The Option Scorecard

Why buy: Which of the latest high-tech new-car options will pay you back at trade-in?

Illustration by Stephen Rountree

1. KEYLESS ENTRY

Current Wisdom: Who doesn’t love keyfob door openers? But magnetic entry cards-such as those from Mercedes, BMW, and Cadillac-that open and start the car require getting used to

Outlook: Keys will be obsolete someday-it’s a given

Price: $250 (keyfob)

Should You Buy It? Yes. Keyless entry will be a big plus when you sell

2. INTEGRATED HANDS-FREE PHONE

Current Wisdom: Perfect for the traveling salesman and no one else

Outlook: Driver distraction is a real issue, with legal momentum. In the not-too-distant future, hands-free may be your only choice for making calls on the road

Price: $600 and up

Should You Buy It? Time will tell. If your car is prewired for a phone, your bases are covered. Otherwise, it’s worth considering

3. IN-CAR VIDEO ENTERTAINMENT

Current Wisdom: An overpriced but incomparable way to keep the kids quiet during long trips

Outlook: It’ll no doubt remain popular with the sport-utility, station wagon, and minivan set

Price: $1,300 to $3,000

Should You Buy It? Even bet. It probably won’t be a deal-maker (or breaker) when you sell your vehicle

4. HEAD AND SIDE AIRBAGS

Current Wisdom: The more airbags you have, the better

Outlook: Pretty much the same. In addition to front airbags, head and side ones should become ubiquitous in the next few years

Price: $300 to $500

Should You Buy It? Absolutely. Don’t even think twice

5. IN-CAR NAVIGATION SYSTEMS
Current Wisdom: You either love them or hate them
Outlook: More complete systems that include concierge and news services should eventually supplant navigation
Price: $1,500 to $2,500
Should You Buy It? Only if you want it. Little value will be left when you sell

6. STABILITY CONTROL
Current Wisdom: Useful but pricey. Usually available only on high-end models
Outlook: As with antilock brakes (ABS) and traction control, the technology will quickly expand to less expensive models
Price: $550 to $1,100
Should You Buy It? If you can afford it. That said, insist that your car have ABS

DON’T GET CAUGHT DRIVING LAST YEAR’S FASHIONS

IN OUT
Medium to dark reddish blue Emerald and jade green
Euro-style clear Altezza taillights Taillight covers
Huge sunroofs T-tops and bubble sunroofs
Lighted windshield washer nozzles Neon license plate frames
Adjustable racing-style wings Whale’s tails