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BUYER’S GUIDE: Must-Have New Car Features You Don’t Need

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It’s tempting to add on every last available feature to your new car. There are so many wonderful choices and having all of them makes you feel like you have the best possible car money can buy. That might be true, but some of the latest and greatest features aren’t so hot.

There’s also the matter of cost. The more features you decide to add to your car, the more expensive the price. There are packages that bundle more popular options together, but even that can be a losing scenario. Maybe all you want is heated front seats, but to get them you might have to go with a package that includes a heated steering wheel, windshield washers, and side view mirrors. You’ll end up paying for features you don’t want or leaving out the features that are important to you.

The decision of what’s worth the money is more complicated as automakers introduce a growing number of technologies and safety features. Some of them are great, but some of them only sound great. In practice, you’ll never use a lot of it and may even wish your car didn’t have some technologies once you’ve had time to experience how they work.

Looking for a new or used car? Check out BestRide’s listing search here.

Think of it like a dishwasher. There are roughly nine gazillion different settings on the average dishwasher. There are choices about water temperature and drying cycles and racks that you can adjust to fit every conceivable dish. It sounds great the day you plunk down your cash, but then there’s reality. We all pretty much pick the same wash every time and all those fancy setting go unused.

Here are a few of the latest features in today’s cars that we don’t think are worth the money. If you’ve got cash to burn, then go for it. For those of us without a Midas-like bank account, these are the things you might want to skip at the dealership.

Perforated Leather Seats

Perforated Seats

These seats have surfaces that are made up of a bunch of little, teeny, tiny holes. It looks rather attractive and stylish and is often seen as an upscale feature. Avoid perforated seats like the plague.

Unless you are someone who has never eaten a single thing in your car and manages to keep it as pristine and perfect as the day it was new, these are going to drive you nuts. You can’t wipe crumbs or dirt off of them because stuff gets stuck in the little holes.

The average vacuum cleaner will not suck the dirt out even if you use the fancy brush attachments. Sometimes the only way to free debris is to use something pointy like a pin. That’s tricky because you can damage the surface. My personal favorite tool for cleaning these horrible seats is a cake tester. Hey, you do what works.

Perforated seats are especially horrible if you have kids. Sticky stuff loves all those little holes. The double-whammy of perforated seat nightmares is to get them in Alcantara. This is a suede-like finish that helps hold you in your seat. It does the exact same thing to anything you drop on them making them an absolute horror to clean.

Cargo Nets and Cargo Area Covers

It seems like a great idea when you have a huge cargo area. You might need to toss just a few groceries back there and don’t want them sliding around so a cargo net could solve the problem.

Or it could just make the problem worse by not quite holding your stuff in place and ending up a tangled mess around your groceries or whatever else you choose to hold. Should you need to unclip them to fully utilize that storage area, then you have to shove those nets somewhere and they’re almost guaranteed to be in the way. The ice scraper you hid in that storage cubby back in February will somehow get horribly tangled with the cargo net you shove into the same space in June.

Similarly, the cargo area covers that roll out to hide everything are a nuisance. You’re not fooling anyone. If you have that thing pulled, then a savvy thief knows there’s something good in there and might be more tempted to take a peek. There’s also the matter of where to store it when you need the extra space. They’re worse to store than cargo nets and often find a permanent home in the back corner of your garage.

Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Navigation

Built-In Navigation

We’re not suggesting you live in the dark ages with a ratty atlas tucked under your front seats, but sometimes that’s the better choice. Navigation systems are many times not all they’re cracked up to be, and they can be frustrating to operate.

Many don’t let you enter anything on the fly since they lock down when the car is moving to prevent distracted driving. We don’t condone using the navigation while you’re driving, but there’s often a capable passenger who could use it, but the car doesn’t care. You have to find a safe place to pull over if you want to input an address.

There’s always voice-controlled input, but it’s far from perfect. The last thing you want when you’re lost is to be frantically screaming an address at your car while you go further and further down the highway in the wrong direction.

The navigation on your phone is usually easier to use. Many cars also come with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which takes your phone’s navigation and puts it right on the car’s in-dash screen. It’s easier, quicker, and doesn’t require paying for a system you essentially already bought when you purchased your smartphone.

Looking for a new or used car? Check out BestRide’s listing search here.

Lane Keep Assist

This safety feature is one that is a great concept but not quite ready for prime time. The idea is simple. If you drift out of your lane without using your turn signal, then lane keep assist will gently nudge you back between the lines. The problem is in the implementation.

These systems often have trouble seeing the lane and will nudge you when you’re already in the right spot. Narrow roads are particularly troublesome as a gentle nudge for no reason means you’re going off the road or into oncoming traffic. They also have trouble when there’s an exit where the lane markings change.

You can, of course, override this system and are the one in control of the car at all times, but it gets annoying. Since lane keep assist can be turned off, that’s the first thing many people do. Unfortunately, depending on the car, it turns back on every time you start the ignition so you have to turn it off every time you drive.


There are some apps that are fantastic in a car. Pandora, Stitcher, Spotify, and anything that lets you listen to music makes a lot of sense and makes your drive time more enjoyable.

Then there are social media apps that let you update Twitter and Facebook and whatever else is hot at the moment. This is clearly the kind of stuff that can wait until you are not driving a car.

Even more ridiculous are systems that require a separate app on your phone to interface with your car. There’s no need to pay extra for an app that manages your apps.

Nicole Wakelin

Nicole Wakelin