5 Luxury Car Features Becoming Common Across All Price-Points
Updated December 5, 2014
Car companies are packing more and more content into their cars, giving even the most entry-level car buyers the option to choose features that were once only available in luxury cars. As luxury features, such as navigation, have reached even the “value” brands like Kia and Hyundai, automakers are seeking new ways to differentiate themselves and convey a sense of perceived luxury in terms of fit, finish and materials quality. If this year’s LA Auto Show is any indication, we will see automakers seeking to emulate not only the content, but also the feel of the Mercedes and BMWs of the world.
Hard plastic trim pieces and coarse seating surfaces convey an image of “bargain basement,” and brands of every price point are now pushing to offer the feel of the luxury makers, although that “feel” may only be on the surface, if even that. Stitched Dashboards There was a time when Rolls Royce and Bentley were among the only car companies selling cars with stitched dashboards. It conveyed a sense of “Old World” craftsmanship and let the owner know this his car was more than just the creation of a mass assembly line.
Stitching across dashboards and consoles is now becoming increasingly common in mainstream models to convey that image of luxury, even if it is done by machine. Even cars as utilitarian as the Toyota Camry were sporting this styling cue at the LA Auto Show. The bespoke nature is no longer present but in the era of McMansions, we know that most consumers just want the “look” of “luxury.”
LED Lighting – LED light treatments were once associated with high-tech vehicles like the Audi R8, but now the lights are becoming common place at every price point. They brighten the road ahead, but the implementation of these LED lamps has become very polarizing. They are not inherently tacky but at times they can appear as if they are just an aftermarket accessory from Auto Zone.
Carbon Fiber Trim There is perhaps no material in the past 10 years that has been viewed with such mystique as carbon fiber. The rigid material is known for its light weight and strength and is used to form the bodies of some of the world’s most exotic racing machines. When automakers started incorporating it as a lightweight and luxurious interior trim material, the aftermarket jumped on the bandwagon, offering faux-carbon fiber pieces to add to cars as lowly as the Honda Civic. Now that mainstream automakers, including Kia, have discovered the affordability and profitability of printing carbon fiber patterns on standard plastic, this trend of faux-carbon fiber has become a mainstream OEM option right off the lot.
Turbo Charged Engines The increasingly high fuel economy standards set by CAFE have pushed the auto industry to develop new ways of creating fuel efficient engines. What’s old is new again. Remember in the 1980s when SAAB and Porsche were pushing turbo for performance? Automakers are now pushing direct-injection turbo-charged engines to eek as much power out of small displacement engines as possible. So far, we haven’t seen the word “turbo” appear on every piece of the car as a reminder of the car’s forced-air induction, but don’t count it out just yet.
Piano Black Interior Trim As wood grain interior trim pieces have become passé or too stodgy for many modern car buyers, automakers have sought new ways to convey a luxury feel in their vehicles. Emulating the look of a classic Steinway piano appears to have been on the minds of many designers as they push piano black trim pieces. While these pieces looked great at the LA Auto Show, experience with piano black lacquer car trim makes me wary of its long term viability due to its ability to easily pick up finger prints and scratches. It is as stately and conservative as anything when clean, but for daily use in family cars this material needs more development.
Categories: Gear Grinding