By David Thomas on December 9, 2010
It's hard to find just the right gift for that special someone. Maybe they have everything. Maybe they are the practical sort, but you still want to wow them. It’s easy to be thoughtful and give a gift of automotive joy. Here's our guide to some of the better products and ideas for those who spend too much time in their cars but don’t have enough time to upgrade them.
WeatherTech All-Season Floormats ($169)
If you're a guy, buying a quality set of all-season floormats for your better half may be insulting, but ultimately welcomed. I purchased and tested WeatherTech's incessantly advertised Digital Fit mats last winter, and they haven't left our Subaru Outback since. While $169 for a set of front and rear mats may sound expensive, you'll pay that much or more at a dealer for manufacturer-produced mats. That might be why you left that box unchecked when buying your last car.
If you have kids, the ability to catch apple juice from a dropped sippy is as vital as wiping up melted snow.
If you don’t’ have the time or talent to give your better half the gift of a sparkling wax and interior shampooing, seek out a local car wash and detail shop. A good detailing can cost around $100 (or much more depending on location and type of vehicle) and includes the basic interior and exterior cleaning as well as a wax, carpet shampoo and some sort of upholstery cleaning.
It happens to all of us. We buy the trim level of car we can afford, and maybe it doesn't have all the bells and whistles we like. Many automakers sell dealer-installed accessories for Bluetooth devices, iPods and more. There's usually a price for the device and the installation, and they'll likely cost more than buying a Bluetooth speaker or aftermarket stereo, but they will help slightly with resale value and are usually well integrated into the car.
Note for gift givers: You’ll need to be creative to get your significant other’s vehicle out of his or her hands for the time it will take to get these gadgets installed at your local dealer.
Honda Remote Starter ($512)
It’s cold outside for much of the country, and that might get you thinking that you should’ve gotten a remote start system on your new car.
Popular Honda models — including the Accord, Civic and CR-V — offer a two-way remote start system that can heat or cool the vehicle before you get in. Remote start isn’t unique to Honda, but the company’s remote unit shows your car’s status and how much longer it will take to get warm or cool. You must have a model equipped with automatic climate control.
Subaru Media Hub ($299-$349.95)
Subaru offers both Bluetooth and USB integration on the latest-generation Outback and Legacy models. The Media Hub with USB connection costs $299, and the streaming Bluetooth one is $349.95. I’ll warn you, though, that Subaru’s iPod integration is clunky and might frustrate non-tech-savvy drivers. I know from personal experience.
Toyota iPod Interface ($299)
The simple iPod interface stores in the glove compartment and lets drivers control the iPod through steering-wheel audio controls.
Toyota Blu Logic Hands-Free System ($299)
This is Toyota’s branded Bluetooth system, which will take up one of the dead switches in your RAV4 or other current-generation Toyotas, including the Corolla and Camry.
Ford Remote Start (Price dependent on dealer)
Ford also offers a wide selection of accessories and even has a website to help current owners shop for accessories, including electronics like this system with a whopping 1,000-foot range. It’s available on popular models like the Fusion.
Managing Editor David Thomas has a thing for wagons and owns a 2010 Subaru Outback and a 2005 Volkswagen Passat wagon. Email David