We haven’t quite crossed the threshold into flying cars, or completely autonomous vehicles, but we’re getting close. With each passing year, automakers unleash a host of new features, technologies, and innovations that sometimes permanently alter the direction of the industry. 2014 was no different.
Taking a look back at the year that just passed by, Wired Magazine has compiled a list of 13 vehicles that are pushing the envelope in automotive evolution. Some of are cars that are innovating in the realm of design and appearance, others are vehicles experimenting with all-new, groundbreaking technology. There are vehicles that are even entering a whole new realm in terms of their construction. In short, it’s as exciting a time in the auto industry as there has ever been.
From Wired Magazine, here is a look at 13 automobiles that helped further the evolution of the auto market during 2014.
1. Jaguar F-Type Coupe
Wired gives Jaguar credit for rolling out what it claims to be Jaguar’s first true sports car since the E-Type, the F-Type Coupe. “The only problem is that the car is so well-balanced,” Wired writes, that “it’s not much fun until you’re going way too fast.” With the right configuration, the F-Type Coupe can hit a top speed of 186 miles per hour, so going way too fast is entirely possible. The F-Type Coupe might usher in a whole new era for Jaguar, but we’ll have to wait and see.
2. McLaren 650S
The successor to McLaren’s MP4-12C, the 650S is one of the world’s true supercars. Wired comments that “it’s a giant step down in price from McLaren’s P1 flagship, but plenty of DNA trickled down.” That DNA is evident in the car’s track abilities, which include a top overall speed of 207 miles per hour, and a zero to 60 time of three seconds flat. The 650S represents another step forward for McLaren, and for supercars overall.
3. Volvo XC90
Volvo is going through a rebranding phase, in an effort to increase the company’s market share and attract more customers. The first rehashed model in the company’s salvo is the new XC90 SUV, which is expected to be released this spring. What sets the new XC90 apart from the others in its segment is that it will feature an innovative semi-autonomous feature (read that as self-driving), as well as a more efficient four-cylinder engine — although V6 and V8 options will still be on the table.
4. BMW i3
The new i-series from BMW is a step in a bold new direction for the company, and one that many people have been waiting patiently for. With the release of the i3 compact car this year, consumers and critics alike finally got their wish. The i3 is much different than the rest of the BMW lineup, giving those who want luxury and efficiency in a small package a new option. “The electric car is efficient, comfortable, and comes with a gas-powered range extender for those nervous about running out of juice,” Wired writes.
5. Tesla Model P85D
Tesla is definitely one name that pops up whenever automotive innovation is discussed, and with good reason. But while efficiency and luxury are usually what comes to mind when discussing Tesla, performance is about to enter the lexicon with the P85D. Not only has the P85D shown itself to be a true sprinter, but it also comes with everything you could hope for in a Tesla — including auto pilot features.
6. Cadillac CTS-V
Cadillac has made a big impression over the past few years with its brand reboot, and a big reason is because of cars like the CTS-V. Though the current model is impressive in its own right, Wired is convinced that the 2016 redesign could be a real game-changing car. With top speed capabilities of more than 200 miles per hour, along with a luxurious interior and a reasonable price, the CTS-V is indicative of supercar engineering finding its way into more mainstream automotive offerings.
7. Google’s Autonomous Car
If there’s one car that is really set to shake things up in coming years, it’s one that isn’t even built by a car company. Google — the Internet search giant — has finally unveiled its autonomous car, which many expect will usher in a whole new era in transportation. The car doesn’t even come with a steering wheel, or pedals for that matter. Is this the face of the future? It looks like that’s a good bet.
8. BMW i8
Though the i3 was definitely able to spur some excitement among BMW fans, the i8 is what many truly couldn’t wait to see. BMW calls the i8 “the most progressive sports car,” and with good reason. It features incredible aesthetics, a hybrid drivetrain, and performs beautifully on the track, or cruising down the highway. As Wired says, the i8 is “thrilling, yet somehow practical.”
9. Ford F-150
Ford definitely made a lot of waves over the past year after declaring that it would be building the new 2015 F-150 pickup — the nation’s long-time best-selling vehicle — out of aluminum rather than steel. That innovative step forward also earned them a spot on Wired’s list. It’s a big step in the right direction for truck engineering, allowing for better fuel-economy without losing strength.
10. Toyota Mirai
Along with Ford and their aluminum truck, Toyota is also taking a pretty big risk, or leap, if you will. The recently-announced Mirai — a car which uses hydrogen fuel-cells to propel itself — is set to hit the market soon, and test the world’s tolerance for FCVs. Wired’s staff still has their doubts, saying “we’re not sold on the idea of hydrogen power as a replacement for gasoline, but Toyota seems to be.” Will Toyota’s bet pay off? Give it a few years, and we’ll re-evaluate.
11. Audi A3
Audi’s constantly churning out exciting and innovative cars, but something about the new A3 really struck a chord with the folks at Wired. “Most impressive is the stripped down interior design that is at the same time advanced and simple, a welcome break from the piles of buttons and touch screens that now fill most cars,” Wired says. It’s sporty, clean, and relatively inexpensive.
12. Dodge Challenger Hellcat
“In an age where engines are getting smaller and MPG figures are going up, Dodge pushed back with the Challenger Hellcat,” says Wired. Few cars were able to create as much chatter as the Challenger Hellcat last year. The car is basically the result of a group of insane engineers getting together and creating the most powerful car they could. The Hellcat can hit almost 200 miles per hour and creates more than 700 horsepower.
13. Lamborghini Asterion LPI 910-4
Many people probably never thought they’d live to see the day that Lamborghini made a plug-in hybrid, but alas, the Asterion is here. “Lamborghini may be synonymous with excess, but its latest concept, the Asterion LPI 910-4, shows the Italians do care at least a smudge about fuel efficiency,” writes Wired. With the Asterion, you get the efficiency you crave with the supercar performance you’d expect with a Lamborghini, as this car can go nearly 200 miles per hour, and go from zero to 60 in three seconds.