According to Consumer Reports, there are eight features you absolutely need to have in your car. Unsurprisingly, most of them are safety features – after all, safety comes first. The most important feature on their list is automatic emergency braking, which can soften the impact of a collision or even prevent it. They also suggest looking for forward-collision warning (those little alerts that let you know when your car is about to bump into something) and blind-spot warning (so you don’t accidentally sideswipe anyone while changing lanes). They also suggest getting a vehicle that offers lane-keeping assist, which can track lane markings on the road and provide corrective steering if a driver changes lanes without activating the turn signal.
Not everything about a new car has to be practical though. You could also invest in convenience features like a nice audio system with physical knobs, mirrors that automatically adjust for bright lights in the rearview, and a greater range of driver’s seat back support adjustments. While these things may not help prevent a car accident, they’ll help you fight fatigue and discomfort while driving for long periods.
There are some features you should definitely skip, and they’re the ones the dealership will try to upsell. Don’t pay extra for bigger wheels – they’re so expensive to replace, and they’ll give you a stiff ride. Also, avoid built-in navigation systems. These can come at a cost, but they don’t really offer anything you don’t already have on your smartphone. A lot of parents may be tempted to invest in features for the kids like rear entertainment units, but in today’s world, it’s easier to just get them a tablet for lengthy trips.