2010 Honda Odyssey Rear Entertainment System

    2010 Honda Odyssey Rear Entertainment System. Honda©

    by: Gary Hoffman | AOL Autos

    It’s the great high-tech showdown: As new technology floods into vehicles, consumers are starting to favor infotainment over safety features in their cars for the first time in recent memory.

    Buyers now say they are more likely to spring for features like navigation and high-end audio than for safety-related services like tire-pressure monitoring or collision mitigation, according to the market research firm J.D. Power & Associates. Just a few years ago, safety options reigned supreme.

    At some level, consumers must feel they are getting more value from infotainment.

    “We started seeing the change about three years ago,” said Mike Marshall, director of automotive emerging technologies at J.D. Power and Associates. “The trend was stronger than ever this year.”

    Sound systems are moving up the list that blind spot detection, rear-view cameras and adaptive headlight systems once dominated, he said.

    Sign Of The Times

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    Many young buyers are driving the trend: A good number of the features are becoming less expensive and more likely to be available in moderately priced vehicles that new buyers can afford. But Marshall said it’s basically consumer tastes -- not prices -- that are responsible for the change.

    The shift is moderate so far. No one is expecting the market for features like parallel parking aids or active braking assists -- which help slow the vehicle in an emergency -- to disappear, especially from luxury cars. But even small shifts in consumer tastes can be important to an industry struggling to zero on its customers.

    Auto suppliers and manufacturers bet billions on projections of the demand for their innovations. In a way, consumers are betting even more, as it’s hard to put a value on the life saved when a feature like electronic stability control kicks into action and prevents a dangerous skid or rollover.

    Costs Of Some Tech Features Are Dropping

    If you had to pick just one epicenter of the innovation, Robert Bosch GmbH in Stuttgart, Germany, would certainly be a candidate. It’s a source for everything from clean diesels and turbocharging, to navigation systems and emergency braking aids.

    Some of Bosch’s on-board technologies, such as a navigation system on the Nissan Juke and Rogue, Sentra and Versa, seem perfectly suited to the infotainment trend. Known as Nissan Connect, the low-cost navigation was first used on the Japanese brand’s models sold in Europe. It’s available in the U.S. for a few hundred dollars.

    Initially, U.S. consumers were lukewarm about built-in navigation -- no doubt due to prices as high as $2,000. But now their popularity is growing, said Mark Peters, a director of engineering in Bosch’s car multimedia division. “Once people have navigation, once they drive with it, they say they won’t have another car without it,” he said.

    J.D. Power’s survey approach makes it possible to tease out how willing consumers really were to spend their money on infotainment versus other, competing features. Researchers first ask respondents whether they are interested in a particular technology without telling them the pric, and then they reveal the price when they ask the question a second time. That answer is much closer to the consumer’s buying intention.

    2011 Toyota Sienna in-car cd/dvd player

    2011 Toyota Sienna in-car cd/dvd player. Toyota©

    Stereos Are Tops

    In this year’s study, premium sound systems tended to score ahead of adaptive headlights and rear vision camera systems. In a similar 2009 J.D. Power survey, 77 percent of the survey respondents initially said they were “definitely interested” in blind spot detection. But the percentage declined to 14 percent when they were told how much the safety innovation cost, an average of $1,600 at the time.

    According to that study, less than 10 percent of those surveyed were “definitely interested” in advanced adaptive cruise control at an average price of $1,500. Adaptive cruise control helps drivers maintain a safe following distance and reduces the risk of collisions. But twice as many consumers in the survey were interested in on-board navigation systems at a similar price. Once the researchers put a price tag on infotainment options, consumer interest fell off, too, but not as steeply as it did for safety features.

    That’s a big change from just several years ago. In 2005, safety figures almost universally ranked higher on customer wish lists, according to Bandon-Ore.-based CNW Marketing Research. Back then, innovations such as run-flat tires and adaptive cruise control did better than MP3 players and satellite radio on consumer wish lists.

    Are the auto industry and consumers going to see this trend continue? “That’s looking into a crystal ball, but my opinion is that they will,” Marshall said.

    One tidbit from latest J.D. Power survey seems to bear that out: Nearly 40 percent of the smart phone owners in the survey said they wanted on-board systems that could read their emails to them through the car’s stereo speakers. Still another change has occurred in the last few years: Today many of the innovations are extensions of smart phones and other consumer electronics and start out reasonably priced as a result.

    In the past, navigation and audio systems made their way into luxury cars first and then gradually reached the mainstream. Prices started high and then declined along the way. “With these lower cost systems, you are actually seeing a shift,” said Peters. “Some of these have not been introduced on high-end vehicles first.”

    From Optional To Mandatory

    In the end, consumers might not get a choice on a few of the latest advances. U.S. regulators may impose them as part of fuel-economy and safety policies. One example is the requirement for electronic stability control in all cars by 2012.

    Start-stop could soon follow suit. This system shuts down the engine automatically when a vehicle comes to a stop and starts it again when the driver takes pressure off the brake. It cuts fuel consumption and emissions, especially in congested urban driving.

    Bosch introduced its current version of the system in 2007, and European automakers have put it on everything from the tiny Mini to the mighty Porsche Panamera Coupe. The German supplier delivered 1 million units worldwide last year. Frank Frister, a product manager with Bosch Start/Stop Systems, expects U.S. carmakers to be able to adapt their automatic transmissions to it quickly.

    With the rising a Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards coming out of Washington, they may have no choice, he said. “A CAFE goal of 35.5 by 2016 is really an aggressive target for most OEMs,” said Frister. “They will be trying to get all the fuel-saving technology they can onto the cars.”

    In early October, U.S. officials floated up to 62 mpg as a possible goal for 2025, either upping the ante or turning the screws, depending on one’s point of view. In the future, U.S. automakers can only hope that the innovations just keep on coming -- and not just in infotainment.

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    1 - 20 of 76 Comments
    raccnsl Oct 19, 2010 7:27 PM
    Most car buyers are NEBISH ******** !
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    ch754 Oct 19, 2010 7:11 PM
    In 65 years of driving hundreds of thousands of miles for both pleasure and business, I think the focus of driving should be on safety, not entertainment. 20 months ago, I bought a new Mercury Grand Marquis with a radio and CD player. I hardly ever play the radio, except occasionally while waiting in a mall parking lot for my wife, and have only tested the CD player once, to be sure it works. You can keep all the other gadgets and toys; they're not needed.
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    jonsamusnghs Oct 19, 2010 3:54 PM
    Test drove the Nissa Leaf hre in San Diego...Very Quite, no roaring engine, different from your regualr gas powered car.... ton's of space... leasing it for 3 years..However, Volt seems like it has more feature to offer such as media consoles, and nicer exterior...can't wait to test drive it and compare it to the nissan Leaf.... Looking forward to Volts premier...
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    ayeshayusuf Oct 19, 2010 9:27 AM
    great article!!!!
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    vlady1000 Oct 18, 2010 10:35 PM
    I feel more safe in one of my sports cars than I do in my truck. I have avoided several accidents (a couple by inches) by driving a car that can handle well. Sure rather have a car that can go around the accident rather than one that "tanks" thru it. I sure the others appreciated me not hitting them too. I live in snow county and in the winter, 90% of the time if there is a vechicle on it's top, it is an SUV. Funny how many feel their teenager should be in one for safety. Make sure he/she pass his physics class 1st and understands what a high center of gravity can do to you in an emgergency. The gov should be stressing basic car design over gadgets to make them safer.
    Report This
    codybratcher Oct 18, 2010 7:07 AM
    short note to nwfam...do some research, the whole Toyota thing, it turns out that in fact it was NOT a pedal problem....In FACT they did nothing wrong
    Report This
    ty2010 Oct 18, 2010 6:18 AM
    I want the dimmer switch on the floor, push-pull headlight switch, wiper switch to be the turn knob on the dash next to the headlights, unobstructed, lighted and easily reachable ashtray with lighter, wing vents on the front door windows, nothing on the steering wheel but the horn, nothing on the column except the turn signal, maybe a gearshift if an automatic, manual seats, manual windows, cup holders, rain gutters on the roof edge to keep it all from running to the door opening, 5mph bumpers(or more), narrower tires that get traction in the rain and snow, non-low profile tires that are not easily damaged by rail road tracks and pot holes, no traction control, stability control or braking aids, I'd rather FEEL the road conditions (yes, I am one of the few that pays at least a slight bit of attention while driving) and drive accordingly.
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    jetmechay Oct 18, 2010 5:06 AM
    seattlewood said: I would rather have a HUD display in my car with the SPEED I"m traveling in my windshield. I have had this since 1997 and I never need to take my eyes off the road to look down at my speedometer. Paying attention to the road and my speed is the #1 safety issues. JM: Like you, I don't need to look down to adjust my speed. In fact I rarely touch the pedals. I use the cruise control in my 16 year old Pontiac Sunbird. I think the use of cruise control should be mandatory because it makes each car more predictable. Being able to know what the other driver is going to do is EVERYTHING. Many drivers have the nasty habit of when a car pulls around them to pass in the left passing lane, the slower car speeds up...either unconsciously or on-purpose as a knee jerk reaction because people have a tendancy to not want to be passed. If they were on speed control at the limit....nobody would need to pass anybody. Or even if they were still going slower and somebody wanted to pass, they would probably stay on cruise control and that would make then easy to deal with because their speed would remain the same. Wake up out there people. If somebody is trying to pass you, for God sake let them. Don't play Ben Hur and try to block them. What are we doing out there? Is it worth getting into a collision over and wrecking your 20 or $30 thousand dollar vehicle? It's just another day. Let em pass. What's it to you?
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    sassydriver44 Oct 18, 2010 3:50 AM
    DD big people talk see them on T,V gov. all drive our big SUV WAY SAFE...
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    lyles1005 Oct 18, 2010 3:49 AM
    I personally don't believe in buying any unnecessary widgets. I have own of them to date because I have always had high end cars. But I found that I simply do not desire or have time to watch very much T.V., DVD's, and so on in a car! When driving or in the streets I'd rather see what is outside a car. As a musician, I have a great ear for listening to a good sound system but find a 2000 watt ampliflier way over the top. It sounds so tacky when people have trunk rambling bass blasting a street block away. I have found laser diffusors/ radar detectors useful. Mercedes has PRE SAFE and DISTRONIC systems that I think could add a bit of safety, in their Sedan class models...but with no kids and because I will be driving it, all that 14 way adjustable back seats, headrest video screens, and backseat sun roofs, I would not spend a penny on.
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    sassydriver44 Oct 18, 2010 3:48 AM
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    arvig Oct 18, 2010 3:27 AM
    mwcaptainamaerica posts this drivel: "I am sick and tired of the bleeding liberals telling me how to live my life, what to buy, how to walk and talk, and what days of the I need to shower. Screw off. already. You people make me ill- barry is bad enough." My reply: Ayep. Please let me know WHERE in this article there's mention of any so called "liberals", or any attempt to control you or your spending habits, how you talk and so forth. Please, go away and find a politically themed blog for your rant, politics has NOTHING to do with this article. Do you honestly ever think of any other topic? Probably not, all political bashers like you are the same, they can't comprehend anything other then inane politics and bashing anyone who dares to even slightly disagree. And yes, I'd say the same thing to mwPrivateTraitor..excuse me MWCaptainAmerica here if he had bashed so called "conservatives". It's the slobbering political bashers I can't stand, regardless of whom or what they bash.
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    arvig Oct 18, 2010 3:24 AM
    dhkckva posts this tidbit: "people would not need all the safty in a car if they could drive. most people can not drive. And cell phones should not even work when you are in your car the car should have device in it that will not let the phone work when the car is running. And if people are on aphone in a car and get stop for ************** be a 10,000 dollar fine and i bet you won't talk and drive no more." My reply: Uh-huh. I do agree that people shouldn't use a phone to talk or text IF they have to do so by holding the phone, and thus only have at best one hand free. But many cars can now connect to a phone with bluetooth capability, and one can thus talk hands free. Via voice command more and more cars let one just say the number and it dials out, assuming the phone is also in the car. Finally, how about this: Let's say someone witnesses a crime, sees another car broken down or is in an accident, but their car is still running. So they go to dial 911, maybe via physically dialing, maybe via the bluetooth system in their car. And well, they can't due to your suggestion. What now? :P
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    arvig Oct 18, 2010 3:21 AM
    sme40s posted this...tidbit: "Well you have to do something. Cars have gotten nothing short of butt ugly and they all look alike. Compared to the cars of thirty years ago or more, style, size, horsepower and luxury coupled with more individually distinct styles made American cars beautiful. Today, they look like rectal suppositorys." My reply: 1) I don't stare at rectal suppositorys enough to make the comparsion, but if you say so. :P 2) You know what, I bet people in the year 2040 will be saying "Wow, cars all look the same now, the cars around 2010 sure did look so much better...". :P To be much more on topic though, I think you'll find that the reason many of the saftey features aren't as popular right now as options is because they are new overall. Cruise control has been on a car for years, but an adaptive/smart cruise control is a fairly recent thing. Same thing with adaptive headlights, a backup camera and so forth. Sure they have been out for a few years, ******** stuff that although it makes a car safer, most people driving have been doing well enough without such. It's going to take at least 5 to 10 years IMO for people to say "Oh hey, I don't feel safe unless my car DOES have a backup camera or a smart cruise control system".
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    sme40s Oct 18, 2010 2:08 AM
    Well you have to do something. Cars have gotten nothing short of butt ugly and they all look alike. Compared to the cars of thirty years ago or more, style, size, horsepower and luxury coupled with more individually distinct styles made American cars beautiful. Today, they look like rectal suppositorys.
    Report This
    canmanforcash Oct 18, 2010 1:56 AM
    @ worn501s4u I've seen this stupid trend where people want cars with Tv's, DVD players, Built in Navigation, Back up cameras, phones, etc. PT Barnum said there is a sucker born every day. I agree that people shouldn't be driving if they are incapable of turning around to look behind them. However a lot of vehicles these days have horrible blind spots and they aren't equipped with blind spot mirrors. You can say cars are built with style rather than function in mind. However one feature that is practical is a rear and front RADAR which can tell you how close you are to another car when parking. I used to drive a '92 Suburban and it is difficult to judge how far you are from something, The suburban was great because you almost get a full 360 view. But most cars now you can't see squat out the back. and you have 500 different gadgets feeding you all sorts of useless info.
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    ricktrumpetman Oct 18, 2010 1:48 AM
    I have yet to see a car with a stock "high end" audio system. Some near misses yes. High end. NO. Muddy thumpin' is a good name for a blues band but not what high end audio is about..... Safety features should NOT be selling points. The best available technology, once ascertained, ought to be required for manufacturers to install in order to make their fortunes in our backyard. If not, let' em sell trucks to those poor IRT: Deadliest Roads schmucks......
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    nwfam Oct 18, 2010 1:45 AM
    I personally think the problem today is "trends". Its whats hot and whats not that is where the car manufactures are going. If they see that teenage girls would love to have a pink sparkling mirror the size of texas right in the middle of thier steering wheel...by gosh that'll be on the next car they crank out. They dont CARE about "safety" they care about "what sells". How many pedals stuck on the toyotas before they did anything about it..admitted to it..or even corrected the problem. Dont get me wrong. I love that I dont have to hand crank my window down. And I love that I can fold the seats down in my jeep patriot. But compared to most of whats out there right now its simple and basic and that is what I liked about it. heck..the MAIN selling point on the thing for me...was the air vent holes being able to be CLOSED all the way as my husband blasts the ac all the way and I'm sitting there with my teeth chattering. His selling point...***************, and moves forward when he needs it to. and Stops when he needs it to. To me...safety should not be an OPTION it should be mandatory on every vehicle. Yes ..tire pressure warnings are annoying. Yes all the dings, and beeps and what nots are mind numbingly aggevating and want you to scream. But surely as your mom, or your grandma, or your father gets in his vehicle and goes down the road...you'd like to at least have SOME sense of security that he is going to get where he is going. As to these cars that safety will no longer be reguired. SCARY thoughts. but then again...I see people eating, drinking, smoking, shaving, reading, texting, screaming at thier kids in the back seat, picking thier nose, digging in thier purse on the seat next to them, watching a video on thier phone, reading the newspaper...just to name a few while the vehicle is going down the road. And i think everyday...how many people's lives have been lost because SOMEONE just HAD to text "justin likes sarah" or..."so getting my nails done, you coming with" to thier friend ....or my gosh ...have to dig that last french fry out of that mcdonalds bag on the floor board. Tell that to six year old little boy who lost his mom and dad while he was in his first grade class. Tell that to grandma who was saving up her few little dollars each month off her social security check to go see her grandkids that they are dead. To me...the country has gone in the toilet. I'm not trying to tell anyone what to eat, wear, or drive. I'm simply saying I have more of a conscious about what I do, WHO it effects...and feel like...SOMEONE has to stand up and say when its getting ridicoulous out there.
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    seattlewood5 Oct 18, 2010 1:39 AM
    I would rather have a HUD display in my car with the SPEED I"m traveling in my windshield. I have had this since 1997 and I never need to take my eyes off the road to look down at my speedometer. Paying attention to the road and my speed is the #1 safety issues. The aftermarket products don't work and only a small few cars have it. Some car buyers pay $3,000 for navigation and electronic stuff. I would pay that just the a well designed Heads Up Display. Of the 5 vehicles I would buy (all in the 50K+ range, except for the Outback) none of them had this feature and I won't drive without it. NO tickets or accidents and I *Know* its saved me.. Pluse my insurance went down.. :) again!!! But time for a new car what to do.. I dont want a Lexus or GM (don't trust em). I'm offering to test and provide consumer input from any major manufacture.. its that good.
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    worn501s4u Oct 18, 2010 1:26 AM
    One thing the story is wrong on is that: "Buyers now say they are more likely to spring for features like navigation and high-end audio than for safety-related services like tire-pressure monitoring" I hate to be the one to tell the author, but tire-pressure monitoring has been required in passenger cars for a couple years now (since '08 or '09). I think ABS, Electronic Stability Control and as many airbags as possible are definitely worth while, but on the other hand, things like back up cameras and parking assist are just a waste for people that can actually drive on their own. If someone can't parallel park their car, they shouldn't be behind the wheel.
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