By James Bergeron
It is the end of a decade and there are no shortages of top ten lists out there covering things from technology to music to, of course, the top ten cars. My roots are in technology and technology evolves quickly. It is no coincidence that vehicles also evolve quickly: having seen features come and go over the past decade, the last few years have been fairly consistent in defining what I would call must-have features for 2010.
By 2015, cars will have evolved in all aspects: safety, technology and new features. Technology is moving at an ever-increasing pace and if you are buying today with the intention of selling in five years you may be up against some stiff competition. In order to get the most bang for the buck now and keep your car current enough for a sale in the future here are ten things you should insist on having in your new vehicle.
Perhaps not everyone likes cruise control, or believes they need, it but this feature has been around for decades now and for it to not be included on a car in 2010 is tragic. Anyone who has driven Highway 401 between Montreal and Toronto knows that unless you are a sucker for punishment, cruise control is a must.
Tilt and telescopic steering and seat height adjustability
Tilt steering is available on nearly every vehicle available on the market today, but there are a few sporty exceptions. Telescopic steering is typically only available on vehicles in the compact class and above, as it is with height adjustable driver’s seats. No two persons are built the same and having the ability to telescope the steering or adjust seat height can make a good vehicle feel like a great vehicle, especially on a long journey.
Bluetooth hands-free connectivity
Maybe you don’t talk on your cell phone while driving (if not, you’re probably be in the minority) but many people do. With recent laws passed in Quebec, Nova Scotia and Ontario banning drivers from using their phones, having Bluetooth built into your car is becoming a very desirable feature. Five years from now, not having Bluetooth may be as daft as not having a radio.
AM/FM/CD with MP3/USB capability
Can you remember back when FM radio was an option on cars? That wasn’t more than a few decades ago, and it wasn’t more than a few years ago that CD players were an option as well. Now nearly all vehicles come standard with a CD player, but more important than a CD player is MP3 capability. In five years the compact disc may be obsolete with the advent of iPods and inexpensive storage using USB thumb drives. At the very least insist that your new 2010 vehicle come with an auxiliary input; kudos if you get a direct USB interface that works with iPods and other USB media players.
Power windows, locks and mirrors and keyless entry
My father said it best when my parents were shopping for a car and my mother commented on the power mirror switch being a little difficult to reach. “Hard to reach?” my father said. “You used to have to get out of the car to adjust the thing!” Not anymore: thankfully, you can adjust your mirrors from the comfort of the driver’s seat and that is progress. It is rare I test a vehicle without keyless entry but I have tested a few over the last couple of years and it is always a shocker. Can you just imagine five years from now as the 18-yearold is looking at your used car, totally perplexed on how the doors open. (“Where’s the button, sir?”) And when is the last time you cranked a window down? Need I say more?
Hey, this is Canada, right? Unless you live in one of the milder areas of Canada, heated mirrors means no scraping, which means not knocking the mirrors out of place when they are covered in ice. This is one feature you won’t realize how much you love until you lose it.
Traction control and / or stability control
By 2015, I can almost guarantee that Transport Canada will have mandated all new vehicles sold in Canada to be equipped with some form of stability control. Whether you think you are better than a computer or not, there is no disputing that it saves lives. It is available on most cars sold today and most manufacturers are becoming very reasonable about how they package it.
Side and head-curtain airbags
This is quickly becoming the norm on vehicles: two front passenger airbags, two side/seat mounted airbags and two head curtain airbags. The more the better – airbag technology is tried tested and true, so there is no reason to go without.
Yes, after 10 to 12 years A/C always seems to stop working, but this is becoming more rare as the main reason for failure was lack of use in our cold climate. Air conditioning is now often programmed to come on with the defroster, which keeps the system working in the winter. Don’t only think of this as a means to keep cool during our short summers, but also as excellent defrosters in the winter – a must from where I sit.
Anti-lock brakes (ABS)
Again, whether you think you are capable of outbraking a computer is not the question. ABS keeps drivers safe by helping to maintain control of their vehicle under braking. Yes, ABS equipped vehicles stop more slowly on ice and snow, but they stop you in a controlled manner without the drama of sliding out of control or having the rear pass the front of the vehicle. You would be hard pressed to find a vehicle sold today without it and for good reason.