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TheStreet Open House

The Best Luxury Car Options to Buy

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Along with closely following news in the golf world I have the pleasure of reviewing new luxury cars each month for AVIDGOLFER Magazine .

All the vehicles are attractive to their target demographic, yet the time it requires whittling down the multitudes of optional equipment can be a mighty undertaking.

The mind-numbing array of car options can enthrall and befuddle even the most discerning luxury car buyer. Heaps of available upgrades pepper the senses and sticker price in this lofty segment as auto manufacturers continually ramp up their car confection to lure customers. The difficulty is sifting through the ones that deliver smiles long after the purchase.

Yes, a good portion of luxury owners will buy models fully loaded. For others, some upgrades are noteworthy (several should be standard safety features). Unfortunately, car companies often saddle you with packages of the iffy lumped in with the desirable. Your best investment is researching the various option menus before pulling the trigger.

Thus, here are my favorite car toys and those that could use some improvement.

Top Picks

  • HID headlights/adaptive high beams: Today's high intensity lights offer over twice the brightness of halogens, and the difference is illuminating. Adaptive high beams automatically turn on and off when sensing darkness or oncoming traffic.
  • Heated and cooled vented seats: So worthy in winter and summer seasons -- especially with leather interiors that offer zero temperature comfort without the adjustability in severe conditions.
  • Heated steering wheel: Ditto for the sweet leather-wrapped steerage. Otherwise, in frigid temps you'll need gloves or drive with your knees. My next wish is a cooling option for those sizzling summer months enduring blistered palms.
  • Heads-up display: The goal is to keep your peepers looking at what's ahead -- not constantly averting attention towards the bright shiny console display. Pertinent information shown on the windshield is genius and prevents driver distraction.
  • Upgraded rims: There's a reason flashy concept models have eye-popping wheels. Nothing sets off a car's appearance than unique shiny or blacked-out spheres of metal. As my wife says, "A beautiful car with standard rims is like wearing a custom suit with crappy shoes." Touché.
  • Electronic Stability Control: When detecting a skid, it applies a calibrated amount of braking on only one side of the vehicle in an attempt to both slow you down and help "steer" the vehicle back toward the driver's intended direction. Very worthy for those impending catastrophic moments.
  • Crash avoidance/lane weaving/blind spot warnings: We are a distracted society. Talking, sipping coffee and applying makeup (or doing all three) turns you into a potential road assassin. These little guardian angels alert you back to reality and off the obit columns.
  • Diesel fuel: Long gone are the days of spewing smoke, carbon-encrusted bumpers and clickety-click engine noises. Today's diesel engines last longer, have stupendous torque and offer far better gas mileage than their pricey hybrid counterparts. In fact, every gas-guzzling SUV should offer a diesel option. It's time we Americans follow our European friends who've embraced the big D for years.

Better Think Twice

  • Bluetooth phone calls: This should be a must-have hands-free function. Yet, while I hear conversations perfectly, those on the other end often fight through static and garble. Some are clearly better than others, but my dear sainted Mom proclaims none of the cars' "toothing" qualities sound nearly as clear when talking directly into the phone. It's high time engineers make a Bluetooth call listenable on both ends.
  • Navigation: Should be another winner and they do offer cool 3-D maps. Except I find it easier using my smartphone mapping software, like the iPhone's Siri assistant. I can enable it to be hands-free while driving (some NAVs are disabled in a moving car).
  • Voice activation: It's incredible -- when it works. Some systems understand the spoken word to command its functions while others respond as if I'm speaking Farsi.
  • CD slot: In this age of streaming mp3 files, I'm betting this soon disappears like the 8-Track and cassette tape slots. R.I.P.
  • DVD movie capability: Okay, maybe for the kids, but doesn't everyone in this price category own electronic tablets? That way, the tykes can each watch what they want and play video games as well. The $1,500-$2,500 added cost (and allure to thieves) makes it a dubious expense.

There's no doubt ever-evolving technology will improve the underachievers. But for now, these are my picks to buy or cast a wary eye.

Of course, your mileage may vary.

This article was written by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.

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