High end luxury cars are notorious for being jam-packed with the kind of premium features that most mere mortals can only dream about. Top-tier automobiles receive the latest and greatest technologies and options well before more affordable models, which means that those who can afford to drive these sublime vehicles are early adopters who get the chance to experience a higher degree of safety, comfort and in-car entertainment than most other drivers. Some of these features - particularly safety gear - might seem exotic at first, but as they proliferate throughout the industry over time they become "must-haves" or even standard on a wide range of automobiles. Others remain the exclusive province of flagship models to help differentiate them from the rest of the lineup.
Let's take a look at eight full-size luxury cars and the "killer features" that set them apart from your standard premium fare.
Killer Feature: JaguarSense
The 2011 Jaguar XJ takes in-car technology in an interesting direction with its JaguarSense feature. Tire of actually pushing buttons or toggling switches to interact with your luxury sedan's features? JaguarSense eliminates this inconvenience from your life thanks to an array of sensors that detect the wave of a hand in front of a side window or the presence of a finger in the vicinity of the glove box, popping open storage compartments and raising and lowering the glass without the need to actually physically interact with the system. The only way rolling down the window could be any easier in the 2011 Jaguar XJ would be if the JaguarSense system developed the ability to read your thoughts.
Killer Feature: Night Vision with Pedestrian Detection
Driving at night - especially in inclement weather - can be quite stressful, especially if you are unfamiliar with the roads that you are traveling on. The 2011 BMW 7 Series helps to take some of the edge off through the Night Vision with Pedestrian Detection system, a feature which uses infrared cameras to cut through the darkness as far as 900 feet ahead of the sedan and display any potential obstacles on the vehicle's control panel or head-up display. It can also tell the difference between pedestrians walking on the side of the road and animals such as deer or moose that might be about to leap in front of the car, alerting the driver so that he or she can deal with the situation appropriately.
Killer Feature: Advanced Parking Guidance System
Parking in a tight downtown spot can be a hassle, especially in a longer-wheelbase car like the 2011 Lexus LS. Fortunately, the Lexus LS offers the Advanced Parking Guidance System, which uses a system of sensors to detect the distance between the vehicles to the front, the side and the rear of the sedan (as well as the location of the curb) in order to automatically back the vehicle into its parking space. All that the Lexus technology asks of the driver is for them to use the brake to keep the vehicle's speed under control - it steers the car all by itself. You can also have the system back into a 90-degree spot by selecting the appropriate icon from the vehicle's navigation display.
Killer Feature: Executive Rear Seating Package
The designers of the 2012 Audi A8 realize that at the end of a long day, sometimes there's nothing better than relaxing in the back of your flagship luxury car. To accommodate those who want to maximize the enjoyment of the Audi A8 when being chauffeured around town, the German brand offers the Executive Rear Seating Package. This option installs two single rear seats - one on each side - each of which comes with its own massage capability. One of the seats also offers an "executive" power foot rest, while the remaining position has to make do with a standard foot rest. Two LCD screens connected to a DVD player and an integrated refrigerator round out the package.
Killer Feature: GPS-Linked Temperature Control
The 2012 Acura RL brings interior comfort into the space age with its GPS-Linked Temperature Control feature. This option syncs the vehicle's automatic climate control system with a GPS satellite that allows the sedan's computer to take into account the RL's position relative to the sun. This information is then used to make sure that the sunny side of the vehicle's passenger compartment doesn’t get too hot, and that the shady side doesn't get too chilly. An interior solar sensor helps fine-tune the system's temperature control and add an extra layer of accuracy to the entire setup.
Killer Feature: SPLITVIEW Front-Seat Entertainment System
Typically, if you want to watch a DVD movie while an automobile is underway you must sit behind the driver, as most infotainment screens won't alloy playback at speed in order to minimize potential distractions and provide full access to vehicle functionality. The 2012 Mercedes-Benz S-Class makes this restriction a thing of the past thanks to its SPLITVIEW Front-Seat Entertainment System. By dividing the automobile's eight-inch dash-mounted LCD screen into two distinct sections - one aimed at the driver and the other at the passenger - the driver retains the ability to interact with S-Class' COMAND system even while the person sitting beside them is watching a film. Even better, a set of wireless headphones and a wireless remote means that a DVD's audio track can be enjoyed privately by the passenger as well.
Killer Feature: BLIS with Cross-Traffic Alert
It's not always easy to see what you need to see when backing out of a parking spot into a busy lane. The 2012 Lincoln MKS adds an electronic eye to help augment your own vision and prevent you from being run into at the mall while reversing the sedan. The BLIS with Cross-Traffic Alert makes use of radar that scans the areas to the side and behind the car and which provides a warning in either the left or the right side view mirror should an oncoming vehicle be detected within 45 feet of the automobile. Out on the road, BLIS (which stands for Blind Spot Information System) uses the same sensors to keep an eye on your vehicle's blind spots.
Killer Feature: Personal Car Communicator
In a dark parking garage you might not be able to see for yourself if someone is lurking in the rear seat of your sedan, waiting to either abduct or rob you, until it is too late. The 2011 Volvo S80 comes with a unique heartbeat detection system that interacts with the automobile's Personal Car Communicator remote to alert owners if a person is hiding inside the vehicle without their knowledge. It's unclear whether executive abductions are far more common in Sweden than in the United States, but Volvo remains the only automaker on the market to offer this advanced intruder detection technology.