With Valentine’s Day here, I’m thinking about love. And cars. I certainly love cars, but do they love me back? Any science fiction fan will tell you machines are incapable of love. But I still managed to find the seven best new car options that will make you feel loved by keeping you warm and comfortable, by helping you out when your hands are full or just by letting the sunlight in.
The warmth of heated seats is especially wonderful during the coldest month of the year. But some drivers in colder climates use heated seats to warm up a cold car well into spring. Once an option only on luxury vehicles, heated front seats are now available on a range of makes and models. Heated steering wheels are also becoming more common and are sometimes offered alongside heated seats as part of a winter package.
On the 2013 Nissan Leaf, however, heated seats for both front and rear passengers and a heated steering wheel are standard equipment. That’s because heated seats are more energy efficient for the all-electric Leaf than traditional forced air heat. Whether on the Leaf or a more conventional vehicle, heated seats will keep you feeling warm and cozy all winter long.
Automatic Climate Control
Love is complex. Automatic climate control is not. This feature asks little of you, yet it makes sure you’re comfortable and safe. That’s because most modern climate control systems automatically adjust not just for temperature but also for humidity, so you don’t have to worry about reaching for the defroster when the windshield starts to fog up.
Plus, if you’re always hot and your special someone is always cold, dual-zone units allow the driver and passenger to set temperatures individually, keeping the peace. Dual-zone automatic climate control is standard on the 2013 Buick Encore in Leather or Premium grades and is available on the Encore in Convenience trim.
Nothing says love like sunshine, and nothing lets sunshine into your vehicle’s cabin like a huge panoramic sunroof. Typically, these tinted glass roofs look huge from the outside of the vehicle but resemble two smaller moonroofs from the inside. But they still let in plenty of light, and at least one of the two panels opens for a little fresh air and unobstructed views of the sky.
For times when shade is preferred to sunlight, most panoramic roofs have built-in shades that completely block light or let only a little pass through. The 2013 Volkswagen Tiguan SEL includes a panoramic sunroof, while the feature is offered as an option on the Tiguan S and SE models.
Most parents would probably love a little peace and quiet in the car, and this feature delivers just that. Rear entertainment systems let backseat passengers relax with a video, allowing parents to soak up the sounds of silence. Or if mom and dad dig music, most factory rear entertainment systems also include wireless headphones, so those watching the movie can hear it while music or other audio plays aloud in the cabin.
In the 2013 Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country, the optional rear entertainment system features separate screens for the second and third rows and plays both DVD and Blu-Ray discs. In fact, the system can even play two different DVDs, one on each screen, at the same time. And it includes an array of connections for devices like gaming consoles or portable players – USB, HDMI and RCA among them.
If you love the variety of music, news and entertainment available on satellite radio but are less fond of the monthly subscription costs, consider optional high definition (HD) radio instead. With HD radio, FM stations can broadcast not only their regular programming but additional channels called HD2 and HD3 along with it. Music stations use the extra bandwidth to play deeper album cuts or additional genres. News stations can run headlines on one channel and more in-depth news programming on another.
In the all-new 2013 Toyota RAV4, HD radio is available on XLE and Limited models. It’s part of Toyota’s Display Audio with Navigation and Entune option, which also includes Bluetooth hands-free, USB and aux inputs and a 6.1-inch screen that doubles as the monitor for the backup camera.
If you believe a good listener is a good lover, make sure your next new car is equipped with voice recognition. This technology allows you to control the radio, make a phone call or set your navigation, all using voice commands. It may take some getting used to a co-pilot that’s so cooperative and eager to help. But eventually, you’ll feel you can’t live without it.
Voice recognition is available on the 2013 Honda Accord and, like HD radio for the RAV4, is part of the navigation option. Together, voice recognition and navigation allow the driver to speak the address of a destination – street number, street name and city – and simply follow the route displayed. It’s technology that could mean an end to spousal disagreements about whether or not to stop for directions.
Sometimes it’s the little things that make you feel loved, like a helping hand when you need one. Many SUVs, crossovers, minivans and wagons offer power liftgates that really come in handy when you arrive with your hands full. Most are activated by a button on the remote key; as long as you have the key accessible, you can open the liftgate with the push of a button. In the rain, taller vehicles allow you to take cover under the raised liftgate while you load your cargo.
In the 2013 Ford Escape, a clever switch for the available power liftgate is activated by a kick of your foot under the vehicle’s rear bumper. Even if you don’t have so much as a free finger to push a button, you can raise or lower the liftgate easily. It can’t be true, but it’s almost as if the Escape is kind and considerate.
Even if it’s not, the people who design and engineer these features and vehicles certainly care about your satisfaction. They’d love nothing more than for you to fall for their vehicle, and they’ve spiced it up with all sorts of appealing features to win you over. I think these are the best new car options you’ll find satisfying in the long term, so treat yourself with one or more when it’s time for your next new car.