We just checked out a Chinese-made Volvo S60 Inscription and were fairly impressed.
The S60 isn’t a wildly luxurious car, but it does have a feature we’ve gotten very used to on higher-end rides, especially during this brief but often cold winter we’ve been enduring in the Northeast.
What do you think it is?
Seat heaters? Sure, those are great, but we’ll go you one better.
Steering wheel heaters.
Steering wheels have gotten progressively more gadget-y since the late 1990s, when numerous controls started showing up on them. The idea is practical — keep your hands on the wheel to control the radio, the cell-phone interface, etc. — but it’s also high-tech, derived from racing.
For example, here’s a Ferrari manettino, which enables the driver to adjust the car’s performance setting with a simple turn of a switch.
Heated steering wheels are now becoming more common. In numerous cars, trucks, and SUVs we’ve sampled in the past year or so, the feature has been included. (The idea has been around forever — I found a patent for a steering-wheel heater from the mid-1960s).
You might think it isn’t necessary, but once you’ve enjoyed a nice, warm steering wheel on a freezing day, you don’t want to go back to clutching anything that isn’t heated.
I know from experience because my own car, a 2011 Toyota Prius, has seat heaters — but not a heated steering wheel. And it is such a bummer to hop into it on a chilled morning after having spent time, as we did recently, with an Audi SUV that had the feature (it isn’t always standard on fancier cars, by the way, but is often included as part of an options package).
As with most once-luxurious features, the heated steering wheel is going to work its way down the price range. In fact, it already has, with more mass-market vehicles now offering a happy hand warmer than in the past.
Naturally, even if your car doesn’t have a steering wheel heater to warm your mitts, you can still solve the cold problem by buying an aftermarket heated wheel cover. Heck, you can even buy an entire aftermarket steering wheel that’s heated, although only serious modders will want to go there.
NOW WATCH: The best car of the year — the Volvo XC90
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.