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Article by Justin Pritchard

Much like those late-night infomercials for clap-activated lamps, slap-activated veggie choppers and flashlights that recharge with awkwardly suggestive wrist motions, automakers are pitching more new and, er, interesting gadgets than ever before.

Just like an egg-cracker, a wallet light or a fluffy blanket with sleeves, some of these products are noggin-scratchingly questionable.

Others, though, are pretty darn slick. And, unlike those blue laundry balls you bought from Billy Mays at 3:24 am with your Visa, you might actually use the useful ones more than twice.

And so, may I present, a list of new-car gadgets that you never knew you needed.

2014 Kia Forte
New-Car Features You Never Knew You Needed. Click image to enlarge

Heated Steering Wheel: Do you suffer from cold hands? Frosty fingers? Ice palms? One in two drivers does – but now, there’s a solution! Introducing the Heated Steering Wheel. At the touch of a button, sophisticated microchip technology activates the wheel heater, sending your hands into heat-wave paradise!

Cold morning commute? Keep those man-mitts toasty warm while experiencing improved comfort and circulation. Like touching warm things? You’re in luck! In just seconds, the system turns your dull, uninviting steering wheel into a tropical vacation for your palms.

But wait! On many models, the heated steering wheel auto-activates with your remote start system when it’s cold outside – meaning the first thing you touch inside the car is warm and welcoming by the time you show up.

Night Vision: It’s been the bane of mankind’s existence for millennia: pesky lions, raccoons and fruit-bats can see in the dark, while we humans fumble around and whack into stuff like Jim Lahey on a Sunday afternoon bender.

Automakers have caught onto the issue of our nocturnal vision handicap, and worked hard on a solution.

Introducing Night-Vision Technology! Once reserved solely for military use in the field of battle (or your Call of Duty matches), night-vision technology is coming to a ride near you. Some systems ‘see’ differences in temperature between various surfaces, and others blast the road ahead with infrared light and pick up the reflection with a camera.

An enhanced view of the area ahead is displayed for the driver – potentially providing early warning of hazards up the road. Some systems even highlight pedestrians or animals on-screen before they’re visible to drivers in the headlights.

Night VisionNight Vision2013 Lexus LS 600h L2013 Lexus LS 600h L
Night Vision & 2013 Lexus LS 600h L. Click image to enlarge

Lexus Relaxation Seat: Are you bored of your normal back seat? Sick of seeing neighbors and friends with better back seats than you? Is your rear-seat experience dull, dry and missing something? Like millions of Canadians, you’re probably suffering from backseat boredom, but don’t fret!

Presenting the Relaxation Seat from Lexus! It won’t make your meatloaf moister or cover your bald spot from a spray-can, but it does recline, heat up, cool down and give shiatsu massages like that chair in the mall, but without wasting a toonie every time.

There’s an ottoman too – so you can put your feet up and relax. Get the back-seat entertainment console to take in your favourite rich-guy films while the robotic fingers thrust and grasp at your spinal regions. Privacy screens can be erected at the touch of a button if you’re shy, too.

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