In the past year, the two most important women in my life, my girlfriend and my mom, upgraded from analog to digital. They ditched their old cars – a 2010 Jeep Liberty and a 2011 Subaru Forester, both sparsely equipped – for new cars that are loaded with connectivity features, reconfigurable instrument clusters, the latest satellite navigation systems, voice command systems, heated steering wheels, xenon headlights and a slew of other features that were nearly inconceivable on a sub-$30,000 vehicle the last time they were in the market.

That's because we're in the midst of a feature renaissance, as the available options offered in new cars evolve at a breakneck pace. Automakers, meanwhile, are scrambling to fit even more, more, more to their new vehicles.

"We basically skipped a generation of technology, and that's what we're seeing come out now," Kevin Tynan, a senior analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence, told Automotive News. "Your 5-year-old car feels like it's 10 or 12 years old."

AN cites an example from IHS to support Tynan's statement. Back in 2005, just 12 percent of new vehicles had backup cameras. Now, you can get a four-camera AroundView Monitoring system on a $19,000 Nissan Versa Note. It's not just cameras that have exploded, though. USB connectivity and Bluetooth technology are very nearly as ubiquitous now as power windows and locks were just seven or eight years ago. Even satellite navigation is more common than it was in 2010.

This rapid increase in the availability of in-car tech is having a profound impact on the new car market. Combined with the lowest oil prices in the past several years, new vehicle sales are on pace for a sixth consecutive year of growth. Meanwhile, the increasing pace of obsolescence is leading to a drop in lease terms, with the average lease down to just 36 months, AN reports. According to Edmunds, a few individual months saw the average new-lease term fall below the three-year mark.

We often joke that today's cars are essentially smartphones on wheels. But now, it's really starting to look like people are viewing the two products similarly, in terms of their replacement windows, at least. Do you agree with sentiment? Have your say in Comments.

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