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Five Innovative Remote Control Car Features

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author photo by Autotrader April 2011

Remember when you had to actually be in your car to get it to turn on, warm up or put the top down? Those days are going the way of the rotary telephone: from time consuming, to one easy push button, to on-the-go instant technology. From temperature control to locking the car from an iPhone, companies have made new strides to make life even more convenient. Here are some of the most useful features available now.

Opening Windows, Sunroofs

On a beautiful spring day, it’s nice to hop into your car with the sunroof and windows open or the convertible top down. Acura, Lexus, Infiniti, Mercedes and Mini all have the power to do just that with their respective key fobs.

Recognizing Driver Preferences

The same Acura models as above as well as Lexus vehicles both store drivers’ preferences in their keys, so even before you sit down in the car, your mirrors have been adjusted, radio presets restored and desired climate set. The preferences are stored on the keys of two primary drivers; the car senses the key as it approaches the car and gets it ready for that driver.

Smart Phone Applications

Although the services provided by these four smart phone applications fall into the other categories, it’s worth calling them out on their own. BMW Assist (which is available on all models) works on iPhones to control your car. You can verify that it’s locked, set the interior temperature, unlock it or flash the lights in a crowded parking lot. Likewise, Hyundai’s Blue Link lets drivers connect with their vehicles via smartphone, Internet or toll-free call to lock or unlock the doors, start the car, and transfer information to the navigation system. That means you can find your destination and preferred routes on your computer at home and send it to the car when you’re ready to hit the road. It can also locate nearby gas stations and calculate the price for fuel. Mercedes-Benz mbrace Mobile Application was the automotive industry’s first fully integrated smartphone application. It allows drivers to use their phones to unlock the car, locate the vehicle in a parking lot and access the Mercedes-Benz concierge. Among other services, the concierge can provide restaurant recommendations and then send the directions to the vehicle’s navigation system.

OnStar has been a hugely popular feature in nearly all GM vehicles. Via mobile phone, drivers can start the car from anywhere, lock or unlock the doors, check the battery (on the Chevy Volt) and monitor the gas, oil and tire pressure. The Nissan Leaf’s iPhone Carwings app lets you turn on the charger, plan driving routes and check for electric charging stations in your area.

Keep the Teen Driver Under Control

Available on the Lincoln Navigator and all MK models, the MyKey feature allows drivers to set a restricted driving mode, set on one set of keys. It can limit the top speed, emit an alert chime when certain speeds are hit, limit stereo volume and remind passengers to fasten seat belts. Monitoring young drivers has never been so hands-off.

Temperature Control
Nothing beats getting into a warm car in winter and a cool car when it’s blazing hot. The AC button on the Toyota Prius’ smart key activates the cooling system to a pre-set temperature (that lasts for three minutes). And nearly all Chrysler, Dodge, Ram and Jeep vehicles have remote start (from up to 300 feet away) that allows the engine to warm up and either heat or cool the interior for 10 minutes, based on the pre-set temperature. The new electric car, the Nissan Leaf, also has an iPhone app that enables cooling and heating remotely, without turning on the electric motor.

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Five Innovative Remote Control Car Features - Autotrader