Car technology continues to progress, even in such a challenging year as 2020. Carmakers are introducing new features to make driving safer and more convenient. As is usually the case, most of these features were introduced in premium and luxury cars and are now trickling down to the mass-market models. Buying an entry-level vehicle no longer means a car without active safety and convenience features, or a car that was built with parts from yesteryear. The next time you’re considering a new car, you’d want to make sure it has most or all of these:
1. LED headlamps
Let’s start with something you can see, and can see better with: the headlights. Halogen lights (aka incandescent bulbs) have been around since the 1970s, and it’s clearly time for something better. For a while, that something was high-intensity discharge (HID) bulbs, and now even that has been surpassed by LED lighting. Using a semiconductor to generate photos uses less energy, typically half that of incandescent lighting. This consumes less fuel, and just as importantly, generates a bright, wide beam of white light that makes nighttime driving much easier and safer. LED lighting units are also smaller, allowing carmakers to design more attractive headlights.
Entry-level car that has this: Geely Coolray Sport
2. Daytime running lights
In addition to LED headlamps that illuminate better at night, LEDs can also serve an important function during the day: make you more visible to other motorists and pedestrians. A fixture in countries with dark winter days, daytime running lights are becoming popular around the world, as they have been proved to improve vehicle visibility even in bright conditions. LED units consume little energy, allowing for added safety with negligible effect on fuel consumption.
Entry-level car that has this: Chery Tiggo 2
3. Anti-lock brakes
Another active safety feature are anti-lock brakes. These allow the driver to steer the vehicle even in a full-emergency braking situation. Other countries have mandated ABS brakes as required on all new cars—the Philippines should follow suit.
Entry-level cars that have this: Nissan Almera 1.2, Hyundai Reyna, Suzuki Ciaz
4. Electronic stability control
Electronic stability control (ESC) helps the driver by making the car go where he intends it to. When the onboard computer senses loss of steering control, the system selectively applies the brakes to help steer the vehicle in the intended direction. Studies by the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety estimate that one-third of fatal accidents can be prevented by ESC. New cars in the US, Canada and Europe are mandated to have it on board. Again, the Philippines, in cooperation with ASEAN, can take the lead to require this technology.
Entry-level cars that have this: Changan Alsvin, Foton Toplander, Subaru XV, Toyota Vios 1.3 base
5. Tire pressure monitoring system
Keeping your tires inflated to the correct pressure is importantly, as underinflated tires are more prone to loss of control and crashing. It’s almost impossible to tell visually, and even by pressing the tire, if the pressure is off by 25 percent or more. Aside from regularly inflating thes tire at home or at a gas station, a good countermeasure is using an-board tire-pressure monitoring system. The best ones can indicate the actual pressure in all four tires, and can signal a warning even for slow leaks.
Entry-level car that has this: Jeep Renegade
6. Cabin air filtration
Air cleanliness is on everybody’s mind thanks to Covid-19, and it’s even more critical in a car’s small, enclosed space. A few carmakers have fitted cabin air filters that can efficiently filter out viruses and bacteria, with the stated efficiency of a CN95 type mask.
Entry-level car that has this: Geely Coolray Sport
7. Smartphone integration
Smartphones are a potential source of distraction, so it’s best not to use them while driving. But if you do have to use them, it’s best if the car can integrate the phone’s functions so that information is quicky and easy to access. The gold standards are Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, which in effect mimic the phone’s functions into the car’s display.
Entry-level cars that have this: MG 5 , Kia Seltos
8. Six or more gears
Internal-combustion engines generally give better acceleration and fuel efficiency when paired when a transmission that has more gear ratios. Since more is better, six forward gears or a CVT usually improves performance and fuel mileage.
Entry-level cars that have this: Hyundai Accent 1.4 GL, Foton Toplander
9. 360-degree monitor
There was a time when a rear-view mirror on the right-hand side was optional. Now, drivers are assisted by rear cameras, and the best systems are those that can take images from multiple cameras and stitch them together into a 360-degree view. This helps when parking and manuevering in tight
Entry-level car that has this: Maxus G50 1.5T Elite
10. Electric power steering
Making steering light and easy used to be performed with a hydraulic pump that was driven off the engine. The newer way is with the use of an electric motor. Since the motor only operates when needed, this is more efficient and reliable. It gives even the heaviest vehicles a lighter, more nimble feel.
Entry-level cars that have this: Jeep Renegade