Think about what it takes to engineer just one car…it takes a lot of work! Most of the features and technologies that engineers devote their entire career to building get overlooked by owners. So, let’s pay them their due. Here are the 10 most under-appreciated car features.
Electronic Stability Control
Electronic stability control (ESC) has been saving lives for years and gets very little credit. It is one of the biggest safety advances in vehicles in the past 30 years, yet few people even know what it is…and less know what it does. It automatically brakes the wheels to control your car if you come into a corner too hot, or lose control in inclement weather. ESC is kind of like your parents, always there to help you but never gets the recognition it deserves.
Which cars have ESC? From ConsumerReports, “In 2007, NHTSA mandated that all vehicles be equipped with ESC as a standard feature by the 2012 model year. Currently, for the 2010 model year, 88% of cars and 100% of SUVs have standard ESC. For pickups, it’s just 62%.”
Car enthusiasts say the manual transmission may soon be dead. Hopefully car companies will keep ignoring them. Just twenty years ago you would get better miles per gallon (MPG), and 0-60 times with a manual transmission.
Automatic Close/Open Rear Hatch
Having a rear hatch that automatically opens and closes is a blessing that few people appreciate… Ever tried to open your truck with your hands full?
The roof rack is something that typically doesn’t come standard on a car, so be sure you opt in! Having a roof rack can double your cargo capacity and adds style. Make sure the next time you are shopping for a car that it has a roof rack.
This is such a small detail, but so important when it comes to cargo capacity. Most cars rear seats do not fold flat, and you are left with an uneven floor in the back and limited space for cargo. When you are able to fold the rear seats flat, like in a Honda fit, it allows you to fit all those important Home Depot items.
If you are a car enthusiast you probably know what a limited-slip differential (LSD, not the drug). The main benefit of a LSD is that it will recognize when one wheel is slipping, say in a tight right hand turn, and send all the power to the wheel that has grip. If your car doesn’t have an LSD and has an open differential it will not do this. Limited-slip differentials benefit cars not only on racetracks, but also in inclement weather conditions by giving power to the wheels that have the most traction.
Airbags are not sexy, but they save people’s lives. Car enthusiasts go as far to even take the airbags out of cars to save weight when they are racing their car. Cars today come with up to 14 airbags that will deploy accordingly to the type of crash you are in. Some things in life are a necessity, airbags in cars is one of them. Like it or not.
Most people have no idea what kind of tires are on their car. Yet, it’s the single most important item on you car because it is what connects you to the road, and we don’t give it enough respect. Especially snow tires which have a special rubber compound that grip better, stops better, and even turns better in cold weather. Do yourself a favor and if you live somewhere where the temperature consistently drops below 40 degrees, buy some snow tires.
Most people don’t know which wheels are driving their car, yet they know how many cup holders their minivan has. If you want the best driving dynamics a car needs to rear-wheel drive, making the front tires steer and propel the car tends to overwhelm them. The best sport cars tend to be rear-wheel drive, and I hope that continues.
Naturally Aspirated Engine
Rising fuel economy standards has led to a rise in turbocharged engines to improve fuel economy. I’m not complaining about turbo’s, I love them, but when we try to improve one area of a car something always gets lost in the making. Today that’s naturally aspirated engines which have better pedal feel and throttle response than engines with turbos. Naturally aspirated engines also sound better than turbocharged engines. If you need proof, Google “Mustang GT350 R”, it’s the holy grail of naturally aspirated engines.