Consumer Reports named its top ten must-have features for cars and most of them are connected car, infotainment and ADAS features. Only two are not directly related to technology, a comfy seat and power driver’s seat with height adjustment. We agree with most of Consumer Reports selections, however, if you are on a budget to get all the features could be very expensive unless you outfit your present car with some of the features or find a used car that was very advanced when it was made.
The features include Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, Bluetooth, Backup cameras, HUD, surround view, FCW, AEB, Blind Spot Alert and Rear Cross Traffic Alert. We have added some our favorites afterward, you can add yours.
At AUTO Connected Car News we have extensively covered the features that Consumers Reports named as must-haves. Many of the features can only be found in car models in the last year or so. Some features can be added through aftermarket devices or found in some used car models. If you don’t want to buy a new car, we offer ways you can adapt your present car to get the some of the same must-have features.
Infotainment Displays & Connections
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto with infotainment software interfaces on 7″ or larger touchscreens bring the interface of the smartphone into the car for music, text messaging, some apps, mapping and finding points of interests. Not all new model cars or trucks come with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The deployment of the smartphone systems didn’t gain momentum until the 2016 model year. Smartphone fans seem to love the convenience of Siri and Okay Google, however, technical support can be limited and we have gotten complaints from readers who don’t like that they have to plug their Android or iPhone to a cable to get the systems to work.
Most 2016 and later Chevy, Buick, GMC and Cadillac models have both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay with a recent update for 8-inch screen models. Some Hyundai models including Sonata have Android Auto, while they are still waiting for CarPlay. Ford just recently started offering Android Auto and CarPlay with the 2017 Ford Escape coming out this spring. Ford announced that Apple CarPlay and Android Auto will be coming to 2017 Ford vehicles and available as an update for Ford 2016 models.At CES FCA announced Android Auto and Apple CarPlay for 2016 Uconnect systems with 8.4 NAV systems found in Chrysler, Fiat, Dodge and RAM vehicles. Volvo released un update for Apple CarPlay in December 2015 for the XC90. At the LA Auto Show Mitsubishi revealed that the 2017 Mistubishi Mirage SE and GT models will come with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay standard.The 2017 Kia Sportage will be the first Kia to offer UVO3 with Android Auto, Apple CarPlay (late availability). The 2016 Honda Civic and Honda Accord have Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Volkswagen updated its 2015 models with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay with most 2016 models come with Android Auto, CarPlay and MirrorLink pre-installed.
There are several Android Auto and CarPlay aftermarket options available if you can replace the car’s radio. Many luxury cars and electric vehicles have other functions in the radio that make it difficult to replace. Pioneer, JBL, or Kenwood.
We found that the most important features our readers is the ability to connect to their phones wirelessly while driving. A button on the steering wheel answers or initiates the call. Phone numbers can be saved in the vehicle’s or phone’s contacts. Sometimes music can be streamed. Cars first started coming with Bluetooth about seven years ago. There are many Bluetooth aftermarket options including adding a speaker phone to the visor such as the Tech CARS award nominees the JBL Trip, iSimple ISBT52, Parrot MINIKIT Neo 2 or You can also replace the radio with products from Pioneer Bluetooth or other Bluetooth devices.
Backup cameras allow the driver to see many things in the rear however low-lying thing like bicycles and balls can’t be seen. Backup cameras are very important to prevent backovers of children and other short things that can’t be seen. Backup camera will be standard in all cars starting in 2019. There are several ways to install a backup camera. You can replace the audio receiver with a model that can accept a video feed. You can buy a backup camera that connects to its own screen. There are also wireless backup cameras.
Rand McNally introduced OverDryve, a seven-inch specialized aftermarket tablet that attaches to a car dash or clips on to the vent that brings connected car features It features streaming audio, back-up camera video, voice-guided navigation, collision warnings and video when dismounted.
Head-up displays show information in the driver’s field of view, so that the driver doesn’t have to take eyes off the round. Typically these kinds of screens are only found in luxury cars. There are few aftermarket products in the works but none have come into prominence yet.
IHS forecasts the growth rate the production of head-up display systems, which will exceed 65 percent.
Cameras around the car allow for a bird’s eye view, which removes the blind spots around the car. This feature is seen in the XC90 from Volvo, when we were given a demo during the Los Angeles Auto Show. It may be possible in the future to replicate this feature with aftermarket products which we have not it seen yet.
ADAS Must Haves
Forward-Collision Warning (FCW)
Forward Collison Warning systems alert the driver when the car is moving too close to vehicles in front either by auditory or visual signs. The feature is usually found on cars rated with IIHS Top Safety Pick +. The “+” means that the car has forward collision prevention. When we looked for used cars with the feature for under $20,000 we found that Edmunds.com had some 2013/2014 Honda Accord, 2013/2014 Subaru Legacy (with AEB), 2014 Ford Fusion, 2014 Chevy Volt and 2012/2013 Volvo XC60 (AEB) models had front collision prevention. Collison prevention is proven to reduce insurance claims, by the Highway Loss Data Institute analysis.
Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB)
Automakers agreed to offer automatic emergency braking on all vehicles starting in 2022 because of the safety it will provide drivers. Volvo piloted this features with City Safety, Subaru offers Eyesight, Toyota offers Safety Sense while the 2017 Buick LaCrosse was named the car with most safety features. Unfortunately as of this writing, this kind of feature is not currently available as an aftermarket add-on.
Fuji Heavy Industries, maker of Subaru automobiles reported that Subaru vehicles sold in Japan between 2010 and 2014 equipped with EyeSight driver assistance systems had 60% fewer accidents than those without it.
Rear Cross Traffic Alert
Rear cross traffic alert cameras alert the driver to vehicles coming across the rear blind spot. AAA found that not all of automakers’ deployment of these features are the same.
Blind-stop monitoring warns the driver when cars are coming from the side blind spots via lights on the side mirrors. This feature can be part of many of the aforementioned packages on mid-to-luxury cars. We are just now starting to see this features in compact models.
We would also add some our favorites:
Safety Seat – It’s getting harder to alert a driver to danger because so many senses are being bombarded at once in cars. However, the engineers at GM invented a patented solution that cuts through the audio and visual sensory overloads with gentle seat vibrations called the Safety Seat Alert with directional tactile sensations. The seat vibrates to warn the driver when they are leaving the lane or if there is a rear cross traffic by where the vibration if felt. It’s like getting a tap on the back as a warning. The nice thing about cars with the safety seat, they usually have built-in massager, too.
Currently, only a few GM and Cadillac vehicles have video mirrors instead of review mirrors, this function cuts out the clutter of the backseat headrests, the dog looking out of the window and the clutter in the trunk of hatchback.
Lane Departure Warning
We also like Lane Departure Warning after we read the story of a driver who became sleeping driving on a mountainside, the warning alert saved her life. Some drivers must have remote feature apps even if they can sometimes be hacked.
What connected car or safety feature to you think is a must-have in your next car? Let us know in the comments below.The majority of Millennials support vehicles becoming more connected. A new study shows the preferred features of a connected cars including automatic emergency breaking, real-time navigation, car locating, voice commands and Wi-Fi hotspots. The most desirable features of connected cars are favored by company car drivers.