One thing cars have in common with consumer tech is buyers typically get more bang for their buck each year. For example, features like backup cameras, which once appeared only on luxury cars, are now available on much less expensive vehicles. This not only makes driving more convenient and comfortable, but safer.
I was reminded of this while recently testing a 2017 Nissan Rogue SL AWD with a total sticker price of $34,350 and plenty of tech amenities, many of which were standard. It made me think, in this week of Thanksgiving, about the auto tech for which I'm most appreciative.
1. Connected Search
Anyone who owns a smartphone knows how convenient connected search can be, and the feature is becoming more common in cars. The Rogue's NissanConnect infotainment system, for example, has Google Local Search and a helpful TripAdvisor app that finds services and supplies info and ratings on them, but also routes to their location via the vehicle's navigation system. The TripAdvisor app even provides user reviews and a push-to-talk feature if a Bluetooth phone is connected.
2. Streaming Music
As a kid, I earned the name "Flipper" in my family since I constantly searched the radio dial while in the car to find my favorite music. Today, drivers have tons on tunes at their disposal from AM, FM, and satellite radio, but also their own digital library thanks to smartphones and streaming music services. The Nissan Rogue's NissanConnect system has only Pandora and iHeartRadio, but other cars I've tested include Aha Radio and TuneIn that also offer podcasts, audiobooks, and other content to help pass the time during a commute or long road trip.
3. Heated Seats and Steering Wheel
I really appreciate heated seats on cold winter mornings. But I was surprised to see that the Nissan Rogue SE also has a heated steering wheel as standard equipment, a feature usually found only on luxury cars. Even better, the Rogue has remote start so drivers can set the seat heaters on high, switch on the heated steering wheel, and crank the engine from the comfort of their home or office to have the interior as well as important touchpoints in the vehicle nice and toasty when they get in.
4. AroundView Monitor
Nissan invented and then helped popularize this feature, which stitches together the feeds from various cameras to present a 360-degree view around the vehicle on the in-dash monitor. I've found this helpful, whether I'm in parking garages, easing into a spot on the street, or even my own driveway to avoid hitting objects and just to get a general sense of how much space there is around the vehicle. This feature is often paired with parking sensors to further guard from fender benders by issuing visual and audible warnings when you're too close to an object.
5. Driver Assists
Of all the technology available on vehicles like the Rogue, driver assists are without a doubt the most important. While some of the driver-assist features found on the Nissan Rogue SL are simply convenient, such as high-beam assist that automatically switches the headlights between high and low beams when it senses cars ahead, others can save your life. These include lane-departure prevention and forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking, which were part of a $2,020 Platinum Package option. The forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking can even save the lives of people not in the car since it includes pedestrian detection.
All these features, except some of the driver assists, are standard equipment, although the NissanConnect system requires a subscription after three years. Still, the fact that many of these connected services are free is another reason to be thankful.