When your car is your last bastion of warmth, which features are best to have?
Winter is a season some find magical and quite whimsical, but the fact of the matter is low temperatures are not comfortable for anybody, even those who declare themselves wholehearted lovers of this time of year. And cars nowadays are adding more and more temperature comfort features to keep as many parts of your body as warm as possible - this is definitely a positive development in the industry.
On top of this, while in the past such features were the reserve of high-end luxury cars, today you can get quite fancy features on a regular city car not designed to be anything special. These features are becoming more and more important to buyers since some manufacturers seem to have no trouble adding them to all their cars, while others still consider some features are best reserved for vehicles higher up in their range.
Once you’ve experienced these features, which we’ve assembled into a list below, you’ll wonder how you lived without them all those years before; here’s our pick of the ten desirable automotive features to keep you warm in winter.
You may not have seen a heated windscreen before in a car, because it’s not all that common a feature, but it works pretty much like the rear screen defogger and defroster.
The only difference is the fact that for the windscreen, you can’t have visible lines distracting you right in your field of view, so very fine, almost invisible wires are used.
You can still see them, but they are arranged vertically, not horizontally as they usually are for the rear screen, and they are really useful because they spare you from having to scrape the ice buildup the screen. You can just do some basic cleaning of the side windows, then you can just sit inside the car, press some buttons, get warmed up and wait for the ice to melt, a process which is even quicker if you have the next feature on the list.
Manufacturers don’t usually offer these from the factory on any new car that I was able to find, but there is a wide variety of aftermarket solutions which promise an easy install and immediate results. These systems are very simple and essentially comprised of a pair of wipers that have a heating element embedded in them, and when you purchase the kit, you are also given a power module that you need to hook up to the battery.
This style of wiper usually works automatically, if temperatures dip below a certain threshold, but only when the ignition is on.
They are not particularly expensive, and if you are fed up with having to scrape ice off your windscreen every morning, it’s definitely a quick and easy mod that’s surprisingly effective. Although, when you do install them, you really need to spend a bit of time to make sure the wiring is properly connected and routed around the engine compartment.
Unlike heated wiper blades, heated windscreen washer nozzles are a feature you may see fitted on cars from the factory.
They don’t really heat up the liquid as it’s squirted onto the screen, as you might think, and their sole purpose is to not freeze up and prevent the flow of that good blue stuff.
You can fit aftermarket ones to your car, and they’re not a very difficult install, since they are usually very easy to take out. Just like with the heated wiper blades, the trickiest part is doing the wiring and making sure it’s clean and safe so that it doesn’t ruin your clean looking engine compartment.
Most cars have heated side mirrors that usually turn on along with the rear defroster. Some cars have separate buttons for you to only turn on mirror heating, but most don’t. As you may imagine, the heating elements they have embedded prevent them from fogging up and also help melt ice.
The ice melting part is more important here, because oftentimes during winter you can’t get at the ice that builds up on the mirror.
The scraper is either too big, or the mirror itself is a bit of an awkward shape to get at, and you end up driving around with only partly cleared mirrors because you couldn’t reach ice in the corners or around the edge.
Only luxury cars sold in cold climates used to have heated steering wheels, but nowadays you can get one in a Kia Rio supermini. Granted, Kia (and Hyundai) is a bit ahead of the curve when it comes to democratizing some of these luxury features and adding them to as many of their vehicles as possible.
Now you may think that having a heated steering wheel isn’t as important as seeing out of the windscreen or in the mirrors, and actually, you’re right; it’s not.
However, if you’ve ever put your bare hand (with no mitts on) on a freezing cold steering wheel and compare that feeling to grabbing onto a nice toasty leather-wrapped helm - you will understand why so many people want this feature in their car and why it’s really growing in popularity.