Modern cars are packed full of technology with features that can be a bit overwhelming at times to people who are not accustomed to driving them. The new features, some of them hidden deep, can make driving even economic model, more convenient and safer.
Here’s a list of some little thoughtful features and some features that prioritise safety and comfort of the passengers. A few of them are offered only with the international models while the remaining majority are available even with our domestic models.
Next time you buy a new car you can look for these and know how they function.
1. Seat Warmers and Massagers
The first on the list are the heated seats and seat massagers. Long trips especially on the Indian roads can make any exciting vacation a tedious one before you reach the destination. Some cars offer a built-in massage feature that will help to loosen muscles and relax tension.
The heated seats keep you warm on any frosty morning, but they are not particularly pleasant when used for longer periods. No one wants to have a burnt bottom.
Now the heating for the back of the seats, they are a boon to people with back pain. GMC and BMW offer heating for the front seat bottoms or seatbacks or both. Not just the luxury model, these days even economy cars come with seat warmers.
2. Heated Steering Wheel and Armrests
Heated steering wheels keep your fingers warm and let you opt the gloves out. Using gloves on the dash screen doesn’t always work well. To heat the steering, look for a button on the steering wheel itself, or near the seat heater controls.
Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz offer heated armrests, on both the doors and centre console. Sometimes these functions are found deep inside a vehicle’s infotainment system, which requires some probing to find out if our luxury car offers the function.
3. Blind-Spot Monitoring
Blind-spot monitoring systems can help when changing lanes on busy roads. With the use radar and other sensors, the system determines if there is an obstacle to the left or right, immediately behind your vehicle, and alerts by flashing a warning sound/light.
4. Turn Signal Cameras
Blind-spot monitors and surround-view camera systems are smart features offered by most companies. A combination of both of them is turn signal cameras. These systems display the view behind the car when the driver activates a turn signal.
Honda’s Lane Watch system has a camera on the passenger side while Hyundai Motor Company’s system works on both sides.
5. Windshield Wiper Setting Indicator
Hyundai has a cool feature that has an icon appear on the instrument cluster to indicate the current Windshield wiper setting. It stays up for a couple of seconds then vanishes. A small but thoughtful feature.
6. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
Automotive infotainment interfaces vary with different brands and also within brands. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto similar to the ones we use on our phones make it simpler and familiar to use.
BMW, Ford, and GM offer wireless connections as CarPlay and Android Auto can drain the phone’s battery the more apps it uses.
7. Heads-Up Display
Most new models from all brands offer a heads-up display now. Critical data like driving speed and navigation, the speed limit of the current road, music from the infotainment system can be viewed straight ahead of the driver. This reduces unnecessary distraction from the driver turning around when they are handling the car.
8. Relaxation Systems
The new Hyundai Sonata has a Nature Sounds program that can play seven calming programs similar to white noise programs.
Mercedes’ Energizing Comfort system is more advanced with the use of climate control, massaging seats, seat heaters and coolers, audio system, ambient lighting, and fragrance system to create seven different programs. They help the front seat passengers relax during the drive.
Similarly, BMW has a system called Caring Car.
9. Road Condition Indicator
Some of the new cars also come with a temperature sensor to measure the exterior ambient temperature. A snowflake light pops up on the dashboard, or an audible warning to indicate that the roads might be icy. These systems usually give reminders when temperatures fall lower than 38°- 40°F.
10. Conversation Mirror
Some crossover vehicles, built with families in mind, have a small convex mirror near the interior rear-view mirror to allow a better view of rear seat occupants.
Honda’s Odyssey minivan offers an optional CabinWatch system that uses cameras to view the rear seat area.
11. Drowsiness Detector
Various driver drowsiness detection systems alert the driver if the system believes they are driving while too tired. The systems monitor the steering input and compare your steering motions to how often various lane-keeping systems have to assist you while driving. It pops up on the dashboard as a coffee cup icon.
12. Speed Camera Detection
Land Rover and Volvo both have a warning system that sounds a beep and flashes an icon in the instrument panel when you are approaching speed cameras on the red lights.
For other vehicles, phones paired with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto and running the Waze app will sound the alarm at appropriate times.
13. Advanced Driver Assistance Systems
Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) use different tools to increase safety while driving and help the driver relax. It uses radar and laser systems to scan the road ahead and behind, and warns us of any potential hazards.
Collision Warning, Automatic Braking, Hill Assist are some of the features that come along with the ADAS systems.
14. Adaptive Cruise Control
Modern adaptive cruise control uses the host of sensors on many new cars, to scan the road ahead for vehicles. You can select a target speed, and the car will maintain it for you, with you just controlling the steering wheel. It will also slow down the car in case of traffic on the road.
15. Stability Control
The electronic stability control is a system that constantly monitors all four wheels. If a car is beginning to slide out of control, the stability control system will apply the brakes to one side of the car and correct the slide.
The system can also be temporarily deactivated if needed, to help get a car out of slippery mud or snow.
16. Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems
The TPMS alerts the driver with a warning icon of an exclamation point within the outline of a tire, to indicate that a tire has lost pressure. Some modern systems are programmed to display the actual pressure on the dashboard. It’s a car maintenance basic everyone should know.