12 Car Features We Love: The Best Affordable Cars & SUVs—New & Used

As before, this list is in no particular order, but this time our picks aren’t limited to styling and design. Instead, they include items that can also spotlight smart engineering and technological prowess.

Adaptive cruise control

Ask most people what the worst part of driving is and you’ll probably hear “traffic.” Bumper-to-bumper traffic is a soul-sucking exercise in patience and frustration. Thankfully, there’s a feature that alleviates a lot of the tedium: adaptive cruise control.

Adaptive cruise control can maintain a set speed, just like regular cruise control does. But it also uses sensors to detect if there’s a vehicle ahead. If that vehicle slows down, adaptive cruise automatically slows the car to maintain a gap that you’ve set. It’ll also increase your speed (up to the max you’ve set) if the vehicle ahead speeds up. Some systems will work in stop-and-go traffic, while others may not bring the car to a complete stop.

Adaptive cruise went into development in the 1990s, with GM, Mercedes, Mitsubishi and Toyota all working on it independently. The early systems weren’t all that great, with some rather excessive lurches when changing speeds. But the tech has gotten much better. Now, many systems operate as smoothly as the typical driver.

Drive a car with adaptive cruise control in heavy traffic and chances are you’ll be less stressed. You might even find yourself being far more forgiving of your fellow drivers. Yes, it can be said: Adaptive cruise control can make you a better person. And now that it’s available in more economical cars, perhaps it can make the world a better place.

Adaptive suspension

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