Augmented reality won’t quite capture the experience of a dusty off-road adventure in an open-top Jeep Wrangler, that burned rubber smell from a track day behind the wheel of a new Porsche 911
or the all-day comfort offered by Volvo’s

 supportive seats, but a new iOS and Android service may help shoppers feel like they’re in the showroom from the comfort of their own home.

Jeep, Porsche, Volvo, and several other automakers are taking advantage of smartphone-specific augmented reality experiences offered by Google

on iOS and Android devices.

Also see: Cars that cost more than $200,000

The timing couldn’t be better. Showroom traffic has dropped substantially as new car shoppers stay at home during the coronavirus pandemic. Dealers have responded by offering at-home walk-arounds and test drives, but even those can be time-consuming for both consumers and retailers for shoppers who just want to kick some tires.

The new augmented-reality program made its debut at the virtual Consumer Electronics Show in early 2021 and it appears in Google searches for certain vehicles.

Related: CES brings new devices to help stop the spread of COVID-19

Though not quite the real McCoy, the experience offers a close-up look with tremendous detail. Zooming in on a Toyota

RAV4 that has been 3D-modeled by Google reveals details as coherent as the grain on the leather-wrapped steering wheel.

In some cases, the Google augmented reality even lets drivers park a virtual vehicle in their own background — such as in their driveway or on a favorite road.

For now, augmented reality is mostly about giving consumers the ability to get to know a vehicle before they hop in for a real drive, but it may also shorten the shopping experience.

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