For most of the history of the automobile, new car buyers focused on raw performance numbers, such as horsepower or fuel efficiency, to decide between different vehicles. However, as technology has improved, other features have become key selling points for new vehicles. From improved safety technology to robust infotainment systems, many of these options have become must-have features for car shoppers. Here’s a list of the most popular car features that have become a must-have for each new car.
1. Remote Start and Keyless Entry
Remote start and keyless entry systems allow you to start your car before you enter the vehicle and gain access to the interior without a key.
- How it works: A radio transmitter connects to your vehicle’s ignition and locking system and performs the appropriate action when it receives a signal.
- Why you want it: This feature lets you engage your climate control system before you get in your car. You won’t have to fiddle with the key to enter your car, and you can lock your car even if you aren’t standing next to it.
- Additional features include a panic button to engage your car alarm, a starter disconnect button to kill the ignition and prevent theft, and lighting controls to turn on your car’s interior lights.
2. Power Seats with Memory Function
Power seats, especially those with the ability to save your settings, may seem like an unnecessary luxury until you actually drive a car with this feature. Once you’ve experienced these seats for yourself, you might not be able to go back.
- How it works: A series of small motors adjust the positioning of your seat. Once you’ve found a position you like, you can save the settings for future use.
- Why you want it: The electronic controls allow you to lock in precise settings, giving you more freedom to adjust your seat. You can quickly switch between configurations for different uses, such as switching between settings for different drivers, or choosing the perfect combination for commuting or a lengthy road trip. You won’t have to fuss with the controls while you drive, allowing you to concentrate on the road.
- Other options include independently heated and cooled seats.
3. Telescopic Steering Wheels and Adjustable Pedals
Automobile designers position the pedals and steering wheel to be comfortable for the average driver. If you’re taller or shorter than average, however, adjustable steering wheel and pedals are an absolute necessity.
- How it works: The pedals and steering wheel are mounted on an adjustable frame, allowing you to move the pedals forward or back, to tilt the steering wheel up or down, or to move the steering wheel forward or back.
- Why you want it: Unless you happen to be the perfect size and weight, you may have to assume uncomfortable positions that impair your ability to safely operate your vehicle. This feature lets you comfortably operate your vehicle regardless of your height.
4. GPS Navigation System
Navigation systems are essential features for every new car. Modern systems can even suggest alternate routes when you get bogged down in traffic.
- How it works: Your car receives a signal from several orbiting GPS satellites to compute the car’s location. It then uses precision routing software to show you where you are and help you find your destination.
- Why you want it: GPS systems allow you to find your destination easily. Many systems are loaded with points of interest, helping you in finding gas stations, restaurants, hotels and more.
- Additional features include automatic map updates and real-time traffic information.
5. Forward Collision Warning
This safety system warns of a possible frontal collision, helping you to avoid accidents.
- How it works: Sensors, including cameras and radar systems, compute your distance to obstacles in front of you. When the system detects that you’re approaching an object too quickly, the warning activates.
- Why you want it: Even a little bit of warning can help you avoid an accident.
- Some newer systems are tied into your brakes and will apply your brakes automatically when the warning sounds, helping you avoid an accident or, should that not be possible anymore, mitigate its severity.
6. Rear Cross Traffic Alert/Backup Camera/Rear Sensors
Even though reverse speeds are typically low, visibility can be extremely poor, and it can be difficult to know precisely what’s behind your vehicle as you back up. The various back-up assistance systems can help remove some of the stress from backing up.
- How it works: Sensors check for objects approaching from the sides of the rear of the vehicle and sound an alarm when something, such as a child chasing a ball, is about to run into the path of your vehicle. In vehicles with a backup camera, the camera displays an image from the rear of the vehicle onto your infotainment system, making the whole process even easier.
- Why you want it: You probably don’t have eyes in the back of your head, but these systems will make sure that you do. You’ll be able to avoid accidents that might otherwise be unavoidable, and as an added plus, a backup camera will also make parallel parking easier.
7. Blind Spot Monitoring
All vehicles are equipped with mirrors to help you check the positions of other vehicles, but the vast majority of vehicles can’t offer complete visibility for the entire area around your car. Blind spot monitoring systems fill in the gaps, helping you to avoid accidentally merging into another vehicle.
- How it works: Sensors and cameras constantly monitor the known blind spots around your vehicle. When another vehicle occupies that space, the system gives the driver feedback, such as a warning light on the side mirror or an audible tone, to warn against changing lanes.
- Why you want it: 18% of all highway accidents are the result of lane changes, and it’s a fair bet that a number of those happened because the driver didn’t see a vehicle in their blind spot. Having a blind spot monitoring system gives you an extra set of eyes that monitor the area around your car.
8. Connectivity, Synchronization and Voice Control
Modern drivers want to be able to connect their devices, such as smartphones and tablets, to the car, and be available even when they are driving. Most new cars offer several forms of connectivity:
- Satellite radio gives you access to the same crystal-clear radio stations no matter where you are.
- Bluetooth connectivity integrates your smartphone with your car, allowing you to talk hands-free.
- Wi-Fi connections give you and your passengers access to the Internet while you drive.
Voice control allows you to control many systems in your car by using voice commands; some of these systems include the infotainment system and phone. Voice control is more than just a convenience; it’s also an important safety system that allows you to keep your attention on the road.
- How it works: Microphones and voice control software work together to transform your voice commands into input for your car’s systems, allowing you to find songs, change your navigation destination or make a phone call without using your hands.
- Why you want it: Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of accidents. Keeping your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road can cut down on distractions.
9. Electronic Stability Control
Electronic stability control is a safety system designed to prevent the loss of traction while driving.
- How it works: An ESC system uses several sensors, including brake sensors, accelerometers and steering wheel sensors, to keep track of the performance of the vehicle and the intended actions of the driver. When its sensors indicate that traction is being lost, it applies precision braking to the individual wheels to regain traction.
- Why you want it: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration believes that a third of all fatal crashes could be prevented by this technology. ESC systems help you in avoiding skids, and these systems are so well-designed that you’ll likely never notice its actions.
10. Automatic High Beams
Poor visibility can make driving at night stressful. You can improve visibility by using your high beams, but turning these powerful lights on and off to avoid blinding your fellow drivers can be a hassle. Automatic high beams allow you to improve visibility without micromanagement.
- How they work: A small camera detects light sources from other vehicles. When it passes a certain threshold, it automatically turns your high beams off; when no other vehicles are detected, it automatically turns your high beams back on.
- Why you want it: When you drive at night, it’s possible to out-drive your headlights; at speeds above 45 mph, it’s already too late to react to an object once you can see it with your low beams. Using high beams intelligently can improve visibility and give you more time to react to a sudden obstacle.
11. Multiple Center Console Power Outlets
As personal electronics have proliferated, it’s become increasingly necessary to be able to charge these devices while you drive. Many vehicles now offer multiple power outlets in the center console to provide power to all of the devices that drivers and their passengers now carry. USB connections also allow you to charge your devices and connect them to your infotainment system at the same time.
12. Roadside Assistance
Roadside assistance is an invaluable asset. If you run out of gas, have a flat tire, or get into an accident, a simple phone call can bring aid in minutes. Some vehicles have built-in roadside assistance packages, allowing you to summon help with the push of a button. Some of these systems actively monitor your vehicle and proactively dispatch aid when an emergency is detected. Most systems are available for a monthly fee, and prices and packages vary, depending on your needs and wishes.
Which of these new features sounds most appealing to you?
Have you purchased a car with any of these features?
What other features are a must-have for your car?
Let us know in the comments below!