You would never dream of arriving on campus without a laptop, an appetite for ramen noodles and your best can-do attitude, so why did you think driving that bucket of bolts was a good idea? Time to hit the (virtual) books and bone up on the must-have car tech. It's the stuff that will make navigating new roads a cinch for you newly minted adults who are shopping for a vehicle.
First up, a sturdy navigation system is an absolute must. The trek to college should be filled with memory-making chats with the fam, not fumbling with outdated maps. And while you can fire up directions using your smartphone or a portable GPS unit, plunking down dough on an in-dash system might offer some serious peace of mind. These devices run between $300 and $1,900, and offer such features as touchscreen interfaces, hands-free calling, MP3 player compatibility and turn-by-turn directions (for locating the nearest late-night pizza joint, of course). In-dash units ensure you won't be draining your mobile phone battery -- a major plus when newbie students are just getting their bearings as wide-eyed freshmen.
Next thing on your list should be a decent Bluetooth car stereo system. Anything wired is so, so over. Bluetooth is an uber-popular car tech that makes road trips sweeter and jaunts to internships downright invigorating. Plus, hands-free calling is much safer than messing around with a headset. You'll need one that pairs simply with your smartphone and offers solid sound quality. A stand-alone unit sets you back anywhere from $150 to $500, and has such features as buttonless interfaces and clutter-free designs.
To give you all-night crammers a leg up in the safety category, backup sensors and cameras are your new best friend. The technology made a big splash a couple of years ago, and many 2013 and 2014 models come standard with these helpful sets of eyes. If you'd prefer buying a separate unit, it'll run you about $300.
iPod enthusiasts will undoubtedly be clamoring for a car stereo that works seamlessly with their little Apple bestie, so a system with full-speed iPod connection that's user-friendly is a must. These devices will set you back anywhere from about $330 to $1,900.
So now you know that getting outfitted for college isn't just about nabbing the most souped-up computer and throwing down cash on fancy dorm room digs. It's also about investing in the best car tech to make your college years one smooth ride.