According to the J.D. Power andAssociates 2002 Feature Contenting Report (FCR) Study released Oct. 29, features that allow drivers to keep their eyes onthe road-such as hands-free wireless cell phones and steering wheelcontrols-are making their way to the top of the most desired featuresconsumers want to see in their new vehicles.The study, based on the responses from approximately 117,800 new-vehicleowners, explores what features consumers currently have on their vehicles,what features they want on their next vehicle and what price they arewilling to pay for those features.Steering wheel controls, which allow the driver to shift gears, adjusttemperature settings or change radio stations while maintaining focus onchanging road conditions, exhibit the highest potential among the newfeatures included in the 2002 study. An average of 79 percent of consumersdesire steering wheel controls on their next new vehicle.A wireless cell phone feature, with built-in hands-free operation, currentlyhas an overall desirability of 41 percent. However, legislation banning theuse of hand-held cell phones while driving may help propel hands-freetechnologies in the future."With more traditional safety-related features, such as airbags andstability control, continuing to be the most desired features among U.S.consumers, it's not surprising that consumers are also showing interest innew features that help cut down on driver distraction," said Neal Oddes,manager of product research at J.D. Power and Associates. Side impact airbags and "smart" passenger airbags (which use sensors toadjust inflation based on the size of the occupant) are the two emergingfeatures that are most desired by consumers, though safety features thathelp the driver maintain control of the vehicle, not just survive anaccident, are also in high demand. Such features include electronic tractioncontrol and stability control systems. The 2002 APEAL Feature Contenting Report examines the desirability of 47traditional and emerging vehicle features in categories of vehicle safety,performance, comfort and convenience. The study, now in its seventh year,includes responses from owners of new 2002 and early-release 2003 model-yearvehicles.Headquartered in Westlake Village, Calif., J.D. Power and Associates is aglobal marketing information services firm operating in key business sectorsincluding market research, forecasting, consulting, training and customersatisfaction. The firm's quality and satisfaction measurements are based onresponses from millions of consumers annually.