By on September 6, 2011

According to Automotive News [sub], the automotive supplier industry is going coo-coo for center stacks. Calling it “the hottest chunk of vehicle real estate” for suppliers, AN reports that the center console has “become a California gold rush of opportunity.” Having glanced at the headline, I figured the topic would make for an interesting question: what’s your favorite center stack? If nothing else, I figured it would be an opportunity to sing the praises of my M Coupe’s stripped-down, old-school console (I realize there’s nothing more dull than a car writer praising his own vehicle, but bear with me… there’s a point coming).

In contrast to some of the button-laden plastic wastelands out there, the z3M keeps it simple: window controls (located on the console for easy LHD-RHD conversions), a 12V outlet, seat-heater controls, an A/C button, A recirc button and a stability control off button (the largest of the bunch). Then you get three old-fashioned, chrome-ringed analog displays (a clock, a volt-meter and an oil-temperature gauge), three simple HVAC control knobs and a simple stereo head-unit. A minimum of controls in a simple, stripped down environment. And though none of the buttons fall especially readily to hand, there are so few they quickly become second nature to operate. In short, it keeps you focused on driving rather than fiddling with distractions.

I bring up the M Coupe as an example, because it represents the opposite of what AN [sub] says is driving suppliers to the center stack. Nobody’s making money off of better knobs or switches, the “center stack gold rush” is all about adding electronic systems, displays, gadgets and gizmos into the mix. In short, my ideal center stack is wildly out-of-touch with where the industry is headed. This is not an uncommon position for an auto writer to find himself in, and it’s why I’m thankful for you, the Best and Brightest. Feel free to share your ideal center stack, or if you’re more of a glass-half-full person, your least-favorite. But do try to come up with some recent examples which show the industry how to move forward technologically without overwhelming the driver with confusion and distraction. As the MyFordTouch episode proves, this is one area that the industry could use more insight into…

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71 Comments on “Ask The Best And Brightest: What’s Your Favorite “Center Stack”?...”


  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    My only answer to this question, as I don’t have much experience with others, is NOT the center stack in the current Accord. Too many buttons, and too much symmetry (which isn’t necessarily bad if the controls are seperated between buttons and knobby things.)

    My center stack is really nice, for a pedestrian compact, and everything is where I expect it to be and is easy to find without having to gaze endlessly.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert Schwartz

      I haven’t been in a new accord lately. I owned a 2003 and a 2002. I sold the 2003. One of the reasons was that the ergonomics of the o2 were so much better than those of the 03. On the 03, I was constantly hitting the wrong control because of the way they mixed HVAC and radio controls. No problem with the 02.

      • 0 avatar
        MoppyMop

        My dad has a ’91 and a 2010 Accord. Comparing the two, you’d never guess the 2010 was a Honda if it weren’t for the badge. Honda pretty much perfected automotive interior design in the late 80s/early 90s, then they made like George Lucas and spent the next 20 years crapping all over what they had created.

  • avatar
    jaybird124

    Tough question. I’ve been supremely satisfied with my ’09 3-Series center stack. It’s clean, functional, and easy to use. (Note that ’09+ models have the latest gen of iDrive which is infinitely easier to use).

    I agree with tankinbeans on Honda. I would add that it seems most of the Japanese are lacking in this department. Too many features and buttons that dont seem to have an ‘easy to use while driving’ layout.

  • avatar
    oldyak

    I would tend to agree on the M center stack…..and its frustrating to drive another car where there is WAY TOO MUCH STUFF!But can u classify the M roadster/coupe “real cars”???Pretty damn small!

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    The stack in the current Toyota Prius appeals to the Trekkie in me.

    • 0 avatar

      As far as center mounted speedometer clusters go, I really like the one in my 2006 xB (and similarly the xA of that vintage), but absolutely despise the one installed in the Mini Cooper. I think having it mounted lower makes it completely unusable and trades off too much function for style. It’s even worse for taller drivers.

      • 0 avatar
        cfclark

        I generally like the stack in my older (’03) Subaru–not much on it but the A/C and audio–but agree that the Mini Cooper’s stack, along with the speedo above it, is unwieldy and not that attractive. Fortunately, the Mini (er, MINI) is my wife’s car, so I don’t have to deal with it that often.

    • 0 avatar
      Patrickj

      The latest Prius was the first thing that came to my mind, as the empty space below the floating shifter provides a home for the right knee of a tall driver.

  • avatar
    DearS

    I do really like the Panamera, its comfy, well made and kinda exciting. The CL550 is just great with that huge well made piece of tree trunk in the middle and Bentley Mulsanne center stack has a good deal of luxury and workmanship. I love the ones pointed at the driver too. My Favorite though I think is the New A8, I guess the interior as a whole is really what works well, only the Mulsanne has a better interior from what I’ve seen.

  • avatar
    Zykotec

    I really like clean simple designs, and ease of use, which is one reason I’ve kept to old cars in the past. Germans have never made an uncluttered dash or center console… Even your (Ed) Z3 center console has more knobs and buttons than the entire interior of my 2nd gen Honda CR-V. And Honda’s dashboards and center consoles used to be among my favourites, considering they are the same as European Ford dashes from the late 70′s early 80′s (Both Honda’s and fords stayed the same for almost 30 years in some models :P )
    I admit, the center console in the CR-V could be angled more towards the driver, like in the Ford Sierra, but I like the fact that they moved the stereo up from where it sat in the Sierra, well, not completely, it’s easier to read the display, but slightly harder to reach the controls.
    http://www.new-cars.com/2004/honda/cr-v/2004-honda-cr-v-dashboard.jpg

  • avatar

    As much as I love gizmos and gadgets I’d say the center stack in my 2011 Miata is about as simple and straightforward as it gets. Three knobs for climate controls (and the center of each knob is also a button), a simple stereo and that’s it.

  • avatar
    Ethan Gaines

    Alfa center stacks of the last 10 years or so appeal to me. They just seem well, just right.

  • avatar
    GS650G

    I like gauges and gadgets up higher where I can see the road still. The center stack still works for audio gear as long as the knobs allow finger touch controls.

  • avatar

    While I agree that simpler is better on the center stack, the window controls never, never, never, never, never, ever belong there. Smacks of clueless 80s-90s GM.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      I prefer center console mounted window switches. They are easily accessible by the passenger for all windows, usually easier to reach than the door mounted ones, you tend to not hit them by accident as much, and less wiring into the door to get screwed up over time. Of course the downside is spilling soda into them….

    • 0 avatar
      ciddyguy

      That phenomenon of putting the power windows on the center console was largely done by the Europeans. I’ve never seen GM or any of the US models do this, even the US spec Lucerne has the power windows on the doors if I recall and it’s based on a Euro model/Chassis.

      Even Ford puts their window switches on the door in the Fiesta if I recall, Honda has done the door route for their switches too.

      As for location, I can see if they are present on the lower console near the handbrake where they normally are in most European cars. Fiat puts theirs on the shifter console on each side, which is MUCH higher than the rest of the console and is out of reach of the cup holders so no spillage there.

      I like the idea of the switches in the console, you hand naturally drops to that location and thus it makes sense, to me anyway.

      • 0 avatar

        The Saturn SL/SC had the window switches on the center console, as did the 95-04 Cavalier and Sunfire. Various Camaros and Trans Ams around this vintage also had them like that.. and I think the first Corsicas and Berettas had the switches there, too.

        (And yeah, I’m a little bit ashamed that I know all that.)

        Placement there always made sense to me, too.

      • 0 avatar
        JJ

        The Opel Omega had them too. So maybe the Cadillac Catera did also? They’re supposed to be the same car but while I’ve heard nothing but bad things about the Catera the Omega was actually not that bad to drive (RWD, decent enough feeling in the steering wheel).

      • 0 avatar
        windswords

        Dodge Dayotona/Chrysler Laser – center console next to the armrest. Not the center stack, but still…

      • 0 avatar

        Seems more than few domestics followed the European model then, at least in the 80s and 90s. Which begs the question — was this due to engineering and ergonomic issues, or was it a vain hope to instill some Euro flavor in the most pedestrian offerings from our most mediocre automakers?

  • avatar

    I think my favorite Center stack is the 2011 CHRYSLER 300c SRT8. Largest, most full featured touchscreen in ANY full sized sedan – complete with racing analysis and SiriusXM Travellink which in my opinion makes it better than the SYNC in the Lincoln MKS.
    The only downside is that there aren’t controls for the seats on the console and you must use the touchscreen.

    My next favorite is on the 2011 Cadillacs (CTS/SRX,etc) Love the LED temperature controls and love the easy to use Nav system.

    My least favorite is in the Honda Accord. The Accord’s is pedantic and confusing.

  • avatar
    belfagor

    I dig the Scandinavian waterfall console on the Volvo S40/V50 and S60

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      +1 we have same stack in our C30 and it is without a doubt the most beautiful and user friendly stack I have ever used.

      It features a wide, easy to read, high contrast LCD that automatic switches between day and night modes with four large round dials that control the audio and HVAC system. Then a straight forward 0-9 number pad (for radio presets) along with a four position cursor control to navigate an iPod like menu system with the standard enter/exit buttons. The rest of buttons are a pict-a-gram for directing air flow (head, chest, feet) and switches for seat heaters, defrosters and A/C, all clearly marked with icons.

      http://www.motortrend.com/photo_gallery/sedans/1107_2012_volvo_s40_photo_gallery/large_photo_16.html

      As a bonus the console itself is a thin sheet of aluminum or light wood that appears to be floating between the dash and gear shift.

      Even as someone who prefers aftermarket radios I must say Volvo did an amazing job on the audio controls with this system. Its the first car in a long time I got into and immediately could change the clock and any radio settings without needing the manual. You just step thru a logical menu system… its brilliant. In addition the dials and buttons offer perfect tactical feedback, they are firm yet responsive, never flimsily or cheap feeling.

      Second place would go to my ’85 Civic and/or ’89 Prelude – both simple in design, easy to view and operate. However back then you only had a DIN radio and HVAC to worry about. The Prelude had a hidden 2nd DIN slot behind a cover where I stashed a graphic EQ.

      Worst center console: Saab – way too many tiny buttons plus the darn key is down there too ;) but seriously just take a look: http://download.agefotostock.com/fotos/bajaage/cached/2727/DRV-133470059.jpg sorry but that is a mess! Sadly most of GM’s attempts look very similar to this train wreck.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    As the owner of the non-M version of your car (with a soft-top), I would agree with you. I also would point out that the non-M version omits the oil temperature and voltmeter. One of the things I like about this interior is its simplicity, including the three-knob climate control. While the automatic climate control in my ’92 SHO worked fine, the one in my ’08 Honda Pilot overshoots on both the hot and cold side.

    The only gripe about the control layout in the Z3 is the randomly-placed (and unlabelled) push bottom that turns on the fog/driving lights.

    Admittedly, our cars don’t have a navigation system, have a simple audio system (no I-pod integration) and have no Bluetooth connection for our cell phone. However, my Garmin portable GPS sits fine above the center stack, and I can’t imagine using any kind of speaker phone successfully in a car as noisy as a soft-top Z3 (I use a Bluetooth earpiece). And you don’t buy these cars for the stereo.

    Problem solved.

    However . . . consistent with my “cars-as-mobile-lounges-for-people-stuck-in-traffic-on-long,slow-commutes” theory, someone would go nuts driving a Z3 in 15 mph traffic every day.

    For those consigned to that particular segment of hell, a cushy, comfort cocoon with all kinds of aural and visual diversions, food holders, cooled gloveboxes, etc. is the appropriate means of conveyance.

    That takes a lot of buttons.

  • avatar
    Robert Fahey

    My ’88 Scirocco, because it lacked a radio. I ordered the car that way. The black hole was a beautiful negative space to a minimalist like me.

  • avatar
    86er

    Speaking of wildly out of touch, the 1995-98 GMT400s were an exercise in simplicity. They got away from that phony whiz-bang stuff in the earlier models, and dispensed with LCD screens for the HVAC and kept it simple.

    They also hadn’t yet bothered to go to all the trouble of putting in scads of plastic to create a flow-through centre console look either.

  • avatar
    carve

    From a pure industrial design point of view, the floating stack on the Volvo is really cool- particularly when wood trimmed. Some Infiniti Q’s had great stacks, too.

    I also loved the star-trek driver-oriented design of the ’88 Lincoln Machete concept car…

    http://www.diseno-art.com/images_6/Lincoln_Machete_2.jpg

    I like the Tesla Model S for the same reason.

  • avatar
    ajla

    The early C3 Corvette.

    It’s my favorite because right under the shifter GM placed this little data plaque that stated your vehicle’s displacement, compression ratio, torque, horsepower (sometimes), and engine code (sometimes).
    _______________________

    Although it isn’t simple or user-friendly at all, I also like the console on the early 4th gen Toronado. The ariplane-style shifter, coupled with the fancy car phone system, and a VIC display screen right in the middle makes a great late 1980s period snapshot.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    My ’95 Volvo 945 is about perfect. Super simple three dial HVAC, and I installed a very simple Blaupunkt stereo that mostly avoids the “Tokyo by night” school of headunit design. A switch for the defroster, and a couple butt-heat switches down low.

    My ’11 BMW 328i Touring (non-iDrive) is close, considering it has a lot more toys to control. My only complaints are that the stereo knobs are too small, and the seek buttons are WAAAAY too small. The HVAC is reasonably intuitive, though you mostly just leave it on AUTO and let the computer sort it out.

    On the other hand, the guy at BMW who designs steering column levers is obviously a crack-head who has never driven another car, though you do get used to them. Eventually.

  • avatar
    red60r

    I still like the Volvo stack for its totally-logical heat/AC controls, with their simple graphical symbols that say what they do. Rotary knobs for temp and fan speed, plus rocker switches that give full manual override for all automated functions. Need fan but no cooling? Turn off the A/C compressor without affecting anything else. Ditto for air recirculation. Want full auto? One button does it. No menus, LCD screens, or scrambling for the iPad owner’s manual.

  • avatar
    calhounje

    The first gen Ferrari 456 is my all time old school favorite.

    http://www.google.com/imgres?q=ferrari+456+interior&hl=en&sa=X&biw=1183&bih=686&tbm=isch&tbnid=RMBclfWC_aMRdM:&imgrefurl=http://www.auto-journals.com/journals/Ferrari%3Fmodel%3D456%26journal%3D26&docid=dfXfkjyJMbumVM&w=800&h=534&ei=ioNmTqnREs6_gQfIzbGoCg&zoom=1&iact=rc&dur=278&page=3&tbnh=162&tbnw=225&start=32&ndsp=12&ved=1t:429,r:10,s:32&tx=153&ty=43

    It’s so sexy I want to lick it.

  • avatar
    david42

    Jensen Interceptor.

    http://autobahning.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/11/1974-Jensen-Interceptor-III-drivers.jpg

    Switches, gauges, wood, leather, and nary an iDrive knob.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Update: I found this pic that shows a bit of the real estate. The DIC is at the top center of the pic, the “door” is closed over the trip computer buttons, you can only see part of the way down the center console showing the climate controls and part of the stereo.

    http://www.doubleyoudigital.nl/imgsold/digidash_fordprobelx.jpg

    The 1989 Ford Probe.

    From top to bottom. The DIC display was high mounted at the center, and forward, almost to where the dash meets the glass. It was deeply recessed so it was not impacted by glare. It was visible to driver or passenger, and where it was placed, was in the general line of sight of the driver, that didn’t require you to take your eyes off of the road to read the display.

    The trip computer controls were located at the top, logically laid out, based on what was available in the same year Lincoln Mark VII, and also provided controls for switching the dash from metric to English, reset the service interval monitor, and program the speed alarm up or down. The trip computer provided a range of useful information from a second trip odometer, to distance to empty, to rolling ETA, etc. etc. etc. No big deal today – wow this is damn cool for a $14,500 car in 1989.

    Continuing down the next was the climate control interface. A simple temperature slider, rheostatic fan controler, rear defrost, and vent controls. You could go recirc while blowing air through any vent position. The buttons felt rich, it worked easily, and the simplictity of the layout allowed operation without taking your eyes off the road. With my long European fingers and in fifth gear, I could lay my hand on the shifter and reach my fingers out to make any adjustment.

    Under that, 2-1/2 DIN chassis worth of real estate for entertainment. Yup. 2-1/2 DIN chassis worth. For the Ford Probe of the day that meant room for an AM/FM Stereo Cassette player and optional CD player below. Or, 2-1/2 DIN chassis of Alpine stereo equipment including AM/FM Cassette player, CD player, and equalizer with built in cross overs and adjustable bass control with bypass.

    Everything in easy sight, everything easy to reach, everything easy to figure out, even for a non-experienced driver.

    It remains my favorite center console. I can’t say that anyone makes one today that leaps out at me and makes me go, “I love that.”

    I really want to love the Ford MyTouch system – but my experiences have been pretty darn crappy.

  • avatar
    swilliams41

    The Taurus with nav and the SONY audio system. They have a fantastic angle to that stack, great location for the nav screen and it is techie without being hard to figure out. At that price point is is nice.

  • avatar
    Mark out West

    Easy. BMW 850/840 E31. Canted toward the driver and designed so every switch is easily reached.

    Absolute perfection in design.

    • 0 avatar
      Marko

      +1 Always loved the driver-centric design. The same can be said about a lot of other BMWs of this era.

    • 0 avatar

      +1 more. BMW did great center stacks back then and the E31 stack might have been the greatest. I almost bought an E39 M5 back in the mid-90s and I remember that stack being excellent too.

      The car I bought instead of the M5 was a 1990 ZR-1, and while that car’s center stack was mostly a big pile of GM design-fail, it had one of the coolest center-stack features ever: The valet key that turned the LT5′s secondary injectors on and off. Off = 200 hp, on = 375, which was an awful lot back then…

  • avatar
    Demetri

    Acura RSX has my favorite interior layout. Not a traditional style “stack”, but that’s how I like it. It’s clean, purposeful, and focused toward the driver.

  • avatar
    cackalacka

    Something with knobs and dials. Buttons only when absolutely necessary.

    Touchscreen is okay if it is for radio only (and only if the key aspects of the radio volume/tuning have knobs.)

  • avatar
    Advance_92

    It’s bad enough so many cars have gauge lights that are blue or green, but overblown touch screens would be very irritating at night. Not to mention the attention they require when trying to accomplish a task while driving in any light.

  • avatar
    musicalmcs8706

    Even though it’s a bit far away, the dash layout of my 05 Impala LS is extremely easy to use. Climate has knobs for fan speed and location with two sliders right next to each other for the temperature. One of the easiest dashes I’ve used.

  • avatar
    mazder3

    I love the fairly simple layout of my 3′s stack but hate banging my knee on it every time I get into it. Or when I’m taking a corner briskly. Or when I want to relax my legs while on the interstate.

  • avatar
    Smittykins

    http://www.gentrylane.com/s/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/06rg_dash1.jpg

    For me it’s gotta be my Lotus Elise (note mine has tan leather, not the red pictured).

    Not even a “center stack” per se: head unit, climate controls and that’s it. I had the (awful) standard Blaupunkt head unit switched for a good Alpine unit and called it a day. No crazy satnav, no multizone climate control… nothing more than the bare basics. The Elise’s mission (pure, unadulterated driving pleasure) is nothing if not reinforced by the simple, but elegant, dash. Everything you need, and a couple things you don’t — living in the Bay Area means I could actually live without the climate control, but ladyfriends like the option.

  • avatar
    Marko

    For user friendliness, I would say the “center stacks” of 1990s and early 2000s Honda and Acura products.

    Volvo also usually has user-friendly stack designs.

    For style and “coolness”, countless older BMWs with the “driver-centric” design.

  • avatar
    MZ3AUTOXR

    I remember liking the center stack on my 91 CRX. Simple levers and radio and it was canted toward the driver.

    Currently, I like my Mazda3 stack. Simple knobs and the important radio controls are duplicated on the steering wheel.

    http://0.tqn.com/d/cars/1/0/r/e/ag_07mazda3_centerstack.jpg

  • avatar
    Dan R

    Jaguar XJ8 center stack. An organic flowing shape with matched walnut veneers.
    Lights up like a Christmas tree at night.

  • avatar
    mikey

    My 08 base model, Mustang center stack looks way nicer than My 09 Impala LTZ. That being said the Impala stack is by far more functional/user friendly.

    • 0 avatar
      drylbrg

      I liked the one in my 05 Mustang GT too. Everything was simply and logically laid out. Three dials for heat/AC and nice large buttons on the stereo. The only thing that didn’t make sense was that you could change the back light color of the gauges but not of the radio display.

  • avatar
    James2

    I’ve only seen pictures of it, but the McLaren Fax Machine’s center stack looks really simple and clean, yet **presumably** it has all the modern gizmology money can buy.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    I know what I DON’T like. Stupid console mounted window switches on first gen Equinox and Torrent, along with the silly floor mounted 12 volt outlet. Makes it dang hard to attach my combo mount/charger/music transmitter for my phone when traveling long distances in the districts stupid 2007 Equinox.

    I also don’t like FWD manual trans cars in which the shifter is mounted too far away to fall nicely in hand. My fiances 2005 Vibe I have to shift my body up toward the shifter to shift and I’m only 5’10″ with a 34 in inseam.

    • 0 avatar
      Felis Concolor

      As my Roadmaster has no center stack (hooray for floating dashboards), I’ll add to those gripes the lack of auto-up window switches at every point in the automobile. Just stop it with the toll booth window on the driver’s side and go to a single SKU with the same auto-down logic along with auto-up for every switch. More money will be saved with the single SKU system than tracking multiple window switches, and while we’re at it, let’s see a single driver-controlled “all up/all down” switch for those days when you just want to let the world in, or shut out a sudden cloudburst.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    I like the BMW 2002. Space was at such a premium that the radio had to be mounted vertically, so the cassette door faced the sky.

    Close runner-up: Renault R5/Le Car – for the same reason.

  • avatar
    UnclePete

    I like the Z3/M stack – simple and functional. For the same reason, I liked the E46 3 series controls in my 330i.

  • avatar

    I nominate the MR2 Spyder center stack. Why? Its simple. Functional and was designed for easy removal to save additional weight!

    http://www.whoisdarkdan.com/whois/images/Spyder/dash_after.jpg

  • avatar
    Wodehouse

    The 2nd generation Viper. Knobs, buttons, and, switches shaped and contoured for human fingers with ancillary gauges arranged vertically (not buried behind the shifter). Nicely divided window switches and an ashtray right on top.

  • avatar

    I’m old school. ’66 Elan.

  • avatar
    imag

    ’80s Hondas and Toyotas were pretty good. The Gen 3 RX-7 was a great design, but the materials were terrible.

    I have to admit, though, I’m partial to switches. The Ferrari 575 GTC racer is pretty epic:

    http://www.425dubs.com/files/inet%20cars/hotness/wallpaperindex/2004-ferrari-575-gtc-interior-1280×960.html

    In production form, the Ford GT was very nice as well:
    http://www.sportscarcup.com/ford-gt/ford-gt-interior/

    The one I want to own is the interior of the Caterham CSR (along with the rest of the car):
    http://www.seriouswheels.com/2005/2005-Caterham-Seven-CSR-260-Interior-1024×768.htm

    Stiffens chassis: check
    Simple and driver oriented: check

  • avatar
    ciddyguy

    It’s not a stack per se, but I like how FIAT has dealt with this issue in the current Panda and 500.

    Essentially, it’s a center vent, audio head unit, H/VAC controls and then the shifter which has the window switches behind each side of the shifter, be it manual or automatic on a higher section of the console, the rest is lower and in between the seats for things like the cup holders and the 12V socket.

    The middle between the head unit and the H/VAC controls are 3 large buttons, the left one for the Sport button, the middle is for the 4 way flasher and then the right one is for the defroster, which also controls the ones in the outside mirrors. All this mimics much the original 500′s dash with 2 toggle switches and the center position being for the key ignition switch. No console as the shifter is down on the hump, as is the hand brake and the starter and choke, both pull levers with the right one a spring loaded unit that you pulled to engage the starter and once the motor started, you released to disengage the starter.

    The modern H/VAC controls in the modern 500 are simple. 4 rotating knobs, the 2 smaller ones are for fan/AC and recirc/non recirc, the 2 larger knobs are for air flow positions and temp. The auto climate controls replace the rotating knobs with push buttons and an auto mode but retains the original know layout and appears to be simple to use as well.

    It’s clean, simple and easy on the eyes.

    Mom’s stack in her ’04 Dodge Stratus is easy to use, but sadly, not easy on the eyes and her H/VAC controls are 3 simple rotating knobs. The head unit is a tad busy with buttons but not bad overall and is just like any other Chrysler head unit of the day.

    I’ve always liked it much better when the radio either occupied the center or top section of the center stack best as the radio requires more convenience as one changes out CD’s and such (before USB sticks or the iPod) and the display is often easier to see too. My truck’s interior, while on the plain side is decent enough and its radio unit is in between the center vents and the H/VAC controls for ease of use and seeing. My H/VAC controls are mostly sliders though the fan speed is a rotary knob that includes the AC button.

  • avatar
    red60r

    Anyone remember GM’s old silliness with tachometers or, as I saw in a late 60′s Impala, Big Honkin’ Vacuum Gauge down low, in front of the shift lever. Why???

  • avatar
    OmarCCXR

    I like clean & simple interiors.

    E46 3-series
    04-09 Mazda 3
    Cadillac CTS-V

    and the Lotus Elise center stack.

    No, not really. That’s going too far.

  • avatar
    redseca2

    I always like the cars that decide that the center stack is not for the passenger, and bend it around so just the driver can enjoy it.

    Maserati Bora: http://www.thecarnut.com/Bora73NY/bora7329.jpg

  • avatar
    stuart

    None. No center stack at all, like the old FIAT 128:

    http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_zp5hU5oekAI/S1YQnSkf_cI/AAAAAAAACdY/rM9eDa_NGV0/s1600-h/fiat+128+interior.bmp

    The rest of the interior wasn’t inspiring, but I really liked the flat floor. IIRC, the original Toronado also omitted the center stack.

    stuart

  • avatar
    Advo

    I have to say that I feel differently from most of the other posters in that I actually want lots of buttons to play around with. Maybe it has to do with owning something with a lot of gadgets on it. I’m also on the computer a lot, and don’t want another clean and uncluttered format like that or my cell phone screen.

    I like the old Touareg’s console a lot:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gXkEc3EkkgI&feature=related

    Volvo’s light-colored wood is one of the most elegant and appealing ones out there. It’s so distinct from the now standard wood and aluminum trim format.

  • avatar
    Davekaybsc

    As others have said, Honda has epically failed at console design lately. The Accord is just a disaster – worst design in the segment.

    What I look for the most isn’t necessarily the prettiest or the simplest. I don’t mind high tech features, but I want something that is cohesive and looks elegant at night. Audi is the master at this, with EVERY switch having a soft red glow. They don’t cheap out and use un-lit parts bin crap on their secondary controls like Lexus and Infiniti do.

    Audi’s accent lights are also perfect. This is one area where BMW stinks – bright green lights above orange switchgear. Yuck.

    The problem I have with Volvo and Mercedes center stacks is that for some reason both companies absolutely REFUSE to eliminate the useless dialpads that make their cars look 15 years old. Why not offer a car-phone while your at it? Seriously, who calls someone in 2011 by punching in their 10-digit number on the dash?

  • avatar
    honfatboy

    +1 for the 6th gen Accord. Nice and simple.

    Also the E36 dash caught my eye in a BMW ad when I was only 14. So there’s that.

  • avatar
    revjasper

    My favorite center stack is the most minimal possible. Most modern designs have eliminated the space for my right knee. This, and TTAC have guided me into a Panther for center stack perfection!


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