A few years ago, U.S. News listed car features, some of them being for safety, others for convenience, such as natural voice recognition, or entertainment with regards to the infotainment system. In this article, we’ll go over those car features and discuss what makes them useful and which car features are the most important when looking for a new car.

1. Adaptive Cruise Control with Lane Keeping Assist

When cruising down the highway at a consistent speed, chances are you use the cruise control to maintain speed and prevent accidentally speeding with a lead foot. That is, until you come up to a slower vehicle, then you have to determine precisely how slower they’re going while slowing down your vehicle. Once you find the right speed and distance, you then turn the cruise control back on. Adaptive cruise control matches the vehicle’s speed in front until they either turn, move, or speed up. With lane keeping assist, it helps to keep you in your lane.

2. Blind spot detection

All vehicles have a blind spot, meaning you must take your eyes off the road to determine if it’s safe to maneuver into another lane or turn. A blind-spot detection system alerts you if there’s a vehicle in your vehicle’s blind spot and will then let you know when it’s safe for you to change lanes, pass, or turn.

3. Connectivity

Since the average American spends so much time in their vehicle, in 2019, that time was found to be nearly 11 hours per week; it makes sense that they want to be able to charge their phones and access apps. The smartphone connectivity allows them to do just that, whether for streaming music or composing text messages.

4. Head-up display

It’s interesting how the technology we find in today’s cars was once used initially elsewhere. In the case of the head-up displays, or HUDs, they were a part of fighter-jet technology before use in cars. With HUDs, you don’t have to take your eyes off the road to see how fast you’re driving. Newer HUD models also provide information about the local speed limit.

5. Hill holding and rev matching

These features are found in vehicles with a manual transmission. Rev matching prevents rollbacks when shifting gears, making it safer to drive the vehicle. The hill holding feature helps automatic and manual cars by putting less stress on the transmission and preventing minor rollbacks when going up hills.

6. Infotainment system

An infotainment system works by handing communication devices for the users and displaying needed information. The controls are large, easy to read, and the driver can customize the icon placement. Drivers can glance at their monitor to see their position on a map, the song playing on the radio, who’s calling them, or more.

car safety, cars

Infotainment system car feature | Alexander Zemlianichenko Jr./Bloomberg via Getty Images

7. Natural voice recognition

Before natural voice recognition, the driver would either need to take their eyes off the road several times, pull over, or have a passenger enter an address into the map. With a voice recognition feature, you no longer have to go through multiple menus to enter an address or open an app. The driver just says the address, and the system understands.

8. Rearview camera

You may have checked behind your vehicle before entering it, but what about the time between entering your vehicle and starting the engine? Or the time between looking at the rearview mirror and then looking down to shift your car in reverse? During that time, a dog might be using your driveway as a shortcut, or a child in a parking lot suddenly decided it was an excellent time to kneel to tie their shoes. A rearview camera lets you see what’s happening behind your car, so you know how close you are to an object or a person.

9. Remote start

Those who don’t have a remote start function are missing out. We’ve all experienced those hot summer days walking to our car and opening the car door only to have a wall of heat blast us in the face. Then we had to stand there for a few minutes while waiting for the car to cool down. There are remote starts on keychains, and there are now remote-control apps for smartphones that allow drivers to start and shut off their vehicles. They can also operate the horn and headlights, look at vehicle diagnostics, and lock or unlock doors.

10. Stow ‘n Go seating

A vehicle has limited cargo space, and it isn’t like you can renovate it to add more closet space. Since people need more space for storage but also need seats for transporting people, Stow ‘n Go seating has become increasingly popular. The third and second rows fold seamlessly to the floor, so you don’t have to remove any seats to use the cargo space.

Most important car features

Those are 10 useful features U.S. News listed. The most important features for car shopping are natural voice recognition, rearview camera, and blind-spot detection, with adaptive cruise control and the HUD display a close second.

The blind-spot detection lets you know when it’s safe to merge into another lane without you having to look over your shoulder multiple times, and the rearview camera allows you to see what’s behind your car that you can’t see from your seat. Natural voice recognition saves you time and lets you keep your eyes on the road.

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