You just drove over the side of a snow bank (mostly for fun). How do you know you won’t roll your Jeep Wrangler over and end up calling for a tow truck?
That’s a scenario that actually happened during a week-long test. The snow bank was not that dangerous (or even that mountainous), but it was definitely helpful to have an in-dash indicator of the pitch and roll for any off-roading adventure.
In the 2019 Jeep Wrangler Sahara, there’s an app called Off-Road Pages that not only shows the real-time pitch (front to back angle) and roll (side to side angle) but also includes gauges for things like current transmission and oil temp, altitude, and even your precise GPS location (the kind made up of numbers, not a map that every car has in the nav system).
Testing these gauges reveals something interesting about how future cars will provide a whole new level of detail someday, especially when we don’t need to use the steering wheel, the brakes or the accelerator. You can monitor the finer details while the car drives itself.
Strong and stable
My test did involve driving up to a snowbank. Using the 4H setting, which helps with tire slip and provide power to all four tires, I easily traversed up into the mogul at about an 8% gradient. That’s enough to give you a slight sense of being at an angle, but nowhere near feeling tippy.
In my area, there’s also a massive hill you can drive up in the summertime (not recommended in winter) – it would have been helpful to see the front to back angle for that incline (the pitch), and even decide not to keep going further up a hill and back slowly down instead.
In many ways, these gauges are there for posterity – they are similar to the Performances Pages you see in a vehicle like the Dodge Challenger that help you measure your acceleration and braking distance. Maybe they are a little impractical but certainly fun to test.
The Coolant Temp gauge is a bit more actionable – if you are racing the engine too much on a hot summer day, you could decide to pull over and sit idle before you overheat the engine. Knowing the altitude is also handy if you live in a place like Denver or Utah.
Info at your fingertips
I’m curious how future cars will provide even more gauges like this. One I’d like to see is related to air quality. In some parts of a city, it would be helpful to see a measurement of the outside air quality and decide to turn back and not keep heading in a certain direction.
Of course, there’s also a lot we could monitor on social media when we reach the stage when we don’t need to pay attention to the road. When I make a post, I’d like to monitor the retweets or likes on Facebook, or even pull up a social media marketing app like Buffer.
Eventually, a car will become a computer. We’ll use Google Docs, watch movies, surf the web, and maybe even perform much more complicated tasks like holding a virtual meeting. We might work on a morning commute, running Photoshop or playing Fortnite.
For now, I’m a big fan of Off-Road Pages. Information like this might not always be useful or practical, but it enhances the off-roading experience – even for a small snow bank.
On The Road is TechRadar's regular look at the futuristic tech in today's hottest cars. John Brandon, a journalist who's been writing about cars for 12 years, puts a new car and its cutting-edge tech through the paces every week. One goal: To find out which new technologies will lead us to fully driverless cars.