Car technology has come a long way in the past 15 years, and with it has come all kinds of advances. Engines are simultaneously more powerful and more fuel efficient. Safety features like traction control and stability control keep drivers safer than ever. Even previously difficult jobs, like maintaining adequate tire pressure, are taken care of by electronic monitors.
While a lot of these features serve a great purpose, other available features are not exactly relevant. Stability control and air conditioning are extremely important, but there are plenty of features that are completely unnecessary. But just because they’re unnecessary doesn’t mean they’re not incredibly convenient. Some of these features are absolutely worth the money, whether you need them or not.
Getting by in a car without Bluetooth is usually pretty straightforward. You play music from your phone using either a line-in port or a cassette adapter. If your phone rings, you just pick it up and answer it. Living in a state that bans cell phone use altogether makes answering the phone more difficult, but there really isn’t much that you miss out on if you don’t have Bluetooth.
The convenience is amazing, though. The first time you sit down in a car, turn on the car, and have music automatically start playing from your phone will be awesome. You don’t need another wireless FM transmitter, you don’t need to plug a cable in, and you don’t need to worry about unplugging everything if your phone rings. Bluetooth is just ridiculously convenient.
9. Navigation system
People were driving cars for nearly 100 years before they had the option of using a GPS, and they managed to get to where they were going just fine (usually). If they didn’t know where they were going, they either asked for directions or used a paper map. GPS systems eventually replaced asking for directions and using maps, but with every phone being able to do essentially the same thing, it looks like a navigation system in a car is pretty pointless.
Unfortunately, when you’re driving around a crowded and confusing city, holding a phone in your hand and constantly looking at that for directions is incredibly distracting. A large phone with a good mount does a much better job than a handheld iPhone 4S, but there’s just something incredibly convenient about having a navigation system integrated into your car’s infotainment system.
8. Keyless entry
Cars with manual locks are a giant hassle, but power locks work wonderfully. Turning the key to open the doors only requires a nominal effort, and the key itself is usually small and lightweight. Why bother with more expensive wireless systems that use lasers to unlock your doors?
You bother because it’s incredibly convenient, especially if you have one of the newer proximity keys. You can leave the fob in your pocket, walk up to your car, and never have to worry about unlocking it. When you get out of the car, you just walk away, and the door locks itself. It’s far from a necessary feature, but it’s also a really nice one to have.
7. Automatic headlights
Headlights are an essential feature, not just because the law says so but because it’s impossible to drive at night without them. People have also been capable of turning them on and off themselves for almost as long as cars have been around. Having automatic headlights is definitely not necessary, and leaving lighting decisions up to a computer sounds pretty risky.
That said, not having to worry about whether your headlights are on is wonderfully convenient. The older systems may have been finicky, but the new ones just work. Even better, forgetting to turn your headlights off and accidentally killing your battery is no longer a concern. Fewer people ending up stranded or late to work is always a good thing.
Having a sunroof is definitely not a necessity. A car won’t drive better with a sunroof installed, and it will actually decrease the amount of available headroom. For drivers who are taller than average, that means a sunroof can actually be a hassle. Having a sunroof doesn’t even turn your car into a convertible, either, so what’s the point?
The point is that a sunroof opens up the car, making it feel brighter and more spacious. Opening up the sunroof might not create the same experience as dropping a convertible’s top, but there’s just something about having a window in the roof that’s awesome. If your head won’t be knocking against it, springing for the sunroof is worth it.
5. Sunglasses holder
There are many different places that you could store your sunglasses while driving. You could leave them on your head, hook them through your shirt, place them in one of the cup holders, hide them in your purse, or any number of other locations. It’s not like it’s even sunny enough for sunglasses every day of the year, so you don’t need constant access to them.
Then again, there’s definitely something nice about getting into your car, realizing how sunny it is, and knowing exactly where your sunglasses are. Having many places to store sunglasses and no designated sunglasses holder means that there are many places that they could be when you need them, and there’s always the chance that your sunglasses fell or slid the last time you drove. But if a car has a sunglasses holder, you never have that problem, and you always know exactly where they are.
4. Adaptive cruise control
Cruise control itself is already a luxury, and adaptive cruise control is even more unnecessary. Just pay enough attention to not run into any of the cars in front of you, and regular cruise control will work just fine. It’s not like cars come with autopilot yet, so taking a nap or catching up on The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt are not options while you’re driving. Adaptive Cruise Control is an unnecessary technology.
We’ll admit that it still has its quirks, but especially in traffic that can’t decide what speed it wants to go, adaptive cruise control is just awesome. In fact, it’s one of the few features that’s even more awesome for other people to have than for you to have. You can’t control whether people are going to be inattentive drivers, but if their cars can intervene and keep them from hitting you, then that’s even better.
When I was growing up, we used to take a cooler on family road trips, and it worked perfectly fine. We had another cooler that we would take with us to sporting events. They worked quite well, and never did I think to myself, “Man, what this Honda Odyssey really needs is a refrigerator.” I was a creative kid, but since my chilled beverage needs were always met, I didn’t see much reason to question the system.
Someone did question the system, though, and it’s actually a really good idea, especially if you stop at the store on a hot day and need to keep something cold from melting on your way home. Perhaps you’re taking beer to a dinner and don’t want it to be lukewarm by the time you get there. No matter what, there are a million uses for a chilled glove box or center console, and the only way to figure them out is to get it as an option on your next car.
2. Ventilated seats
After the option of heated seats became available, it was only a matter of time before cooled seats followed suit. Neither are really necessary, especially for cars that have heaters and air conditioning. Your car blows cold air all around the cabin, but you also need cold air blown onto your legs and back? That’s a little bit ridiculous.
The thing is, in hot climates, cars get so toasty during the summer that it can take 10 minutes with the air conditioning running at full blast to get the car’s temperature down to an acceptable level. Back and leg sweat can very quickly become an issue, and no one wants to show up at a meeting with a wet shirt. On days like that, having ventilated seats is a true blessing.
1. Massage seats
No one should really have to have it explained to them why massage seats are unnecessary. They just are. After all, you’re driving a car, not hanging out in a Brookstone. Having massage chair installed in your car is on par with a foot spa and a pet groomer on the list of necessary car features. Actually, if you could work out the issue with the pedals, having a foot spa in your car might be nice, too. Neither is needed.
While massage seats are entirely unnecessary, they’re also quite nice to have. They do wonders for fatigue and tension, and for someone who suffers from a bad back, they make long drives much more enjoyable. Even better, you get to tell your friends that your car has massage seats, and they’ll instantly be jealous. That’s totally worth it.