Consumer demand for the latest technology in vehicles is so high, many of today's cars come loaded with features once considered optional. For example, General Motors' sophisticated OnStar communications system is standard in several GM cars and trucks. The 2004 Acura RL sedan has no options available-it's already equipped with every feature imaginable. Anti-lock brakes, air conditioning, automatic transmission, high-performance engines, sound systems, power windows and doors, and cruise control are so much part and parcel of the vehicles business owners buy, there's little need to spring for extras. Still, there's usually at least one piece of additional equipment that can tempt you to go overboard when purchasing or leasing a car or fleet.
Lexus' most requested add-on to its GS300 four-door model is leather seating that runs an additional $1,660. Since it looks and feels great, especially if you're driving clients around, it's probably worth the extra bucks-but think twice before adding an entertainment system with back-seat TV if your transportation is strictly for business. And if you're in a sunshine state, you may not really need the expensive four-wheel-drive option on that delivery truck.
Options worth the money include safety features such as hands-free headsets, backup and parking-assist systems, adjustable pedals, keyless entry, alarm systems, remote headlight control, extra air bags, and cellphones with GPS and a call center service. Nice but nonessential options include convertible tops, heated seats (the second most popular option at Lexus), passenger-side and rear-seat climate control, night vision, heads-up display, satellite radio, retractable power steps, remote ignition start-up and wood trim.
Editor and consultant Jill Amadio has been reporting on the automotive industry for 24 years.