By JIM PARKER
The Post and Courier
Wow, can you imagine a car with “apps” to trendy social media and search sites? Or, yawn, an auto with side mirrors that light when a car pulls beside.
That’s the age-old question: Do motorists want a gadget that makes the ride more enjoyable, even sexy, or equipment that’s practical if a bit uninspiring.
Based on a new count, drivers not only side with the seemingly tepid safety equipment but are “excited” — should we go so far as to say stimulated, stirred up, elated, carried away, turned on — about accident-prevention features.
Cincinnati-based Swapalease.com asked about 500 motorists to name the five features that most excite them in today’s vehicles.
The clear favorite was Blind Spot Monitoring, which made 63 percent of the top-five lists. Following the blind spot device in popularity was Collision Avoidance at 53.1 percent, Voice Command and Fatigue-Reducing Zero Gravity Seats at 38 percent apiece and Large, LCD Touch-Pad Control Displays at 37 percent.
By contrast, the gadgets that rated lowest were Pushbutton Gear Selector favored by 9.2 percent, Center-Mounted Air Bags at 12.1 percent, In-Car Google, Yelp, Facebook Apps at 15.4 percent, Rear Foot-Controlled Lift Gate with 16.1 percent and Heated Windshield Washer Fluids at 19 percent.
“It is notable that four of the top five were features that enhance the safety of the driving experience,” said Scot Hall, executive vice president of Swapalease.com. “For all the talk of smartphone technology and car-performance features, today’s drivers seem to prefer ways to keep them safe and secure in the vehicle,” he said.
Another interesting result of the survey was the favorites’ lists didn’t change much among demographic groups — with a few exceptions.
Men and women picked many of the same gadgets as top choices, although not always, Swapalease.com noted. Text-Messaging Assistance and Internal Wi-Fi Connectivity were compelling to women but not men, the company said. At the same time, Large LCD Touch-Pad Control Displays were selected by males but not as much for females.
Age, too, didn’t separate results except in two cases. Drivers above age 50 crowded around Lane Departure Warning as a favorite, while Internal Wi-Fi Connectivity was on the radar only for younger drivers.
Shoppers had their preferences on which carmakers they believe are best at designing and rolling out innovative features.
Mercedes-Benz scored highest, with 52.9 percent finding the carmaker is adept at introducing hot new equipment. Next were BMW at 45.1 percent, Ford with 43.8 percent, Audi at 39.4 percent and Lexus at 33.3 percent.
Lowest ranking companies were GMC, Mazda, Dodge, Fiat and Kia.
Men were most keen on Ford, Cadillac, BMW and Acura for new features. More women liked every other brand, including Chevrolet, Volkswagen, Nissan, Toyota and Chrysler.
Swapalease.com said the most polarizing brands between men and women in terms of new features were Ford, with 47.5 percent of men and 36.5 percent of women favoring Detroit carmaker; and Toyota with 29.7 percent of women versus 14.7 percent of men liking the features’ lineup.
When age was factored in, Chrysler and Chevrolet scored higher among younger drivers, and Hyundai and Infiniti ranked stronger among drivers older than age 50, according to the online lease market and information site.
Swapalease.com said it matches motorists who want to escape their leases with people who are looking for short-term lease agreements.
For more information, call 866-SWAPNOW or visit www.swapalease.com.
Reach Jim Parker at 937-5542 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Volvo was a pioneer of what it called BLIS lights, which were blind-spot indicators located next to the front side pillars. They appeared in the 2010 Volvo S60 sedan( Leroy Burnell/postandcourier.com).×
A concept car built in China and displayed at Beijing Auto China 2010 showed off a futuristic interior with touch-pad buttons. Touch-pad controls are a popular feature in new cars, according to a survey by Swapalease.com (AP Photo).×