Sitting in front of a fireplace on a bearskin rug notwithstanding, is there anything more satisfying than getting in a vehicle and sliding onto a seat that has built-in heating during the dead of winter? I think not. This bottom-warming technology once was the exclusive property of luxury vehicles, but the trickle-down effect has gloriously brought it mainstream — for instance, directly to the handful of affordable offerings from everyday brands we’ve rounded up below.
The gateway hatchback into the Honda brand is a favorite, especially among both young drivers and empty nesters for its zippy, well-equipped nature. The top trim bundles heated front seats and plenty of premium features like a leather interior, continuously variable transmission with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters, as well as an available navigation system.
The best way to sample VW’s portfolio and simultaneously avoid breaking the bank is via a Jetta utilizing the ultra-efficient 1.4-litre turbocharged TSI engine. Don’t think thrifty means bare bones: there’s LED daytime running lights, a backup camera and touchscreen display. Even the base S grade can have a $495 Cold Weather package tacked on guaranteeing the driver and adjacent passenger will have toasty bottoms, and that the windshield will always be clear due to heated windshield nozzles.
There are many of reasons to love the Mazda3: lauded SKYACTIV efficiency and performance, an optional precise-shifting six-speed manual gearbox, and beautiful KODO Soul of Motion design language. The mid-tier Touring allows customers to enjoy variable heated seats up front, and surprisingly given the modest price point, also a long list of standard safety and convenience equipment, such as blind spot warning, rear cross-traffic alert, dual-zone climate control, and automatic on/off headlamps.
If we’re really crunching the budget, there’s not much that is able to go up against the Hyundai Elantra. The Value Edition is located somewhere in the middle of the lineup and priced a tick over the $16K mark when brand new, packing bun warmers inside the compact four-door. Level up to the Limited model with the Ultimate package and the sought-after amenity is extended to rear occupants, too.
Nissan’s small sedan is proof that sporty and sensible can co-exist. The Sentra SR has heated front seats, yes, however in addition there is a high-revving 124-horsepower 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine utilizing variable valve timing, 125 lb-ft of torque on tap, independent front strut suspension, and large 17-inch alloy wheels shod in wide tires. What this translates to is a whole lot of fun carving up windy roads, all the while experiencing a comfortable, regulated temperature zone down below. Used examples can easily be found around $15,000.