From Apple Carplay to autonomous emergency braking, here are the most popular car features Aussie motorists love, and what to look out for in a new car purchase.
Cars have come a long way in the past five to ten years. What seemed like luxuries - such as backup cameras and Bluetooth - in all but the fanciest and most expensive cars are now commonplace on bargain basement models. You might be surprised at what’s on offer if you haven’t dipped your toe in the car buying pool for a few years. If you’re shopping around for a new, or even lightly used car, here are some features you can’t miss.
Four must-have safety features
Lane-keep assist: As the name suggests, this keeps you from veering into other lanes, either via adjusting your steering angle for you, or giving you an audio warning if you start to veer off. This can be handy on longer drives as the long straight road becomes monotonous.
Autonomous emergency braking (AEB): AEB hits the brakes on its own to prevent a collision if it senses a potential impact. Things can change in a split second so this is a must-have safety feature that can outperform driver reaction times.
Reverse camera: Cars are so big and bulky nowadays, with lots of crumple zones and airbags - it can be hard to see out the back. Whether you’re backing out a driveway or a shopping centre carpark, these can be life-saving, as the field of view can capture poles and other cars in your blindspot, as well as animals and small children. ‘Rear cross traffic alert’ systems also warn you of oncoming traffic when you’re in reverse. The United States has made it mandatory for all new passenger vehicles sold to have a ‘backup camera’ from 2018 - one would assume Australia would be thinking of doing similar.
Blind-spot warnings: The little red or yellow lights you see in other cars' side mirrors. On the highway in particular, some motorists love to sit in blind spots, which can be a safety hazard. Motorcycles can also be hard to spot, so these can prevent a catastrophe.
Three must-have entertainment features
Bluetooth: Talkback radio no longer cuts it. Bluetooth should be a minimum on any new car. Connect your phone to Spotify, music, or navigation. It makes the longer drives that much more bearable.
Android Auto or Apple CarPlay: These two systems go one better than Bluetooth and allow you to access many of your phone’s apps via the in-built entertainment screen. This keeps your eyes off your phone and more closely on the road ahead. Common apps included are Apple/Google Maps, Podcasts, Spotify, other podcast apps and more. They also render clunky in-built GPS near redundant. At present very few cars allow you to connect CarPlay or Auto without a charger, so it might be handy to purchase another cord.
Physical buttons: There’s nothing worse than cycling through 30 touchscreen menus just to change your air conditioning temperature. Ideally you want basic, physical buttons for your climate control, as well as a control knob for audio. This stops you from distracting yourself while driving, or having to pull over and adjust something.
Three other desirable features
Parking/forward camera: This can be a lifesaver if squeezing into a tight parking space. The cameras detect when you’re under a certain speed and in a carpark. They are usually embedded in the grille. Some cars go one-better and offer a 360-degree camera that provides a birds-eye view of your car so you can be aware of all hazards when parking.
Heads-up display: A heads/head up display (HUD) displays essential information and projects it onto the windscreen right in front of you. It’s usually only visible to the driver, so it can be a pleasant surprise if you move from the passenger seat. Essential information can include your speed, the speed limit, plus the next turn you make on your GPS. Some cars allow you to customise the display, allowing you to keep your eyes on the road and not on your dashboard.
Power driver’s seat with memory: There’s almost nothing worse than when someone else adjusts your seat and you can’t quite get it back to how it was. This is where the memory function comes in. Power seats also allow you to adjust your seating position in a safer fashion while on the fly.
If you’re shopping around for a new car, loans.com.au has low fixed rates starting at 3.97% p.a. (4.51% p.a. comparison rate), as well as a discounted green car loan. If you’ve been thinking about upgrading that old jalopy, chat with one of our friendly lenders today about getting pre-approved before you start shopping.