The 2017 Autotrader Car Tech Impact Study has revealed that 48% of consumers put in-vehicle technology first when shopping for a vehicle. It appears that, for these buyers, technology is even more important than brand or body style.

To be more specific, a lot of drivers are interested in having access to the latest safety technology. In fact, many consumers believe that certain high-tech safety features should be standard on all vehicles. These include blind-spot detection, lane-keep assist and forward collision warning. Also, more and more car buyers are warming up to the idea of autonomous or mostly autonomous vehicles.

Millennials Lead the Charge for More Available Safety Technology

Car Safety Technology

This study found that 55% of Millennial drivers are willing to spend up to $2,600 extra to get the tech features they want in a car. And it has long been established that members of this generation are much more comfortable with autonomous features than older consumers.

However, it seems that drivers of all ages are warming up to the idea of highly advanced auto safety technology. This is especially true of parents, who are twice as likely (51%) to buy a car with advanced safety features than non-parents (22%).

Overall, there has been a big jump over last year in how many drivers trust autonomous technology. In 2015, only 35% of those surveyed said that they would give up some control over their cars in exchange for some free time. However, this latest version of the study shows that 49% of drivers wouldn't mind kicking back and letting the vehicle do all or most of the work. All in all, two-thirds of study participants said that new auto tech has made them better drivers.

Affordable Cars that Offer the Latest Safety Technology

When a car buyer walks into a dealership these days, it's likely that they'll bring a list of desired features with them. They'll know what they want because they will have done their research ahead of time. According to the 2017 Autotrader Car Tech Impact Study, 56% of shoppers do this kind of prep work.

Millennials, in particular, will most likely be unshakable when it comes to in-vehicle technology. Luckily, for these younger drivers, there are affordable new cars that offer advanced safety systems. In fact, these four 2017 models (according to Consumer Reports) can be equipped with the following:

  • Forward-Collision Warning
  • Blind-Spot Warning
  • Rear-Cross Traffic Alert
  • Lane-Departure Warning
  • Lane-Keep Assist

These vehicles also come standard with backup cameras, which will be standard on all cars by 2018. Starting prices for these cars are below $30,000, but fully-loaded versions of the Ford and the Kia will cost more.

The Kia Sportage

Getting all of the features that you want may cost you a little more with the Sportage. But if you need a little extra room, it might be worth the price. The 2017 Sportage comes in second in the U.S. News and World Report rankings for compact SUVs. It is equipped with spacious seats and easy-to-use dashboard controls. Critics have also been impressed with this crossover's comfortable ride and "sporty" handling.

The Ford Fusion

This midsize car will allow you to commute in style with its "upscale" and roomy interior. And while the 2017 Fusion is a practical choice in many ways, it's hardly stodgy. In fact, test drivers have noted that its sharp handling makes it fun to drive, and there are strong engine options available. Also, even in its base model version, the Fusion has earned very good safety ratings.

The Hyundai Elantra

Not only does the Elantra offer lots of available tech features, but they are considered by critics to be very user-friendly. And what's the point of having all of this technology if you aren't able to use it? This compact car is also surprisingly roomy for its class and is equipped with supportive seats for extra comfort. Finally, the very affordable Elantra is easy on gas and comes with an extra-long warranty.

The Mazda Mazda3

If you like the Elantra, you may love the 2017 Mazda3. It's ranked number one among compact cars by U.S. News and World Report because it offers nearly everything. In addition to "outstanding" EPA-estimated fuel economy, the Mazda3 also features a high-quality interior and intuitive infotainment system. And most importantly, test drivers have judged its performance capabilities to be off the chart. Basically, it's a car that you'll actually look forward to driving each and every day.

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