Thankfully, every car you find on a lot is available for a test drive as well, so you do get to get a feel for the car and how it works before you commit to buying it. Every vehicle you look at will have standard features such as a radio, electric windows and seats, etcetera, but there are many more to consider and choose from, and some are more helpful and important than others. Again, you’ll have your car for a while, so why settle for something less than everything you need?
Most Important Features
When looking for a car, obviously the first thing you’re going to look at is the gadgets it comes equipped with. Heated seats, backup cameras, electric windows and seats, a sunroof – all of these are things that improve the simplicity, convenience, and comfortability of your vehicle. However, the first things you should be looking for and should absolutely never compromise on are the vehicle’s safety features. For instance:
- Side-Impact Curtain Airbags – these will provide protection for both your head and torso in the event of a side-impact collision.
- Adaptive Front Airbags – the ‘adaptive’ is an important distinction; these aren’t just standard front facing airbags…these will take into account your seating position and seat belt use to determine the force needed when deploying the airbag, so they’re a bit safer than standard.
- Electronic Stability Control – this is actually an extension of the anti-lock braking systems, and help you have even more control in dangerous and potentially fatal collisions.
- Head Restraints/Seat Design – your seats are there for more than just your comfort; they should be designed to protect you too. The head restraint, if adjusted properly, will protect you from whiplash in the event of a collision, and some vehicles even have seats that adjust the head restraint when the seat is adjusted, taking all the guesswork out of the equation.
- Tether System (LATCH) – this is especially important if you have children, as the LATCH system provides you with a simple way to secure your child’s seat inside the vehicle. This system helps to completely secure your child’s seat, making it safer for them to ride in.
- Locking Seatbelts – this means there is a mechanism that engages the seat belt when the brakes are applied more firmly than normal, or when the vehicle comes to a sudden stop, preventing you from being slung forward.
- Anti-Lock Brakes – this feature will prevent your brakes from locking and becoming unresponsive in the event of a sudden need to stop.
- Traction Control – this is to ensure you do not lose traction on roads effected by severe weather conditions such as snow, ice, and heavy rain.
Now that we’ve gone over the most important features to look for, we can move on to the features which make your vehicle that much more convenient and comfortable to drive. These are features that you could always live without, but that you’d sorely miss if you suddenly went from a car that had them to a car that doesn’t, and make our lives that much easier for the day to day. These include:
- Cruise Control – this feature is especially wonderful on long trips, especially if the trip consists mostly of highway or interstate roads. It allows you to set your vehicle to go a certain speed, and once set, your vehicle will adjust itself to go that speed without you having to do anything but signal and steer.
- 4-Wheel Drive – this feature is not for everyone, but is certainly nice for those who like to be able to drive over many different kinds of terrain, and even in inclement weather – especially in inclement weather, as it allows you to navigate in snow and deep water.
- Heated Seats – how nice would it be if you’ve just walked through the cold winter air, only to sit in your car and be instantly warmed by the seat beneath your hind parts? Well, with heated seats, you absolutely can. Ahh, warmth from the frigid cold.
- Automatic Transmission – while driving a manual transmission will surely always be cheaper on gas, there’s just no replacement for having to do…well, not much of anything in order to operate your vehicle. I still maintain that being able to drive a manual is helpful in certain situations, but an automatic transmission is my bread and butter.
- DVD Video System – this one is especially life-saving if you have children. These systems are especially great during longer trips because they distract your children with the miracle of television so you can concentrate on the road, rather than they’re screaming that they don’t want to be in the car anymore.
- Sunroof – this, while not quite as grand as having a top that comes off your vehicle, is a close second. It allows you to let the sun shine in while you drive (or the stars, if you’re driving at night), or to get a little extra air flow going in the car, if you’re a windows down kind of guy.
- Navigation System/GPS – If you’re anything like me, you’re probably completely directionally deficient. I swear, I’d lose my own head if it wasn’t attached to me, but thanks to GPS, I’ll never lose my way. Most phones nowadays have it, but it’s a thousand times more convenient when it’s just built into your vehicle, and that robotic lady will tell you exactly where you need to go.
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