Fun fact: Your average modern car is more technologically complex as the original Apollo space shuttle. If that doesn’t make your head spin, we don’t know what will. That being said, sifting through all the tech options to find the ones that will make your life safer, simpler, more convenient, or more entertaining can be daunting. Which tech options do you really need? Like, really? Naturally, the answer varies from person to person, but we’ll comb the options so you can make informed decisions for yourself.
There are a ton of high-tech active safety features on the market these days. The good news is that more and more, these are becoming standard in all kinds of brands and models. But it’s always a good idea to check. We recommend the following safety features sit at the top of your wish list: crash-avoidance technologies like forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, and blind spot warnings. These features are all designed to avoid accidents, and they really do save lives. List them right after seat belts and rear view camera in safety priority.
Another huge innovation that’s quickly becoming standard tech due to popular demand is smartphone integration. If you want your car to do everything your phone can do, without taking your eyes off the road, this option is for you. For iPhone users, integration comes in the form of Apple CarPlay while, for Android phone users, there’s Android Auto. This technology displays the apps and setup of your phone on your car’s display screen. Smartphone integration used to be reserved as an option but it’s become standard on mid-tier trim levels of most models, or even standard tech for some.
Common knowledge is that all-wheel drive is always superior to forward-wheel drive. But common knowledge is wrong. Whereas front-wheel drive sends power only to the front tires, all-wheel drive sends power to all four of them. But that doubles the transmission. As a result, AWD can be costly up front and down the road in maintenance. And there are limitations to its usefulness. If you regularly drive on icy roads and snow, all-wheel can help you gain traction to get you going. Snow tires might be better But AWD does nothing for braking and accident avoidance. In fact, all-wheel drive makes your car heavier so stopping on a dime is harder than ever. Finally, in addition to a bigger cost up front, AWD can increase maintenance costs since there’s double the hardware down there. Minnesotans, AWD is probably a good idea. Oklahomans, don’t bother.
This one is on the newer side. But, apparently, there’s an app for that. General Motors, Toyota, BMW, Nissan, Hyundai, and more all have phone apps that allow you to remotely start your car’s engine, unlock or lock doors, honk your horn, flash your lights, and more. You can also beam destination’s to your navigation, operate the charging of your EV vehicle, view telematics, and more. Is this a bit unnecessary? Maybe. But lots of frills have become standard tech features over the years, and we now wonder how we ever did without.