So you’re thinking about buying a car. The research phase leading up to the purchase can be part of the fun—considering what you want, what you need, and settling on a particular make and model is exciting. Or crazymaking. Or both.
The trouble is, there are so. many. options. In one way, this is great—how lucky are we to live in a time where even the simplest, most affordable cars come with all sorts of comfort, performance, and safety features? At the same time, it can be a lot to take in. And hard to find a car with the features you want, yet without features you don’t want.
Then there’s the matter of the most popular car features that you might not want, but a lot of future buyers likely will. So unless you plan to keep the car forever, you’ll want to consider certain options whose absence might hurt your car’s desirability and resale value when you’re ready to sell it.
Exhausted and overwhelmed yet? Don’t worry, we’ve narrowed it down to some of the key optional features in each category—the ones you’ll probably appreciate if you have them, and also their likely impact on resale—to make things a little easier.
One of the most common car safety features these days is a parking sensor system. Some cars have them only in the rear bumper, others have them at front and rear, and others offer a full 360-degree view. They basically use audio alerts to tell you how close you are to whatever is in front of and behind you. They’re definitely a nice feature to have, especially on a truck or SUV, or any car without limited visibility.
One step further than parking sensors (and usually combined with them) is the parking camera system. It’s very useful to see not only the things really close to your bumpers (that the sensors would alert you to) but also things that are a little further back, but that you’ll want to know about, like pets or children. They could also help you see things that might be too low for parking sensors to detect—like a child or animal that’s lying down—so extremely beneficial from a safety standpoint.
Blind spot detection
Unlike parking sensors and cameras, the blind spot detection system works when you’re driving at higher speeds. Just like it sounds, it alerts you to cars that might be in your blind spot when you change lanes. This is a great feature that is especially helpful if you drive a larger car.
This is a feature that is standard on a lot of cars now (and called various things by different manufacturers), but still optional even on some higher-end ones. It’s great because you don’t need to have the key fob in your hand, you only need to have it on you (in your pocket, purse, etc) to open the door.
Our smartphones are faster to use and work better than most in-car navigation systems, and most of us probably use the phone rather than one in the car, but it still looks strange to get into a car without one. Most buyers do expect a navigation system on any car from the last 8-10 years.
Some people care about having a nicer sound system, some don’t… but typically, in a car that’s a little more high-end or luxury, an upgraded stereo will be a plus for many buyers. And unless you only listen to ballgames or talk radio, you’ll probably find it an enjoyable option.
Most cars come with optional upgraded wheels, which are usually larger than the standard ones, and often look cooler—they might be alloy, or have diamond-turned beveling, or even be anodized for a black or grey finish. Larger wheels are usually better for performance, but they also tend to ride a little harder than smaller ones, so that’s something to keep in mind.
A lot of carmakers offer upgrades that include a stiffer, sport-tuned suspension. If you prefer a softer, more cushy ride, then this probably isn’t the option for you. But drivers if you like a sportier-handling car, and like to push your car to its limits, a sport suspension package is definitely for you.
A lot of car models now offer a turbocharged trim level. This basically pulls more air into your engine, cools the air, and forces it into the engine to basically help it ‘breathe’ a lot more efficiently and get more air than it normally would. The result can be a noticeable to massive difference in speed, depending on the car. Even a small engine can be quite fast with the advantage of a turbocharger.
Ultimately, when you buy a car—new or used—you should of course get the options that are important to you. But upgrades from the factory like the ones above can be an ideal way to make your car more fun to drive, more visually appealing, or safer for you. They’re also likely to be an important differentiator in making your car more appealing to buyers when you go to sell it.