New cars are packed with improved safety features and many are included as standard options in 2013 models. Here is some of the best of the new technology that won’t cost you extra:
These cameras turn on when you shift into reverse. Beyond helping you park, they can spot an obstacle – or a child – out of sight in the blind spot below your rearview mirror.
More than 90% of Honda’s 2013 lineup includes rearview cameras as standard equipment. That includes the 2013 Honda Fit, which I wrote about on LOTC sister site ecoXplorer as a best car buy under $16,000.
Automatic door controls
The ability to open a trunk or tailgate with click of a button on your key fob is nothing new. But when your hands are full of groceries or a wiggling toddler, or both, you have no free hand to press the key fob.
Ford’s solution is to let you wave your foot under the rear bumper without dropping the groceries or the baby. The feature is available without extra cost on the 2013 Ford Escape SUV, and is proving so popular that Ford is likely to extend it to other models.
Voice-activated navigation/entertainment systems
“E.T. phone home” is one of the most iconic movie lines of all time. E.T. would have loved the voice-activated systems that let us make hands-free phone calls, change radio stations and more without taking our hands off the wheel or eyes off the road. Voice-activated controls are standard in nearly all new car models, and older systems often can be retrofitted or upgraded for hands-free use.
These new features are options – meaning they cost extra – but the fee could be more than offset by preventing repair bills and hospital bills because they helped you avoid an accident.
We’ve all drifted into another lane, either because we were tired, attending to kids fighting in the back seat, or even changing the radio station and momentarily not paying attention to the road ahead. Lane-departure warnings are just that – depending on make and model, they alert you with a flashing light on the dash, warning bell, or both.
Similar to lane departure warnings, this computerized system sets off lights or alarms, or both, if you start to pull out into another lane when there is a vehicle in your blind spot.
These often are packaged with lane-departure systems, since both work with the same onboard radar. The braking system slows you down when it notices you are getting too close to a vehicle ahead. If the computer senses a pending crash, the automatic braking activates with enough force to lessen the impact and therefore lessen injuries.
When safety and convenience features like anti-lock brakes (ABS) and push-button ignition were first introduced, they were expensive options for expensive cars. Now, they are available widely, even in the least expensive models.
It’s called “trickle-down technology.” One day, all these features – and more – will be standard.
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