Ability to sync your phone a key consideration.

Fuel economy, horsepower, number of transmission speeds? Those specs could take a figurative backseat to smartphone connectivity for most car shoppers. That’s according to a new study that says, according to Nissan, more than a quarter of new-car buyers pay more attention to phone technology than any other car feature.

The study found that 28 percent of car buyers prioritize connectivity above anything else when buying a new car. In fact, 13 percent of people surveyed said they would not buy a specific car if it lacked internet connectivity features. At the same time, however, 37 percent of survey respondents said they wouldn’t want connected-car features because of privacy concerns, and 54 percent said they’re worried their car could be hacked.

Still, for people who spend a lot of time behind the wheel, staying connected within the car is a big deal. Twenty percent of those surveyed said they’d switch to another car brand in order to have better in-car connectivity. But that figure rose to 41 percent for drivers who drive more than 20 hours per week, signaling that phone connectivity becomes more important for people who spend more time driving.

With smartphone integration so important to shoppers, automakers are investing heavily in testing and developing connectivity systems. Nissan, for instance, has one engineer in the U.K. with more than 40 different phones that he uses to test the compatibility of the company’s in-car interfaces.

“My job is to make sure anyone who walks into a Nissan showroom anywhere in Europe doesn’t walk out again because a car they want to buy won’t pair with their phone,” Nissan engineer Patrick Keenan said in a statement.

Based on these survey results, his fear has serious merit to it, as difficulty pairing a smartphone to a new car could easily send a shopper to a rival showroom.

Source: Nissan

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