Each map you pull up is now entirely interactive. Clicking anywhere on the map will focus the location and show you local sites, related places and the best way to get there. Speaking of the best way to get places, the maps now compares multiple modes of transportation (bike, drive and public transit) and the traffic areas affected. You can indicate what time of day you want to see and the map will show easy flow traffic (green lines) and more congested traffic (orange and red lines).
The new Google Maps still shows you street views and photos, but in a more condensed and easy-to-see form. Just click on the little yellow person on the lower right hand corner and and click on the street area you want to see. Click "Back to Map" on the lower left hand corner to return. To search for specific places, e.g. "gas" or "Starbucks", just type it into the search bar on the upper left corner.
At any time you can click on "Explore" to see photos of your specific area. When you scroll over a photo on the bottom bar, an interactive line will appear indicating where that landmark is located on the map. Clicking on the photo will bring up a larger version.
Before heading out on a road trip, I like to not only get ideas about where to go, but I like to have a comprehensive idea of what an area looks like and where specific things like airports, mountain ranges, campgrounds, lakes and towns are. Mapquest is a great way to get specific directions, but I think Google Maps does a better job at giving a "big picture" view of a new location to explore.