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Advice to help with optioning your next car
It’s effortless to become perplexed by the abundance of features available in fresh cars, especially if you haven’t been in the market for a few years. It seems there is a fresh advancement in convenience, infotainment, or safety systems almost every month, making for rough choices, pricey options, and a cavalcade of acronyms. We’re here to help.
Consumer Reports buys fresh cars for testing on a near-weekly basis, ensuring our staff has experienced just about every fresh feature that comes along. Some features are clever innovations that we wouldn’t want to be without, while others can be as much of a nuisance as a help. (Learn about how we test cars.)
Based on our practice, here are recommendations for features worth considering, as well as those that you should think about skipping.
Convenient seats! Drivers can spend a lot of time in the car. If the seats aren’t convenient, you won’t be glad with your car for long. Be sure as part of your test drive that you spend adequate time evaluating the seat. It’s significant that each driver get’s a chance to assess the seats for at least fifteen to twenty minutes.
Power driver’s seat with height-adjustable lumbar support. With greater fine-tuning capability than most manual seats, power seats can help most drivers find a much more convenient driving position. Height-adjustable lumbar support is another key to long-term convenience. If the lumbar bulge is in the wrong place, it’s no more convenient than having too little lumbar support.
Forward-collision warning (FCW) uses laser, radar, or cameras to assess surrounding conditions, as well as the speed of your treatment to a potential influence with a vehicle ahead of you. The system alerts you with visual and/or audible signals to a potential crash, permitting you time to react. Some systems also sense and alert you to the potential for a collision with pedestrians. We want to see forward-collision warning standard in every car.
Automatic emergency braking (AEB) adds to the benefits of forward-collision warning. AEB will sense a potential collision, and if you don’t react in time, the car will initiate braking for you. Auto-braking is another technology we would like to see standard in every car.
A backup camera is like having eyes in the back of your head, reducing the risk of reversing over or into something that might otherwise be unseen behind the vehicle. It’s both a safety feature and a convenience for parking.
Rear cross-traffic alert takes witnessing behind you to the next level by warning you when other traffic is approaching from the side as you back out.
Blind-spot monitoring signals when there’s a car in the blind spot beside you on the road. The best systems illuminate little lights in the side mirrors where you should be looking anyway. They emit a chime if you signal a budge toward a car next to you. We’ve found these systems to be very effective.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto bring the features and usability of your smartphone to the car’s dashboard. The appeal is being able to use interfaces you are familiar with to the larger screen of your car’s infotainment system. The systems permit you to use a selection of car-friendly apps, and make voice-activated texting plain.
Bluetooth connectivity lets you reaction a cell-phone call hands-free, without fumbling with the phone or taking a chance a law disturbance. In addition, Internet-sourced audio can typically be streamed to the car wirelessly, provided you took the time to pair the phone to the car.
360-degree surround-view camera systems help drivers park more lightly, and check for obstructions, through a bird’s-eye view from above the vehicle. Numerous cameras placed around the car demonstrate parking lines relative to the vehicle, making maneuvering in taut situations a snap.
Head-up displays share redundant information such as current speed, navigation information and audio selections on the windshield directly in front of the driver. This reduces the need for the driver to stir their eyes from the road to the dashboard or central display screen, albeit it may take some getting used to.
A USB port can be used to charge a device and play music through the stereo.
Voice controls can keep you from fumbling either with your phone or the car’s controls when looking for the ideal song or attempting to phone home. They’re also handy for injecting a destination in the navigation system, even under way.
Heated seats and steering wheel can be much appreciated during a cold winter. Trust us, once you attempt these, you’ll never want to live without them.
Dual-zone automatic climate control permits the driver and front passenger to fine-tune temperature settings. Set and forget—the system will make adjustments as needed to keep everyone comfy. It also has a safety benefit – in Auto mode, you’ll be fumbling less.
Automatic high rafters take the stress out of driving on back roads at night by automatically turning off the high slats for oncoming traffic, and then turning them back up once the cars have passed. We’ve found some systems work much better than others, however.
Spare tire. Lots of cars come without them these days, so check before you buy. In many cases, a spare tire can be added for a fee.
Keyless entry makes a massive difference when you’re attempting to open the car and you have your arms total of bags, babies, or a briefcase. Just walk up and open the doors—sometimes by touching a sensor on the treat. Almost all cars with keyless entry also have pushbutton begin. But even if they don’t, it’s lighter to fish for the key once your forearms are free.