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What’s Hot and What’s Not: 2017 Car Features

When it comes to cars, the newest technological features and innovations can overwhelm even the most tech-savvy individuals. When you’re shopping for a car, the expression “less is more” starts to make less sense. Plus, with new tech features popping up all the time, what was once considered hot, could wind up being outdated and unused by the driver in a relatively short period time. Below, we examine some of the newest features appearing on 2017 vehicles, and investigate why a used car with older features that are still standing the test of time may be a better option for you.

Car navigation: Hot — Factory installed: Not

Factory-installed navigation systems can be worth the extra money. But after Google bought Waze in 2013 [1], many drivers found the smartphone app to be such a superior option that it made their factory-installed navigation systems nearly obsolete. Not only is Waze free, but it provides current traffic data to give drivers the fastest path in real-time, which factory-installed car navigation systems traditionally haven’t done. For 2017, car manufacturers are installing smarter, less costly car navigation systems, which can pull real-time data.

Another option, which integrates cars with the newest smartphone technology, is Apple CarPlay for iOS or Android Auto. You can find this option – which lets you transfer many of your smartphone features to the vehicle’s dashboard – in used cars. You’ll need to use Apple Maps or Google Maps, but both use real-time navigation. The 2016 models of the Volkswagen Beetle, Jetta and, Golf [2], Honda Civic [3], Chevrolet Cruze, Tahoe, and Spark [4], Buick Lacrosse [5], and GMC Canyon, Sierra, and Yukon [6] are all outfitted with this feature.

Heads-up displays: Hot

Scan your surroundings at any point in time as you drive and you’re likely to see drivers with their eyes anywhere else but the road. Where are they looking? Usually at their phones. Heads-up displays, or HUDs, let drivers keep their eyes focused in the right direction: straight ahead. They do this by projecting a transparent image on the windshield. Plus, HUDs are cool, having originally been developed [7] for fighter pilots.

HUDs that are installed in the car can link to Bluetooth, showing you the texts, calls, and emails that you receive so won’t be tempted to peek at your phone while driving. With HUDs, you can also see how fast you’re driving, the current time, and how long it will take to arrive at your destination, all on the windshield in front of you.

You can find HUDs in many luxury vehicles, such as BMW, Lexus, Audi, Mercedes-Benz, and Cadillac, though many non-luxury cars offer this feature, too. The 2015 Hyundai Genesis [8], 2015 MINI Cooper [9], 2016 Chevrolet Tahoe [10], and the 2012 Buick LaCrosse [5] are just some of the cars you’ll find with a heads-up display.

Lane assist: Not

The lane assist feature is one of those things that sound good in theory, but in reality, not so much. The idea is for the car to nudge you back in your lane if you start to drift out of it. The problem is that most people think that lane assist is more annoying than driving with your nervous mother-in-law in the backseat. The good news is you can turn off the lane assist function, which is what two-thirds of drivers report doing, according to Consumer Reports [11]. The reason? This feature doesn’t really read lanes that well. If the road is curvy or irregularly marked, the system could activate, even when you’re in the lane properly.

Not everyone dislikes the lane assist feature, however. For example, if you find yourself logging long hours behind the wheel, you’ll probably benefit from a little nudge here and there. Some 2016 cars with lane assist include the Chevrolet Malibu [12] Hybrid, Toyota Avalon Limited and Prius [13], Chrysler [14] 200C, and Honda Civic Touring.

Blind spot monitor: Hot

Blind spot monitors work in various ways to keep you from changing lanes when it’s not safe; from showing you a warning light in your side-view mirrors, to making a sound alerting you of a nearby object, to displaying an image of what’s in your blind spot. If you’ve ever craned your neck at night while driving down the highway and still weren’t completely sure whether it was clear to change lanes, you’ll appreciate this car feature.

You can find blind spot monitors in many cars, such as the 2015 Subaru Legacy [15], 2016 Kia Optima [16], 2016 Ford Explorer [17], 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee [18], 2013 Volvo XC60 [19], and the 2013 Lincoln MKS [20].