Car options: Value added, or not

The right options make your car safer and more valuable. The wrong ones just make it more expensive.

Electronic stability control
Studies indicate that electronic stability control, shown helping a Chrysler Pacifica make a turn in heavy snow, can reduce the odds of a fatal crash by as much as a third. And it helps a lot in cars as well as SUVs.
Must-have
Electronic stability control
This safety feature is so good it's already standard on half the cars sold in the U.S. today. By applying the brakes to individual wheels when sensors detect a loss of control, ESC helps keep your car from spinning into a guardrail (or worse).

On models where it's offered as an option, such as the Mazda 3 and Cadillac CTS, it'll run you an extra $500 or so.

ESC is quickly joining seat belts and ABS as part of the safety triumvirate that every car should have. In five years you won't have a choice: ESC has been slated to be mandatory by 2012.

The Verdict: The best $500 you can spend. If a car you're considering doesn't offer ESC, then reconsider that car.


Stability control

Side airbags

Run-flats

Bluetooth

Rearview camera

Navigation

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Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer LIBOR Warning: Neither BBA Enterprises Limited, nor the BBA LIBOR Contributor Banks, nor Reuters, can be held liable for any irregularity or inaccuracy of BBA LIBOR. Disclaimer. Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.