LeftLaneNews

Missing something? 10 items you might not find on a new car

Your neighbor's new $25,000 crossover might show up your $75,000 luxury car and you don't even realize it.

Let's say that you're in the market for a new car - and if you're like millions of your fellow Americans, you're probably going to visit a showroom in the next couple of months to do a little shopping.

You've made your list and checked it twice by using comparison tools like Leftlane's comprehensive new car section. But suddenly you're noticing that your top choice is missing a few features you might have expected to find as standard - or at least on the option list.

At least a few cars are in the Leftlane garage every week; between our editors, we've driven just about every car in every trim level with every engine and every transmission. We're pretty observant, so over the last few months we've compiled a list of surprisingly absent features that you might not notice on your first test drive.

Could you live without these features? Can you think of any other surprisingly absent items?

Ford Focus - rear power windows
Economy cars have long forsaken luxuries taken for granted in larger cars, but Ford promised more bang for the buck with its redesigned 2011 Focus lineup. At $17,295, the cheapest Focus definitely delivers more space, pace and refinement than is typical in the compact sedan class, but only front seat passengers are treated to power windows unless you step up to the $18,195 SE model.

Granted, the base Toyota Corolla doesn't come with any power windows, but that's what we'd expect from something that also lacks a soul.

Jeep Grand Cherokee - two speed transfer case
Jeep built its reputation on leaving the pavement to explore uncharted territory. But you might be surprised to learn that, for nearly 10 model years, the company's flagship has come standard with a single-speed transfer case that makes these SUVs into glorified all-wheel-drive crossovers. Certainly, few owners intentionally venture off the pavement and fewer yet are probably aware of how transfer cases operate, so this loss probably isn't noticed by anyone other than off roaders.

For those adventurous spirits, a $950 Off-Road Adventure I Package includes a two-speed Quadra-Trac II transfer case. Shop carefully.

Land Rover Range Rover Sport - power operated tailgate
Once the trusted tool of farmers in England, the Land Rover Range Rover has become an international cultural icon more associated with luxury than its mud-plugging past. So it comes as some surprise that the popular Range Rover Sport still forces drivers (or valets, perhaps) to manually open and close the liftgate.

In an era where lowly Chevrolet Equinoxes come with power liftgates, the Range Rover Sport seems like an unexpected aberration, although Land Rover will begin offering this "luxury" on some trim levels overseas later this year.

Chevrolet Traverse - alloy wheels
The Traverse is the most expensive car we can find to still come standard with steel wheels and full-face plastic hubcaps. At $32,180, a base Traverse LS AWD doesn't even offer alloy wheels as a factory option. To step up to the same style wheel Chevrolet will make standard on its new $14,495 Spark subcompact later this year, you need to drop about $3,000 more on the Traverse LT.

To be fair, the $30,995 Ford Explorer AWD also rolls on 17-inch steelies.

Premium sedans - split-folding rear seats
Picture this: You've bought a BMW 335i, Lexus IS350 or a Mercedes-Benz E550, but you find yourself needing to haul some plywood home for a renovation project. Head to Enterprise and pick up the cheapest four-door sedan the smiling face behind the counter will rent you and you'll almost certainly find split-folding rear seats, a feature you didn't pay $450 or more for on your fine German sedan.

Realistically, many buyers never use their split-folding rear seats. But they're there when they need them - unless they bought a premium sedan from Europe or Japan.

GM 1/2 ton pickups - rear disc brakes
General Motors' half-ton pickups are among the segment's oldest designs, although they remain strong sellers in both Chevrolet and GMC forms. But while they're generally competitive pickups, a glance at their spec sheets reveals one surprise: Rear-wheel disc brakes are only available with the pricey Max Trailering Package.

Drum brakes aren't necessarily deserving of their bad reputation, a fallacy easy to disprove after one drive (and tap of the wide pedal) in a GM truck. Still, it seems odd to us that every other full-size pickup on the market comes standard with discs all around.

Honda Civic - radio
Radios are still optional on several cars, but the $17,375 Civic automatic is the most expensive "normal" car to come tunes-free that we can come up with. That price also doesn't buy you air conditioning or power adjustable mirrors.

The Civic does include radio wiring and speakers, so buyers can head over to Best Buy for a $200 head unit that flashes like the Starship Enterprise during bingo night.

Porsche Panamera - rear windshield wiper
You might think that the Porsche Panamera is the ultimate do-nearly-everything vehicle. With a commodious hatchback and room for four in its Vertu-inspired interior, the Panamera is well poised to take advantage of its wide powertrain lineup.

While Porsche offers a wide range of personalization options for the Panamera - like any kind of leather covering any surface you could dream of - we are more than a little surprised to see a genuinely useful item like a rear windshield wiper show up on the option list for $360.

Smart ForTwo - power steering
Thanks to power steering, robust upper body strength is no longer necessary to maneuver big cars into tight parking spaces. Image parallel parking a two ton car on Chicago's busy Michigan Avenue - unless you're of a certain age, you can't fathom it, can you? Maybe it's time you had more respect for your elders.

But the only way to experience assistance-free power steering today in the United States is to buy a Smart ForTwo without the electric power steering option. We've driven ForTwos with and without the assist and, frankly, we don't like either one.

Ferrari - three pedals
Ferrari's gated gear shift levers were once a piece of art on their own. Often imitated but never properly reproduced, the manual gearboxes were notable for their delicate clink-clink sounds and their reflective surfaces. Yet few Ferraris leave Maranello today with anything other than F1-style sequential and dual-clutch units.

If you're one of the lucky few to be able to take delivery of a new Ferrari, you can still order a Californi a - the model derisively called the "girl's Ferrari" - with the hairiest and most traditional three-pedal manual gearbox.