In-Car Tech

BMW in-car tech receives five big upgrades in July and here's how to get them

BMW is upgrading its infotainment system with a big boost for BMW Map functionality, among other features.

Photo courtesy of BMW

This month, BMW will release a comprehensive vehicle software update with new and improved features. Any BMW leaving the plant from July with Operating System 7 will already have the updated roster.

Here's what you can expect from the upgrade.

BMW Maps

2021 BMW 5 Series

Photo courtesy of BMW

The experience of using BMW Maps will be improved. BMW says that it will be faster, more intuitive, and more accurate. Destinations can be entered more easily and new cloud-based route calculation improves performance.

BMW Maps will now use real-time traffic information in addition to historical and extrapolated data to optimize routing. That data has been collected from over 14 million BMW vehicles. The automaker says that the system, "avoids unnecessary detours through residential areas."

When searching for a destination, BMW Maps lists the search results based on the vehicle's position. The application will now provide contextual information for points of interest including ratings, business hours, and images.

Connected Parking functionality also supports the search for parking spaces with additional services.

Connected Charging

2021 BMW 5 Series

Photo courtesy of BMW

BMW's Connected Charging services are being expanded as part of the update. Customers can now view details of past charging processes in the app and define specific time windows in which the car should be charged. The app can now also send push notifications directly to the customer's smartphone when charging events occur.

Public charging information has been expanded as well, now offering more detailed information on charging stations including opening hours, providers, or authentication options. Users can also see points of interest nearby like caf├ęs or restaurants.

All-electric vehicles now push their projected range to the app, which users can view in the form of a blue circle on the map overview.

If their BMW senses that a driver needs a break, the app will automatically suggest stopover points that include charging destinations.

BMW Digital Key

2021 BMW 5 Series

Photo courtesy of BMW

On the heels of an announcement at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference, BMW has confirmed that the innovation is part of the upgrade, not just coming to new products. Click here for more information about this specific feature.

Wireless Android Auto

2021 BMW 5 Series

Photo courtesy of BMW

Many new luxury vehicles are going wireless so it's no surprise that BMW is following the trend - something they announced in December. As part of the new update, Android Auto will become wireless in vehicles already equipped with Android Auto.

Users can access Google Assistant and interact with their smartphone with their voice and see the results on BMW's infotainment screen.

Additionally, the capability allows for adoption of Google Maps turn-by-turn guidance that is displayed on the vehicle's instrument cluster and head up display.

BMW Personal Assistant

2021 BMW 5 Series

Photo courtesy of BMW

The BMW Personal Assistant system is getting a new design. It has been enabled with intelligent functionality as well. This means that the system can now do things like show a graphic on the screen that turns toward the person talking (driver or passenger).

BMW says that the update allows the Personal Assistant to provide "proactive assistance with possible voice commands to improve natural interaction."

Here's how to get the update

Certain BMW vehicles built before July are capable of over-the-air updates. BMW has been enabling remote software upgrades since 2018.

For those vehicles, the update will be pushed to the cars starting in the third quarter of the year. The automaker says that around 20 minutes of installation time is required.

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All-new vehicle

The 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz splits worlds

It's not quite a truck or an SUV, but lands somewhere in the middle.

Hyundai

The 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz is one of the most unique vehicles to be released in a long time. It's not quite a pickup truck, but it's not quite a crossover or SUV, either. Landing somewhere in between the two segments, the vehicle is shorter than any pickup currently on sale today. Don't let its size fool you, though. The Santa Cruz packs a load of standard features, compelling technology, and a useful bed into its funky shape.

The internet is full of people who'll tell you that small pickups are destined to fail, but let me be clear: There is no reason that small, unibody pickup trucks can't become the norm for most people that think they "need" a truck. They're more maneuverable, cheaper to fuel, and easier on the wallet to buy. I think that's a pretty good reason to at least give them a chance, and after a full day behind the wheel, it's obvious the Hyundai Santa Cruz has enough merit to stand on its own as a useful and even fun vehicle to live with on a daily basis. Hyundai invited us to Santa Cruz, California to drive the new vehicle and see what it's all about, so let's dive in and take a look.


2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz Hyundai's signature LEDs add a futuristic touch to the Santa Cruz' grille.Hyundai


Competent Powertrains and Handling

The Santa Cruz comes standard with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 191 horsepower and 181 pound-feet of torque. Our test cars on the first drive event were equipped with the optional turbocharged 2.5-liter engine, which produces 281 horsepower and 311 pound-feet of torque. The lesser engine comes paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission and the turbo powerplant gets an eight-speed dual-clutch gearbox. In its top configuration, the Santa Cruz can tow up to 5,000 pounds.

The turbo engine and DCT pairing are a treat, and make the compact Santa Cruz feel lively and fun to drive. On California freeways, passing is effortless, and the transmission readily downshifts to provide more grunt on demand. As people in the Santa Cruz area know, the roads quickly shift from wide-open cruising to twisty mountain highways, and the Hyundai can make that transition with ease. Don't expect to keep pace with a dedicated sports car here, but the Santa Cruz' wide stance and capable suspension system keep the ride both comfortable and interesting.

From the driver's seat, it's easy to forget what you're driving. There's no indication of a pickup bed or anything resembling a pickup truck-like ride. That's thanks to the Santa Cruz' unibody design, which is the same one used in crossovers and in the Honda Ridgeline. Noise, however, is another story. While it's mostly controlled, freeway driving reveals weaknesses in the Hyundai's sound insulation. Rough pavement and grooved road surfaces send more sound into the cabin than expected, but it's far from severe.


2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz There's more than enough space here for most people, and configurable cargo options make it even more useful.Hyundai


Car-Like Comfort with Truck Utility

Cabin comfort and materials are another area where the Santa Cruz differentiates itself from traditional pickup trucks. Since the vehicle is based on the Tucson SUV, the layout inside is familiar and comfortable. The front seats are wide, deep, and nicely padded, and do a good job of holding the driver in place while flinging the Santa Cruz around mountain roads. Though I didn't have my kids' car seats on hand to test rear seat space, a visual inspection showed that there would be plenty of room for two kids without causing a tug-of-war with front-seat passengers for legroom.

The four-foot bed looks small on paper but is far more useful than you'd think in practice. Hyundai designed the space with under-bed storage, cargo D-ring tie-downs, side-bed storage compartments, and a sliding tonneau cover that is water-resistant. Owners can cut and insert wood pieces to create a sturdy shelf system with the bed's molded slot system, and Hyundai will offer several bed accessories, such as racks and cargo organizers.


2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz The optional 10.25-inch screen lacks wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, but looks great.Hyundai


Useful Tech and Safety Features

The top Limited trim with options gets a useful and configurable digital gauge cluster, along with a large 10.25-inch infotainment touchscreen. Hyundai's infotainment software is far from the most colorful or the fanciest on the market, but its straightforward operation makes it less distracting and much less frustrating to use when the vehicle is in motion.

Due to its limited time in existence, the Santa Cruz hasn't been crash-tested by either the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Standard safety features include lane keep assist, forward collision warnings with pedestrian detection, lane follow assist, and high beam assist. The SEL trim adds blind spot collision-avoidance assist and rear cross-traffic avoidance assist, while a surround-view camera, blind spot camera, and highway driving assist system are available.

The 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz is an interesting vehicle, and not just because it's unlike anything else on sale right now (that will soon change with the Ford Maverick). It's interesting, because of its infectious attitude, unrelenting utility, and funky style that all work together in a surprisingly cohesive and entertaining way. If I were in the market for a truck, and I always am, the Santa Cruz would be hard to ignore.

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The entire VW lineup sees new features and tech.

Volkswagen

The 2022 Volkswagen lineup will be tech-forward and will have more standard features than before. That's the message the automaker sent with its most recent announcement, which gives us a solid look at the company's 2022 catalog and the standard features that will be distributed across it.

Most new VW models feature the brand's Digital Cockpit system, which is a digital gauge cluster that can display maps, audio and entertainment features, and more. The Atlas, Atlas Cross Sport, Golf GTI, and Golf R all come with the feature.


2022 Golf R VW's Digital Cockpit is not standard on several models.Volkswagen


VW's IQ.DRIVE system is also widely standard in the automaker's catalog. The technology includes a hands-on semi-automated driving function with lane centering and capacitive feedback on the steering wheel. Volkswagen says that in town, the system can help alert drivers to upcoming obstacles or to sudden changes in traffic activity ahead. IQ.DRIVE uses front and rear radar, a front camera, and several ultrasound sensors.

Several advanced driver assist features are also included in the IQ.DRIVE system. They include forward collision warnings, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian monitoring, active blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alerts, adaptive cruise control with stop and go, lane keep assist, and a semi-automated vehicle assistance system.


2022 Volkswagen Tiguan The Tiguan gets updated styling for the new model year.Volkswagen


Beyond tech updates for the new model year, Volkswagen has made changes to several other models' styling and powertrains. The Jetta, Jetta GLI, and Tiguan received fresh styling for the new model year, while the Arteon sedan now comes with a more powerful turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 300 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. It's paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox.


2022 Volkswagen Taos The Taos is brand-new for 2022.Volkswagen


Finally, a new vehicle hits the VW lineup for 2022. The Taos is a compact SUV with styling similar to that of the Atlas SUV. It also gets the Digital Cockpit system as standard kit, as well as a turbocharged 1.5-liter engine and optional all-wheel drive. The Taos starts at around $23,000 before destination.

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