it to be close to the $23,290 for 2015 models.

One top feature Chevrolet has been pushing is the Teen Driver System, which allows parents to track the distances and speeds driven, including whether the driver exceeded the limit. Other options are lane-keeping assist, adaptive cruise control and blind spot alerts. Fuel mileage for the Malibu is projected to be around 22 mpg in city driving and 32 on the highway.

Those safety features are becoming increasingly more common and, within a couple of years, will be standard on most cars, says Clay Campfield, sales manager at Bob & Chuck Eddy Fiat and Alfa Romeo, Austintown.

“The whole industry is providing a new level of standard safety with things like cross-path detection, emergency brake assist, 360-degree cameras and lane-change warnings,” he says. “Those things will be available on pretty much any car you want to buy in the next couple of years.”

Fiat is expanding its American offerings, Campfield adds. Earlier this year, the 500L was introduced, bringing Fiat into the small-SUV market.

“The only thing that’s going to have a bigger backseat is a crew cab pickup. With five adults in there for eight hours, it’s a comfortable fit,” he says.

For those looking for something a bit smaller, the standard Fiat 500 is also a bargain, Campfield says.

“We have brand-new Fiat 500s on the ground for $14,795 with air-conditioning, Bluetooth, power windows and doors, and 40-plus miles per gallon. They’re well-optioned cars,” he says.

Next door to the Fiat and Alfa Romeo dealership, at Eddy Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram, Campfield is taking note of the redesigned Chrysler 200 introduced earlier this year.

“If somebody wants something a little more European with a smaller footprint, they should look at the Chrysler 200,” he suggests. “They’ve tightened the car up a little and made a few small changes on the inside. Ward’s Automotive already voted it as one of the top-10 interiors in the world.”

The interior feature most in demand is what the industry has dubbed “infotainment” systems, the touchscreen controls for radio, navigation, phone calls and any other in-car entertainment a driver would need.

For a few years now, Toyota has been adding its Entune system to redesigned vehicles, says Chuck Masirovits, sales manager at Toyota and Volvo of Warren. The Toyota Camry, updated in the 2015 model year, has also seen some small tweaks to the soon-to-be-released 2016 version and makes good use of Entune.

“You can check scores, stocks, have navigation – all of those things – through Entune,” Masirovits says. “It just adds to the best-selling car in America.”

If the sheer number of features is something you’re looking for, then there’s little better than the Audi A6 or slightly larger A7.

“Even our most basic car is going to have leather, a panoramic sunroof, Bluetooth, satellite radio, heated seats and everything you’d expect from a luxury car, says Pat Primm, Internet manager at Cascade Auto Group, Cuyahoga Falls. “It’s standard on all our entry-level sedans and SUVs.”

Both cars have been updated for 2016 with “our absolute newest technology,” he adds. One of the biggest technological jumps is the virtual dashboard, which can be found in full on the Audi TT, a two-door sports car.

“What was traditionally the instrument cluster in an average car can now be absolutely customized to drivers’ preferences,” Primm says. “You can make the gauges bigger or smaller, put up a map, connect your phone or control the radio. The time the driver’s eyes are off the road is the absolute minimum.”

A similar version is available on the A6 and A7, he notes.

You might have a wait if you’re looking for a new sports car, but Campfield at Bob & Chuck Eddy says two cars coming to his dealership would be worth the wait – the Fiat 124 Spider, a convertible and Fiat’s first sports car in America, and the Alfa Romeo Giulia. Both should be out in late 2016.

“Alfa Romeo is really offering people an extremely high-end sports car with exotic materials that’s hand-built for under $100,000,” Campfield says. “It’s an absolutely incredible experience and there’s nothing else like it in America.”

Pictured: The Audi A6 comes standard with heated leather seats, satellite radio and a sunroof.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.