Car Features: The Practical & the Ludicrous

September 23, 2016

Ford F-150 with Sirius radioSo, you finally stop at the dealership to take a look at that F-150 XLT on the lot that you’ve been eyeing (and trying not to drool over) for the past week. You KNOW it’s the truck for you. It’s practically cheering you on as you walk toward it. 

You can already see yourself in it rolling up to the campgrounds next month - all your gear in the back, your dog riding passenger, and your audio system providing a steady stream of your favorite music.

Everything looks perfect. You’re already mentally making out the deposit check as you open the front driver side door to step up and into the truck when  . . . No! The horror!

Your majestic F-150 XLT doesn’t have Sirius XM satellite radio. You spend a lot of time in your vehicle. You practically LIVE for your Sirius stations. Is this really the end? Does it have to be?

It’s 2016. What features do YOU think should be standard in most vehicles now?

We’re not talking body style or powertrain options here. That’s an entire article in and of itself.

We’re talking features - like those things that could make or break your purchase of that car on the lot you’ve been eyeing. How much are you willing to spend for your safety? For your comfort?  

There are features that you would LIKE in a car. And then there are features that you NEED. Sometimes the line between the two distinctions is very clear, sometimes - well, not so much.

Features You Need - Safety Features

Let’s look at safety features. Very clear. You need them. The passengers in your car need them. And the drivers and passengers in the cars around you need you to have them. 

How much is your safety worth?

The bad news - if your vehicle doesn’t come with more advanced safety and driver-assistance technologies, you’ll find yourself shelling out an arm and a leg for them.

The good news  - unlike cars of yesteryear, today’s cars are mandated to come standard with a good number of features designed to improve the safety of the vehicle’s passengers. 

The great news  - each new model year sees an increasing number of advanced safety and driver-assistance technologies making their way into even the most standard model cars, trucks, and SUVs.

So, even if you purchase the most base-line model car that rolls off the assembly line today you’ll know that your car will (at the very least) come equipped with basic safety features

  • Seat belts
  • Airbags 
  • Head restraints
  • LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children)
  • Anti-lock brakes 
  • Tire-pressure monitoring systems
  • Electronic stability control

The importance of your seat belt can not be overstated. Buckling up will always be the most important safety precaution you can take in a car. In fact, 34 states and the District of Columbia have primary seat belt laws for front seat occupants - meaning that law enforcement officers can ticket a driver or passenger for not wearing a seat belt, without any other traffic offense taking place.

More advanced technological  safety innovations - while not standard for most vehicles - are at least optional add-ons for the majority of new cars today and are often standard on all trim levels of high-end cars:

  • Forward-collision warning
  • Automatic emergency braking (AEB)
  • Blind-spot warning
  • Rear cross-traffic alert
  • Backup cameras
  • Automatic high beams
  • Lane-keeping assist (LKA)
  • Adaptive cruise control (ACC)
  • Parking-assist systems
  • Lane-departure warning (LDW)
  • Telematics systems (like GM OnStar, BMW Assist, and Hyundai Bluelink).  

According to a recent Consumer Reports survey, new car buyers identified safety as topping the list of factors they valued most when shopping for their new car. 

At what cost do you value your safety? 

Features You Want

Okay, then there are those features (like our guy’s Sirius XM satellite radio) that every car really should just have at least a few of in this day and age: 

  • Heated seats
  • Cooled seats
  • Remote start
  • Power drivers seat with adjustable lumbar support
  • AWD
  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • USB/iPod connectivity
  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • Infotainment system
  • DVD video system
  • Keyless entry
  • Spare tire
  • Dual-zone automatic climate control
  • Head-up display
  • Built in Wi-Fi
  • Navigation
  • Stop Start
  • Cruise control
  • Automatic High Beams
  • Voice control
  • Tow hitch
  • Self-driving technology

Heated seats may be absolutely critical to your driving experience. Or, maybe it’s the 175 plus stations at your disposal through Sirius XM satellite radio. Or, maybe it’s the convenience of keyless entry.

The number of standard and optional features from which to choose today can be confounding. Sometimes choosing which features you need boils down to cost over convenience. Sometimes, though, you just really, really need that heated front seat.

Features You Dream About

And then there are the “slightly-ridiculous-but -would-still-be-really-nice-to-have” features:

  • BMW Brake Drying
  • Audi Google Earth 3-D Navigation
  • Built-in Vacuum Cleaner (Honda Odyssey, Chrysler Pacifica)
  • Volvo Drowsiness Detection
  • Nissan’s Zero-Gravity Seats
  • Truck bed audio system (see 2017 Honda Ridgeline)
  • Kia’s smart-key sensitive automatic trunk opening system 
  • Push button ignition systems 
  • Mercedes-Benz’s “Magic Sky” sunroof that you can darken to block UV light and sun, or lightened to look at the sky
  • Night vision dashboard systems
  • Voice recognition interfaces
  • Automatic parallel and perpendicular parking systems
  • Flux capacitor (gotcha)

So . . . Yes. The number and variety of features (nevermind the trim and powertrain options) from which you may have to choose can be daunting. 

But, once you have an idea of what car you want, look at your budget and look at your needs (now and in the future) - and wants. Will practicality win over emotion? 

5 Reasons to Buy OEM

At some point during the ownership of your car, you may need to replace or upgrade parts of your vehicle - whether by choice or by necessity.

Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) refers to car parts that are designed, engineered, and developed by the vehicle’s manufacturer to work exactly as the parts you are replacing.

While not all OEM parts are actually made by the vehicle manufacturer (some may be outsourced), all parts are made to exact specifications provided by the manufacturer’s engineers, including safety, quality, fit, and performance.

Aftermarket parts and components DO NOT originate from your vehicle’s manufacturer and are, thus, not subject to the same quality and safety control standards as are OEM parts.

Treat yourself and your car the right way - if you need new parts or accessories, buy OEM.

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