Like everything else in daily life, technology has vastly transformed the driving experience. Driver assistance technology and hybrid vehicles have changed the way drivers think about cars, and seniors buying a new car in 2023 should keep in mind that manufacturers have made a lot of improvements to vehicles with the help of technology within the past few years. While every consumer has their checklist of what they're looking for in a new car, knowing the unique features of each model will help senior car-buyers get the most out of their new vehicle.
Hybrid electric vehicles (HEV) are powered by an internal combustion engine and one or more electric motors, which use energy stored in batteries. In an HEV, there are typically two batteries, one for the internal combustion engine and one for the electric motor.
The batteries in hybrid electric vehicles are charged through regenerative braking and by the internal combustion engine. The extra power provided by the electric motor can allow for a smaller engine that relies on less gas and emits fewer emissions. The battery can also power auxiliary loads and reduce engine idling when the vehicle is stopped. Together, these features result in better fuel economy without sacrificing performance.
Plug-In Hybrid (PHEV) are like HEVs because they have both an internal combustion engine (ICE) and an electric motor. The electric battery can be charged by the ICE or through regenerative braking. However, the batteries can also be charged using a wall outlet or other charging equipment.
Fully Electric (EV), also known as battery electric vehicles (BEVs), is powered entirely by rechargeable batteries and no gasoline engine. BEVs are zero-emission as they do not emit harmful pollutants to the atmosphere.
Seniors don't need to be reminded of their age every time they get in and out of their car. Fortunately, many new vehicles are designed with ease and comfort in mind. Wide door openings and seat levels can improve accessibility for seniors. For vehicles that are higher off the ground, such as a pickup truck or a large SUV, running boards and grab handles can give anybody, no matter their height or physical abilities, a little boost.
LED exterior lighting has become more prevalent in newer car models. Auto headlights, auto on-off taillights, and daytime running lights provide more visibility than conventional lights. They shine brighter over a broader area and make vehicles more visible to other drivers. Opting for rain-sensing wipers that auto-adjust for speed will reduce distractions while driving. Wiper deicers and headlight washers help drivers focus on the road when the weather conditions turn nasty, and a rear-window wiper offers complete visibility.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is an independent and nonprofit organization that evaluates crashworthiness (how well a vehicle protects its occupants in a crash) and crash avoidance and mitigation (technology that can prevent a collision or lessen its severity.) IIHS tests evaluate crashworthiness from the front, driver side, passenger side, and roof, and it also evaluates headlights and child seat attachment hardware.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration crash tests new vehicles and rates them on how well they protect occupants in frontal, side, and rollover crashes. They compile the data and rate the tests from 1 to 5, with 5 stars being the highest rating.
2023 Toyota Camry
Car Type: Sedan
Price: LE $25,945 | SE $27,485
Combined Fuel Economy: 33 mpg
Toyota consistently delivers on quality and reliability with the Camry. For a smaller-size sedan, it has plenty of room. Dual-zone automatic climate control and an 8-way power-adjustable driver's seat maximize the comfort of the driving experience.
The Toyota Safety Sense comes with various features such as Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection, Lane Departure Alert, and Automatic High Beams. For additional safety, a 7" touchscreen display allows senior drivers to view all their vehicle's controls, and automatic on/off headlights adjust to changes in road conditions. Talk to your Toyota dealer about the Toyota Camry's TSS features.
The Toyota Camry comes in Hybrid models with 52 combined mpg starting at $28,080.
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2023 Subaru Legacy
Car Type: Midsize Sedan
Price: Base $24,395 | Premium $26,695
Combined Fuel Economy: Base & Premium 31 mpg
What sets Subaru apart from other vehicles is its driver assistance technology, EyeSight. Subaru EyeSight monitors the car's position on the road and other traffic movements, and it alerts the driver if the car strays out of the lane. When set to cruise control, EyeSight uses cameras to automatically adjust the car's speed to maintain the distance between other vehicles on the road. It also reduces frontal impact by alerting drivers and applying full braking force in emergencies.
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2023 Hyundai Sonata
Car Type: Midsize sedan
Price: SE $24,500 | SEL $26,250
Combined Fuel Economy: SE 32 mpg | SEL 31 mpg
The Hyundai Sonata comes with various safety features that reduce the likelihood of some of the most common accidents, and collisions drivers experience on the road.
Driver assistance features such as the Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist with Pedestrian Detection, Lane Keeping Assist, and Lane Following Assist warn the driver when they're about to hit a pedestrian or collide with a car in the next lane.
The High Beam Assist controls the bright headlight setting while driving at night. The High Beam Assist automatically turns on the high beams when its windshield-mounted camera detects no vehicles ahead and returns to the low beams when vehicles ahead are detected.
The Sonata even comes with the Driver Attention Warning feature, which monitors the driver's eye and head movements for signs of drowsiness or distraction.
Full LED daytime running lights, LED taillights, and automatic light control help the driver focus on the road without worrying about adjusting the headlights. Heated side mirrors come in handy during inclement weather in colder climates.
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2023 Honda CR-V
Car Type: Compact Crossover SUV
Price: EX $31,110 | EX-L $33,760
Combined Fuel Economy: 30 mpg
The Honda CR-V offers senior drivers a smooth and easy experience for those cross-country road trips. It has the luxury of being a spacious SUV, but it maneuvers like a mid-size sedan. Heated front seats and a Dual-Zone Automatic Climate Control create a comfortable environment in any climate and a 7-inch color touch screen for quick access to the car's controls.
Honda Sensing is a driver assistance technology exclusive to Honda vehicles. The Collision Mitigation Breaking System applies brake pressure when an unavoidable collision is determined. The Road Departure Mitigation System adjusts steering if the vehicle crosses detected lanes without signaling. Adaptive Cruise Control maintains a set following interval behind detected vehicles.
The CR-V comes in a hybrid model for drivers looking for an SUV with fuel efficiency.
Honda CR-V 2.0 i-MMD Hybrid Lifestyle (V) © M 93 via Wikimedia Commons
2023 Kia Telluride
Car Type: SUV
Combined Fuel Economy: 23 mpg
For seniors traveling with their grandkids or who want to make cross-country road trips in luxury, the 2023 Kia Telluride is a spacious 3-row, midsize SUV with an impressive amount of passenger and cargo space.
The suede headliner, premium stitching, and Nappa leather seating materials add a touch of style to the Telluride's ride experience. The first and second-row seats are equipped with captain's chairs, heated seats, and ample legroom.
The QuietZone enhanced interior prevents outside noise from filtering into the cabin and maintains a serene driving experience. All three rows are equipped with USB-C charging ports so everyone's device can operate on a full battery.
Of course, the Kia Telluride comes with a range of driver assistance tech features to make senior drivers feel safe and secure in their rides. The Blind Spot View monitor displays a live feed of the car's rear blind spots in the dashboard gauge cluster. The Head-Up Display gives drivers a clear view of their driving performance and critical vehicle information, including speed and turn-by-turn directions, without the driver taking their eyes off the road.
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2023 Nissan Murano
Car Type: Luxury SUV
Combined Mileage: 24 mpg
The 2023 Nissan Murano comes with all the must-have driver assistance technology and the enjoyment of a luxury driving experience.
The Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection monitors the speed and distance between the driver and pedestrians or vehicles and alerts the driver to slow down. Blind Spot Warning and Lane Change Warning lets the driver know if it's not safe to change lanes. Rear Cross Traffic Alert monitors the rear of the vehicle and warns drivers if colliding with other cars is dangerous.
A Remote Engine Start System makes getting on the road more efficient. Intelligent Climate Control, Climate Controlled Front Seats, and Dual Zone Temperature Control allow drivers and passengers to set the right temperature for their personal comfort.
2023 Volvo XC40
Car Type: Mild Hybrid SUV
Combined Mileage: 28 mpg
Some new car buyers want more than a car that gets them from one place to the next. They want a vehicle that gives them a premium driving experience. The 2023 Volvo XC40 provides just that. This hybrid SUV has a built-in Google Assistant and a Digital Service Package that helps drivers balance their lives on the go.
Its driver assistance technology helps drivers maintain a safe distance from other vehicles on the road by adapting the car's speed and keeping it centered in the lane through steering adjustments.
For long-distance drives, drivers can enjoy an air purifier, Harmon Karmon sound system, and loads of compartment space.
2023 Volkswagen ID.4
Car Type: Electric Small SUV
The 2023 Volkswagen ID.4 is a fully electric SUV with the elegant touches of other luxury SUVs on the road. Public charging stations are becoming more common with a growing network of more than 45,000 chargers nationwide so drivers can charge up their batteries on the go.
The new 62 kWh battery offers a lower price of entry for environmentally conscious car-buyers who want to decrease their carbon footprint on the road. The ID.4 comes in three trim levels-Standard/Pro, S, and S Plus-with the option of 62 kWh and 82 kWh batteries and rear-wheel- or all-wheel drive.
The Volkswagen ID.4's technology goes beyond its electric vehicle capabilities. It has an intuitive start system that "wakes up" automatically when it senses your key fob and movement in the driver's seat. The 12" touch screen display is equipped with voice control, interactive navigation, climate control, and more so you can focus on the road and enjoy the ride.