The technology in new cars is developing rapidly. It seems like one day we cranked windows up manually, and the next they rolled up and down automatically. Fortunately, there are many more fancy features than power windows these days.
Known for testing cars, devices and gadgets, Consumer Reports recently compiled a list of the latest new car features. Here are 10 of the best and worst features they’ve tested.
1. Automatic high beam
The automatic high beam function switches between low and high beam depending on the outside light, traffic and speed. When an oncoming car is detected, the automatic high beam function turns off to avoid dazzling the other driver. It can also be overwritten if necessary.
We’ve tested this feature on a number of press cars and think it’s a great thing as it comes in handy (pun intended) in the darkest of times. Consumer Reports agrees, and they believe it’s a necessary feature, even if you have to pay extra for it.
2. Flush/Retractable Door Handles
There are some new luxury cars on the market that have retractable door handles. It’s a cool feature that cars like the Tesla Model S and Genesis G90 use. Aside from looking cool, these retractable door handles improve the car’s aerodynamics, which in turn can improve the car’s fuel efficiency or electric range.
While they serve a worthy cause, Consumer Reports notes that “they can be difficult to understand and complicate what should be a simple function.” They also ice faster than normal grips. In this case, we’re neutral on retractable door handles, but still think they’re fantastic.
3. Tire pressure monitoring
Tire pressure monitors warn you with a light on the dashboard if one of your car’s tires is under-inflated. Automakers have been implementing these monitors in cars since September 2007, and the technology has evolved since then. Today, some tire pressure systems provide a real-time display of all four tire pressures on the car.
Consumer Reports believes that tire pressure monitoring devices are an essential part of the car because “proper tire pressure is key to safety, fuel economy and even tire wear.” We agree, because those little monitors have saved us a lot of heartache by warning us when tire pressure is too low.
4. Soft touch and reflective surfaces
Many cars on the market come with reflective trim and soft-touch materials. While these interior parts look good, they can be easily scratched, collect dust, and be overly reflective in sunlight. If the car you are buying has such surfaces, be sure to keep them clean with a microfiber cloth.
5. New shifter designs
Not many car manufacturers are installing the usual “PRNDL” automatic shifters in their cars anymore. Over the years we’ve seen more knobs and knobs replacing actual shifters. These new shifter designs are aesthetically pleasing but can be confusing, especially when trying to shift gears on the fly.
6. All-in-one touch screens
Most new cars today use all-in-one touch screens. These screens not only control the infotainment system, but also the HVAC systems. These are aesthetically pleasing; However, they can be cumbersome to use when you need to toggle the air conditioner fan or heater. Consumer Reports noted that physical knobs and knobs would be better for HVAC control.
7. Phone Apps on Dashboard
Some infotainment systems today allow drivers to use phone apps through Apple Carplay or Android Auto software. We use this phone integration software all the time and feel that it is far superior to using many built-in apps like navigation in the car’s native system.
8. Phone based door access
The days when you had to unlock your car with your key or a remote control are almost over. Today, brands like Kia, Genesis, BMW, and Tesla offer phone-based door opening apps. That means you can enter your car with a push of a button in the phone app instead of a remote control.
Consumer Reports says this new technology comes in handy, especially when it’s raining. It can also discourage you from locking your keys in the car.
9. 360 degree and multi-angle camera views
Reversing cameras have been a mandatory feature in cars since 2018. But these days automakers are making them even more sophisticated, using multiple angles and more cameras around the car. As you can imagine, these cameras are helpful, but it should be noted that they still don’t replace looking around the car before moving it.
10. Bigger wheels and tires
Many car manufacturers equip their new vehicles with large 19-, 20- and 21-inch tires. While they look cool, these wheels are heavy and usually wrapped in low-profile tires with thin sidewalls. Those rubber band-like tires combined with the big wheels result in a rougher, noisier ride.
Consumer Reports recommends choosing the smaller tire size whenever possible for more comfort and better fuel economy.
The 10 best and worst new car features
These are the 10 best and worst new car features outlined by Consumer Reports. Although many of them offer great convenience, others are not as useful. Remember to choose your option wisely when buying a new car.