If you view your car as little more than a stereo system on wheels, you aren't alone. Many drivers love music -- and for some, that means a new car must have as many music-oriented features as possible. So we've listed a few of today's top car audio features for drivers who want to rock out as they drive.
Auxiliary Input and USB Port
Most audiophiles will find auxiliary input or a USB port to be the most important offerings on today's cars, because these features allow you to play music from an iPod or another portable music device.
Auxiliary input isn't the best option, as you'll still have to control track and playlist information on the device rather than on the stereo. But it's better than nothing. Still, most music lovers will want a USB port, allowing them to hook up an iPod -- or plug in a music-filled USB drive -- and control everything directly from the stereo itself.
Modern infotainment systems can be a music lover's best friend. Today's infotainment technology offers apps such as Stitcher and Pandora Internet Radio, which can be used to find new music and enjoy old favorites. Best of all, these apps are included from the factory -- so you won't have to worry about syncing a device or losing connectivity.
Another great feature of many modern cars is Bluetooth Audio. Like more common Bluetooth systems for phone calls, Bluetooth Audio lets drivers sync a mobile device. But in this case, the purpose is playing music rather than making phone calls. That means drivers can listen to their favorite songs and playlists without annoying cords or wires. Our only suggestion: Be sure the car you're checking out has Bluetooth Audio, and not just Bluetooth. Many vehicles offer Bluetooth without accompanying audio capabilities.
Steering Wheel Radio Controls
Here's a car audio feature you might forget. If you love music and you're driving a lot, you'll probably find yourself constantly adjusting the track and the volume. That's why we strongly suggest picking a car with audio controls on the steering wheel. You might think it's easy to reach over and adjust the volume or press "next track," but once you've had the controls at your fingertips, you'll never want to go back.