Article by Steven Bochenek

According to StatsCan, 81 percent of Canadians live in cities. That’s most of us. The following features are useful additions to any urban driver’s daily commute. To minimize the whiff of favouritism, they’re listed in alphabetical order (and brand names are left off the most common).

Some of these features promote safety because, let’s face it, as safe as cars are becoming, roads and drivers are getting worse. Other features are convenient for navigation. Others are about comfort for drivers and passengers.

Mostly, however, they promote safety — because in 2011, according to StatsCan, 121,159 Canadians were injured in collisions. And that was a good year, when the numbers were well down.


Observe the marketing of any urban vehicle and you’ll see ‘connectivity’ high on the list of searchable keywords. This feature isn’t quite out yet, but will be available soon with Onstar, that well-known GM concierge service. Ostensibly it will make your car a wifi hotspot. Picture all those car geeks who are also geek-geeks. This feature threatens to empty people’s basements of hapless twentysomethings clear across the continent.

wi0fi hotspotImpala Cruise Control
Wi-fi Hotspot and Adaptive Cruise Control. Click image to enlarge

Adaptive Cruise Control

If you haven’t heard of it, this clever innovation may sound like science fiction. It’s still fairly new and not many regular folks have it. If you’re searching for a new car now and travel city highways a lot during rush hour, ask about it and seriously consider the added expense. Kia and Ford are two mainstream brands that have begun offering it in affordable vehicles.

As the name suggests, it’s cruise control that ‘adapts’. It slows you when the car in front slows. Is it for you?

Well, if you’re so time- (and carb-) starved as our city’s mayor that you need to read, illegally, on the highway in rush-hour traffic, yes. This is for you. Likewise, if your city’s mayor is among those who read on the highway illegally in rush-hour traffic, this is for you.

Automatic Parallel Parking System

A car that parallel parks itself? It’s hard to believe that Lexus began offering this a full decade ago. Since then, several other manufacturers have provided it as an option.

Some driving enthusiasts see it as an abandonment of an important set of driving skills. They don’t live downtown where parking spaces are crazy tight.  Besides, just because you have it, you don’t have to use it.

Consider parents of teenage drivers and nervous car owners who share a precious vehicle with less careful drivers. A car that parallel parks itself would mean better sleeps at night, while the baby (flesh and blood or/and rubber and metal) is still out on the town.

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