This is the must-have in-car gadget. High-profile entertainers such as Howard Stern and Snoop Dogg, above, are expected to increase the appeal of the pay-per-month service, which is optional on most car brands.
10 hot technologies
Despite the fact that gasoline-electric hybrid vehicles rarely deliver their promised EPA fuel economy rating, this was the hottest automotive technology in 2005. Nearly all automakers are scrambling to introduce hybrids to catch up with Toyota, Honda and Ford.
After a year of record-high gasoline prices, U.S. buyers are starting to give the new generation of clean-running, quiet diesels a closer look. Proof: The new kid on the block, the Jeep Liberty diesel, easily exceeded its sales goal for the year of 5,000 units. Sales through Dec. 22 were 8,240.
With electronics controlling the shocks, body roll can be nearly eliminated. And that makes the vehicle safer to handle in an emergency. Declining component costs have boosted the systems popularity.
By controlling the time that valves stay open -- or not opening them at all -- engineers are lowering emissions and improving fuel economy. Even some economy cars now have variable valve timing.
Ford, GM and a few upscale import automakers are betting big on six-speeds. They cost about $150 more to make, but they increase fuel economy by about 5 percent and improve performance.
By switching to LED, Xenon and other types of lights, automakers are saving electricity and improving safety. Perhaps the coolest lighting development of the year: the changeable lighting in the instrument panel of the new Ford Mustang.
These ultralight, ultrastrong panels are seeing greater use in exotic cars. The Ford GT, Dodge Viper and Chevrolet Corvette Z06 use carbon fiber.
This inexpensive technology may soon become standard on minivans, SUVs and other large vehicles where rear vision is difficult.