Luxury Has Come a Long Way in Cars, and Good News: These Options are Widely Available in Most New Cars.
Most of us started driving before technology was integral to the cars we drive. Have you tried to explain to your kids or grandkids that you used to have to crank your windows down instead of pushing a button? Or that when you got in the car on a cold day, you just had to deal with the cold seats because the seats were not heated (or, that was an expensive option!)
Things we take advantage of today once were luxuries, like a heated steering wheel, that you only saw in high-end vehicles. But that is where most luxuries start, at the higher price point. As fast as technology is progressing, most high-end amenities make their way to consumers at all price points within a few years.
Some of the luxuries we are seeing in cars are added options, but they are absolutely worth the few extra dollars a month. Each item that we’re seeing as an option to add to our cars are there to make our lives that much easier as we drive from place to place.
Here are a few of our favorite luxuries that we might put in the ‘necessity’ column and that we expect will become more and more common in all cars:
1. Ride More Comfortably with Heated and Cooled Seats
Heated seats can be a complete blessing when you live in an area that has a harsh winter. It’s one of my favorite features when I’m sliding into my leather seats. But when I drove a car with air-conditioned seats, it was life-changing. The first time you use the air-conditioned seats it feels a bit odd, but on a hot day there is nothing better than cooling yourself to the core with this luxury. While this feature isn’t available on every vehicle yet, once you test it out you’ll fall in love with it too.
2. Never Sweat the Small Stuff with Rear Seat Climate Control
How many fights have you gotten into because someone is too hot and someone else is too cold? A major lifesaver for a lot of families is climate control, and different climate zones. Most cars come with different climate zones for the driver and front passenger, and some even have different areas for the back-seat passengers. Set the perfect temperature for your area and enjoy the ride comfortably.
3. Apple Car Play/Android Auto Integrated Phone System
The main console of your car is no longer filled with buttons, instead most have a tablet style interface with touch screen controls offering satellite radio, GPS navigation, climate control and even access to your back up camera and vehicle settings. Even though these can be pretty sophisticated, most people still prefer the power and customization of their own phone for making calls, listening to music and for navigation. Enter Apple Car Play and Android Auto. These systems mirror your phone on the touch screen allowing you to use your favorite apps while you drive. Just set your destination on your phone before you get in the car, set up your Spotify playlists and during your drive, hit the voice control button on the steering wheel to send and listen to your texts.
5. Gaze at the Stars with the Ones You Love Through a Panoramic Sun Roof
We all love a sun roof in our car. In the summer they’re great to pop open for a bit more sun and a bit of air flow. In the last few years vehicles are coming equipped with panoramic sun roofs, some are even lit with LED strips to create lighting and mood effects. Snuggle up in the back and stare at the stars with your loved ones. The virtually seamless design makes the car’s cabin feel bigger and roomier, and allows a better view of the stars or even the beautiful foliage on a drive through the woods.
5. Ditch Your Mittens with a Heated Steering Wheel
This is the feature I never knew I needed until I tested a vehicle with it. With the click of a button your steering wheel will warm up with an internal heating element. It can keep your hands warm on a cold day. While they typically turn off after about 15 minutes, they can’t stop you from hitting it repeatedly (um, guilty!). Take off those wet gloves after you scrape your windows and warm your hands up on a wonderful feature you’ll want in every car you ever own.
6. Storage Can Take You Farther Than You Expect
One of the first things we look for in every car is storage. Normally we look for places to put our handbag, groceries, stroller and other things. But what about if you need space for more important things? Now, car designers are considering that your vehicle isn’t just for getting you from place to place but might be part of your business as well. From in-car storage that can not only accommodate hanging files, but laptops as well – your items will be safe while you’re on the go. In general, the bigger the car the bigger the arm rest console, but that is changing. As designers carve out more storage space inside cars, look for more and larger storage compartments.
7. Keep the Kids Entertained with Entertainment Systems and WiFi Integrated into the Car
On long car trips (and even some short ones) keeping the kids entertained is key. In the past, having a way to watch movies in the car was a dream. But now it’s almost common for this feature to be in most newer family cars. With wireless headphones, remotes and even multi-disc control, your kids can watch their own shows on their own screen–and they don’t all have to watch the same thing! Some screens are even embedded in the back off the headrests (like what you find on planes), so they don’t add any bulk to the overall design of the seat, others still flip down from the ceiling. Entertainment sources include good old DVDs, but also, most systems allow you to plug in a gaming system with A/V ports, a laptop or tablet with a HDMI port and some systems even allow you to stream through the in-car WiFi. Brilliant.
How the Dodge Durango’s in-car entertainment system kept these teens occupied on a road trip. And this mom happily listening to her podcasts.
8. Ride in Luxury with Massaging Seats
Have you ever dreamed of having a massage while you were stuck in a traffic jam? I’ve always joked that my heated seats would be perfect if I could just have it massage as well. Now, the 2018 Lexus LS 500 has just that – Shiatsu massaging seats for the driver and all passengers. They call this the “Refresh” option and while it isn’t a deep tissue massage, it can be just what you need to help you relax on the way home or to stay awake on a long haul.
While this feature isn’t available widely available, it can be found in the front seats of select Jaguar, Cadillac, Lincoln, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi models. And, it’s offered in the Ford Explorer Platinum and Ford F-150. We hope to see it added to even more models very soon.
And that will be a sweet day when you get to explain to your grandchildren how you had to drive to school, both ways, in the snow, with no massage seats or built in entertainment system. Oh, the indignities!