Change happens fast in the automotive industry. Although a vehicle gets a full makeover every six years, it’s treated to a mid-cycle refresh every three years simply in order to keep up with the competition. With these refreshes come the addition of new features—some of which are more essential than others. Here are eight of the best new car features on the market today.
1. Teen Driver Technology
This new car feature from GMC allows parents to monitor and regulate the driving habits of their teenagers. By programming the key or key fob, Teen Driver Technology allows you to limit certain car functions, and prevent active car safety features from being disengaged in order to promote safer driving. You might, for instance, program it such that the car audio is muted until the seat belts are buckled, or lock-in features like blind spot monitors and traction control. You can also set a max speed limit, which comes in handy if you’ve got a young driver with a heavy foot. What’s more, this feature also provides you with a report card to show you how your teenager has been driving.
2. Rear Seat Reminder
Every summer, the headlines give us a tragic reminder of what can happen when a child is left unattended in the back seat of a car. For that reason alone, GMC’s Rear Seat Reminder—which issues an alert if the vehicle’s rear doors have been opened during or just before a trip—is a new car feature that’s worth looking for.
3. Mobile apps
Keyless entry with a push-button start is becoming the new normal. The problem is, the fobs that accompany these features seem to be getting bigger and bigger! That’s where mobile apps come in, allowing you to remote start, stop, lock and unlock your vehicle from your smartphone, no matter where you are (as opposed to fobs, which tend to have a maximum range of 200 feet). Just think: In the dead of winter, you can schedule your vehicle to start five minutes before you so you’ve got a toasty warm ride waiting for you. Likewise, in the summer, you can remote start your car to cool down long before you slip behind the wheel. Some apps even provide vehicle diagnostics, current fuel level readings and local gas prices if you need to fill up.
4. In-vehicle WiFi
Canadian phone data plans are among the most expensive in the world, but it doesn’t stop us from burning through the Gigs by streaming music, watching movies and using GPS. That’s why in-vehicle WiFi is a new car feature that’s gaining serious momentum. With this option, you can connect multiple devices to your car’s WiFi at once and not have to worry about draining your mobile data.
5. Auto start/stop
Gas mileage is still a major consideration when people buy a vehicle, especially for city drivers, who often spend more than an hour a day in stop-and-go traffic. A new-to-you feature to combat the urban mileage drain is an auto start/stop feature, which shuts off the engine when you come to a complete stop and turns it back on when you lift your foot off the brake. Originally exclusive to hybrid vehicles, this feature is now making waves in the mainstream market.
6. Auto high beams
Don’t you hate it when you’re driving at night and find yourself approached by a car with its high beams on? Your only options up until now have been to squint through the glare and maybe flash your own high beams to let them know. But what if cars automatically dipped their high beams when they sensed another vehicle approaching, or entered a stretch of road illuminated by streetlights? Well, that’s exactly what the Auto High Beams option does, and for that reason, it’s a new car feature worth splurging on.
7. Heated steering wheels
Picture it: Canada, in the dead of winter. You huddle against the biting wind, regretting not having slipped on a pair of gloves before heading out to the driveway. The thought of gripping a cold leather steering wheel is enough to make you shudder.
The good news? This chilling scenario can be avoided simply by investing in a heated steering wheel (shown here in the GMC Canyon Denali). Although it’s optional on lower trim levels, this popular new car feature is increasingly being offered as standard on higher trims.
8. Cooled seats
Fast forward six months: You leap into the driver’s seat and scald whatever flesh comes into contact with the black leather upholstery that’s been baking in the hot summer sun for the past several hours. This is when the value of cooled seats becomes very apparent—particularly now that you can select from multiple cooling levels for a perfectly comfortable, climate-controlled backside.