The SUV commands perhaps the most distinctive presence in the automobile market. Intimidating, powerful, luxurious, such distinguishing traits are the characteristics that elevate the SUV to a league of its own on the road, and are what makes them so popular with the auto enthusiasts.

Not only that, but in the age where the unstoppable force of technology is swiftly making its way into the car market, SUVs are also starting to gain a solid reputation among the techie crowds. Top automakers like Audi, Volvo, Maserati, and Tesla are pushing the boundaries of what was thought possible, reimagining the SUV as an all-in-one hi-tech luxury cruiser that does not only offers power and efficiency, but also comfort and security.

For instance, Audi is giving two of its popular SUVs a major tech upgrade. As one of the biggest names going into automation, Audi is giving its 2017 Q7 SUV autonomous capabilities that may make drivers safer on the road. With the innovative “driver-assistant system”, the SUV can now detect emergency situations and react accordingly by automatically braking, and simultaneously closing the windows and sunroof to secure the car and its passengers.

A more advanced version of Audi’s new driving-assistant system, also available to drivers, includes backup assist to prevent collisions while reversing and advanced cruise control to keep the car in its lane and keep up with traffic on highways.

Audi is also packing new tech onto its user interface, as drivers can now choose to have a full-color heads-up display show information like the current speed, speed limit, and navigation on the windshield. A 12.3-inch panel display behind the wheel offers information on the vehicle’s instruments and infotainment panel.

The upgrades are not at the cost of comfort and luxury. The Q7 SUV’s three rows of seats offer flexibility to all manner of riders and can be rearranged to fit more cargo whenever it is needed. It also comes with a two-panel panoramic sunroof as an added perk. The front seats come with standard heating, and can also upon request be made with ventilated leather and a built-in massager.

The company’s 2018 Q5 crossover SUV received a similar significant upgrade. The car is sporting 30 ambient-light options, with room enough inside the cabin for five passengers. The traditional instruments that used to be on the dashboard have been replaced by a 12.3-inch digital screen, that like the Q7 allows the driver to pull up a heads-up display on the windshield. An 8.3-inch touchscreen was also placed on the console with full voice control functionality, as well as gesture and hand-written entry recognition.

The Q5 features 30 semi-autonomous features such as cruise control that can operate in heavy traffic and lane-keep assist designed to prevent drift.

Volvo’s roomy XC90 SUV is also now available with several high-tech features. Innovative features like the four hidden cameras installed all around the vehicle allow drivers to navigate more effectively and drive more safely with 360-degree view of the car’s surroundings.

How it works is that the center display of the SUV shows the cameras’ views to assist with parking, which the driver can then select whether to view from the front or rear cameras using the touch-controlled display.

And like Audi, Volvo is trying its hand at including semi-autonomous features into its SUVs. The XC90 comes with an autonomous emergency braking system and semiautonomous features that allow it to accelerate, decelerate, stop, and steer itself at speeds below 30 mph.

Meanwhile, electric car maker Tesla, with its Model X SUV, shows the full potential of electric SUVs. Sporting a sleek exterior with sweeping, falcon-wing doors, the Model X comes with Tesla’s proprietary Autopilot feature, which allows the car to steer, brake, and even change lanes on its own while driving on the highway. It utilizes the car’s built-in front-facing camera mounted at the top of the windshield, which helps the Autopilot identify pedestrians and read speed-limit signs.

Inside the car, a 17-inch touchscreen display gives drivers full control of the vehicle, from opening and closing the doors and trunk, to showing maps and navigation with real-time traffic information to help on-the-road decision making.

The Model X also features an impressive interior storage space, with 77 cubic feet worth of storage. This can be augmented by the three rows of seats that can be moved at the push of a button.

Not to be left behind, Maserati’s Levante, being the premium brand’s very first SUV, features a suite of semiautonomous features, which includes adaptive cruise control, rear cross-path detection, lane-departure warning, and forward-collision warning. The Levante comes with an 8.4-inch screen, which supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

As the world of automobiles gets increasing transformed by new technologies, car enthusiasts may soon find innovations like electric, autonomous, smart vehicles become common in the entire marketplace. The SUV market is not the only one susceptible to progress. — Bjorn Biel M. Beltran