We are in the market for a first car for our teenage son, and it is fascinating to see the price points. Lease a Toyota Corolla for $ 139 a month? Alright, the insurance premium for a teenage boy dampens the enthusiasm - but Toyota’s problems from last year, GM’s resurgence, the maturing Korean competitors (Hyundai and Kia), cheap finance all are helping car pricing.
But what is even more impressive is all the software, sensor, satellite and other technology being packaged even in moderately priced cars. I picked up brochures for couple of cars we have in the family, and the 2010/2011 models of those cars now have technology that just 2 years ago was only available in far more expensive Volvos, BMWs and Infinitis. Here is some:
Eight airbags are now standard in my daughter’s Kia Sportage. The side curtain airbags are equipped with rollover sensors to protect occupants from front and side impacts.
The car even adjusts the force of deployment depending on the size of the front seat passenger. Should the front seat be unoccupied, the passenger airbag won’t activate at all, saving on future repair costs.
The front seats have Active Front Head Restraints, for protection against whiplash.
The Tucson introduces many new TLAs – ESC – Electronic Stability Control, HAC – Hillstart Assist Control, DBC – Downhill Brake Control, TCS – Traction Control Systems, EBD – Electronic Brake Force Distribution.
Most cars these days have Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems (TPMS) to warn against tires with low air pressure. More sensors to serve us.
Most cars these days come with USB/Auxiliary MP3 jacks and accessory cables to let your iPods and other MP3 players drive your listening choices. Most now come with satellite radio and its wide range of digital choices.
Other creature comforts
Most cars these days come with heated seats that take the chill of a cold morning. The Kia Sportage even offers a cooled seat with perforations that allow cool air to circulate.
Of course, I could go into engine innovations, hybrid/fuel efficiencies and so much more. Would you agree – we are living in a golden age for auto consumers?