Comfort in new car interiors makes traffic easier to bear

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECoach Doc Rivers a “fan” from way back of Jazz’s Jordan Clarkson “When you’re in a city like Los Angeles and stuck in gridlock, these are the features that are attractive,” said Paul McGrath, a product specialist for Audi. “It’s demand – people are demanding it,” he said. “You’re going to have a lot of amenities in your car that you have in your house.” Many features are standard on luxury vehicles that sell for about $50,000. Others can be had for a price. For instance, Audi charges $2,400 for a technology package that includes the satellite radio, a side-assist mirror that alerts you to a car in your blind spot and a camera that displays what’s behind as you reverse. But some features aren’t just for Cadillacs any more. If you’ve been driving around town in one of those decade-old beaters, the new models at the annual auto show in the Los Angeles Convention Center offer a glimpse of how the other half lives – and drives. There are personal DVD players for just about every passenger, as well as colorful dashboard computers to direct the driver to a specific destination – whether it’s the nearest gas station or a sports stadium across town. For a little more cash, you can get real-time road reports from an orbiting satellite that knows your whereabouts and alerts you to the traffic jam up ahead – after it turns down your radio. Then there are the creature comforts to make it easier to tolerate L.A.’s traffic-choked freeways. Heated steering wheels for those chilly mornings. Seat coolers to freshen the leather broiled by the hot Southern California sun. And puddle lamps to help you avoid the messy gutter when you step out of your sport utility vehicle. The Hyundai Sonata, at under $23,000, comes with seat warmers. The manufacturer’s high-end Azera, new this year, comes with buttons that allow the mirror, pedal and seat positions to be set for each driver. “We continue to push the bounds of what people perceive as the necessary levels of luxury,” said Hyundai spokesman Kevin Oates. “Manufacturers keep trying to infuse cars with more and more comfort, and consumers love it.” The list goes on: The smart key that unlocks the door without having to insert it in the lock. Remote-access controls to warm or cool the car interior before you climb in. Charcoal filters purify the air inside. The $60,000 Cadillac Escalade squirts hot water to wash the more stubborn gunk off the windshield. In the new Subaru Tribeca, soccer moms can let the kids plug in iPods or PlayStations in the “way-back” – the third row of seats. Wireless headsets keep the car quiet so “if mom’s stuck in traffic and she’s stressing in traffic, she doesn’t even have to listen,” said Subaru product specialist Neechy Dumas. But while being stuck in Los Angeles congestion may have never been so nice, Honda spokesman Sage Marie notes that another kind of nice can be found behind the wheel of the new 2006 Civic – the ever-popular but affordable sedan – which is getting 40 highway mpg. “For somebody who spends a lot of time on the road, that translates to a lot of money.” Lisa Mascaro, (818) 713-3761 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more