The New Must-Haves in Car Shopping

June 30th, 2014

MyFord Touch 6312_sirius-660

The average car in the United States is 10 years old.

In an age when computers and phones are obsolete in 3 years, a decade is an eternity.

Back in 2004, things like USB ports, Bluetooth and backup cameras were fare for top-of-the-line luxury cars, if they were available at all. Today, that kind of technology is considered must-have for many new-car shoppers.

The exponential leap in technology is a major reason some shoppers will consider only new or late-model used cars. Is the latest whiz-bang wizardry worth the extra cash?

I owned a 2004 vehicle until the end of last year, trading it for a 2008 model. The difference in technology honestly wasn’t that thrilling. My old car didn’t have USB or Bluetooth, but did have dual climate control and a built-in telephone. I loved that car, because while luxurious, it still allowed me to drive the way I wanted. It didn’t beep and freak out when I touched the centerline, and being a 5-speed, it allowed me to control all shifting to my liking.

The new car has Bluetooth but not USB, neither of which is that big a deal to me. It’s still a relatively basic car as far as technology goes, but it’s big on comfort and performance, which is how I prefer my vehicles. I don’t need the high-tech driver-assist features that are in so many new cars.

Many shoppers don’t feel the same. The new breed of must-haves in new cars are premium sound, blind-spot monitors, built-in vehicle diagnostics, stolen-vehicle recovery systems, backup cameras, Sirius XM satellite radio and collision sensors.

Getting those features on a new car will require a hefty investment and, usually, an expensive options package. For example:

General Motors offers a variety of ADAS [advanced driver assistance systems] on some Cadillac models at package prices ranging from $3,000 to $6,000.

I don’t know about you, but I’d rather spend the money that most options packages cost on a basic used car.

What features are on your must-have car shopping list?

-tgriffith

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