Car Buyer Labs

Car Buying Advice, Tips, and Reviews

The touchscreen inside a 2019 Jeep Grand Cherokee is displaying the back-up camera.

Our Top 15 Favorite Automotive Features 

When you sit down to visit a dealership or browse through any automotive blog or site, chances are you’ll find a long list of features, some good, others not so good. Automotive technology has changed a lot over the years, starting as simple as CD players to features that read street signs and sense the flow of traffic to provide a seamless driving experience. With so much out there, it can get overwhelming fast, and with new models coming out every year, keeping up can be something of a challenge. Fortunately, we’re here to help trim the fat and help you find our favorite top 15 automotive features. From near driverless technology to an off-road system that allows you to adjust your vehicle on the fly. We have a lot of ground to cover, and each potential feature can make or break your entire driving experience.

Jeep’s Intuitive 4×4 Off-Road System

While there is a wide range of automakers developing cars for the great outdoors, few have mastered the art quite like Jeep. From their iconic Jeep Wrangler to their latest and greatest Jeep Gladiator, Jeep designs their vehicles for both dirt and pavement. In their Trailhawk trim option, drivers can find Jeep’s intuitive 4×4 off-road system which allows you to adjust your vehicle’s drivetrain to navigate whatever terrain you are tackling. Equipped to handle things like sand, snow, mud, and rock; this system is activated through a simple easy-to-use dial and can make off-roading not only easier but far more accessible to your average driver. Autoevolution helps explain this remarkable system.

A 2020 Jeep Gladiator is parked on a rock hill looking over a valley.

Adaptive Cruise Control

Cruise control as you’ve known it has changed dramatically over the years. Nowadays, cars are tooled with an array of sensors and cameras that take in data about the flow of traffic. As a result, you no longer have to adjust your speed manually, as the vehicle will simply do it all for you. This sensor system will track the vehicle in front of you and ensure that you keep cruising at a safe distance, making the vehicle practically driverless. This feature is found across automakers and is becoming considered a standard feature amongst many models.

Head-Up Display

Some automakers are taking notes from science fiction, as now cars are coming with a shockingly futuristic head-up display. This feature includes a miniature projector that sends information directly onto the windshield, providing crucial information like current weather conditions and your speed. The head-up display feature can be found across manufacturers, but those worth noting include BMW, Volvo, Mazda, Chevy, and Lexus. Autobytel gives us the top 10 cars with a Head-Up Display.

Driver Attention Monitor

When you sit behind the wheel, it can be easy to become distracted, especially when your car is decked out with the latest in infotainment and accessibility features. Fortunately, automakers have found a way to solve these distractions with a driver attention monitor. This monitor works by using complex sensors to detect steering corrections made by a driver. If the driver is making too many sudden steering corrections, the system will notify the driver to park and take a break. While this alert is entirely optional, it can help prevent distracted driving and even falling asleep at the wheel. Like previous features, the driver attention monitor can be found in a wide range of models, including vehicles from both Mazda and Honda.

Automatic Emergency Braking

When avoiding a collision, every second counts. Slamming on the brakes two seconds ahead of time can make the difference between a dangerous head-on accident and avoiding the accident altogether. Automatic emergency braking is a feature that hopes to take this preemptive action out of the hands of drivers. While typically functioning at low speeds to prevent colliding with other cars and pedestrians, this system uses sensors and cameras to detect the area around them. If they sense a collision is imminent, the system will nab control of the brakes and activate them ahead of time to hopefully avoid an accident altogether.

Android Auto and Apple CarPlay

The latest and greatest automotive features don’t all include safety and preventative action. Advances in tech have allowed drivers to have more fun behind the wheel as well. Introducing Android Auto and Apple CarPlay capability, a feature found in lineups of nearly all automakers on the market today. This feature allows for easy connection to your smartphone and some of your favorite smartphone apps. Want to navigate to the nearest gas station? You can use this feature to take advantage of your phone’s navigation software to get you there. Want to play your favorite song? Apple CarPlay and Android Auto allow you to play your favorite playlist without even touching your smartphone.

Wireless Charging

If your smartphone is compatible with wireless charging, you can take advantage of wireless charging pads found in certain vehicles. With wireless charging, you no longer have to worry about a mess of cables, or troublesome ports. Instead, just slap your phone down on the onboard wireless charging pad and enjoy a quick and full charge.

A phone on a wireless charging port in the 2019 Ford Edge is being charged.

Lane Departure Warnings

Lane drift is a serious issue, and thankfully through lane departure warnings, you can make this issue a thing of the past. A lane departure warning system will use cameras and sensors to detect the lane lines on the road and alert you when you’re starting to move out of these designated guardrails. Keep in mind this feature won’t work on roads without lane lines or at night when the lane lines aren’t necessarily visible.

360-Surround-View Camera System

Some automakers have revamped the rearview camera, and instead of focusing on just one direction, it manages to give drivers a 360 view of their vehicle. While the system may appear like magic, it works by stitching together live footage captured by cameras scattered about your vehicle. As a result, you can navigate parking lots without breaking a sweat.

WiFi Hotspot

If you have a need to stay connected, some automakers are including WiFi hotspots in their vehicles to help drivers access the high-speed internet on the road. With your vehicle’s WiFi hotspot, you can access email, stream videos, and browse the web all with ease; and without going over your phone’s mobile data limit. Read more about the top 10 cars with WiFi Hotspot.

A grey 2019 Chevy Malibu Hybrid, with one of our Top 15 / Automotive Features, is parked in front of a brick building.

Built-in Navigation

While this is a feature that’s been in cars for some time now, built-in navigation software seems to be getting only better and better. Once clunky and typically only used in an emergency, automakers have updated their vehicle’s navigation software to be on par with the kind of tools you’ll find in your smartphone or computer.

Rear-Entertainment Systems

If you’ve got a need to entertain rear-seat passengers, some cars come with a suite of high-quality rear-entertainment systems. Typically including drop-down or rear seat headrest screens, rear-entertainment systems give your passengers something to do while passing the time and enjoying the ride.

Lane Keep Assist

On par with adaptive cruise control, and automatic emergency braking, lane keep assist uses a system similar to that found in lane departure warnings. By sensing the lane lines, your vehicle can not only warn you when you drift out of those lines but can take control of your steering and prevent lane-drift altogether. That said, lane keep assist is similar to lane departure warning systems in that they require clear lane lines for the feature to work properly.

Remote Start

Remote start allows you to start your engine from your smartphone or key fob before you even get to your vehicle. Remote start is all about accessibility and allows you to get your car warmed up so it can be ready the moment you get in the driver’s seat. While hindered by distance or obtruding objects, this feature brings a futuristic edge to a wide variety of vehicles.

Massaging Seats

Last, but certainly far from least on our list of top 15 favorite automotive features is the option of massaging seats. Typically found on top trims and in luxury vehicles, massaging seats bring all the comforts of a high quality massaging chair to the driver’s seat. Perfect for long drives, your vehicle’s massaging seats can not only work out any troublesome knots but can help prevent back stiffness while behind the wheel.