In-Car Tech

BMW's next-gen Digital Key offers smarter tech, safer connectivity

BMW owners can use their smartphone instead of a traditional key fob.

Photo courtesy of BMW

BMW will introduce the second generation of its Digital Key this winter, ushering in a smarter, safer way for owners to connect with their luxury vehicles.

From their smartphone, BMW owners were able to lock and unlock the vehicle, start the engine and share the key with others using the BMW Digital Key as part of BMW Connected on the smartphone.

The next-gen system (2.0) will use a security chip that works separately from the smartphone operating system. This chip can be used even if a smartphone has run out of battery. This system arrives in vehicles later this year.

BMW Digital Key 2.0 3.0 Users will soon be able to take advantage of more safety and security features.Photo courtesy of BMW

BMW isn't stopping there. They have already announced plans for Digital Key 3.0, which include the implementation of ultra-wideband-based technology. The automaker says that this technology will, "offer maximum anti-theft protection and enable precise localization between the device and the vehicle. As a result, the mobile phone must no longer be held directly up to the door handle to unlock the car, but can conveniently be left in the pocket."

In 2017 BMW Group joined the Car Connectivity Consortium, which is working to establish cross-industry, standardized technologies and security standards. Representatives from smart device creators and other automobile manufacturers are also a part of the organization.

"Our customers want cross-vendor interoperability. Standardization is the only way to achieve this; proprietary solutions are no longer beneficial," said Dr. Olaf Müller, head of Development Digital Access Systems at the BMW Group.

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The new Porsche Boxster 25 years celebrates the anniversary of the convertible's debut.

Photo courtesy of Porsche AG

Twenty eight years ago, a convertible concept car made its debut at the 1993 Detroit Motor Show. The production version of that car launched in 1996 with hardly any changes. It was the Porsche Boxster. Now it its fourth generation, Porsche has sold more than 357,000 of the coupes.

To commemorate the anniversary, Porsche is selling the Boxster 25 years, a limited edition model that takes design notes from the original Boxster and applies them to the current edition. All Boxster 25 years models are based on the Boxster GTS.

Porsche Boxster 25 Years

Photo courtesy of Porsche AG

The model features a copper-like shimmering brown Neodyme paint color in the front apron, side air intakes with mono bar, lettering, and two-tone 20-inch alloy wheels. The original car was colored GT Silver Metallic and the special edition will be offered in that paint color as well as Deep Black Metallic and Carrara White Metallic.

Porsche script is featured own the fuel filler cap and there are high-gloss tailpipes on the car's sport exhaust system. The windscreen surround is finished in a contrasting black color.

The Bordeaux leather interior sits below a red fabric convertible top that bears the Boxster 25 lettering. Both are also available in black. The car's cabin also has an interior package in Aluminum, 14-way electrically adjustable sports seats, door sill trims with "Boxster 25" lettering, and the heated GT multifunction sports leather steering wheel.

Each model is powered by a 4.0-liter flat-six engine that has a top speed of 182 mph. There's a PDK gearbox and standard Sport Chrono package, Porsche Active Suspension Management sports suspension, and Porsche Torque Vectoring with mechanical limited-slip differential.

The Boxster 25 years is available to order now and will roll into dealerships from the end of March 2021. Just 1,250 units will be allocated.

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The Avenir trim level joins the Buick Envision lineup for 2021.

Photo courtesy of Buick

The redesigned 2021 Buick Envision builds on the success of its little brother, the 2020 Buick Encore GX, giving customers more premium features and making the two-row SUV more competitive in its class.

Buick will sell the 2021 Envision, which slots below the three-row Enclave in the Buick lineup, in trim levels with more distinctions between them than the previous generation Envision offered, including the Preferred, Essence, and Avenir grades. Preferred and Essence trim levels are available with a Sport Touring package, which gives the car darkened exterior finishes and dark 20-inch wheels.

The Envision Avenir is distinguished by an exclusive mesh grille design, with tinted chrome trim and unique 20-inch wheels with a Pearl Nickel finish.

2021 Buick Envision Avenir

Photo courtesy of Buick

Each Envision comes with a more athletic body design for the new generation. At the front, there are LED headlights with LED daytime running light signatures. LED taillamps are at the back. Welcome/walkaway lighting and animation is activated via key fob.

Buick has put a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine under the hood of the Envision that makes 228 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. It's paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission. Push/pull buttons shift the vehicle in the place of a traditional shifter.

All-wheel drive (AWD) is available. Model with AWD get selectable drive modes: Tour, AWD, Snow/Ice, and Sport. Front-wheel drive models have all those with the exception of the AWD mode. Hill descent control is standard on AWD Envisions. A continuous damping control suspension is available on top-tier Envision Avenir models.

Buyers can get their Envision's interior with either a light or dark interior color scheme. Perforated leather upholstery is available on Envision Essence models. Heated front seats are standard on Essence and available on Preferred. Heated and ventilated front seats, diamond-quilted perforated leather upholstery, driver's seat massage, heated rear outboard seats, navigation, and wireless smartphone charging are standard on the Envision Avenir.

The Envision is the first model in the Buick lineup to incorporate the company's new 10.2-inch infotainment touch screen, which faces more toward the driver than the front seat passenger. A covered compartment below the instrument panel is home to the SUV's wireless charging pad, SD card slot, accessory outlet, and USB ports. Amazon Alexa, wireless Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto are available.

The system also has Buick-exclusive apps including Reese's Book Club and NCAA March Madness.

The dual-wing armrest is back by popular demand on the center console between the front seats. A heated steering wheel and air ionizer are standard on Essence and Avenir, and available on Preferred versions of the SUV. A power moonroof is available on Essence and Avenir models.

The five-passenger Envision has a 60/40 split-folding rear seat that can fold flat. There is 52.7 cubic feet of cargo space behind the first-row seats and 25.2 cubic feet behind the second-row seats. A hands-free programmable power liftgate is standard on Essence and Avenir and available on Preferred models.

Buick is making the SUV available with the Buick Drive Confidence Plus package, which includes a suite of nine standard advanced safety and driver assistance technologies like forward colliosn alert, front pedestrian braking, and rear park assist. Additional available driver assistance technologies include HD Surround Vision, enhanced automatic parking assist, adaptive cruise control, and a head-up display.

The 2021 Buick Envision is on sale now, with a starting MSRP of $32,995.

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