RICK KRANZ

Heated rear seats may make buyers warm to an Elantra

Rick Kranz is product editor for Automotive News
Sometimes all it takes is one feature to change the perception of a vehicle.

Sometimes it takes one feature to start a trend.

What caught my attention is a standard feature on the redesigned 2011 Hyundai Elantra Limited -- heated rear seats. That well-equipped Elantra model comes with a six-speed automatic, power windows and door locks, leather seating surfaces and a long, long list of other equipment, all standard. The sticker price with transportation is just under $21,000!

The feature isn't new, of course. We have seen luxury models offer heated rear seats for years. But I believe this is the first time that feature has been offered in the price-sensitive compact segment.

If you're a dealer in Tampa, Dallas or San Diego, touting heated rear seats probably won't close the deal. But for dealers in the Snow Belt, that's an attractive feature that could move a buyer from a Ford Focus, Honda Civic or Toyota Corolla into an Elantra, especially for a car with a total price under $21,000.

I bet some automakers have already been on the phone with their suppliers, talking about the heated rear seats they need in their next-generation compacts.

It's certainly a hot feature for a cool price.

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