5 must have features for your next car

Buying a car can be a confusing process. Many car commercials focus on the very advanced technology features such as “adaptive cruise control” that are nice in theory, but are often too costly for college students to equip their vehicle with. But there are some features that are must-haves when purchasing your next vehicle.

1. USB Port

The radio can become annoying by playing the same songs over and over with endless ads. Having a USB port allows you to connect your phone or MP3 player directly into the car to play your own tunes. Although an auxiliary jack allows you to play your music through your car’s speakers, it won’t charge your device while doing so — which is convenient for smartphone users. Automakers commonly throw in a USB as standard even on the cheapest cars in their lineups.

2. Backup Camera

When reversing, it can sometimes be hard to see exactly what’s behind you. Old ladies, kittens, passed-out drunk students — there’s a lot you might miss. Backup cameras typically pop up on a screen in the center of the dashboard or cheaper cars may have them in the rearview mirror. You can find many relatively cheap used cars equipped with one of these or find cheap new cars such as the 2014 Honda Civic where a rearview camera is standard. With increased pressure from the government, expect these cameras to become standard on a wider variety of vehicles in the near future.

3. Remote Start

With Michigan’s constantly changing weather, your car can either feel like the Sahara Desert or an ice box after sitting out in a parking lot for a while. Remote start allows you to start your vehicle to let it heat up or cool down before you’re ready to leave. In the used market, a lot of older General Motors vehicles come standard with remote start. GM now has the OnStar RemoteLink application where you can start and unlock or lock your vehicle from your smartphone no matter where you are.

4. Bluetooth Compatibility

Holding up your cell phone to your ear while you’re driving is so 2003. Taking one hand off the wheel or making that uncomfortable shrug of your shoulder to keep your phone on your ear is distracting. Having the ability to do hands-free calling with your mom allows you to hear her nagging through your car’s speakers with great clarity. Ford has been putting Microsoft’s SYNC system in their cars since 2007 and more and more carmakers are making Bluetooth phone connectivity standard equipment on new cars. Also, look out for systems such as Chrysler’s Uconnect system where you can stream your music via Bluetooth.

5. Heated Seats

Nothing makes Michigan’s harsh winters more bearable than a warm seat. Cars have been equipped with heated seats since 1972 — leaving you many opportunities to plop down on a used car’s heated seat. Although a warm bottom is nice, your fingers suffer through the winter too. Buick has started to equip its Verano and Encore (both under $30,000) vehicles with heated steering wheels as well as Chrysler with its cheaper cars such as the Jeep Cherokee.

So the next time you’re roaming the lots of new or used cars, make sure you keep an eye out for these five features — it may just make your life that much better.