Some very cool luxury features have started to trickle down to mainstream cars. Here are five to look for on your next vehicle purchase.
This post was inspired by BestRide testers who find that some of the best luxury features in our test cars are not found in the luxury vehicles we get to drive, but the mainstream vehicles from non-luxury automakers.
In fact, some of the luxury cars we test have less luxury content than mainstream vehicles their same size, but half the price. Here are some great features you can expect to find on the top trims of affordable models when you shop for a new car.
Adaptive Cruise Control
Adaptive cruise control takes some getting used to, but once you get the hang of how it works, you will love it. In a nutshell, this cruise control differs from the classic system by being able to follow a car in front of you and speed up and slow down as it does. The same technology that enables forward collision prevention with emergency auto braking makes this system work, so expect to see it in many more cars in the coming decade. Right now it is found in affordable models like the Hyundai Elantra, Subaru Impreza, and Mazda3 on trims under $30K.
Easy Entry Seats
The tipping point for this story was our recent experience with the Hyundai Elantra Limited. When we turned the car on, the seats moved forward to the seating position that had been pre-set. This is a feature we most commonly find in Lexus automobiles. When the driver turns the car off, the seat retracts. This makes getting in and out easier.
Heated Steering Wheel
The heated steering wheel is one of those options you would never guess you would want – until you try it. We love a heated steering wheel here in New England. On cold mornings the steering wheel heats up rapidly and can make a big difference to those that normally need gloves on the short drive to work. You can find this option on the affordable Kia Sportage. A pricey compact luxury sedan we had costing over $50K didn’t have it.
Ventilated seats are still not universal in expensive luxury cars, but they have tricked down into more affordable models. Not to be confused with “perforated leather,” ventilated seats put a little fan in the seat and can blow air cooled by the AC system on you. If you live where it is hot, this is a feature that can keep you from sweating through your clothes when you go from an AC home or office to your car. Perfect for business people on the go. Think you have you have to spend big to get these seats? Guess again. You can find them in the $26K Kia Forte.
Fighter jets yadda yadda yadda. A head-up display in a car is both cool and functional and a world apart from what cutting edge military jets now use, particularly since the pilot has been deleted. GM has head-up display systems in its expensive models that are adjustable for location in one’s field of view and also what they show you. More basic systems like the one in the affordable Mazda3 are still impressive, and if you don’t like it, it can be disabled.
Bending Headlights and Other Cool Headlight Tricks
When headlights that could bend as one turned a vehicle debuted in the modern era, they were super-expensive and found only on models with the works. Now, this technology is found on models under $30K and offered by many brands. Even cooler might be Subaru’s much simpler system. Subaru’s Steering Responsive Foglights found on the Forester and other models, turn on a foglight when the car senses a turn and then turns the light off once the car is again going straight. Now, you might ask “why not just leave the foglights on all the time?” To which this writer has no good answer except “Because it is cool to see them come on and go off.”
Luxury cars have a problem in these modern times. Automakers spend so much money on the hard to discern performance advantages the cars have that there is no money left in the budget for the cool gadgets and helpful accessories we all love. If you are happy with a mainstream car’s performance, be sure to check out what the top trims offer. You just might find that it is easy to drive home a car with a lot more luxury content than a “luxury car” costing twice as much.
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