If you’re a family who love a family road trip, chances are, you’re pros at keeping the kids entertainment on long journeys. But if you’re not, then you need a good car infotainment system to take the stress and strain out of the constant “are we there yet?”
Gone are the days when it was a novelty to be able to be able to plug in a portable DVD player or handheld games console into your car - now USB sockets front and rear are the bare minimum.
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The nerve centre of modern cars is the infotainment screen in the centre console between the driver and front seat passenger - gone are traditional dials, buttons and switches for touchscreens which control everything from the entertainment system to the sat nav and air conditioning.
If you're thinking of buying a new car, here are some of the best infotainment systems for families...
Tesla Model 3
Whether you're on a road trip with the children or killing time while your electric car is charging, Tesla has thought of everything with its best-selling Model 3.
Unlike the bigger Model S and Model X, the Model 3's epic 15-inch infotainment touchscreen is horizontally mounted, making it idea for consuming media. Just about everything in the car is controlled via the screen (you can’t even open the glovebox manually), but it's the wi-fi connectivity and access to Netflix, YouTube and arcade games that will grab your family's attention. If they don't, then the Tesla 'Caraoke' app will!
This distinctive electric five-door fastback from Volvo's all-electric sister brand, Polestar, isn't just eye candy inside and out - it blends practicality with performance and cutting-edge technology.
Polestar 2's portrait-mounted 11-inch infotainment touchscreen is state-of-the-art stuff because the Swedish company has partnered with Google to develop the world’s first car with a native Android Automotive operating system, making life on the road easier, safer and more intuitive.
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Just say “Hey Google” and Google Assistant will listen to your instruction and act, so you can navigate, stream music or ask Google whatever you like without taking your hands off the wheel. Kids will love it and it can even be educational in a fun sort of way - if you ask the right questions.
Your children are unlikely to ever complain again if you invest in the enormous BMW X7. The Dark Shadow special edition of this luxury SUV features a pair of 10.2-inch rear seat displays installed on the back of the front seat headrests.
In addition, the rear armrest houses various media connections (including USBs and an HDMI) as well as a CD/DVD/Blu-Ray player. Oh, and crucially for parents up front, a pair of wireless headphones are supplied too.
South Korea's Genesis premium brand is making its UK debut in 2021 with the G80 saloon and GV80 SUV. Screens for rear-seat passengers are nothing new, but the 9.2-inch multimedia monitors in the back of the G80 can be operated independently of each other, cutting down on the chances of arguments.
Oh, and if the sun is too bright, side and rear blinds can be lowered electronically.
The all-new, all-electric Honda e isn't just one of the cutest city cars on the road - it has a cool, surprisingly spacious cabin. Instead of a centre console up front, three large infotainment touchscreens are stretched across the dashboard, joined at either end by two smaller 6.0-inch-screens which display a live feed from the "door mirror" cameras (the wing mirrors on the car have been replaced by two small cameras).
The touchscreens are configurable and can be swapped with one another, giving you access to everything from sat-nav to entertainment and basic driving info to a virtual aquarium!
Thanks to a 230v AC power outlet and an HDMI input (there are also four USB outlets and a 12V socket) your passengers could even plug in an Xbox or PS5, connect it to the onboard wi-fi hotspot and go online gaming.
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The all-new Hyundai Tucson Hybrid SUV is one of the stars of 2021 with its dramatic styling and spacious, futuristic interior where just about all physical knobs and buttons have been eliminated.
Up front there's a 10.25-inch infotainment screen which includes a fantastic feature for keeping the kids amused - and everyone in the cabin calm.
Go to Media, activate the 'Sounds of Nature' and choose a relaxing ambient background soundtrack. Options include Calm Sea Waves, Lively Forest, Warm Fireplace, Rainy Day and Open-Air Cafe.
Finally, a look into the future. Californian electric car start-up Faraday Future is planning to start production of its stunning FF91 next year and it will have an entertainment system like no other.
Rear-seat passengers will be treated to a 27-inch screen which flips down from the ceiling via a voice command. It also features cameras and can be used for live video conferencing, but it's inevitable that young people will use it for chatting to friends and playing interactive games!
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