It’s not fun realizing that your new ride is missing a few key features — especially when you find out they all come standard on someone else’s car. Take LED automotive lighting for example: While it has quickly become the standard on many automobiles, it’s typically still reserved for running lights and tail lamps, and novice car buyers will often think they’re getting diodes in every single sconce.
Meanwhile, every week a new car shows up for us to review, and regardless of how well the car may be made, we always find at least a few missing options that should be labeled as standard. Granted, automakers are offering more for less like never before, and cars are better than they have ever been in history, but the core base of stock add-ons is still not entirely up to snuff.
2016 Lexus RX450H F Sport
In the 1990s, air conditioning was still an option on certain cars, and for decades prior, it remained a high-end luxury add-on — a very expensive one at that. But as engineering advancements and manufacturing costs slowly declined, the mighty AC unit eventually became standard equipment, and you would be hard-pressed to find a car without today. Buyers dictate automotive trends, not the other way around, and if people expect to see a particular item as a standard feature, automakers will bend over backward in order to keep customers.
So after kicking a few ideas around one morning, my colleagues and I came up with these 11 features that we think should be standard on all cars in the next five years. Will our wishes be fulfilled? Probably not. But at least you know what to look for when it’s time to buy a new ride.
1. Proximity-based, power folding illuminated mirrors
Once an exclusive option from Mercedes-Benz, this key fob-activated welcome ceremony is something you see on all kinds of cars nowadays: Everything from the Nissan Maxima to the Kia Forte5 has it. But this isn’t just some nifty light show; the spotlight in the bottom of the mirrors illuminates the ground around the front doors so you can see the door handle and any treacherous ground underfoot.
We also feel it’s a nice touch when an automaker doesn’t force you to walk out into oncoming traffic in order to fold your passenger mirror in when parked on a busy street. We aren’t overly fond of having a mirror sheared off by a delivery van, but neither are we exceptionally keen on getting leveled by said vehicle. Simply put, it’s automatic and useful.
2. Heated headlights
Remember when Volvo had those goofy headlight wipers that would always break? In theory it was a grand idea, but in practice, it didn’t hold much weight. Snow and ice build-up in winter will quickly obfuscate your nightly vision, as even headlight washers run out of fluid eventually.
Enter the heated headlamp, a design so simple you have to wonder why no one thought of it sooner. All a headlamp needs is a porthole that allows engine heat into the lens and you’ve got a heated headlamp that melts winter away! Naturally, the entire unit would need to be heat-resistant so all the electrical components contained within wouldn’t melt, but if automakers can create autonomous cars, this should be a complete cake walk.
3. Surround view cameras
This is one of our favorite features on modern cars, and being able to toggle it on and off only makes driving that much easier and safer. While backup cameras are just now getting to the point where they are standard on all models, it’s the knowing that you are not going to clip the curb in front of you or rash a wheel that makes us feel more confident. Throw in a few parking sensors and some good graphics, and this feature will be more popular than beads at Mardi Gras.
4. Parking assist
Many Americans still prefer to park their own cars, which is why the previous contender would be such a huge hit. But some people like having the option of the vehicle parking for them, especially when a parallel parking spot has the square footage of phone booth.
Enter parking assist, a feature that is by no means standard, but should be considering how many bad parking jobs and damaged bumpers we see every day. The technology is there, it isn’t as expensive as it once was, and in five years, it will likely be on everything.
5. Keyless entry
Keyless entry is yet another commonplace and feasible option that we feel should be standard on all cars. Once considered a precious luxury feature reserved only for the elite, all kinds of inexpensive automobiles sport this practical little invention these days. So if it’s borderline basic equipment by this point, why aren’t all cars equipped with keyless entry?