Luxury Car Features You Don’t Need
Luxury cars are all about having the best. Whether for style, comfort, entertainment, or performance, luxury features are meant to be new, desirable and exclusive. They are also sometime expensive and offer dubious return on investment. Here are ten of the most common luxury car features you may want, but don’t need.
Massaging seats of various quality have been available for over a decade, but still remain almost exclusively in luxury vehicles. The idea is great, as most people enjoy a good massage, but the results are mixed. Packing bladders and nubs into sport seats already filled with heat and ventilation sometimes makes for a seat that can do a lot, but isn’t comfy. Odds are you aren’t spending enough seat time to need this feature, unless your ride says Greyhound on the back.
LEDs make sense on a luxury ride, as they are faster lighting than incandescent bulbs, last longer, are more expensive, and look better. While Cadillac introduced North America to LED tail lights way back in 2000, other manufacturers quickly followed. Now the current Mercedes S-Class is equipped with only LEDs, and no incandescents. Audi is responsible for most of the LED styling nonsense, as they featured LED daytime running lights on basically everything from the A3 to the R8. The safety feature aspect is debatable, but the distinctive styling is not. Now, even Kia has models with the silly Audi “LED eyelash.” This is the 8-track player of today.
Rear seat reclining
If you’re already shelling out big money for the long wheelbase model, it seems like a good fit to check the box for reclining rear seats. In addition to the extra legroom, the rear passengers will be able to recline slightly, pretending they are flying coach on a low budget carrier. Keep in mind, this has absolutely no effect on the driver. This is an excellent option if you are buying a vehicle to be driven in, but a useless one for a vehicle you will be driving.
Can’t be bothered to stop at a gas station convenience store, even when you need gas? This is for you! The various cooling methods available today can chill everything from a can of Red Bull to a full size bottle of wine. The question is, why? If you planned ahead enough to stuff your drink of choice in the car, odds are you have the 60 seconds it takes to run into a convenience store for said drink. Sure, it’s slightly more expensive this way, but its way colder than your onboard chiller. Really, this should not be a luxury car feature, but should be holding juice boxes in the family truckster minivan.
Steering wheel warmer
Heated seats can make sense in locations with a very cold winter. Walking to your car in the freezing cold can take a lot out of you, and getting into your vehicle with a very quickly warmed seat is comforting on multiple levels. But a warmed steering wheel makes little sense. If it’s that cold, you’re likely wearing gloves and can’t feel a thing. This is the equivalent of heated pedals.
I call this the iPhone effect. 10 years ago, a handful of vehicles had horrible touchscreens that controlled only a few features. Now, every vehicle on the market has some kind of screen that is responsible for every single convenience feature in the vehicle. To access the radio or air conditioning used to only take a push of a button. Now, you may have to wade through several screens on a slick screen with no tactile reference. Meaning now you have to take your eyes off the road for a 7 second process, instead of feeling your way through a one second pushed button. There is no reason to add cost and complexity to a car’s interior controls, unless that reason is to make to look cool. After all, the iPhone is a great tiny computer, but a terrible phone. And now our instrument cluster and center stack look great, but are crap to use while driving. Thanks Apple.
Active noise reduction
Active noise reduction is a technique to reduce background noise, like road noise or engine drone, by analyzing the sound wave and emitting an inverse wave that effectively cancels out the sound, according to your ear. It’s a brilliant technique, and a great idea for headsets and earphones. However, there is a drawback for luxury cars. Manufacturers have systems of varying quality, and you have to remember that your ears are actually receiving two sound sources, at the exact same volume. They do cancel each other, but some people still experience ear discomfort or headaches due to the constant barrage of unheard sound waves. Lovely idea, but not for everyone.
Nürburgring tuned suspension
When did Germany’s ‘ring become the final word on performance? It makes sense that Corvette engineers would spend suspension tuning time out there, but why is everyone focused on lap times and a rough sport suspension instead of the traditionally cushy ride of luxury cars? A sporting Rolls-Royce is a fine idea, but a Rolls equivalent to the Porsche GT3 RS is just dumb, and no longer a luxury car. It’s about being driven in comfort, quiet, and smoothness, not beating down that 911. Even entry level players like the Cadillac ATS and Lexus IS brag about their sporty handling capabilities and lap times here. Where does it end?
Mercedes-Benz leads the way in a lot of areas, and unfortunately, they are leading the charge for light up manufacturer badges. This has been an option for a while now, with illuminated door sills reminding you of the depreciating car you’re making payments on for the next 72 months. From a branding perspective, an illuminated logo makes some sense, as everyone will be able to see what you drive in even the darkest parking lot. However, that’s currently the problem with the latest Benz effort; it doesn’t light while driving. To pay $480 – before installation – for a badge that only lights up when the car is unlocked or the doors opened, well, frivolous spending like that is a good indicator that your next car will come from a “buy here, pay here” lot, rather than a new marque suggestive of your financial independence.
A luxury car can have all of these questionable items, and still be a great car for the right person. Your mileage may vary, so please let us know your choices for modern luxury features we don’t need.