It’s no secret, cars are much, much more than just a point A to Point B mode of transportation. Americans have had a love affair with cars ever since that first Model T rolled off the production line in Detroit in 1927, and changed the way we travel on a daily basis. Since then, the auto industry has evolved and innovated to a point where cars are the safest, most efficient, and most technologically and mechanically sound than they’ve ever been.
The best car features that were considered high-trim level options years ago are coming standard on most every 2018 and 2019 vehicle (shoutout to the super helpful, rearview camera) and cars, in general, are becoming more loaded straight off the assembly line. With auto manufacturers introducing multiple trims of the same model that include an exponentially increasing list of features the higher you go, it can sometimes be hard to distinguish which ones you actually need and the ones you can live without.
That’s why I polled the car experts here at Capital Motor Cars to find out which best car features were the most overrated and which were the most underrated when putting together your features wish-list.
5. Rain-Sensing Wipers
Rain sensing wipers might not seem like a popular choice at first for a list full of underrated features, but only when you’re in the middle of a rapidly changing storm on a busy highway will you truly appreciate them. Rain-sensing wipers due exactly what it sounds like, adjusting the wiper speeds to the amount of water currently raining down on your windshield.
They’ll also only turn on when a steady stream of accumulation is detected, so no need to worry about the wipers going crazy over that random drop of water from the overpass. Sometimes you don’t realize what features are extremely useful until you’re without them, and that’s exactly what we experienced driving an older car in the pouring rain.
It’s one of the options we would recommend going for if given the opportunity, due to their overall effectiveness and practicality. You don’t always know what you got til’ it’s gone, and in this case, we’re never letting go of our rain-sensing wipers.
4. Memory Seats
Letting your friend Greg use your car for the weekend? Be prepared to get it returned with the driver’s seat all the way back, with the seat lowered all the way to the ground. Nevermind that Greg is only 5’7”, now you have to readjust your seat to that perfect position that took you months to find. Not anymore.
With memory seating found standard in a bevy of luxury models and as an option in standard ones, you’re able to save seating positions for up to three drivers in most cases. Just set the position once, lock it into a specific driver number found on the door and you’re good to go.
We’ll never go back to the days before memory seating, making this a must-have on our countdown and a sure-fire box to check off when choosing a list of must-have features for your next ride.
3. Auto Folding/Tilting Mirrors
With backup cameras and parking sensors heavily featured in 2019, one park-assist feature that goes largely unheralded is the gem that is Auto Folding and Tilting Mirrors. Gone are the days of manually tilting your power mirrors down or inching up on your seat to see how far away from the curb you are when parallel parking.
After you’ve perfectly executed your parallel park, auto folding mirrors finish the job, further protecting your car from that random rogue bike messenger that might just get a little too close to your ride. These work great in tight parking lots too, giving you that precious extra space that could ultimately save you a trip to the body shop.
We can’t live without them, which is why auto folding/tilting mirrors make our list.
2. Apple CarPlay/Android Auto
Let’s face it. We use our phones for everything from shopping, to music, to social media, to banking. And oh yeah, for making that occasional phone call. That’s why it was no surprise that our phones would eventually be integrated into our cars. It was the only logical progression.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto have made their way into most every 2019 model being rolled out this year, due to both Apple and Google striking deals with many automakers over the past few years. You’ll get your favorite compatible apps on the screen of your car, as well as your contacts and messages all in one place.
Messages will be read out loud by either Siri or Google and will give you an option to respond, making for a completely hands-free experience on the road (please everyone, don’t text and drive.) Supported apps now include your favorite navigators Google Maps and Waze (and Apple Maps, if you’re into that) which make built-in vehicle navigation systems obsolete, saving you some money on that higher trim level.
Due to its practicality and safety elements, our staff decided that Apple CarPlay and Android Auto deserved to be high up on the list as an underrated feature.
1. Remote Start
An oldie but a goodie. And yes, this feature gets a boost in the standings since it is currently the middle of Winter and if you’re on the East Coast, you’re probably freezing. There’s nothing quite like warming your car up to a toasty 75 degrees on a frigid 10-degree day in January in wintry conditions, and thanks to your shiny new remote start feature on your 2019 car’s key fob, that’s now a daily occurrence.
Remote start has been around for a while, but in 2019 it is much more common to see a vehicle come standard with a remote-start feature than say 2009. Some brands like Mercedes-Benz even have an app that will let you remote start your car from your phone. Talk about convenient.
Chances are on most models you’ll have to go a few trim levels up to secure remote start on your vehicle, but we definitely recommend leveling up to secure it – especially if you live anywhere in the Northeast. You’ll thank us later – maybe even from the tropical paradise that is now your heated, 75-degree cabin of your new 2019 Mercedes-Benz GLC 300.
5. Soft Close Doors
Leading off our list of overrated features is a staple in the luxury vehicle realm – soft close doors. Found on higher trim level vehicles in brands such as BMW, soft close doors allow the driver or passenger to gently close their door by leaving it slightly ajar, which then prompts the vehicle’s system to latch on and close the door completely. Sounds neat, huh?
However, this is an underrated vs overrated article, and unfortunately for soft close door enthusiasts everywhere, we’re labeling this feature as being completely overrated. Even if you do get in a habit of utilizing the soft close feature, chances are you’ll miss that solid clunk of a closing car door and just the overall convenience of swinging a door shut as you hop out of the car.
In some cases, soft close doors might actually be more of a hassle instead of a convenient luxury feature and because of that, it gets our overrated stamp of disapproval.
4. Massage Seats
Like soft close doors, massage seating only applies to the uber-luxury segment, but that doesn’t stop us from labeling it as O-V-E-R-R-A-T-E-D. Brands like BMW, Mercedes, Cadillac, and Jaguar are some of the brands that offer massage seats as an option.
Sure the thought of receiving a relaxing massage while you drive sounds like a dream come true, but in reality, it’s a feature that hasn’t quite lived up to its full potential yet. Massage potency is underwhelming in most cases, once again making massage seats more of a novelty rather than an actual life-changing luxury feature that would make you scream, “shut up and take my money!”
Therefore, massage seats make it onto our list as overrated feature number four.
3. Auto Start/Stop Functions
Everyone’s looking to save a few bucks at the pump. No surprises there. Consumers want cars with better gas mileage and automakers are happy to oblige, loading up cars up with fuel-sipping features like Eco-Mode and one of our most overrated features, the Auto Start/Stop function.
The idea behind Auto Start/Stop makes perfect sense. Stop your car from idling during long waits at a busy intersection or traffic standstill by cutting the ignition, and you’ll ultimately end up saving more gas. In theory, this is absolutely true, but the problem we found is actually finding enough situations and scenarios where this becomes a useful feature. Most traffic jams you encounter are of the stop and go variety, making the autostart system just downright annoying as it jolts your engine on and off every 5 seconds.
For these reasons, if auto start/stop is a feature you’re wondering about including on your next build, we suggest passing it over.
2. Head Up Display
Found as an option in higher level trims in luxury models, at first thought a head-up-display sounds like something out of a fighter jet or Tony Stark’s Ironman helmet. Vital information like speed and GPS directions are displayed on a small lower left-hand corner of the windshield, allowing the driver to keep his or her eyes on the road.
However, the novelty quickly wears off after a few drives, since most of the information that it projects are just a few inches below on your multi-information display. If it’s an option that you want for that “cool factor” to impress your friends and family, sure go for it.
If you’re debating whether or not it’s worth your extra hard-earned cash, we recommend skipping it in favor of something a little more practical.
1. Built-in Navigation
The emergence of smartphone apps like Google Maps and Waze paved the way for the inevitable downfall of the external GPS device, like the TomTom and Garmin navigation systems. No more stashing bulky and laggy devices in the glove compartment or the trunk – your GPS was now conveniently located in your pocket at all times. The same here now applies for built-in GPS in vehicles in 2019.
Not only do Apple CarPlay and Android Auto make these outdated GPS’ obsolete, but they often come at a premium, ensuring you go up a level in trim or in a separate package all together just to have it included. Skip the upgrade and instead opt for other goodies like a premium sound system if you’re an audiophile or that remote start system that will save you in the cold Winter months.
The only in-vehicle GPS we co-sign is the Audi virtual cockpit (pictured above), which is a thing of beauty in itself and vastly more useful than your standard GPS.
When deciding on must-have features for your next vehicle, we’re always a fan of practicality over novelty. You won’t exactly impress your friends with your remote start system or auto folding mirrors, but they’re sure to come in handy on a boatload of occasions throughout the year.
Don’t know what the best car features are for you? Let the auto experts at Capital Motor Cars assist you! We’re well versed in all of the latest technology and available features for every make and model out there and our team will be happy to assist you throughout the entire leasing process.