Technological advancements are changing cars for the better, adding amenities that weren’t common a decade ago. Indeed, it wasn’t too long ago that the first USB ports appeared. Now, they’re universal. The best luxury car features have trickled down to mainstream models, therefore we’ll explore what they are.
Luxury for the Masses
Not all luxury features are available on all models or trims, but they’re more common than you may think. Some tech features, including backup video cameras are now mandated.
1. Heated and ventilated seats. How satisfying it is when with just one click of a switch, heat permeates a seat. Heated front seats are now commonly available in most cars and in some cases include ventilation for cooling. Some models go further, by offering heated rear seats or a heated steering wheel.
2. Key-activated remote start. We used to pay hundreds of dollars for key-activated remote start, a feature offered in some luxury models and typically available aftermarket everywhere else. This technology is ideal for frigid days, when warming the car and activating the de-icing system is desired. In some models, such as the Nissan Altima, remote start is standard.
3. Leather everywhere. You’ll still find cloth and imitation leather (vinyl) seats in many Chevrolet, Kia, and Honda models, but we’re also finding optional leather on even the lowest-cost models. Leather seats supply a level of comfort typically reserved for BMW or Range Rover models. Leather surfaces aren’t limited to seats either, as dashboards, door inlays and center console surrounds are sometimes thusly wrapped.
4. Smartphone compatibility. Our smartphones are nifty devices, enabling us to access music files on the go. They’re also useful for supplying navigation, which makes costly in-cabin systems unnecessary. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone compatibility are commonly available. In fact, most mainstream models offer it at no extra cost, while some luxury brands charge extra.
5. Adaptive cruise control. Cruise control has been around for decades, but adaptive cruise control is a more recent feature. Here, the system not only maintains speed, but it adjusts the speed when traveling behind another vehicle, maintaining a safe distance. More advanced versions of adaptive cruise control automatically bring the vehicle to a stop before resuming speed once traffic begins moving.
6. Adaptive headlights. Seeing around corners in the dark is now possible thanks to adaptive headlights. These advanced headlight systems, now common in many Acura and Mercedes-Benz models, are also available in some Hyundai models, including the Sonata sedan. The way this works is that the headlights turn with the direction of the steering wheel, offering improved forward vision at night. It’s usually paired with automatic high beams.
7. Cylinder deactivation. Cadillac tried and failed to offer cylinder deactivation in the 1980s, technology that was ahead of its time. In more recent years, the technology has improved and is widely available on luxury and mainstream models alike. Here, a V8 engine can operate on four cylinders while cruising, saving fuel, yet is ready to deliver full power again at throttle.
All models are benefiting from a wider application of driver-assist technologies as semi-autonomous driving becomes standard. Cadillac may soon offer full autonomous drive, but mainstream Chevrolet will follow. We’ll pay for the technology, but who can put a price on safety?
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Matt Keegan has maintained his love for cars ever since his father taught him kicking tires can be one way to uncover a problem with a vehicle’s suspension system. He since moved on to learn a few things about coefficient of drag, G-forces, toe-heel shifting, and how to work the crazy infotainment system in some random weekly driver. Matt is a member of the Washington Automotive Press Association and is a contributor to various print and online media sources.