As much as styling and brand are important features when buying a new car, there are other small features that can make all the difference on whether you LOVE your car:
1. Seat comfort means more than how a car feels on that 10 minute test-drive. Seat comfort is how comfortable that seat is in your daily life, for example: Long distance driving seat comfort, bumpy road seat comfort, drive-in theater seat comfort, passenger seat comfort (it’s not a fun road trip when your passenger is complaining of back pain, cutting into the key conversation topics), back seat comfort including leg room, child-seat comfort (how well do they fit in the back seat) and the list goes on. When buying your car, make sure you try out all the seats and if the dealership allows, take the vehicle for a few hours to see how it fits into your lifestyle. With a purchase of this size, all dealerships should be open to allowing you an “afternoon” test drive.
2. Front armrests. One of those small features that can go un-noticed on that 10 minute test drive, but become a real pain in the arm and shoulder in your daily commute!
3. Auto-On/Off headlights. In the past, seen mostly on luxury vehicle, this feature has snuck all the way into Entry-level and Compact cars. A shout-out to Chevrolet for adding this as a standard feature on ALL their models.
4. Battery Saver. You’d think that with all the technology packed into the smallest cars, that this would be a standard feature on every vehicle. Well it’s not. Battery saver is pretty self-explanatory, it saves the battery so the next time you start your vehicle you aren’t looking for boost. We’ve all been guilty of pulling into our parking spot at night, turning off the car and then turning on the overhead dome light to read that text, find your keys in your purse/bag etc. You get out of the car and forget to turn off the dome light. Without battery saver, the next morning when you go to start your car, voila, your battery is dead. With battery saver, after 10 to 20 minutes of your vehicle not running with a light left on in the vehicle, the power is cut to the offending light that was left on so when you get to your car in the morning, you have enough battery to start the car. Great feature, wonderful feature, makes booster cables obsolete (ok, maybe not but hey, just getting my point across :))
5. Intelligent Keyless Entry (I am borrowing Nissan’s Terminology; I believe it best describes the feature!). Ok, so this feature isn’t as widely available on the base Entry-level vehicles but if it’s within your budget this is one feature that should not be overlooked. It allows you to walk up to your vehicle with your key in your pocket/bag/purse push a small button on the door handle and there you are, your driver’s door is open. Push it twice and all the doors are unlocked. There is no fumbling around for keys. I am going to make this one about women, I love this feature, especially going to my car late at night, if you were ever being followed this makes for the fastest entrance to your vehicle. I like to think of it as a safety feature 🙂
6. Push Button Start (Again, borrowing Nissan’s Terminology, they do so many things well in their product!). This feature goes hand in hand with Intelligent Keyless Entry. Once in the vehicle, put your foot on the brake, press the illuminated start button where the ignition key would normally go and away you go! Far far away from that creep chasing you through the dark parking lot!
7. Automatically Locking Doors. This is number three of every woman’s safety guide in escaping creeps. This is something Chevrolet does well. As soon as you put the vehicle into Drive, the doors lock. So if you time it all right, run to your car, using Intelligent Keyless Entry, Push Button Start, put your car in Drive, you are safe within seconds, cutting out the needless button finding. Seamless. Which vehicle has all three….the 2012 Cruze LTZ!
8. Compass. Such a small feature, but has come in handy many times or maybe I just like looking at compasses! I know most people have Navigation units, whether factory installed or that nice compact Garmin. I can’t come up with a compelling reason why you should want one; I just don’t see a reason why it shouldn’t be in a base car, it can come in handy when out travelling new roads when one does not have a GPS and only an old school map. I love maps. A little story here and perhaps this experience is why I am adamant on Compasses in cars. At 18, my brother and I convinced my parents that we would be allowed to borrow my sister’s car and take a week road trip. The only stipulation was we were to get off the 400 at Barrie and take back roads over to Guelph and down to get back onto the 401. I’ll admit, we didn’t break this rule, but we didn’t necessarily adhere to the other rules that were set out :). We made it successfully to Fergus, Ontario only to get a little turned around. My brother, not able to drive with his graduated license was the map reader. I asked my brother to find out where we were on the map. He pointed out “Right here.” Well that was not sufficient enough for me, what I should have asked is what direction he thought we were going. Needless to say, I gave him a little piece of my mind sitting there in the middle of nowhere not knowing really what direction we were pointing and what road we were suppose to be taking. If I remember correctly, I made him angry enough that it was a pretty silent trip from Fergus to London and I spent the rest of the trip making up for my angry remarks! If only we’d had a compass in our car!!!
9. Outside Temperature. A little feature, but seriously, if my blackberry can tell me the temperature outside using an app, why can’t my car?
10. Distance to Empty. I like driving till I have 3 drops of gas left in the tank.