With each new year brings a new round of auto shows around the world, and each new car model offers car makers a fresh chance to wow the world. Car evolution happens so quickly now that car features that were luxurious just a few years ago now come standard on even the most base models of cars. Ten years ago you were lucky if your mid-level sedan came with AC, power windows and locks, and a CD player. Now, you'll never see a car advertised with those things because they're all expected - and cars now have an adapter for your iPod in addition to the standard CD player. It also makes us wonder what luxuries we see now will become standard in the next 5 to 10 years (a cooler in the back seat for chilled champagne, anyone?).
Top 10 Standard Car Features that Used to be Luxury
- Airbags: Someone, somewhere, decided that the wealthy shouldn't have greater safety than the rest of us. Which is great. By law, all cars must have had airbags installed in the front seat for 15 years now, but you'd be hard pressed to find a car on the market today that has only a few air bags in the front and back seats. Auto safety is such an important feature of any car, regardless of who it's marketed to.
- Multi-function steering wheel: You'll find this feature on the most standard of cars today, but not long ago a multi-function steering wheel was the new cool-factor on luxury cars. No longer do drivers need to take their eyes off the road to change the song or adjust AC - you can even answer an in-dash phone call with your steering wheel.
- Intelligent remote entry: Keyless entry has been standard for years now, but inteligent remote entry that unlocks the car with a sensor and even that recognizes the driver are becomming more and more common. This feature was luxurious, but regular folks are now finding that it's very handy when their hands are full and reaching into the pocket or purse to dig out the keys is a hassle.
- Navigation: Not yet standard on the most base models of cars (but still available as an add-on), GPS navigation systems are being built right into the majority of cars today. The whole dash has changed in recent years to accommodate technology, and navigation is one of the first things to be included in new car computers.
- Onboard computers/tablets: Cars have been run by computer for more than a decade, but now these computers are doing more for the driver. An iPad-like tablet on the dash of the car provides digital everything - navigation, music, phone syncing, even details on the car's needs. These built-in tablets can be customized to the driver for a pleasant driving experience.
- Rear seat entertainment: Anyone with kids is only looking at minivans and SUVs with rear seat entertainment, and car manufacturers have known this for years. Whether a car has one or multiple screens, one or multiple headphone jacks, and one or multiple types of entertainment, the fact is that any car designed for carrying passengers is now going to come with a rear seat entertainment system.
- Rear view camera: Again, this is not yet a standard feature on the most base of car models, but it is an option for most and is standard on the majority of mid-level cars. When it comes to safety, more and more cars adopt once-luxury features quickly, and the rear view camera is no exception. Expect to see this standard on all cars very soon.
- Climate control: The back seat gets hot, the front seat gets cold, and no one is happy shoved together in the car. Climate control solves this problem, and is available on an increasing number of makes and models - even the base models. Higher end vehicles still have the luxury of individualized climate customization, but for the most part the front and back seats can set their own temperatures in many new cars.
- Heated seats: We may not always need this feature in sunny San Diego, but on those extra chilly nights it can be quite pleasant to flip on the heated seats - especially if your car came with standard leather trim! Heated cup holders and heated steering wheels are still mostly luxuries, but your buns can be toasty in a wide variety of base and mid-level cars.
- Moonroof: This isn't a necessary feature by any means, but it is pretty cool to have. Moonroofs are standard on plenty of mid-level sedans, but are also standard on a large number of base and luxury models alike. Whether your moonroof opens (and whether manually or automatically) is still dependent on the model car you get, but having that nice view isn't a luxury anymore.
What luxury car features do you expect to see standard in the next few years? Or what features should be standard on all cars that isn't currently available? We'd love to hear! Images courtesy of BMW Blog, Engadet and Truck Trend.