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Feature

Do You Use Every Safety Feature?

While automakers are spending billions of dollars loading up their vehicles with technologies of all kinds, many owners are not using them and would rather use their smartphones instead, according to the first-ever J.D. Power 2015 Driver Interactive Vehicle Experience (DrIVE) Report.

The market research firm found that at least 20 percent of new vehicle owners have never used 16 of the 33 technology features that DrIVE measured. For the consumer, this means they are paying for something they are not using, said Kristin Kolodge, executive director of driver interaction & HMI research at J.D. Power.

The report looked at driver experiences with in-vehicle technology features during the first 90 days of ownership and was based on responses from more than 4,200 owners and lessees of 2015-model-year vehicles.

Features that owners did not use

43 percent—In-vehicle concierge feature such as OnStar.
38 percent—Mobile connectivity, such as a factory installed Wi-Fi hot spot.
35 percent—Automatic parking system, which aids in either parallel or perpendicular parking with limited interaction by the driver.
33 percent—Head-up display.
32 percent—Built-in apps such as Pandora.

“Tired and impatient, car buyers just want to get out of the dealership, often without becoming fully oriented with all of their new car’s features,” says Tom Mutchler, Consumer Reports’ automotive human factors engineer. “But many high-tech features aren’t immediately obvious or intuitive, especially when trying to decipher their use for the first time when driving.”

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What Features To Look For In A Car for Your Next Road Trip

Whether you’re making a trip to visit relatives across the country or enjoying a road trip with friends, long car rides can become uncomfortable. Simple attributes of your car will make the journey more enjoyable for all.

When I was 13, Cox and I had a heated discussion about the features and engineering that optimize a car for long-distance travel. Cox, a friend of my dad’s who had logged about a million highway miles, argued that the best machine for a long road trip was a silent, smooth-riding car like his Buick.

I scoffed. Buicks were bourgeois luxury barges that no real driver would be caught dead in. Although I had yet to drive a single highway mile, I declared that the ultimate car for a long trip was the Ford GT, a machine that had won the 24 Hours of Lemans. Never mind that the GT’s engine wailed away just millimeters from the driver’s skull, or that the interior was the size of a Guantanamo confinement box – this was a true driver’s machine that would be ideal for a major trip.

Or so I believed.

In the decades that have passed since that argument, I have learned a lot about what makes a great highway car – and I have also learned that the Colonel was smarter than I realized.

A few weeks ago, my wife and I did a 3,000-kilometre road trip to Georgia and back. We’ve done this trip in many different cars. In some, the trip was effortless. In others, it felt like a four-wheeled version of the Bataan Death March.

This got me thinking about the essence of the long-distance machine. What are the automotive qualities that make distance disappear?

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