Living With Technology / The new car
The car we brought our daughter home from the hospital in finally gave up the ghost. Given that our daughter is now 20 years old and the car was pushing 300,000 miles, I can’t say that the car owed us anything.
But this put me in the market for a new car.
In my travels, I drive my fair share of rental cars, so I’m pretty familiar with the technology in new cars, but generally don’t spend a lot of time playing with it.
So, with this car, I’ve had an opportunity to dive more deeply into the long-term uses of the tech I’ll be living with for the next decade or so.
The car I bought was a Subaru Outback. Living in the Northeast, having four-wheel drive is useful for the winter months. Subarus also have a reputation for a long lifespan, moderate repair costs and affordable initial purchase price. Beyond that, a friend also purchased an Outback. Both he and our family really liked it. Zero percent financing clinched the deal.
To start off, there’s a big screen in the center of the console. Pretty standard nowadays.
The challenge was to find out what it does that’s different than all other cars.
What it does NOT include (which I like) is a navigation system. Most of the in-car navigation systems I’ve used don’t work as well as Google Maps. We were able to connect both an Apple iPhone and Android (Samsung Galaxy) phone to the car and use those navigation systems.
I found the navigation system only worked when the phones were connected through the USB cable. Navigation did not work over Bluetooth.
Speaking of Bluetooth, both phones connected via Bluetooth and are great for making hands-free calls using the car’s audio system. The best part of this is that when a call comes in, the audio playing is muted for the duration of the call, making it easier to have a conversation without those distractions.
Other features I’m still looking into include WiFi for the car. I presume this means I’d have to sign up for a monthly service from a carrier such as Verizon or Sprint, but with my own phones being a portable hotspot, it’s unlikely that will happen.
And then there’s satellite radio, Sirius XM. I can’t say I’m ready to pay for radio yet.
What did surprise me is Subaru’s service that will give me updates on my car via email. I’m still looking into how that works, but like the idea of a car telling you what it thinks it needs … hopefully in advance of a major event.
The short answer is that I’m enjoying my new Subaru. No major surprises. It drives like a new car, the family loves it and the tech is manageable, although I’m still finding out more about it.
Best of all, it smells like a new car.
Mark Mathias is a 35-plus year information technology executive and a resident of Westport. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.