1. Escort Passport 9500ix With Escort Live
Radar detectors alert you when they pick up stray microwaves—usually indicating a cop with a speed gun. Unfortunately, some models go berserk when passing an automatic door at Walgreens. Fortunately, Escort has a clever fix: The 9500ix memorizes the coordinates of false alarms and automatically mutes them.
$540 | Escort
2. Serengeti Volterra Drivers Gold Polarized Sunglasses
Save yourself from eye strain by investing in a quality pair of shades, especially if you’re driving off into the sunset. Serengeti’s amber lenses ramp up the color contrast, and a mirror coating blocks infrared wavelengths. The lenses also transition from 10 percent light transmittance in bright sun to 18 percent at dusk or when overcast.
get-gadget Wire frame is light on the nose and ears. Hyperextension springs on the temples make them easy to remove.
TIRED Polarization can make device screens look wonky.
$255 | Serengeti Eyewear
3. Contigo 20-Ounce West Loop Stainless Steel Mug
Depress this mug’s rear button and the front lip opens to dispense temperature-preserved refreshment. Our iced coffee still had whole cubes after sitting for two hours in a closed car in 80-degree sunshine. A tumble down a staircase couldn’t spill its contents or dent its shell.
get-gadget One-handed operation. Dual-wall interior means no condensation or hand-scalding heat. Dishwasher-safe lid.
TIRED Wide base doesn’t fit in some cup holders. Can’t lock it to stay open.
$25 | Contigo
4. Clore JNCAIR
After charging this jump starter overnight, its 1,700 peak amps of power can be unleashed to reanimate dozens of dead car batteries. We brought a deceased battery back to life within 30 seconds of connecting the jumpers. And if your tires are sagging, the built-in air compressor can fill ‘em as quickly as a gas-station hose.
get-gadget Idiot-proof instructions stickered on the back. Built-in PSI gauge.
TIRED Almost 30 pounds. Full charge for the jumper and air compressor requires 24-plus hours.
$275 | Clore Automotive
5. Arkon SuperCharge Windshield Docking Mount for iPhone
Navigation apps are useless—and dangerous—without a mount. The Arkon suctions to the windshield and grips an iPhone between a spring-loaded clamp and a 30-pin dock that draws power from a 12-volt micro-USB charger (an iPhone 5 version is in the works). It charged our nearly dead iPhone almost as quickly as a wall socket.
get-gadget Suction cup stays put, even on hot days. Swivels easily into landscape mode.
TIRED Incompatible with some iPhone cases. Ball-and-socket joint limits angle variability.
$45 | Arkon
6. PLX Kiwi 2 Wifi
Plug this into the onboard diagnostics port (bottom left of dashboard) on any modern US-market car, then fire up a compatible smartphone app like Rev or DashCommand. With the resulting data, you can do everything from track your 0-to-60 time to diagnose a check-engine light.
get-gadget Pulls heaps of data right from the source—turns maximizing fuel economy into a game.
TIRED Setup requires some network tinkering. Dongle dangles annoyingly on your left leg. Compatible apps are spendy.
$120 | PLX devices