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HomeCar CultureThe 21 car features for which we're very grateful

The 21 car features for which we’re very grateful

From air conditioning and cup holders to satellite radio and more…

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It’s that time of year to spend time with loved ones – over a great meal – and reflect on the people and things for which bring us joy.

We want to join in on the festivities and in doing so, we’ve asked our editors, Larry Edsall, Bob Golfen and Tyson Hugie to share what they’re most grateful for but with a car-themed twist.

Below, we share the 21 car features for which we’re grateful.

Happy Thanksgiving and make sure to let us know your favorite car features in the comments section.


1. Intermittent Windshield Wipers (Hugie)

Since I don’t like to be one of “those people” with overly-aggressive wiper speeds, this makes for a nicety that’s appreciated on rare days when Phoenix is getting just a drizzle. 

2. Backup Camera (Edsall)

So many parking lot collisions avoided, bicycles not run over, and children’s lives saved as well.

3. Push-Button Starter (Golfen)

It’s great not ever having to take my “key” out of my pocket.

4. Automatic Climate Control (Hugie)

“Set it and forget it,” is a welcome solution to constantly adjusting knobs and dials – especially on the handful of spring and fall days when both heat and A/C are appreciated.

5. Electric Starter (Edsall)

Having crank-started a Model T, I appreciate the ease of turning a key or pressing a button to start an engine.

6. Self-Dimming Rearview Mirrors (Golfen)

No more fumbling for the mirror’s dimmer toggle when some inconsiderate clod comes up behind you with their brights on.

7. Auto Headlights (Hugie)

As much as I dislike automakers “forcing” options on people, this one is helpful for people who simply don’t understand the notion of turning headlights on at dusk.  I think it’s especially good for rental car fleets since people are generally clueless about managing the controls. 

8. Traction Control (Colbert)

Makes sure I stay safely on the road during any rainy, rocky or icy adventure.

9. Sealing Technology (Edsall)

It used to be a quart of oil every 1,000 miles, and various leaks onto the driveway, and if you’ve forgotten the smell of unburned gasoline, just drive behind a vintage vehicle that still has its original engine.

10. Multi USB Ports (Hugie)

I get anxious if my phone battery drops below 75%, and it’s almost always plugged in. If there are any passengers in the car, they might need a few ounces of juice, too. The more plug-ins, the better.

11. Satellite Radio (Edsall)

I enjoy local radio stations as I travel, but it is nice to be able to click over to NPR or classical or whatever rather than listen to rants about this or that.

12. Seat Belts (Edsall)

I’d never used them until I was a young reporter and watched Mario Andretti get out of his wrecked Indy car with only a small burn on his nose. How did he escape more injury, I asked him. He pointed to the harness that held him in place. I buckled up on the way home. A year later, seat belts probably saved my life.

13. Leather and Vinyl Upholstery (Hugie)

For all those times when I swore “I’ll never eat or drink in this car,” I usually cave in eventually.  And with my luck, I have a fast-food accident that leaves fries or soda on a seat somewhere.  Thank goodness leather and vinyl are easier to clean up than cloth. 

14. Backup warning Sensors (Golfen)

Makes going in reverse a lot easier and safer, especially when coupled with cross-traffic and pedestrian warnings.

15. Bluetooth (Edsall)

If we must use our smartphones to converse as a driver, at least Bluetooth allows us to keep both hands on the wheel and our eyes on the road.

16. Remote Locking (Golfen)

My old collector cars require me to use an actual physical key to lock and unlock their doors, which now seems kind of quaint.

17. Ventilated Seats (Hugie)

Usually cranked up even if it’s not incredibly hot outside.  Just a nice breeze for your derriere. 

18. Electric Tailgates on SUVs (Golfen)

Large SUVs have large tailgates, which tend to be heavy and cumbersome.  Automatic push-button lift and close eliminates that problem.

19. Lane Change Alert (Colbert)

When driving around in a big SUV or truck, it’s nice to have extra assurance I won’t bump into any smaller cars in my blind spot as I change lanes.

20. Manual Transmissions (Hugie)

I love to drive, and I love being in control of gear shifts.  I learned to drive a manual on a 1994 Ford Ranger XL pickup with vinyl flooring, manual-crank windows and an AM/FM cassette.  Sometimes I wish we could go back to that level of simplicity.  

21. Cupholders (Edsall)

Oh the spills avoided, though as my son can attest, when dad takes a corner really fast, you still can get hot coffee dumped into your lap.

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