A woman is using her phone to control her 2020 Ford Expedition from her balcony.

Must-Have Features When Shopping for a Used Car

When looking for used cars for sale, most people do not realize the opportunity they have to get much more for their money. Sure, there’s the new-car smell you will miss out on for a few months until it fades away, the vehicle’s value, and the latest and greatest technology. But resisting the temptation to buy new has many hidden advantages. For one, the value lost when a vehicle is first driven off the dealer’s lot can easily be parlayed into a bunch of useful features you otherwise might not be able to afford.

Oftentimes, loading up a new vehicle with additional features will push it into a trim level you might not be comfortable with. What was once a reasonably priced vehicle, can suddenly become a financial burden. But car shopping should be fun, and you should be able to afford most of what you and your family need for your lifestyle. Finding a mildly used car that comes fully loaded can be more affordable than the base model of a brand new car. So, let’s take a look at some of the must-have used-car features you should be shopping for in 2020, now that you have the extra room in your budget to splurge on all of the modern conveniences offered in today’s vehicles.

Hands-Free Liftgate

Don’t roll your eyes! This feature is thoroughly useful, and you will appreciate it more than you might first expect. Just consider the many uses for a power liftgate that opens without the need to press a button! Simply follow the vehicle’s protocol, such as swiping your foot under the sensor on the bumper, and the liftgate magically opens. Now imagine walking toward your car in a parking lot with your arms filled with shopping bags and not knowing how in the world you are going to pull this off in the rain.

Unfortunately, the rain or snow or sleet is not abating, and you are going to have to put your bags on the wet asphalt to open the liftgate. Of course, if you car-shopped wisely, you do not have to worry about ruining your groceries because your new-to-you car came with a hands-free liftgate.

A woman with bags in her arms is using the hands free liftgate on her 2019 Chevy Traverse, which is a popular feature on used cars for sale.

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto

Regardless of the infotainment system in your vehicle, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, you can be sure that your car’s dashboard screen will be familiar and easy to use. You will have the ability to put your smartphone interface on your touchscreen, which means you will have access to your phone’s navigation, apps, and streaming audio.

These applications can be a great option if you do not like the native infotainment option that’s being offered in the vehicle. While most are user-friendly and fast, some can be cumbersome to use or feel outdated and clunky, so having this as a fallback option is really convenient. Plus, you won’t have to worry about learning a new system. And as a bonus, you will be able to initiate calls and compose or hear text messages while you drive. This is definitely a feature to ask about when you are shopping.

Radar (or Adaptive) Cruise Control

If you haven’t shopped for a car in a while, you might not know how far cruise control technology has advanced in recent years. It used to be that you needed an open road to engage cruise control, and there was always that one driver who just couldn’t maintain their speed. But one of the best aspects of cruise control now is that it is designed to work in rush-hour traffic.

Vehicles can now sense how close other cars are to you and break or accelerate accordingly. Now you will not have to continually break and accelerate—you can let your well-researched vehicle do the work for you. These systems can slow and speed up gradually too, so you will be sure to have a smooth ride to work. They can even come to a complete stop, depending on how bad traffic is, and gradually move forward with the flow of traffic.

Luckily, you now know what to be looking for when you start your search for a vehicle because you will thank yourself every day during your commute for finding this feature.

Heated and Ventilated (and Massaging) Seats

Climate-controlled seats are becoming more prevalent in vehicles as creature comforts become more of a priority for automakers. So this is your chance to take advantage of this trend as luxury amenities find their way into the affordable price ranges, especially when you’re looking at used cars for sale. You will appreciate the relief from a ventilated seat on a hot day and the warmth of a heated seat in the middle of winter. You will love this feature so much that you may need to have it in every car you drive.

If that’s not enough, now you can find massaging seats to make your drive to work even more comfortable. Especially after a hard day at work, sitting down on a massaging seat would make a considerable difference in decompressing on the ride home. Little motors scattered throughout the seat work to give you a massage that you can customize to your liking while driving.

The brown interior of a 2019 Ford Fusion is shown.

Head-Up Display

While a massaging seat might be the more alluring choice, a head-up display is one of the more practical safety features to look for. Having the ability to see your vehicle’s vital readings, along with navigation directions, dramatically reduces the instances you might be tempted to take your eyes off the road. A lot of these displays are customizable so that you won’t be distracted by useless information.

Remote Start

If you’re tired of sitting in your car waiting for it to warm up in the middle of winter, this is another great feature to ask about. Not only can you warm up your car in the winter, but you can get the A/C running on a hot day too. There are many other benefits to having a remote starter, such as warming the engine adequately before use, and various safety benefits. With a remote starter, you won’t have to spend so much time scraping ice and won’t be as tempted to drive before the windows have entirely defrosted.

Blind-Spot Monitoring

You might find this feature to have different names branding it to their specific technology, but the principle remains the same for all automakers: alert you to cars in your blind spot. This feature will generally be in the form of a warning on your display screen or visual alerts on your side mirrors. If you use your turn signal and there is someone in your blind spot, an alarm will sound to let you know it is not safe to change lanes. If you can only have one driver assist in your vehicle, this one should be at the top of your list. Cars are generally harder to see out of these days, so a shoulder check is not always sufficient.

Whether you’re searching for features to meet the needs of your family or just yourself, you are sure to find many that suit everyone. This is the fun part of car-shopping—finding the perfect complement of technology for your lifestyle.