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Keyless start, turbocharging top list of new cars' most popular features

November 2, 2018
The only thing that is constant, Greek philosopher Heraclitus once said, is change. Automakers follow that mantra by continually making changes in vehicles.
The changes can be technological breakthroughs, such as the automatic emergency braking systems that are increasingly becoming standard on new cars. Some changes are mandated, such as the federal requirement that all vehicles have backup cameras, which took effect in May.
At times, the shifts reflect consumer electronic trends. Cassette players in cars gave way to in-dash CD systems, which started disappearing from cars when Bluetooth streaming music arrived.
Many of these feature swaps don’t get a lot of fanfare, and some consumers might not always realize what’s come and gone until they shop for a new car. Here’s an overview.
IN: Keyless start
This feature is often paired with a keyless access system that allows entry into the car without pushing any buttons on the key fob. Early on, some owners forgot to shut off their cars in attached garages, leading to more than 24 cases of carbon monoxide poisoning since 2006, according to the New York Times. Newer systems do a better job of alerting the driver if the key moves too far away from the car while the engine is still on.
OUT: Keyed ignition
In 2008, keyed ignition systems were standard in 89 percent of new cars. Now, they’re in just 38 percent.
 
IN: Stop-start technology
This system started in hybrid cars and is designed to shut off the engine when the driver comes to a stop, saving fuel and reducing emissions. The engine starts itself again once the foot is off the brake.
OUT: Engine idle
In 2008, just 3 percent of new vehicles had stop-start as a standard feature. For the 2018 model year, it’s up to 40 percent.
IN: Turbocharged engines
In 2018, they are standard on 45 percent of vehicles. 
OUT: Naturally aspirated engines
Even trucks, once associated with large, non-turbocharged V-6 or V-8 engines, are turning toward smaller turbo V-6 and four-cylinder engines.
 
IN: Xenon and LED headlights
It’s quite a light show in cars today, with these newcomers fighting for dominance. Xenon lights are brighter and last longer than traditional halogen bulbs. LED lights do even better in brightness and longevity than Xenons. The real selling point for carmakers is that LED lights consume less power and can be configured in more unique shapes.
In 2008, 24 percent of vehicles came standard with xenon or LED headlights, according to Edmunds data. It’s up to 51 percent for the 2018 model year.
OUT: Halogen bulbs
They were dominant for decades, but use of halogen headlights has dropped by 27 percentage points over the past 10 years.
 
IN: Tire inflator kits
In 2009, these kits were standard on just 5 percent of vehicles. They are standard on 23 percent of 2018 models. The kits save vehicle weight and allow for more usable trunk space.
 
OUT: Spare tires
Run-flat tires are another non-spare solution.
IN: Digital instrument panels
Users can customize digital instrument clusters and carmakers can configure them to display more information. 
OUT: Analog gauges
They take up too much space for their single-purpose uses.
 
IN: The electronic parking brake
A button push applies the parking brake
 
OUT: The manual parking brake
Say goodbye to the hand lever or the foot pedal. Their absence gives carmakers more room in the vehicle console or footwell.
 
 

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