If you’re interested in buying a new car on a tight budget, you might think you’ll miss out on some of today’s best new safety gadgets and features, since they’re primarily confined to high-end luxury vehicles. But that isn’t necessarily the case. In honor of National Safety Month, which is June, we’ve decided to list a few of today’s latest cutting-edge safety features you might be surprised to learn are available on some not-so-expensive cars — proving that you don’t have to compromise on safety just because you can’t spend a fortune on your next vehicle.
360-Degree Parking Camera
One of our favorite recent safety innovations is the 360-degree parking camera, which takes the traditional backup camera to a totally different and far more useful level. While the feature is highly uncommon in mainstream non-luxury models, a few affordable cars have it, including the 2016 Nissan Rogue, which includes the feature standard in all SL models. That’s great news for shoppers interested in the practical feature, as the Rogue SL starts at just under $30,000 with shipping.
Adaptive Cruise Control
Only a few short years ago, adaptive cruise control was the purview of high-end luxury cars like the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and BMW 7 Series. Today, the feature is finding its way down to more affordable mainstream models, including a wide range of modern Subaru vehicles. Included as part of Subaru’s EyeSight suite of high-tech safety features, an adaptive cruise-control system is offered on all Subaru models — even the compact Impreza, where it costs $2,895 extra on the $23,400 Impreza Limited, for a total of around $26,300. And it isn’t only the Impreza that includes the feature among small cars, as other affordable models, like the Mazda3 and Hyundai Elantra, have also added it to the options list.
Automated Parallel Parking
Remember when you still had to parallel park your own car? That’s the kind of thing you’d say if you had an automated parallel parking system, which you probably think is confined to high-end vehicles like today’s top luxury SUVs and sedans. But it isn’t. In fact, an automated parallel-parking system is available on vehicles as affordable as the Chrysler 200 midsize sedan. While automated parallel parking remains an uncommon feature even in the midsize sedan segment, it’s surprisingly affordable on the 200. All you have to do is opt for the top-level 200C model and add the $1,295 SafetyTec package, for a total MSRP of just over $30,000 with shipping.
Blind Spot Monitoring System
Checking your blind spot could be a thing of the past if you opt for a new Honda with LaneWatch — an impressive new system that provides a large, handy camera to show you exactly what’s in your blind spot. Interestingly, this is a feature that we expect will trickle up, as it isn’t currently available in any ultra-high end luxury cars, but given how much we like using it, we suspect it’ll only be a matter of time. Interested in trying it out? Believe it or not, you don’t have to go for an upscale Accord or a high-end version of the Pilot or Odyssey, as Honda offers the feature on virtually every one of its models, including the tiny subcompact Fit, which includes it as standard equipment in the $18,500 EX trim.
If you’re used to driving without a head-up display, you might not understand why you’d ever need it — until you spend some time behind the wheel of a car that includes the feature. The MINI Cooper is one such car, and it includes a lot of information in its head-up display, including navigation directions, your speed, the speed limit and more. Best of all, it’s all just a quick glance down from your line of sight, which makes driving a lot safer. In no time at all, you’ll find yourself relying on the display and wondering why most other cars don’t offer it. But is it cheap? Believe it or not, you can get it on the base-level MINI Cooper by choosing the Media Package and its Wired Upgrade — a $2,100 add-on that manages to keep the price of the hatchback below $24,000 with shipping.
If you ever find yourself getting distracted (or tired) behind the wheel, lane-keep assist can be a lifesaver — quite literally. More advanced than just a typical lane-departure warning system, lane-keep assist actively steers a car back into its lane if it detects that the car is starting to drift out. While we don’t recommend relying on this feature entirely, it can be useful if you find yourself in an unfortunate moment of distraction where you don’t realize your car is changing lanes (or crossing into oncoming traffic) without your knowledge. Of course, the feature is usually confined to high-end luxury cars, though the 2017 Hyundai Elantra includes it on models with the Tech package and the Ultimate package — a $4,400 upgrade over the Elantra Limited’s $23,200 base price. The result is a $27,600 compact car, but one that’s loaded with all the latest safety technology.
Although forward-collision warning and automatic braking are starting to trickle down to affordable mainstream cars, the features are usually confined to top-level option packages of high-end trim levels. Not so in the Scion iA, which includes the desirable safety feature as standard equipment within its $16,600 base price. And while the iA’s automatic braking feature only kicks in at low speeds, it’s still an impressive item on such an affordable vehicle, especially since most of the iA’s subcompact rivals don’t even offer the feature as an option.