Some cars just want you to feel good. Soft materials, high-end audio, nature sounds, a cushy suspension, ambient lighting, ventilated seats, massaging seats, even ionized air can be had in the right vehicles with enough options boxes checked and dollars spent. In Autoblog’s long-term 2022 BMW 330e xDrive, I came across a menu titled “Caring Car.” I suspected that it was one of those features luxury carmakers sometimes think up to help put you in a better mood, usually with music and lighting (Mercedes even uses fragrance atomizers).
Clicking through to the Caring Car menu, I saw two options: “Vitalize” and “Relax.” Each is a three-minute “program.” Vitalize, as the description says, “invigorates the driver with the climate control, light and music,” The Relax program reads essentially the same, substituting the word “invigorates” with “de-stresses.”
Driving home after dropping my kids at school, I chose the Vitalize program. It paused the radio, and replaced the audio with a fairly generic but up-tempo soundtrack. The shade peeled back from the panoramic moonroof, and the driver-side temperature dropped a few degrees. Air blew from the vents in a slow, rising and falling pulse that corresponded with the beat of the music. Exactly three minutes later, it ended, the roof shade closed, and the BBC World Service Newshour resumed its discussion of war and atrocities.
Later, I’d give the Relax program a try. The shade remained closed, the driver-side temperature rose a few degrees with the vents blowing softly and steadily. A very gentle tune emanated from the stereo. It was enough to make me sleepy. Again, three minutes passed, and everything returned to normal. See them for yourself in the following video:
For each, there’s a setting that allows you to turn off the music portion of the program and continue listening to your own audio.
Overall, Caring Car feels like a fairly useless gimmick. I didn’t feel particularly invigorated or de-stressed as promised after a three-minute session. Now that I’m familiar with it, though, we’ll see if I end up using it again.