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Feature Fatigue: When to Say No to the Upgrade Package

Car owners don't always understand how to use their cars. Sometimes they don't even know how to order the features they want. See why people over-order and under-use the advanced automotive features available.

At Enprecis, we're familiar with the difficulties that vehicle owners can have with the complex features of their cars. That's why we offer Quick Tips, customized educational resources that help drivers learn more about the advanced features available in their vehicles. Did you get the sport or infotainment package? No clue how to use your paddle shifters? Uncertain how to get out of "Eco" mode? Our Quick Tips can help--but without them, your satisfaction might decline.

Research shows that consumers' perceptions of feature importance differ substantially before and after purchase. Prior to buying a vehicle, prospective vehicle owners are interested in having as many features as possible--regardless of whether they really need or understand them. The prestige of having the latest technology in the vehicle appeals more than the reality of having to learn to use complicated new systems. In the researchers' terms, the capability of the car matters more than usability--at least at first.

Avoiding feature creep

Once confronted with the reality of confusing features in their vehicles, though, drivers' preferences quickly change. When people have to get things done in their vehicles every day, they come to value usability over capability. That is, you no longer want the option to connect any of 12 different media players to your car--you just want the one that you have to actually work.

The solution to this confusion is to aim somewhere in the middle. You'd like to be able to do a certain number of things in your car--enjoy effective voice activation, for example, or change your route mid-drive without hitting a dozen buttons. Heck, maybe you just want to be able to figure out how to unlock and start your car--challenge enough with some of the advanced keyless systems.

So next time you're looking to buy a new vehicle, remember: it's not actually about capability, it's about usability. Identify the top 5 things you do the most in your current car, the top 2-3 things you'd really like to be able to do in a new car, and limit your options package to that. Really. You can send us the savings as a thank you.

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