Canadian Markets closed

Five cool things to look for when shopping for your next car

Danielle Boudreau

If you haven’t shopped for a new car in a few years, you may be in for a surprise. With many Canadian signing up for long-term loans and keeping cars for about eight years, the options will look very different than they did in the last decade.

Innovative technology is often introduced at the top of the market before becoming mainstream. For example, airbags and self-parking technology were first offered in luxury cars before trickling down to more mainstream cars. 

Here are five new features that unhaggle.com says you’ll want to consider when shopping for your next ride.  

Porsche Panamera Surround View screen. Photo: Danielle Boudreau

360 Degree Cameras

No longer just for luxury cars, backup cameras are a welcome feature on many current models.

The newest feature that will save you money on repairs and insurance deductibles takes the idea to another level, with strategically-placed cameras all around the car that give you a 360 degree top-down view of your surroundings.

When I was testing a Porsche Panamera hybrid (what would Ferdinand Porsche think of that?) with Surround View a few years ago, its appeal was immediately apparent to this vertically-challenged writer who couldn’t see the entire hood. If you’ve paid $130,000 for a quiet, four-door fuel-sipping Porsche, why not be able to see the whole thing, I guess.

We can imagine this will be a boon to anyone parking a large vehicles in tight city parking spaces and will cut down on bumper dings and scrapes, and await this feature on cars for the masses.

Connectivity

I felt old recently when I explained to my preschooler what the DVD player was for as I fished the cords through the back of the stand and tried to match them blindly to the right slots on the TV. An annoying, dusty job fraught with problems she’ll never know, thanks to wireless Bluetooth technology, or whatever replaces it in a few years.

Bluetooth isn’t new, it’s been around for years for wireless phone headsets, but paired with smart phones it’s taking over car audio systems. No more CD changers, tangled cords and annoying static, now your smartphone can seamlessly sync with your car’s stereo system, allowing you to finish a podcast in the car after your run (perhaps an aspirational goal for some of us). We might miss mixed CDs a little for sentimental reasons, but the convenience is unbeatable. 

The internet is rife with speculation about Apple entering the automotive market. If the rumours are true, the move is sure to be a game changer, shaking up the stable of 100+ year old car companies who scrambling to keep up with quickly-changing technology.   

Lane Keep Assist

Speaking of phones, we know you’d never look at a gadget when you’re driving, right? It’s dangerous and illegal in many places, and yet it still happens.

Once found only on high-end luxury vehicles, Lane Keep Assist pays attention to the road better than you do, keeping you in your lane even around turns. Autonomous driving, as seen on Google’s cars, isn’t quite ready for real-world applications yet, but you can see we’re moving in that direction.

ALSO READ: Human drivers are still way better than self-driving cars

Automatic Emergency Braking

According to the U.S.-based National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 80 per cent of collisions and 65 per cent of near-crashes involve driver inattention. Because so many accidents are caused by humans, many new safety features are designed to save us when we do something well, dumb.

“Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) is one of the most important innovations in vehicle safety since the airbag,” says Andrew Tai of unhaggle.com. Sensors detect objects in front of your car, and can eliminate or reduce the severity of front collisions.

This technology, once the sole domain of high-end dealerships, is available many of Hyundai’s popular models including the Elantra.  

“In the not-too-distant future, automated vehicle technologies will use on-board sensors, GPS, cameras, and telecommunications to “see” the world around them and help us drive safely through it,” says NHTSA.

Infiniti’s Blind Spot Intervention and Warning System will alert the driver of a vehicle in the adjacent lane during lane change maneuvers. Photo: Nissan

Blind Spot Warning System

Many drivers get their driver’s license as teens and never crack the driver’s handbook again.

Checking your blind spots by looking over your shoulder and using your mirrors is Driving 101, but it’s easy for inattentive drivers to forget.

You must be seeing a theme by now — if it wasn’t for drivers, the roads would be so much safer. In an effort to save us from ourselves, blind spot warnings will give audio and visual alerts, and make the steering wheel vibrate if sensors detect a car in your blind spot.