Q: I’m in the market for a new set of wheels. The choices are making me dizzy. How do I decide what features to look for in a new car and which to skip?
A: Shopping for a new car can be complicated. Although, it doesn’t have to be that way. With a bit of research you can make a choice you will be happy with for years to come. To help you out, we created a list of what features to look for in a new car. You might want these in your new car, or you may be able to live without them.
Must-have safety features
360-degree camera: This camera takes the risk factor out of backing up. It gives drivers a bird’s-eye view of the car. This way, drivers can see the entire area surrounding their vehicle and check for children and objects in their way.
Evasive steering: Keep yourself safe even in the event of surprises on the road with this handy new feature. Evasive steering will provide you with additional steering support when you’re in danger of colliding with another vehicle. It steps in when your own steering isn’t cutting it.
Blind spot alert: This feature alerts the driver when there is an object or pedestrian in direct line of their blind spot.
Forward collision warning: If you’re easily distracted while driving, you might want this feature. It provides a visual and/or audible alert when your vehicle is heading toward a forward collision.
Automatic emergency braking: Stay safe with this feature. It automatically applies the brakes when it senses a vehicle in your car’s way. Some systems include pedestrian detection as well.
Automatic keyless entry: This feature was created for those moments when you don’t have any free hands. It automatically unlocks a car’s doors when it senses a nearby fob.
Head-up display: You don’t have to risk swerving every time you want to check out your car’s display. With a head-up display, you can see important information, like your fuel level and speed, right on your windshield. Displays are dim enough so they don’t block your visibility, but clear enough to easily read.
Power tailgate: If you plan on hitching a boat, ATV, or another large vehicle to the back of your new pickup truck or SUV, you might want to shop for this feature. It lets you lower and raise your tailgate with the push of a button.
Multi-zone climate system: Family road trips are peaceful again with this feature. It allows for different climate controls throughout the car.
Speedy USB-charging outlets: No more long waits for your gadgets to charge! You can now buy a car that charges your device quickly.
WiFi hotspot: Stop eating up your phone’s data. Instead, plug into your car’s WiFi. Some in-car hotspot services charge a monthly fee after a complementary introductory period. The built-in feature tends to be cheaper for unlimited data than a similar data plan through a mobile phone carrier.
Heated steering wheel and driver’s seat: This one is for those chilly mornings when your car can’t get warm fast enough.
Wireless charging pad: Leave the wires at home! Just place your phone on one of these pads and it will start charging. These super-techy gadgets use induction to charge your device and work with most new smartphones. If your phone is aging and won’t charge on an induction pad, you can buy a special case to bring it up to speed.
Home assist device connectivity: Telling your phone to crank up your AC or to shut off your oven is old news. But, did you know you can now do the same for your car’s controls? Some new cars allow you to use remote voice control with home assist technologies, like Alexa, for your car. You can tell the assistant to set the temperature in your car, unlock doors, and even get your favorite playlist going.
Rear entertainment systems: No more backseat fighting! This feature gives the rear seat of your car a completely separate entertainment system.
Sound enhancement: Do you love the sound of your car revving up? If so, you will love this feature. It simulates the performance experience of your vehicle. You can listen to your engine roar itself to life even in a car that was built to be quiet.
Android Auto and Apple CarPlay: Leave your phone in the cup holder and avoid dangerous distractions with these features. Both will sync your smartphone’s interface with your car’s infotainment system. This way, you can use the car’s screen for controlling your phone and keep your eyes on the road.
Features you can skip
Bigger wheels and thinner tires: The look might be appealing, but the ride will be less comfortable. Plus, your wheels will be more prone to damage from potholes and other obstructions on the road.
Built-in navigation systems: Don’t pay extra for a navigation system when you know you’re going to use Waze or Google Maps most of the time. Also, most built-in navigation systems require constant and tedious updates.
Lane keeping assist: This feature automatically steers or brakes when your vehicle crosses a lane without turning on a blinker. It sounds tempting, but in real life, it’s more of an annoyance than a convenience. Often, you’ll need to suddenly cross a lane marker for good reason. Such as, moving over for an emergency vehicle or for a bike on the side of the road. Plus, according to Consumer Reports, there is no data that proves this feature has any safety benefits for the driver.
We hope that helped you decide what features to look for in a new car. If you want more negotiating power once you find that perfect vehicle, get preapproved with Money Federal Credit Union before you shop! Read our blog on the power of preapproval and how you can benefit from it.