CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Voice activation, built-in Wi-Fi, high-definition displays, motion sensors and 360-degree cameras. No, these aren't the features of the latest gadget from Apple, but what you'll find in new vehicles on display at the 2014 West Virginia International Auto Show.
From the entry-model Ford Focus to the new Mercedes S-Class -- starting at "just" $92,900 -- today's cars offer all the benefits of a smartphone, home entertainment center and even a masseuse all on four wheels.
They've come a long way from the days when Henry Ford wrote Model-T buyers could get "any colour he wants, so long as it is black."
"The industry as a whole is just really booming as far as what's out there for the consumer," said Ruth Lemmon, president of the West Virginia Automobile and Truck Dealers Association. "That's one of the great things about the show, people can come out and check out all the latest things manufacturers have to offer."
While we've yet to get flying cars, automakers have now improved cars to the point that vehicles do everything but drive themselves. (And Detroit is still working on that.)
"They've got so much automation now that, except for the driving, they do everything for you," said Richard Stephens, vice president of Stephens Auto Center and member of the dealers association's board of directors.
The 120,000 square feet of the Charleston Civic Center are packed with hundreds of new and classic model cars this weekend as part of the 2014 show.
All of the major brands sold in West Virginia are represented at the show. The latest models, and a few pre-production prototypes, will be on display for visitors to hop in and inspect during the three-day show, which opens at 10 a.m. today.
Production specialists from the various auto manufacturers will be on hand to answer questions and demonstrate the latest features and technologies.
Those include inflatable rear seat belts, accident avoidance sensors, push-button ignition and gear shifting, parking assist technologies, surround-view rear vision cameras, collision prevention, active suspension, inductive charging.
Ford and Mercedes-Benz will display their new hands-free power liftgate trunk feature.
"It's a way to open your trunk without using your hands," said Judd Templin, product specialist for Ford.
With the feature activated, a vehicle owner just has to kick their foot under their rear bumper and the trunk door opens and closes automatically.
Templin said it's an ideal feature for parents who have to juggle carrying kids and getting groceries out of the trunk at the same time.
For the consumer who appreciates the finer things -- or just an auto show attendee looking for a moment to relax -- they can check out the new heated and massaging seats available in Mercedes' new S-Class.
While most consumers probably can't afford a car priced in the six figures, the technologies introduced in those models are now filtering down to the sub-$30,000 cars at a much faster pace.
"It's amazing the rapid-fire pace of introducing the new technology," Stephens said. "A lot of it originates in the high end, but we are starting to see that quickly carrying down to the more entry-level models."
For consumers looking for performance, they can check out Ford's new 2015 Mustang Coupe, on display for the first time in West Virginia as part of the show.
The sixth-generation Mustang features a redesigned body and offers consumers the choice of three different engine models, ranging from a 420-horsepower, 5.0-liter V8 to a more fuel-efficient 2.3 liter, 305-horsepower EcoBoost engine.
General Motors has the largest display at the show, set inside the Civic Center coliseum.
It features about 45 vehicles from GM's various brands, including Cadillac, GMC and Chevrolet models.
A highlight of the GM display is the new 2014 Corvette Stingray, which debuted at dealerships late last year (though consumers probably haven't had a chance to see one there).
"As soon as it hits the dealership, it's usually gone the same day," said GM field manager Doug Stapleton.
Stapleton said the Stingray, which starts at $51,000, has been completely redesigned this year with a new engine and interior and exterior features.
The Velocity Yellow model at the show is sure to catch a person's eye as the walk into the GM area.
"It's one of the iconic American brands that people just identify with immediately," Stapleton said.
In addition to the Corvette, Chevrolet also has the new Chevrolet Cruze Diesel model on display, along with several Silverado model trucks.
In addition to the 2014 models, Chevrolet is displaying its pre-production 2015 Silverado heavy-duty and 2015 Suburban models.
"Our dealers haven't even had a chance to see these," Stapleton said.
The auto show opens at 10 a.m. each day, closing at 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and 5 p.m. Sunday. For more information on the show, visit www.WestVirginiaAutoShow.com<;;;;f"DMCrown">.
Contact writer Jared Hunt at busin...@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-4836.