If money is no object when buying a car, this article is not for you. Go ahead and get all the bells and whistles. For the rest of us who agonize over our car choices, the number of optional tech features can be overwhelming, especially as you're trying to sort the essential from the frivolous. There are a vast array of options, anything from aromatherapy to self-closing doors to pause-and-play radio. So, which of these tech options do you really need? We'll be visiting some of the most touted options and seeing whether they're right for you.
What Tech Options Do You Really Need
Let me ask you a question: When was the last time you walked up to your car without your hands full? If you're having trouble remembering, keyless entry is probably for you. As long as you have your keys on you, the car unlocks automatically when you approach. Parents loaded down with car seats and diaper bags especially benefit from this option.
This tech seems to be everywhere: in cell phones, speakers, home entertainment system and, of course, cars. But Bluetooth is best in cars. In an age of tech distractions leading to car accidents, injuries, and thousands of fatalities annually, Bluetooth attention puts drivers' eyes back on the road where they belong. You can dictate a text, call your sister with voice commands, and read email all while driving and never have to divert your attention. Those who never feel tempted to read a text while on the road might not need Bluetooth, but statistics show that more of us could use it.
There is a marked uptick of available Wi-Fi hotspot in cars this year. Is it worth checking that box? That all depends on you. If you tend to drive alone, you might never really use the Wi-Fi. If you use car time as family talk time, this feature might be frivolous. But those with families who want to stay connected and keep the teens entertained might find that the convenience of highway internet is worth the price.
The rearview camera is standard tech on all kinds of cars these days. In fact, some legislators are trying to mandate that they be present in all new vehicles. Why? Because they've been proven to save lives. Since becoming common, backover accidents have dropped considerably. Of all the tech on this list, this is the piece you never want to be without, especially if you have young children at home or next door.
You can easily spend thousands of dollars getting the popular all-wheel drive option, but is it worth it? You might feel safer with ‘AWD' stamped on your car, but, contrary to popular belief, all-wheel drive does not help you brake better in slippery conditions. It can help you accelerate and navigate rough terrain, such as dirt roads. But it adds significant weight to your vehicle, compromising your fuel economy, and AWD requires more maintenance over the lifespan of your car.
Bottom line: if you drive unpaved roads or live where there is significant snowfall and rain for more than one season of the year, consider it. The rest of us needn't bother.