Features to look for

Published May 8, 2022, 9:01 AM

by Inigo Roces

Making driving easier

Today’s roads can be extremely dangerous, what with the heavy traffic, and many road obstacles. Concentrating on the road ahead can be made even harder when you’re a dedicated Mom, keeping the family’s needs in mind, and sometimes with the kids in tow.

Not surprisingly, it can be easy to lose focus on the road for just one millisecond. This can’t be helped. Thankfully, there are many new car features that make going around town much easier.

We’ve listed a few cars in the earlier story, but if you’ve already got one in mind, we have a list of features you should consider, guaranteed to make the drive easier.

Smart entry

Nearly every car has “smart entry” these days, but are they really as smart as they claim to be? Before handing over the check to your new vehicle, personally check just how smart this system is.

Many assume that these ‘smart entry’ systems automatically unlock the door once you approach, but a few still require a press of a button to unlock the car.

To make sure you’re truly getting a car with smart entry, ask the sales associate to test it out. True smart entry cars will unlock the moment you grasp the handle, without the need to press a particular button. Bonus points if there’s a smart exit system where the car automatically locks itself when you walk away.

Another key feature to look for are sensor-activated tailgates. They are typically equipped in SUVs. They work by detecting a kicking motion under the rear bumper. You don’t have to physically kick the bumper. Just motion toward it with your foot to activate. If done properly, the tailgate should open by itself. This is particularly handy if your hands are full with shopping or groceries.

Flexible loading

Flexible loading configurations is something all car buyers should come to expect with their new car. After all, from time to time, we’ll need to load something larger than the cargo area can offer. Flexible loading or seating simply means that the car can fold, tilt, or stow a number of its seats to allow for a larger cargo space.

Seats that fold down are practically a standard feature, but give the car plus points if it has seats that can fold in other ways, or can be adjusted to fit long or tall cargo. Ask your sales associate about it. You might be surprised to know what the car you’re eyeing can fit.

Parking and leaving

One of the most difficult aspects of driving is, admittedly, parking the car properly. Granted there are some cars that can already park themselves, but honestly, are you quite ready to leave it in the hands of a computer? Thankfully, there are some systems that make parking into a space or leaving it much easier.

Becoming much more common these days are vehicles equipped with a number of cameras (not just one facing the rear). Look for cars that boast of things like a Around View, Multi-view, 360-degree, or Panoramic View camera system. These buzz words typically mean the car uses a number of cameras to give the driver a better view of what’s around. Cars that include something like ‘adaptive’ or ‘active guidelines’ are a plus. This means the view comes with lines that show you just how wide the vehicle is and even adjust as you turn to show you where the vehicle will go.

Cross Traffic Alert uses radar sensors at the rear end of the car to alert the driver of crossing traffic from the sides when reversing out of a parking space. This is especially helpful in tight and crowded areas where the side view might be limited due to infrastructure, vegetation or other parked cars.

Another feature to look out for is Cross-traffic alert. These systems have sensors (usually on the rear sides) of the vehicle that watch for traffic on either side. They’re especially handy when backing out of a perpendicular space or driveway and can tell you if there is a car or motorcycle approaching that you may not see.

Adaptive cruise control

Easily one of the most impressive technologies is on cars with adaptive cruise control These use a whole array of sensors and cameras to watch the road ahead and on either side.

You’ll find these in cars from brands like Toyota, Honda, Subaru, Nissan, Mazda, Isuzu, Ford, Volvo, Mercedes-Benz, and many more. They come in different names too.

If they have adaptive cruise control, that means they can watch the road ahead and monitor the distance to the next car. They can also watch your blind spots behind and check for cars on either side.

Vehicles with this system are some of the most sophisticated on offer and come with systems that can warn of (or in some cases, actively try to avoid a collision). Keep in mind that they much more expensive and only offered in top of the line models. Of course if safety is your priority, the peace of mind should justify the cost.

Take the time to find out the name of the system, whether it’s Toyota Safety Sense, Honda SENSING, Subaru EyeSight, or something similar. Find out just how they work as they might not all have the same capabilities.

We hope this guide helps clarify some of the confusing terms you might see on a car’s flyer or brochure and help you more easily choose the right vehicle.