The car industry is in a constant state of evolution, with each passing year bringing new technologies, safety features and performance enhancements. Add the number of smart devices available to the mix and a vehicle that can integrate and play well with your smartphone, smartwatch or home security system can add convenience and functionality to your life.
If you’re in the market for a new car, it’s essential to be aware of the latest upgrades and features to ensure that your investment is forward-looking and value-packed. Not all upgrades are worth it, so it’s important to do your research. While many of the technologies on this list aren’t new, they’re potentially more affordable today than in previous years. This article will explore nine valuable 2023 upgrades that you should add to your wish list when considering your next vehicle purchase.
1. Advanced Driver Assistance Systems
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that 42,939 people died in motor vehicle crashes in 2021 and that many of these crashes were related to human error. Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) continue to be a game-changer in the automotive industry to help minimize human error. Some of the best-known driver assistance technologies include:
- Blind Spot Warning: Alerts drivers to vehicles in their blind spots by delivering a visual or audible signal of the possible hazard
- Forward Collision Warning: Warns the driver of an impending collision with a vehicle in front of them
- Rear Cross-Traffic Warning: Notifies the driver of approaching vehicles when backing up
- Pedestrian Automatic Emergency Braking: Detects pedestrians in the vehicle’s path and applies brakes to prevent accidents
- Adaptive Cruise Control: Automatically adjusts a vehicle’s speed to maintain a safe following distance from the car ahead
- Lane Departure Warning: Alerts the driver when the vehicle drifts out of its lane without using turn signals
- Automated Emergency Braking: Automatically applies the brakes to prevent a collision
Driver assistance technology makes driving safer and more convenient. Buying a car that offers comprehensive ADAS features can enhance your driving experience and improve safety on the road. Besides the extra convenience and safety such systems provide, they could save you money on car insurance in the long run as carriers may deem vehicles with such tech far less of a risk to insure.
2. Better Headlights
The most common type of headlight is the halogen beam with a typical output of 2.1 thousand lumens — a significant upgrade from headlights of the past. However, there are other options you may want to consider, especially if you live in a rural area lacking adequate highway or road lighting. They are:
- Xenon and Bi-Xenon Headlights: Outputting 3,200 lumens, Bi-Xenon headlights are capable of delivering low-beam and high-beam lights from one bulb
- LED Headlights: Crisp, pure-white light that requires minimal power to output 4,500 to 5,000 lumens with minimal scatter, minimizing blinding of oncoming drivers
- Laser Headlights: The most tech-advanced and expensive type of lighting, they focus on active areas and obstacles ahead
Besides the type of headlight, adaptive lighting systems automatically adjust the direction and intensity of the headlights as you steer, enhancing safety. Plus, you may want to consider a car with automatic high beams. Many cars already come with automatic daytime running lamps to improve visibility. However, there are instances during night driving when running your high beams could help. Tech that can automatically toggle high beams on in dark spots — and off when an oncoming vehicle is detected — can help with your visibility without blinding oncoming drivers.
Cameras are more commonly fitted in vehicles these days. Teslas come installed with at least eight cameras for 360-monitoring of your electric vehicle. The Toyota Crown comes with four cameras.
Cars with panoramic views not only help during backup but can also work with driver assistance programs to monitor and detect possible hazards or collisions. Plus, vehicles that trigger camera recording while you’re driving can be useful to show the police or an insurance company who was at fault in an accident.
4. Improved Fuel Efficiency
As environmental concerns grow and gas prices fluctuate, fuel efficiency is a crucial factor to consider when purchasing a new car. Electric and hybrid vehicles are a significant trend in the automotive industry as consumers look to save money on gas.
If you’re looking for an environmentally friendly option with low operating costs, consider an electric or hybrid car. These vehicles continue to improve in terms of range, charging infrastructure and overall performance. The latest fuel-efficient car models offer enhanced efficiency through:
- Electric or hybrid powertrains
- Smaller turbocharged engines
- Stop-start engine technology
- Regenerative braking
- Improved aerodynamics
Cars with higher miles per gallon (MPG) ratings will save money on fuel and reduce your carbon footprint.
5. Enhanced Infotainment Systems
Infotainment systems in modern cars have evolved to become more intuitive, feature-rich and user-friendly. Look for new car models with advanced infotainment systems that offer smartphone integration, larger touchscreens and responsive voice commands. Features like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto can make your daily commute more enjoyable and convenient.
6. Wireless Charging and Connectivity
Future car models will be increasingly equipped with wireless charging pads for smartphones and other devices. This upgrade eliminates the need for messy cables and provides a hands-free way to keep your devices charged on the go. Additionally, advanced connectivity options ensure that your car is a seamless extension of your digital life, connecting effortlessly to the latest infotainment and navigation systems to reduce distractions while driving.
Besides in-vehicle connectivity, look for car upgrades that integrate with other tech or home automation, so you can lock your car from your sofa or start the vehicle AC a few minutes before you get in the car. Some features worth considering include:
- Ford’s Sync system can connect to home devices such as Amazon Echo so you can give Alexa voice commands directly from your vehicle.
- Tesla’s app allows you to program the cabin temperature remotely for departure at a specific time of day.
- myQ users can access the garage door directly from compatible vehicle navigation screens.
7. Autonomous Driving Capabilities
While fully autonomous vehicles are still a work in progress, some cars feature advanced driver assistance systems that will bring us closer to a future of autonomous driving. These systems can handle tasks already mentioned like adaptive cruise control, reducing driver fatigue and accidents on long journeys. Other autonomous driving tech includes self-parking for tight conditions and lane-keeping to minimize accidents or vehicle damage.
8. Health Features
In recent years, car manufacturers have not only been concentrating on enhancing the performance and comfort of vehicles but have also shifted their attention toward health-related benefits within the car. As a result, the automotive industry has introduced several features and technologies to promote a healthier and more hygienic driving experience. Features include:
Air Purification Systems
Air purification systems have gained prominence in modern cars, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. These systems are designed to improve cabin air quality by removing pollutants, allergens and even viruses from the air inside the vehicle. They typically incorporate high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters or similar technology to trap microscopic particles, ensuring that the air you breathe while driving is clean and free from harmful contaminants.
Beyond trapping airborne pollutants, companies such as Hyundai use UV-C light technology to sterilize the air and kill potential pathogens. Such lights can be mounted in the domes of the vehicle. These systems not only enhance the overall air quality inside the vehicle but also contribute to the well-being of both drivers and passengers, especially those with allergies or respiratory sensitivities.
Voice-Activated or Touchless Controls
Reducing the spread of germs and allergens inside the vehicle has become a key focus in the development of car interiors. Touchscreens, buttons and knobs are common touchpoints in a car’s cabin, and they can quickly become breeding grounds for bacteria and viruses. To address this concern, car manufacturers are increasingly incorporating voice-activated controls and touchless interfaces.
Voice-activated systems, like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, allow drivers to control various functions using voice commands. This not only reduces the need to touch surfaces but also enhances driver safety by minimizing distractions.
In addition to voice-activated features, some vehicles now include touchless controls for functions like opening doors or adjusting climate settings. For instance, proximity sensors can detect hand movements and respond accordingly, making it possible to open or close doors or windows without physical contact. These touchless controls not only promote hygiene but also add a touch of convenience and sophistication to the driving experience.
Ergonomic Steering Wheels and Seating
Ergonomics plays a crucial role in ensuring the comfort and health of drivers and passengers, especially on longer trips. Car manufacturers are increasingly focusing on creating ergonomic steering wheels and seating arrangements that promote a healthy driving posture and reduce discomfort during extended journeys.
Ergonomic steering wheels are designed to reduce strain on the wrists, arms and shoulders. They often feature contoured grips and adjustable settings to accommodate drivers of different sizes. By reducing muscle fatigue and discomfort, these steering wheels contribute to a more comfortable and health-conscious driving experience.
Similarly, improved seating designs take into consideration factors like lumbar support, adjustable headrests and seat materials that enhance comfort and reduce fatigue. Proper seating ergonomics not only improve the physical well-being of occupants but also enhance overall driving pleasure and safety.
9. Keyless Vehicle Access
Keyless entry and ignition systems are worth the upgrade. First of all, keyless access that requires a card or app instead of keys will save you money in locksmith fees if you should lose or misplace your car keys. Plus, not having to fumble for keys when you have your hands full or need to quickly access your vehicle can be convenient.
Keyless access also enhances security. Modern keyless systems often use advanced encryption and authentication methods, making it more difficult for thieves to steal your car. Additionally, these systems can offer features like remote engine start and automatic locking, further improving security. Plus, it’s far easier and cheaper to change keyless access codes should your current access be compromised than it would be to change the traditional ignition or door key.
Another advantage of upgrading to a keyless vehicle is the ease of sharing access with others. You can provide temporary access to family members or the valet without having to provide physical keys, offering more control over who can use your vehicle and for how long or when.
Buying a car in 2023 without at least some of the upgrades mentioned means you’re missing out on the latest advancements in safety, technology, convenience and environmental consciousness. By considering the valuable upgrades mentioned above, you’ll not only have a more enjoyable and comfortable driving experience but also ensure that your investment remains up to date for years to come.
More From GOBankingRates