11 must-have options for demanding drivers

From adaptive cruise control to power tailgates -- these are the top options for the driver who needs it all.

Essential assists
auto assists intro

The list of electronic aids available on new cars today resembles the menu for a Chinese restaurant. There are devices to help drivers steer, brake, see, change lanes, avoid collisions, and parallel park. The self-driving autonomous car may become reality by 2020, as experts believe, but no one need wait for its GPS systems and laser radar to become commercialized until it gets here. Some high-end new models practically drive themselves.

I'm in favor of anything that makes driving safer, easier, and more efficient. But danger can lurk in unexpected places. What happens if you exchange your Starship Enterprise for an older model or one that is less well-equipped? Expect the cruise control to automatically keep you from colliding with the vehicle in front of you the way your Acura RLX does? Sorry, the car you're driving doesn't have an adaptive system that applies the brakes. CRASH!

With that in mind, I've composed an admittedly very personal list of essential assists that should be in every car. Some are for safety, others provide data, and still others make the ride more comfortable and entertaining. Their common denominator is that I miss them when they aren't there. Your own choices may differ, but here are mine:


  @FortuneMagazine - Last updated May 13 2013 02:04 PM ET
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