Affordable Cars, Hot Tech

Ford Sync 3

Just because you’re shopping for an inexpensive car, doesn’t mean you can’t afford some cool tech in your next ride.

Whether you’re buying new or second-hand, it’s worth spending some time tapping or clicking through, and you’ll find no shortage of vehicles with some smarts under the hood.

With that in mind, the following are a few examples of technologies drivers want, found on some affordable vehicles listed on

4G LTE Wi-Fi

2015 GMC Canyon

What it is

Your next car can be a password-protected Wi-Fi “hotspot” that allows multiple devices to connect for Internet access. Drivers might access music, podcasts and audiobooks from their favourite app hands-free. Your partner in the passenger seat can browse the web on their device and pick up email. And perhaps most importantly, kids on their tablets can stream Netflix or play an online game in the backseat to prevent the incessant chorus of “Are we there yet?” Vehicles with integrated Wi-Fi can offer a much better signal than your smartphone, thanks to a powerful antenna on the roof.

Which car has it

Wi-Fi Hotspot

A few vehicles have this desirable feature, but we found it in a previously enjoyed 2015 Chevrolet Spark LT, for $9,547, in Port Perry, Ontario. Other features of this four-cylinder silver hatchback include air conditioning, power windows, alloy wheels, and optional OnStar service. Speaking of OnStar, the Wi-Fi package starts at $10/month, but does not incur roaming fees when south of the border.

Apple CarPlay, Android Auto

Android Auto

What it is

Plug in your iPhone or Android phone and not only will the dashboard screen resemble your device, but you can press a button on the steering wheel to activate your personal assistant. Simply say “Hey Siri” for iPhone owners, or “OK Google” if you’re on an Android, and then ask a question or give a command, such as “What’s the weather like tomorrow?” or “Call mom” or “Take me to 123 Main Street.” Access your favourite music streaming apps, hear text messages read to you, or access your podcasts to keep you company on your commute.

Which car has it

Apple CarPlay & Android Auto

On sale for $18,129, this certified pre-owned 2016 Honda Civic Sedan LX in Chateauguay, Quebec, is a white four-door sedan with black interior, with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as Bluetooth connectivity. With a six-speed manual transmission, this vehicle has only 12,364 kilometres, and offers additional features including cruise control, auto on/off headlamps, and a rear spoiler. [English-speaking market example preferred, since we have few bilingual readers from QC, and we have a dedicated French-language site,, not mentioned here.]

Blind spot monitoring

BLIS was a camera-based setup that evolved into a radar-based system with sensors mounted behind rear quarter panels. Camera-based systems are back, however, with Honda's LaneWatch using a camera in the right-hand mirror housing to broadcast an image to the display screen in the dash.

What it is

As you might expect, changing lanes is one of the leading causes of automotive accidents. So wouldn’t it be great if you were notified when another vehicle is in your blind spot? The technology exists, and you no longer have to break the bank for this handy feature. “Blind spot monitors” are sensors that detect other vehicles on the road you might not easily see, and then give you a visual and/or audible warning before you change lanes. Some newer models provide “haptic” feedback, too, which is a slight vibration felt on the wheel or seat.

Which car has it

Blind-Spot Monitoring
Many vehicles available through have blind spot monitoring – even the privately sold and previously enjoyed 2009 Mazda6 for only $7,500, in north Toronto. Using sensors on the right and left side of the car, the Mazda6 notifies you of another vehicle with little lights on the side mirrors, and should you enable the turn signal with a vehicle in your blind spot, a loud beeping noise will warn you of something you might not see. Mazda, by the way, was the first Japanese automaker to offer blind spot monitoring, one year before this vehicle debuted.

Heated seats and steering wheel

2017 Subaru Outback

What it is

Okay, so it’s not the pinnacle of automotive technology, but it certainly is a welcomed feature given our Canadian climate. As you likely know, and as the name suggests, heated seats use electricity to generate heat for the driver, usually the front-seat passenger, and sometimes for the back seats, too. A heated steering wheel works the same way. In many cases, you can control how much warmth the seat gets (low, medium, or high), and some luxury vehicles add a cooling or “ventilated” seat feature, too, with cold air coming out of pores on the seats on hot days.

Which car has it

Heated Seats & Steering Wheel

A quick search on found one of the least expensive vehicles with heated seats and steering wheel is a black on black 2013 Dodge Journey, for $14,950. Sold in Moncton, this previously enjoyed seven-passenger crossover has heated front seats, heated steering wheel, remote keyless entry, air conditioning, Bluetooth connectivity, and sunroof, says the seller.

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Marc Saltzman

Marc Saltzman

With more than 20 years of industry experience, Marc Saltzman is one of the most recognized and trusted technology evangelists in North America. Marc is a freelance columnist for more than 40 publications, a prolific (16-time) author, radio and television personality, public speaker, and host of “Gear Guide,” which runs on Cineplex movie theatre screens across Canada. Marc specializes in consumer electronics, online technology, interactive entertainment, business trends, and automotive tech.
Marc Saltzman

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