Today's cars are loaded with high-tech features – some great, some not so great. While a bit of that technology comes standard on new vehicles, much of it doesn't, which means consumers have to pay extra for it.
And that presents a dilemma for many new-car shoppers: unless they're of unlimited means, they have to pick and choose the tech elements that are going to be most important to them.
Complicating matters is the fact that many of those elements are so new, consumers can't really be sure that they'll use them. A recent study from J.D. Power revealed that roughly 40 percent of vehicle owners had never bothered to use some of the most high-tech features on their vehicles, like built-in mobile routers and in-vehicle concierge services.
We began to wonder what technology our readers were most excited to have in their next ride. And so, as much of humanity now does in its hour of need, we polled Twitter:
Those results are a little surprising, considering shoppers' hot-and-cold early reactions to CarPlay and Android Auto. In the study cited above, at least 20 percent of respondents said that they had no interest in either of those third-party infotainment systems. Later that year, however, General Motors insisted that CarPlay was so desirable, it could make or break a sale.
It appears that awareness may have tipped the scales. When Power conducted its study, CarPlay and Android Auto weren't widely available, and many shoppers hadn't even heard of the technology. A few months later, the systems had begun to roll out, and consumers had developed a growing appetite for the features.
A year later, 50 percent of our respondents put CarPlay and Android Auto at the top of their wish lists. That's quite a turnaround--it's even up eight points from the last time we conducted this poll two months ago. In fact, we've heard anecdotal reports of consumers being so interested in CarPlay and Android Auto that they won't even set foot on a Toyota lot until the company begins offering the technology (which Toyota has stubbornly said it won't do).
The interest in wireless device charging doesn't surprise us either. Growing demand for smartphone-based infotainment systems makes it abundantly clear that handheld devices are central to our lives these days. Accordingly, keeping those devices powered up is a big concern.
The fact that 12 percent of respondents want autonomous features is probably to be expected, too. While many Americans remain very skeptical of self-driving vehicles, a small percentage are very, very enthusiastic about their arrival. However, 12 percent of respondents is significantly fewer than the 20 percent who expressed interest in autonomous features in September.
And as for the nine percent who just want a heated steering wheel, well, we can't blame you. Given the contentious election season many of us have just endured, maybe a simple, comforting pleasure is all you need.
This story originally appeared in The Car Connection.