Predicting the future of cars just got a lot easier

Predicting the future is not always easy. Innovations seem to come and go, and what seems like a trend turns into a dead end. Fortunately, there is an easier way to guess at what the future might hold. You can  look at current technology and then surmise what is coming in the near future and beyond.

Two clear examples of this come from recent innovations with cars. One is in the 2023 Grand Cherokee Trailhawk. It has a cool passenger screen. It’s dimmed for the driver, but the person next to you can control the navigation system, select the radio station to play, and even hook-up a game console using the HDMI port.

The screen is bright and clear (I was able to test it out recently, while safely parked). This points to a future for cars that will involve way more screens, way more entertainment, and other novelties that car companies are only just starting to experiment with.

Another example of this comes from the Lincoln Navigator Black Label. I tested a 2022 model but this feature will carry over to the latest model. It’s something I’ve never seen in nearly 13 years of reviewing cars (maybe I just never came across it): There’s a rear touchscreen you use for controlling the climate settings, massage, and audio playback. It’s a breeze to use for either rear seat passenger. That’s true even for things like volume or cranking up the rear seat warmers.

What this all points to is a future where screens are everywhere in the car. I could see them being used on the side passenger doors for lock, unlock, and even opening the door. (This is not unheard of, since the Ford Mach-E has a precursor to this with what is essentially a door “button” as opposed to a door handle.) 

I could also see flexible screen technology making a debut soon in production cars. That could be something where the screen sits on the roof inside the cab within an enclosure. It could slide out of that holding area to become a massive rear-seat HDTV screen. Movie night will never be the same — or as portable.

Screens could cover the entire front of the dash, more of the rear seats than ever before, in the third row seating area, and even on the roof of the vehicle. The reason is that screen tech has advanced and become cheaper at the same time. We are now clicking, swiping, and zooming in and out on our phones all day long. We’ve become accustomed to screen technology being everywhere we go, including restaurants, at the gas station, and everywhere in between. At home, security systems use touchscreens in the main console. 

It’s just a matter of time before screens in cars become even more ubiquitous. They could be on almost every surface automakers can think of from the front to the back. The only question I have is whether screens will start to appear on the outside of the car as well, to control things like the liftgate on the doors from the outside. I imagine that’s coming soon as well.

We’ll have to wait and see if the screens everywhere prediction comes true. In some ways, it already has.