As automotive technology has advanced, the divide between standard vehicles and luxury cars has started to narrow. Realizing that many drivers are looking for advanced safety, infotainment, and other features that used to be reserved for the luxury segment, many automakers have begun to include more luxurious equipment in standard models.
Now, when you buy a new car, you don’t have to splurge for a luxury vehicle to take advantage of features like touchscreen headsets, premium interiors, or fancy sound systems. In fact, many standard car models today have features that outshine luxury cars of the past.
If you’re currently debating between buying a standard vehicle or expanding your budget for a luxury model, you may want to check out some of the cool features that you can now get without breaking the bank on a luxury brand.
Using MotorTrend’s latest article as a guide, here’s a rundown of 5 features that only used to be available in luxury cars, but are now available in many non-luxury vehicles.
1. Heated seats for all of your passengers
Nothing beats the feeling of sliding into a heated car seat on a cold winter day. When heated car seats were first developed, they were mainly in luxury cars and only installed in the front seats.
Realizing that back seat passengers deserved some extra comfort too, luxury car manufacturers began to install heaters in rear rows. While rear heated seats were once exclusive to luxury brands, popular models like the Honda Civic can now be equipped with this feature.
2. Nappa leather interiors
Leather car upholstery has been synonymous with luxury for decades. However, not all leather is created equal, and Nappa leather reigns supreme as the luxurious upholstery of choice.
Rather than splurging for a premium tier car to enjoy the supple feel of Nappa leather, you can actually choose this material as an option in many budget brands. Kia was one of the first adopters of mainstream Nappa leather. Many of its models can be outfitted with this premium material.
3. Onboard navigation systems
Getting around town is much easier when you have a GPS map guiding you from the dashboard of your car. The first navigations systems that were installed in cars were reserved for luxury class vehicles.
Though early navigation systems were very simplistic in design and functionality, having a real-time map signaled luxury for the driver. When you shop for a new car today, nearly every vehicle that you test drive will have a navigation option.
Programs such as Apple CarPlay make navigation even more accessible, by turning any touchscreen infotainment system into a map tool.
4. Panoramic sunroofs
The sunroof first made its appearance in cars built by luxurious brands such as Rolls Royce and Bentley. As car designs evolved over the decades, sunroofs became widely available in both mainstream and luxury vehicles.
When the Scion tC hit the market in 2005, this uniquely styled vehicle set a new standard for sunroofs with its expansive, panoramic top window. Luxury carmakers followed suit by creating panoramic sunroofs. Today, however, there are several mainstream car models that can be outfitted with large, panoramic sunroofs that allow drivers to enjoy the scenery.
5. Electric front seating controls
Getting your driver’s seat adjusted to just the right fit is essential for a comfortable drive. Electric front seating controls began popping up in the luxury car segment a few decades ago.
Power-operated controls provide more control over the height and adjustment of the seat, and can even be programmed to remember the preferences of various drivers. When you’re test-driving new cars, you may be pleasantly surprised to find that electric front seating controls are available from non-luxury brands.