Consumer Reports New Cars – November 2019

(Kiana) #1



(^) Android Auto
and Apple CarPlay:
These bring familiar
smartphone interfaces
and some important
but limited features
and usability to the car’s
infotainment system.
They encourage drivers
to put their phones
down and instead
interact with the car’s
built-in screen, letting
them pay more
attention to driving.
(^) Knobs for audio and
climate systems: We
find that physical knobs
for climate controls
(such as temperature
or fan) and audio
systems (for volume,
tuning, and power) are
far better than touch-
sensitive controls,
which are tedious and
distracting to use
when driving.
“Any time you force
drivers to avert their eyes
from the road, it’s an
invitation for trouble,”
says Shawn Sinclair, auto
motive engineer at CR.
“The best systems
let drivers make
adjustments without
having to verify them
visually,” she said.
360-degree surround-
view camera systems:
These use cameras
located around the
car (in the grille, often
below the side mirrors,
and the rearview
camera). The systems
give drivers a bird’s-eye
view of the vehicle as if
from above; help them
check for children and
objects around the
car, particularly when
backing up; and make
parking easier.
(^) Heated seats and
steering wheel:
These come into direct
contact with a driver or
passenger, so in cold
weather, they warm
occupants faster than
the climate system can
heat the car’s interior.
(^) Power driver’s seat
with height-adjustable
lumbar: Power seats
help drivers find a much
more comfortable
driving position than
is possible with most
manual seats, especially
in families where more
than one person drives
the car. In addition,
moveable cushions on
the driver’s seatback
can be adjusted to
help provide support
to the driver’s lower
back, known as the
lumbar region. Those
that adjust up and
down as well as in and
out provide even better
back support. This
makes long-distance
driving easier, and it
reduces fatigue.
“Manually adjustable
seats and those that
lack lumbar support
can accelerate driver
fatigue, even during
short trips,” says Gabe
Shenhar, associate
director of CR’s Auto
Test Program. “With
power adjustments, and
particularly four-way
lumbar support, drivers
can fine tune an optimal
seating position and
make adjustments on
the fly.”
Head-up display: This
projects information
such as the car’s current
speed, navigation, or
audio selections on the
windshield directly in
front of the driver’s eyes,
which helps keep their
focus on the road.
(^) Auto-dimming
mirrors: These sense
light cast on the mirror,
particularly from the
headlights of a vehicle
following behind, and
automatically darken
glass to prevent glare.
This is easier to use than
a day/night switch and,
useful when the car
behind has its bright
lights on.
(^) Fast USB charging:
Older USB outlets
charge at 0.5 amps.
They’re so slow that a
phone may lose charge
even when it’s plugged
in if an energy-hungry
app is in use. Many new
cars now have at least
Starting Up New Features You Should Know About
Cold Comfort
Heated seats
can warm
up a winter

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