23 Frivolous Car Features You Can't Live Without

You don't need any of these luxuries to drive a car. But once you get used to having them, you can't imagine driving without them.

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Rolls-Royce

You might think you can live without things like heated seats or back-up cameras, but you'd be surprised how much you miss them when they're gone. Here are a few seemingly frivolous features hard to live without.

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Hindustan TimesGetty Images
Push-Button Start

Having to fumble with a set of keys to find the ignition switch every time you start your car is a bit of a hassle. Push-button start eliminates that. You can keep your key fob in your pocket, and never have to think about it.

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From 2014 and forward, the U.S. government made it mandatory for all new cars and trucks to have backup cameras as standard equipment. Smart blind-spot monitoring, which is standard on the Genesis G90, takes the holistic view of the road a step further. A light illuminates in the side-view mirrors if another vehicle enters the G90's blind spot, and supplemental haptic feedback on the steering wheel ensures that drivers make safe, smooth lane changes.
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Blind Spot Monitoring

Bling-spot monitoring systems are supremely helpful when switching lanes on the highway, especially in larger vehicles. With this system you don't need to mount a tiny auxiliary mirror just to see if people are hanging out where you can't seen them.

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Chevrolet
Automatic Climate Control

Automatic climate control is one of those things you don't really appreciate until you get in a car without it. Letting the car heat or cool the cabin to a specific temperature no matter the weather without having to turn any knobs or press any buttons is truly convenient.

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Chevrolet
Electronic Parking Brake

Though button-controlled parking brakes may seem like a bit of a pain at first, once you get used to it, they become second-nature. Most electronic parking brakes will automatically disengage when you put your car into drive or set off in first gear, meaning one less thing to think about.

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Land Rover
Keyless Entry

There's nothing better than walking up to your car, putting your hand on the door, and having it unlock for you without having to push any buttons. Just keep the fob in your pocket, and let technology handle the rest.

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Ford
Hill Start Assist

If you drive a manual car through hilly sections of road often, you'll know how valuable hill start assist is. Basically, the car senses when you're stopped at an incline, and holds the rear brakes until you apply forward motion through the drivetrain. This means you won't accidentally roll backwards into the car behind you starting on a hill.

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Jonathan Harper / JBH Photo
Automatic Headlights

Having headlights that automatically turn on and off depending on what time of day it is means one less thing to worry about on the road. You certainly don't need it, but it's just one less button to push, which is nice.

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Land Rover
A Good Sound System

You don't necessarily need a great sound system in your car, but spend enough time with one, and you'll wonder why you ever used anything less.

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Chevrolet
In-Car Wi-Fi

On long trips, it's easy to drain all of your phone's data without blinking an eye. In-car Wi-Fi solves that problem by giving the cabin its own wireless internet connection. It may sound a little strange, but in practice, it's incredibly useful.

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Lots of little innovations paved the way for the self-driving car future we've been promised. Take the radar cruise control systems that began to arrive in the early 2000s. Where older cruise control systems could maintain the car's speed, these new ones could also maintain a safe distance to the car in front without driver intervention, even if that car changes its speed. Mercedes-Benz was one of the first to debut this tech when Distronic launched in the 2000 S-Class.

 

 As the technology has advanced, it has gotten more ambitious. On many vehicles, the tech behind this same radar system is used in collision avoidance systems that warn a driver they're in danger, apply full brake power automatically, or both. Mercedes-Benz added the ability to steer just three years ago, and last year Tesla enabled its somewhat controversial Autopilot with fully autonomous control. Someday in the future, when your car really does all the driving, remember that it all started with a relatively small improvement in cruise control.
Mercedes-Benz
Adaptive Cruise Control

Cruise control that can adjust to the car in front of you may sound a bit annoying at first, but on long, traffic-filled highway drives, it's a life-saver. There's no need to keep turning it on and off as speeds increase or decrease; just set it to a speed and watch your car keep a safe distance away.

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Portland Press HeraldGetty Images
Automatic Windshield Wipers

Having windshield wipers that coordinate their speed with your car's speed doesn't sound that cool until you actually experience it for yourself. One minute you're plowing through a storm with the wipers at full blast, the next you're at a stoplight with the arms swinging at intermediate speed, all without ever touching the stalk.

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<p><strong data-redactor-tag="strong" data-verified="redactor">Heads Up Display.</strong>       Fighter-jet technology in your car allows for speed, navigation and engine information to be displayed right in your windshield, which means you'll have no excuse for telling the cops that you didn't know how fast you were going. You can keep your eye on the road and switch your radio station. Here's <a href="http://quizcards.info/personal-discovery/" data-tracking-id="recirc-text-link">how it works.</a></p>
Audi
Head-Up Display

Regular gauges and screens are nice, but there's no beating a head-up display for convenience. It's an image projected directly onto your windshield, giving you all of the most vital info without ever having to look away from the road.

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Bluetooth

With the majority of your entertainment stored on your smartphone, it seems only necessary to be able to hook it up to your car. And since so many cars don't come with an auxiliary cable, hooking it up via Bluetooth is extremely useful. It's also a great option for making hands-free phone calls.

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Active Bolsters

You haven't taken a corner until you've taken one with active bolster seats. Those bad boys hold you in place and you'll certainly miss them when you climb into a car that doesn't have them.

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Android Auto/Apple CarPlay

Part of what makes driving and operating a phone so dangerous is the distraction that comes along with it. Now, systems like Android Auto and Apple CarPlay simplify the whole process, adding voice commands and integrating the driver's maps, music, and messages into the car's dashboard seamlessly. Plus, with the smartphone doing the thinking, the whole thing operates way better than automaker software.

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Sirius
Satellite Radio

Sure, you have to pay to subscribe, but let me tell you, during that free trial that comes with new cars, I never shut off the satellite radio. It just offers so many more channels than your standard AM/FM radio stations, and sometimes you just want to listen to something different than what you've already got at home.

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Good Backup Cameras

We all know a bad backup camera when we see one. Either the screen is too small or the lens on the camera is bad. And yes, we can definitely back up, no problem, without them. But the camera just adds that extra sightline that can come in very handy when there's something behind your car that you can't see with your mirrors or through the increasingly tiny rear windows.

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Lumbar Support

Anyone who's taken a car on a long road trip knows that seats with good adjustable lumbar support are a must. It just makes the trip that much more enjoyable and you don't get out of the car feeling sore and exhausted.

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Panoramic Sunroof

On those fantastic sunny days when you go for a drive, it's great to be able to slide the roof back and enjoy the warmth. It gives you most of the fun of a convertible, without the drop top. And being larger than a typical sunroof, a panoramic sunroof lets in way more light and fresh air.

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Heated Steering Wheel

What did you do when your steering wheel wasn't heated? You just wore gloves, like a simpleton. Heated steering wheels eliminate that need, because everyone likes a warm place for their hands on a cold day.

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Chevrolet
Remote Start

While we're on the topic of cold cars, remote start (whether by app or by car key) is super useful when you don't feel like shivering in your car for the first few minutes of your commute. While you're inside your warm house getting ready to leave in the morning, you can have your car on outside and toasty by the time you're set to go.

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Navigation System

Most of us use the GPS function on our smartphones. But what about when your battery is low? Or when you're traveling through somewhere without cell service? The car's navigation system can still get you to where you're going. Sure, it might not always update with the least traffic-heavy routes, but it beats being lost in an unfamiliar place.

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Heated/Cooled Seats

Heated seats are a must if you're looking for that one extra feature that makes your ride as toasty as possible. Or if you want to keep the pizza you're picking up warm in the passenger seat next to you. Air-conditioned seats are also great on a hot day, when the sun has warmed the seat so much that it burns to sit on.

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