A Plush Interior Is Nice, But Staying Alive Is Better takes

When newscasts run stories for weeks on end about SUVs running off the road, it makes an impression on consumers. Even if tires are the culprit, the issue of safety grabs share of mind in a broader way. Thus, there’s reason to believe people meant what they said in a J.D. Power and Associates survey of the automotive features they want. Polling owners of 2000 and 2001 model-year vehicles for its latest APEAL Feature Contenting Report, the research firm found safety-related technologies “the most desired among new-vehicle buyers.” In fact, consumers are eager for features they might not be able to get. As you can see from the chart, 72 percent want side-impact air bags. But “only 20 percent of the vehicles sold in the U.S. are equipped with this technology.” Along the same lines, SUV owners expressed a desire for safety items “largely unavailable in most SUVs.” Apart from items on the chart,others favorites included traction control (58 percent), run-flat tires (56 percent), night-vision technology (43 percent) and rain-sensing wipers (29 percent). As for amenities unrelated to safety, consumers are keen on “passenger entertainment systems”—video screens with VCRs, DVD players and video games.