Hey IT Nerd! What Key Features Are You Looking For In A Car?

There seems to be a resurgence of people asking me questions. Thus I will spend some time over the next few days answering them one at a time. Starting with this one relating to the need for my wife and I to buy a new car to replace our unreliable Toyota Matrix:

IT Nerd, since you and your wife are now looking for a car, what are key must have features that you have to have in a car and why? 


Thanks for the question. Here’s a list of what my wife and I are looking for. Starting with the must haves:

  • Backup Camera With Rear Sensors: As far as my wife is concerned, this is a must. Her logic is that it isn’t enough to have a backup camera if there’s nothing that warns you about how far away you are from an object. As proof of this, she cites a co-worker of hers who mis-judged the distance between his 4 day old Toyota Venza and a tree. I can’t say that I disagree, therefore it is on the list.
  • Cross Traffic Alerts: If you’ve backed out of a space at Home Depot and had difficulty seeing around you because of SUV’s and minivans blocking your view, you’ll know why this is a must. This ensures that you don’t t-bone another car when backing out of a space. Thus as far as we are concerned, this is a must have.
  • Blind Spot Monitoring: Despite the fact that I have argued for years that properly adjusted mirrors eliminate the need for a gizmo to monitor your blind spots, there are occasions where something jumps into my blind spot at the last possible second before a lane change. Thus this feature made the list.
  • An Infotainment System That Is “Off The Grid”: Given the news about GM and Chrysler having had their cars hacked from a distance, it might be better that in the era of the “Internet Of Things” that our next car is not one of those “things” on the Internet. Call us paranoid, or perhaps ahead of the curve on this one.

Next up are the nice to haves, but we can live without them if they were not there:

  • Autonomous Cruise Control: What this means is that I set the cruise control system to the speed I want to travel and how much distance I want between myself and the car in front of me. That way if the car in front of me slows down, I slow down. If it speeds up, I speed up. I’ve used these systems in cars I’ve reviewed and they’ve proven handy on long drives.
  • Lane Keeping Assistance: Something that lets me know that I am drifting out of my lane on long drives would be handy to have. Bonus points if if has the ability to alert me if it thinks I am falling asleep.
  • Autonomous Braking: I’ve experienced systems like these from Volvo and Mazda first hand in controlled situations and I do believe that they can save lives because of their ability to stop the car (or at least slow it down) if you are not able to react to a situation in time.

Now, features like the above do drive up the price of a car. But if we’re going to replace our car, we feel that we want to get a car that has the features to make the driving experience safer and more enjoyable.


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