Which extras are worth paying for, and which should you skip over?
Our cars are more advanced than ever, at least in their most well-equipped guises with all the options for the car included. However, not everyone can afford a top-tier trim of an economical model, let alone a luxury nameplate. More often than not, we have to pick and choose between optional packages when building a new vehicle. But how do you ensure that your money is being well-spent? The last thing you want to do is add a few features that look really cool only to later discover that you could have opted for some after-market accessories that do the same job for less.
Vehicles today come with a lot more standard features, many of which were once considered luxury options in the past. However, if you have a limited budget, you may still find yourself looking at a sparsely outfitted model and considering some add-ons to bring it more in line with what you envisioned your new car to be. Options can include a variety of aesthetic improvements for the exterior or interior, various comfort features, or even added tech like driver safety aids. These can usually be added as standalone features or in bundles, depending on the manufacturer, at extra cost.
With so many potential add-ons available, how do you know which to take seriously, and which to skip over? Here are some of the more standard dealer add-ons that many consider to be necessary:
Infotainment - You'd be hard-pressed to find a new vehicle without at least a rudimentary infotainment suite. However, standard features generally include Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. BMW only recently added the latter as standard. Still, most require an activation fee, which is not included in the upfront costs. This, along with features such as Wi-Fi, require you to weigh the cost against the benefits.
While extra options may be shiny and attractive, not all are as worthwhile as they seem. In fact, many are quite frankly a waste of money. With the expansive auto market in the USA, a little confusion is to be expected when shopping for a new vehicle. If you do so in person, salesmen will no doubt try to sweet talk you into speccing on some pricey but ultimately useless additions to push up the sale price. Similarly, online manufacturer sites make every little bauble sound impossible to pass up. With that in mind, here are some of the dealer options to avoid:
Any feature added on to a standard build that increases the base price of a vehicle is generally considered an option. These generally take the form of comprehensive packages that are built to improve a model in a specific area. These include appearance packages, as well as safety and security, or advanced tech packages.
As a general rule of thumb, adding anything above the base spec to your vehicle will impact its value. However, it is often the case that what you spend to install the options is not recouped in the event of a sale. Add-ons that are not seen as essential or useful are usually money wasted rather than value added. Thus, you need to think about the future, too, when considering optional features.
In terms of what will positively affect your life or add value to your vehicle, the list is relatively short. You cannot really go wrong with added safety and driver aids, so blind-spot detection, rear cross-traffic alert, and forward collision avoidance systems are always a safe bet. Certain conveniences are welcome additions, too, such as keyless entry for your car and push-button start. These are often quite cheap to add, assuming they do not come standard already.
Whether at a dealer or when shopping online, you are bombarded with loads of extra stuff to tack onto your car. The more impactful changes are generally made by the options, which are often sorted into packages. But, there are loads of little odds and ends you can throw in, too, such as additional cupholders and storage bins, cargo area nets and covers, and even roof rails to tow hooks. These are all added individually, which means you might be tempted by their low costs, but stacking on several quickly pushes up the total price, so beware.