15 Features Now Available in Mainstream Cars That Used To Be Only in Luxury Cars

There used to be a divide between mainstream and luxury cars when it came to features. But nowadays key features like cutting-edge infotainment systems and safety gizmos are being shared across the automotive industry. In fact, some of the best active safety and infotainment systems come from mainstream automakers, not luxury marques. When it comes to in-car features, there’s really no such thing as exclusivity anymore—most gadgets can be found in every car, luxury or not, big or small. Navigation Systems Early navigation systems looked like a Super Nintendo video game with simplified graphics. It wasn’t until the 2000s that navigation systems did more than just give you directions. Now they features maps with multiple views, 3-D rendering, and even Google Earth, and nearly every vehicle sold currently in the U.S. is available with navigation. In addition to giving directions, they now give traffic reports, an option for faster alternate routes, and even tell you the closest fuel stations, restaurants, and financial centers. Ventilated Front Seats Only a few mainstream offerings used to offer ventilated front seats and only in a few models, which meant paying an arm and a leg. Today, though, you can get ventilated front seats on an array of mainstream cars including the Kia Soul, Ford Fusion, and Hyundai Sonata. Heated Outboard Rear Seats Like ventilated front seats, heated rear seats used to be reserved for midsize and full-size luxury sedans that cost double or triple the price of your average Honda Accord. They usually weren’t standard, meaning you had to opt for an expensive package if you wanted them. While they’re still optional or only available on specific trim levels in mainstream vehicles, you’re no longer forced to pay an exorbitant sum. The Hyundai Sonata and Kia Optima were the first midsize sedans to offer heated rear outboard seats early on, and now even compact cars such as the Kia Forte and Honda Civic have them as options. Nappa Leather Upholstery While it’s usually an option in cars like the BMW 5 Series and Audi A6, you don’t need to spend more than $50,000 to get a car with Nappa leather. Kia was one of the first mainstream automakers to offer leather when it added the premium SXL trim to the Optima lineup in 2012. Now you get standard Nappa leather in the SXL trim level of the Kia Optima and Kia Sorento. Additionally, you can pick between three different colors, including a classy black/ivory two-tone, and a striking red/black combination. Panoramic Sunroofs Gigantic sunroofs are common nowadays, but just a few years back you’d have to opt for something in the luxury segment to get one. The Scion tC changed things when it offered a panoramic sunroof standard in the first-generation 2005 model. Now everything from the Nissan Rogue to the Hyundai Veloster can be had with a massive sunroof, meaning you’ll have plenty of vehicles to choose from when it comes to size and body style. Active Safety Features Mainstream brands now offer all kinds active safety systems. Nearly every segment has a vehicle that comes with blind-spot warning, forward collision warning, and lane departure warning. Additionally, collision avoidance tech like automatic emergency braking is now available in mainstream vehicles. Subaru has one of the best active safety suites available today at any price range. Parking Cameras Cameras as parking aids formerly were only found in oversized and luxury cars. However, as cars grew in size, more of them came equipped with rearview cameras standard. Prestigious automakers moved to 360-degree cameras to differentiate their products from mainstream offerings. Now the surround view cameras are finding their way into mainstream cars, even affordable ones like the Nissan Versa Note. Today, 360-degree and rearview cameras are on all nearly every vehicle because of stricter government safety regulations. LED Lighting We have Audi to thank for the abundance of LED lights that are now slowly replacing halogen and HID units across the board. LED lights’ popularity is a textbook example of the trickle-down effect from luxury automobiles to numerous mainstream vehicles. In the midsize segment, the face-lifted Honda Accord and Mazda6 also offer full LED headlights. Multiple Driving Modes As consumers continue to demand more from their vehicles, automakers are offering them the option of tailoring their riding style. Multiple driving modes are especially common in sports cars, particularly ones from luxury brands. Like their luxury counterparts, mainstream automakers such as Chevrolet and Honda have added different driving modes, from Sport to Eco and everything in between. Online Connectivity A key feature of luxury infotainment systems is their ability to use the Internet to search for destinations and even restaurant ratings. This gave systems such as COMAND, iDrive, and MMI something their mainstream counterparts didn’t have, but the march towards making all automobiles connected to the Web has put everyone on a level playing field. Now 4G LTE is available on more affordable vehicles from brands like Chevrolet. However, keep in mind that regardless of whether you buy a luxury or mainstream car, there will be a monthly fee for the 4G LTE feature once the trial period ends. Head-Up Display While it isn’t as common as navigation, the head-up display is finding its way into mainstream cars slowly but surely. Unlike luxury brands, which display projections on the windshield, mainstream brands use clear flip-up panels. Mazda was one of the first to introduce a head-up display in its vehicles with the addition of the Active Driving Display, which showed your speed and navigation direction in a clear panel right above the instrument cluster. Quilted Diamond-Stitch Patterns on Leather Upholstery Usually only available as extra-cost custom features in luxury cars, diamond-quilt patterns are now emerging across mainstream automaker lineups. Brands such as Kia, Nissan, and Ford now offer some vehicles with diamond-stitch upholstery. Some of the first mainstream vehicles to feature diamond-stitch patterns upholstery were the Kia Optima and Cadenza in the SXL and Limited trims respectively. Heated Steering Wheel As heated seats became common across all car companies, the heated steering wheel is following suit. Cold-weather conveniences no longer have to cost a fortune now that brands like Kia and Hyundai offer them at a great value. Cars like the Kia Soul and Chrysler 200 are only two of a growing number of mainstream cars offering cold-weather passenger conveniences features without the luxury price tag. Memory Function for the Driver’s Seat A feature most appreciated when there are several drivers in the family, memory seats used to only be available in cars costing more than double the price of a typical midsize sedan. Among mainstream vehicles, the Kia Optima, Honda Pilot, and Nissan Murano all offer memory seats in at least one trim level. Like their luxury counterparts, two or three seating configurations can be saved for the driver’s seat. Power-Operated Front Seats Before the 2000s, finding power-operated front seats were far and few between in mainstream cars. However, continued demands from consumers for automakers to add more features meant that power-operated seats were added to more vehicles. As a result, even compact cars like the Honda Civic and the Hyundai Elantra can now be optioned with power front seats. In some trim levels, though, only the driver’s seat is powered while the front passenger’s seat remains manually operated.