Whether you're new car shopping or are about to start looking you'll want to make a list of must-haves for your next purchase. Today's cars and trucks offer a variety of features that are both high tech and convenient but also safe.
Carmakers are extremely competitive with each other to get your mighty dollar. With a plethora of features available, which ones are worth paying for? Let's run down a shortlist of 10 features that most people skip but are totally worth every penny.
10 Lane Departure Warning (LDW)
Lane departure warning, or LDW for short, is becoming more and more standard on many new vehicles but if you're in the used market make this feature a top priority. As the name indicates, your car will warn you with either a sonic alert or a vibration on the steering wheel that you are drifting out of your lane. Some manufacturers, like Ford, give you a warning light that flashes in your dash.
This sensory-based technology is also the basis for more sophisticated features like blind-spot detection and many other safety-laden features. LDW is especially helpful if you drive while sleepy and tend to doze off or drift while behind the wheel. Some of the more advanced cars actually pull your car back into the center lane! But don't worry, you can also disable it if you feel like your car's being too bossy.
9 Blind Spot Detection
While lane departure warning is a helpful feature it bundles well with blind-spot detection. Companies like Honda and Toyota offer their proprietary versions that are said to work really well. Blindspot detection comes in handy when driving on highways and need to change lanes or turn off an exit ramp. This technology will warn you of that inevitable driver who likes to hide in the wide-open spot that your mirrors and over the shoulder glance won't allow you to see. This can help you avoid a collision that would have been otherwise unavoidable.
8 All Wheel Drive (AWD)
All-wheel-drive has been all the rage lately in the SUV market. Practically all of the big names in cars have an AWD version. But not all of them are standard. If it is an option, take it! With the weather patterns being so unpredictable and harsh, especially in colder climates where ice and snow is the norm, this feature pays for itself!
While front wheel drive is better than rear wheel, all-wheel drive allows all 4 wheels to gain traction on the road to get you going without getting stuck. Subaru has its legendary symmetrical all-wheel drive that many rave about. Even in warmer climates where driving in a winter wonderland is the stuff of Holiday songs, AWD is still a key safety feature during inclement weather.
7 Remote Start
Speaking of inclement weather, remote start is a feature that you won't want to pass up. In the depths of winter, you can not only start your car remotely but in many cases set the interior temperature to your desired comfort level! Or, if you want to cool off your vehicle's interior steamy temperature you can do that as well.
Having a climate-controlled ready to go car is priceless in the daily rush of life. Besides having your morning coffee maker preprogrammed, this feature allows you to zip down the assembly line of your a.m. routine without a snag. (We wish the same were true for morning traffic!)
6 Heated/Cooled Seats
This sounds "extra" but once you've had it there's no going back! Again, despite what the weather app on your phone says, you can be ready to handle even the most extreme of temperatures. The biggest selling point of climate-controlled seats is the fact that your seats will actually warm or cool you faster than the interior system will! That can make a real difference if, say, old man winter drives down the mercury while you're out running errands.
Upon return, all you need to do is engage the heated seat button and voila! Warm and toasty like marshmallows off the campfire! The cooled seats are a real lifesaver too when driving in rush hour traffic or on long road trips that require you to be stuck in the driver (or passenger) seats. The cooling vents provide a cold stream of fresh air to calm the tensions of being a road warrior.
5 Multi-Zone Climate Control
Multi-zone climate control is also one that is more common in late models but don't overlook its importance as a must-have. Whether you're on the market for a mini-van, SUV or a sedan, think of how difficult it is to make each person comfortable. There's always at least 1 person who wants the interior temperature to be slightly different than it actually is. Add kids to the mix and you can have an endless debate over proper operating temperature of your car's interior! (And to be fair, many times the heat or A/C doesn't reach to rear seats as effectively.)
Thus the invention of multi-zone climate control! The inventor of this feature should be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for satisfying each passenger according to their personal comfort level, ensuring a peaceful ride home! Not only do the front occupants get to adjust the temperature but the rear passengers do as well!
4 Fast Charging USB Ports
These days nearly everyone needs a charge! Our smartphones are no exception. They are as central to our existence as our pc and entertainment centers. In this busy life of hustle and bustle, our mobile batteries take the brunt of our energy demands. Having mulitple fast-charging USB ports can be a lifesaver, especially if you're hooked to using GPS to direct you to and fro!
Some car makers even offer charging for the most power-hungry devices that require USB 3.0! An option that pays for itself, you'll be able to quickly charge up while in line to pick up dinner and be on your way fully charged in almost half the time of standard .5 amperage USB ports!
3 WiFi Hotspot
Do you know how you're always checking your mobile data usage like we used to do for minutes in the early days of cell phones? You become keenly aware of who is sucking down the data in your plan like milkshakes from the drive through! Well, here's your solution. Get Wifi built into your car and no more worries! You can download videos to your heart's content and not think about overages. Plus, if you're driving in a poor cell reception area, you can always rely on Wifi to get you through. Plans vary but you can get a flat-fee-based monthly plan that is easier on your wallet.
2 Seat & Mirror Position Memory
This feature comes in handy if you have multiple drivers that are varying heights. Think of a spouse for instance, who is shorter than their loved one. You get in after them and find the steering wheel in your chin and your knees in the dashboard! Or, if you share your wheels as a rideshare driver. You can set and save your preferences of all vital components of the car, ie, the seat and mirrors by the push of a button. This can save not only valuable time but unpleasantries between drivers. Well worth the extra dough if it eases possible tensions between individual preferences!
1 Paddle Shifters
Believe it or not, paddle shifters are available not only in sports cars but also in the once sought after mini-van! In either vehicle, paddle shifters, which are an option even in automatic transmissions, like the Ford Mustang, add an unmeasurable amount of fun and punch to the daily grind. Unless you're really counting your pennies hard, go the extra mile and get paddle shifters! They work alongside the auto transmission and can make your drive to the supermarket heart pounding with excitement and put that smile back on your face in a hurry!