These are the coolest new options and standard features available today.
Modern drivers demand a lot from their cars - power, refinement, and tons of safety features. New cars have had to adapt to these demands by adding new features on each new model year. Having tested a bunch of new cars lately, we decided to collate a list of ten awesome new car options and features that impressed us the most this year.
The 2018 Mercedes S63 AMG Cabriolet was stuffed with amazing technology and luxury features, but the in-car air fragrance system was perhaps the most unique of them all. The system uses little jars of scented liquid, which fit in a slot in the glovebox. Just go in the Mercedes COMAND settings, and the car will let out varying levels of sent through the climate control. The smell isn't overwhelming like a powerful air freshener, just enough to keep the interior smelling fresh.
Volvo has impressed us in recent years with new models like the 2017 V90 CrossCountry and 2018 XC60 SUV. The V90 CrossCountry that we tested came fitted with Volvo's optional rear grocery bag holder. This clever feature flips up in the trunk, and ensures that smaller items don't go flying around. We also tested the smaller 2019 XC40, which had a clever hook above the glovebox - allowing female drivers to conveniently hang their purse.
We loved our time driving Volvo's latest models, so it's no surprise that the Swedish brand is one of only two companies to land two features on this list. The 2018 XC60 we tested was optioned with the 15-speaker Bowers and Wilkins Premium Sound system for $3,200. This was perhaps the best sound system we tested all year, and comes with an awesome Concert Hall mode - which is tuned to make your music sound like it is being performed live in a Swedish concert hall.
Digital gauges may eventually replace conventional speedometers and tachometers. We tested many cars with digital cockpit displays, but the 2018 Ford Mustang GT had one of our favorites. The 12-inch LCD screen replaces traditional gauges on the GT Premium. We loved the customizability of the display, which could be configured with several designs and nearly unlimited color combinations.
General Motors introduced an interesting safety feature called the rear seat reminder. We recently drove the 2019 Buick Envision, which came equipped with this unique feature. The system will remind the driver if they have opened up the rear door, as soon as the car is shut off. It is meant to prevent people from forgetting their children in the back seat, though it can also remind you to take out any bags that may have been placed back there.
The 2018 Nissan Leaf is a completely new design, with a massively improved range over the first generation car. One of the car's most interesting features is the e-Pedal, which activates brake regeneration as soon as the driver lifts off the pedal. If you are smart with this system, the Leaf can basically be driven with only the throttle, and will go further on a charge.
Though it is far less groundbreaking than the e-Pedal, we really enjoyed the seats in the Nissan 370Z. We drove the highest trim 2018 Roadster Touring Sport, which includes partial cloth/leather seats. What's so special about these seats is the inclusion of both heating and ventilation. Many cars feature heated cloth seats, but few automakers offer cars with ventilated cloth chairs. If you've never tried them, we highly recommend it.
The roof on the 2018 Mazda Miata Club was another low-tech feature that we loved. We've driven the Miata RF with the hardtop, but prefer the simplicity of the folding fabric roof. The Miata's roof is a marvel of engineering. Other automakers spend millions of dollars ensuring that their folding metal roofs work well, forgetting how much trunk space they take up and how slow they are to use. The roof on the Miata is manual, and can be deployed faster than any powered top. It also take up no space in the trunk, unlike many other convertibles.
The 2019 Ram 1500 features the option for a 48-volt mild hybrid system on V6 and V8 engines. This system allows the Ram to achieve better fuel economy, with an added boost in torque. The 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 gains 90 lb-ft of torque, while the 5.7-liter HEMI V8 gains 130 lb-ft. The belt-driven unit allows for smoother stop-start functionality, and brake regeneration.
Most modern cars are available with different drive modes such as normal, sport, eco, or race. Kia vehicles have a unique mode called 'smart,' which can adjust the car based on how you are driving. If you are relaxed on the throttle, the car will keep itself in normal or eco modes. If you decide to put your foot down, smart mode will detect it instantly and change the car into sport mode.