Used Cars Offer Today’s Top Tech Features

With the average price of a new car coming in somewhere above $32,000, consumers know that they’ll be making a significant financial outlay in a bid to acquire cars loaded with the latest technologies. These technologies include Bluetooth connectivity, adaptive cruise control, and backup cameras.

Fortunately, a number of late-model used cars include these same features, enabling consumers to find cars that are more affordable. In a press release, Edmunds recently identified the top technologies of our time and when they became prevalent. We’ll explore this further by offering examples of used cars that come with these features.

Adaptive Cruise Control

Also known as autonomous cruise control or radar cruise control, adaptive cruise control gives drivers a small taste of upcoming autonomous driving. Standard cruise control maintains your car’s speed at a preset level, while adaptive cruise control takes it one step further by adjusting your speed based on traffic conditions.

For example, if you set your speed to 55 mph in a bid to match the posted speed, then standard cruise control will maintain that speed until you brake, cancel cruise control or step on the accelerator.

With adaptive cruise control (ACC), that same 55 mph speed will automatically be overridden under certain conditions. For instance, if the car in front of you slows down, the radar system in your car will slow your car accordingly in a bid to maintain a safe distance between vehicles. In some cases it will apply the brakes and stop your car as needed. Typically, you can also adjust your following distance, maintaining 2-, 3- or 4-second intervals between you and the car in front of you as you drive.

Edmunds research discovered the widespread use of ACC beginning in 2013, with that technology extending to about one-third of the vehicles sold that year. However, you can find it as far back as 2005 in the Acura RL, which included the feature in an optional Technology package. That package bundled ACC, collision mitigation braking and run-flat tires. In 2009, the Hyundai Genesis made its debut and came with smart cruise control, its own name for ACC.

Rearview Cameras

Rearview cameras will become standard equipment on all new models beginning in 2018. Edmunds discovered that more than half of new vehicles offered as far back as 2010 provide backup cameras as standard or optional equipment. Typically, such cameras are included with navigation systems, but they’re sometimes available as a standalone option.

Backup cameras represent a safety feature that saves lives by helping drivers avoid accidents. When used, drivers can detect children, pets and objects that are behind the vehicle and avoid an accident. Some systems include grid lines while others add in parking sensors to help drivers gauge proximity to an object.

While the technology for backup cameras has been around for decades, it wasn’t offered in production models until early in the millennium. Indeed, the 2002 Infiniti Q45 is outfitted with a rearview monitor, which was considered quite a novelty at that time. Among lower cost models, the 2014 Toyota Corolla offers an integrated backup camera across the model line except in the base L edition.

Blind Spot Monitoring

Blind spot monitoring – known as BLIS or BSM, depending on the manufacturer – has been a godsend for some drivers. This system detects when a vehicle is riding in your blind spot — typically the area in your car astride the rear pillars.

When a car approaches the blind spot, the system will inform the driver by activating a light in the appropriate sideview mirror or offer a warning on the dashboard, sometimes both. With such systems in place, drivers avoid the dreaded side swipes that occur when they change lanes, but are unaware that a car is in their path.

Edmunds found that about one-third of 2013 model year vehicles have blind spot monitoring, typically included in a wider safety package. Beginning in 2010, the Ford Fusion Hybrid was available with this feature and cross traffic alert. From 2011 on, additional Lincoln and Ford models were similarly equipped. You can also find blind spot monitoring in 2011 Chrysler Town & Country models equipped with the SafetyTec package.

Bluetooth Connectivity

Wireless technology is the rage and Bluetooth provides the connectivity that enables smartphones, tablets and personal computers to connect over short distances. In cars, Bluetooth wirelessly syncs your mobile device to the vehicle’s audio system. By 2009, Edmunds noted a sharp increase in the technology over the previous year, as 81 percent of 2009 vehicles provide Bluetooth as standard or optional equipment.

Bluetooth was officially formed in 1998. By 2001, the first hands-free car kit and hands-free car kit with speech recognition was developed. In 2004, Chrysler became the first manufacturer to offer Bluetooth, including it in the Chrysler Pacifica crossover utility vehicle as well as in its Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country minivans. The good news for used car shoppers is that just as USB ports and auxiliary input jacks are widespread in late model used cars, Bluetooth should be too.

Popular Car Technologies

Edmunds also noted that dual-zone automatic climate control became commonplace in 2006, a feature that is typically found on higher trims of almost all new cars today.

Navigation systems have been available for years, originally offered as plug-in systems and still available where in-dash systems are not. Tom Tom, Magellan and Garmin offer such systems. The first-ever GPS navigation system for a production car was placed in the 1995 Oldsmobile Eighty-Eight.

Other technologies that are growing in popularity and will certainly become more widespread in coming years include heated and cooled seats, adaptive headlamps and in-car Internet, the latter more likely to be found in certain late model Fiat Chrysler and General Motors products.

Certainly, new cars offer more choices when it comes to modern technologies, but many late-model used and certified pre-owned vehicles also have them. Typically, you’ll need to look at top trim levels or vehicles equipped with technology packages to find what you want.