Just because you’re in college—or recently graduated—doesn’t mean you can’t have a car you actually enjoy spending time in. After all, you probably spend more time in whatever you’re currently driving than you’d like to. So why not get smart about your ride and make the most of your commute?
Whether you’re driving to the office and back or making the long haul home for the holidays (or just the weekends), there are some core technologies that just make life behind the wheel easier. Navigation, for starters, followed by Bluetooth audio and phone connectivity; that gets you where you’re going and keeps you entertained on the way. Backup cameras are also super-handy, whether parking in a tight garage or squeezing into the last space on the street. These things can all be added to the car—along with USB chargers, SD card and USB inputs, and much more, via aftermarket head-units, but you can also buy them built in if you shop smart—and there’s a lot to be said for the clean, simple functionality of factory equipment.
Taking a load off on the driving is important, too, so cruise control is a must—and adaptive cruise control is even better if you can find it, because it senses the car in front of you and slows down when it does. Why not add that to the list? How about a car that helps keep itself in its own lane, or at least warns you when you are about to drift out of your lane? Yep, that’s doable too. Why not throw in blind-spot warning while we’re at it? And unlike the entertainment side of the tech equation, adaptive cruise control and lane keeping aren’t features you can add on with aftermarket help.
But can you get most (or even all) of these features for under $15,000? Yes, you sure can—and you’ll get a whole lot of other great features, too.
This slick-looking sedan offers a lot of great features for the price, and if you look for a lightly used 2014 model, you can often get under the $15,000 mark—even though Titanium models come standard with features like automatic headlights, heated door mirrors, and automatic climate control. The real bonuses like adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning, and forward collision warning don’t come unless the original buyer added the Driver Assist package, so be sure to shop around to find one that has all of the high-tech goodies. The Fusion Titanium also includes navigation, Bluetooth, and more.
While it can be difficult to find this car under the $15,000 mark when fully equipped, some diligent shopping should turn up good results. And in addition to getting a Bose stereo, radar-based adaptive cruise control, navigation, Bluetooth audio, lane-departure warning, a backup camera, forward collision warning, and blind-spot detection, you’ll get one of the most fun-to-drive sedans available in America at any price.
These are just two examples of cars that offer surprising high-tech features, even in recent year-models, at incredible values. Used car shoppers looking to have a taste of the latest and greatest without taking that huge new-car depreciation hit should also look for 2014 models of the Honda Accord EX-L, Chevrolet Impala 1LT, Chrysler 200C, Mazda 3 s Grand Touring, and Chevy Malibu 2LT for more great high-tech sedan bargains.
automotive freelance journalist