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How to Set Up Your New Car

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But of course it has to be in Neutral to go through an automated carwash. The Cadillac manual walks through the steps to make that possible, as well as how to invoke the Teen Driver function, which can limit the top speed and radio volume. Similarly, there’s a Valet Mode you’ll want to know about. It locks the infotainment system and steering wheel controls to keep the parking attendant from rocking out while you have dinner.

In the setup process, you can also check a menu item for whether you want the Cadillac’s tailgate to open with a proper wag of your foot under the rear bumper; in the Climate and Air Quality menu, select whether you want the ionizer to remove pollen, odors and dust.

So many choices. Cadillac also lets you set the alert for the Adaptive Cruise Go Notifier, which lets a driver using the adaptive cruise to creep through stop-and-go traffic know when the vehicle ahead starts moving again. It could prevent an impatient honk from the car behind, but it’s also one of those actions that may cause an owner to wonder, Why did the car do that? Likewise, the Pedestrian Detection feature lets you select among Off, Alert or Alert and Brake.

In a vehicle like the BMW X6 M50i — an M-enhanced version of the X6 but not as tech-intensive as the X6 M — you can choose among Driver Experience Settings, though the selections are not permanent. Instead, the system defaults to the Comfort setting each time the vehicle is started, according to Jay Hanson of BMW’s North American communication team.

Almost every relevant bit of information on the car’s functions can be accessed through the center dashboard display, and many selection screens — exterior lighting, for instance, where you can decide whether you want the Iconic Glow of the kidney grille to illuminate — provide graphics or animations to illustrate the choices. That’s huge progress from a printed owner’s manual.

The first-level of mode settings offers the choice of Sport, Comfort, Eco Pro and Adaptive, which makes predictive adjustments based on how you are driving. Naturally, there are submenus, which take you to Sport, Sport Plus and Sport Individual. The differences delve into the level of exhaust sounds and chassis tuning, varying qualities like steering feel (stiff or light touch). In some BMW models, even the brake pedal feel can be set to personal preferences.

All of which leads to the question: Why?

In some cases, the settings can improve safety, helping to match your on-the-road practices with the car’s electronic capabilities. Do you want the Frontal Collision Mitigation system to intervene at early, medium or late detection? (The accompanying graphics are particularly helpful here.) The Lane Departure Warning also offers the choice of early, medium, reduced or no alert, with the option of steering wheel vibration and a dashboard signal as well as active steering intervention. The Driver Attention Camera in the instrument panel can also be controlled in the menus.

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