By on September 16, 2011

Cars have lost a lot since the 1990’s. How many of you remember ashtrays, crank windows, base AM/FM radios and motorized seatbelts? It used to be that little headlight wipers were a sure sign of an upscale ride along with glossy wood trim and a CD changer in the trunk. It was a Yuppie heaven back then.

You wanted good music? Gotta get at least a cassette player and why not throw in some flimsy cupholders that are just big enough for a twelve ounce Coke?

A lot has gone away since the days of Cadillac Allantes and Chrysler Imperials. But much more remains with us. Today’s cars have a ton of 1990’s luxuries as standard equipment: Cruise, ABS, Traction Control, CD Players, Keyless Entry and Anti-theft Alarm Systems. Even the once lauded ‘Power Package’ of power windows, door locks, and mirrors is now standard in all but the cheapest of models (and the Lotus Elise).

So today’s questions for the TTAC faithful are, “What Should Stay?” and “What Should Go?” in these next ten years. Should nav systems be integrated into our cell phones? Will CD’s offer as poor of a return for the audiophile as they already do at the bank? That one’s an easy answer. But what about CVT’s vs. conventional automatics? Eight cylinders vs. sixes? Push buttons vs. key fobs vs.???

The future isn’t now. So give your best guess.

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110 Comments on “Hammer Time: Should I Stay or Should I Go?...”

  • avatar
    Mark MacInnis

    Heated and cooled leather seats are a keeper. Dual zone HVAC is a keeper. 8 way power seats with memory are a keeper.

    Please bring back large cigar ashtrays and cigar/cigarette lighters, at least as an option. My car may become the last place on earth I can legally light up one of my Cuban beauties. I look like a dork flicking my ashes out the window, and probably piss off some greenies….(ok, that part don’t really matter…) it is not safe to fish in my pants pocket for my lighter while driving.

    • 0 avatar

      What should stay:
      Airbags, ESP, traction control, ABS and other safety stuff

      What should go:
      electronic nannies including lane departure warnings, ESP that cna’t be turned fully off, automatic transmission that won’t hold a gear without up/downshifting

      What should come back:
      Vent windows

    • 0 avatar

      Burning and/or smoldering embers out the window are explicitly forbidden in California. And I don’t think you can smoke when minors are present either! California will collapse under the repression of it’s own regulation.

  • avatar

    Headlight wipers are an absolute delight – especially in winter in Salt belt. All my 900 & 9000 SAABs and both W124 E-classes had them. No need to get out and wipe headlights and proper visibility regardless of weather.
    High=pressure washers are not nearly as effective and consume much more washer fluid.

    • 0 avatar

      Headlamp wipers seem to break with depressing regularity. My Saab mechanic said he felt guilty replacing something that would break come the next winter.

      • 0 avatar

        SAAB’s units were a little capricious, true. But nothing that can be fixed with basic cleaning and (rarely) soldering. Despite terrible amount of salt, dirt and dust on Russian roads, all mine performed flawlessly.
        The “replace, not fix” attitude is wrong, though. But I am old-school and prolly just too old to get it.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    I am a minimalist, so all these dandy Dan gadgets are not for me, I don’t like power anything. Only thing I must have is cruise control for long trips.

    • 0 avatar

      Are all of you guys saying power controls can go for real? I mean, NO ONE can possible miss having to roll up your windows or reach over the seat to unlock the passenger door. Those things should be (and mostly are) as standard as TV remotes. Who wants to go back to having to walk to the TV to change the channel? Same thinking when it comes to power controls.

      • 0 avatar

        Power door locks can go. Completely unnecessary. Power windows can be easily done without. Oh yeah, air conditioning can go, too. Although every car I’ve had in the last 30 years has come equipped, I rarely use it (I live in central VA) preferring to just open the windows and sunroof. Even in mid-summer.

        Well, what you expect from a die-hard motorcycle and bicycle rider?

  • avatar

    I think the keyless start will move downmarket, as keyless entry did. It will all be pushbutton in a few years. Cooled/vented seats will become more widespread, as heated front seats already have. Xenon headlights will also move downmarket, and become more common on midpriced vehicles. I think we’ve hit the wall on air bags. HVAC as well is about maxed out.

    CD players will stay, but changers may go. MP3 and iPod integration should continue to improve. The challenge here is that unlike a CD, the ability to provide a standard “dock” where you put your player or smartphone doesn’t exist. Otherwise we’d already have that. Navigation remains far overpriced for what is received, compared to native abilities on smartphones or portable nav units. It’s the worst bargain in any car, and probably a huge profit driver. I think adoption will decline if pricing doesn’t become competitive.

    All wheel drive is interesting. It is a drag on fuel economy and is largely unecessary. I believe that the right adjustment for many who seek AWD for snow traction (which I think is most buyers) is to improve the snow capabilities of all-season tires. People don’t like changing to snow tires. Tires like the Nokian WRX, on a FWD platform, would meet the needs of most.

    • 0 avatar

      CD changers can go to hell. I’m still trying to get my copy of Led Zeppelin II out of the one I just had removed from my Ranger. CD players need to stay, as long as they also handle .mp3, etc. Mainly because some of us refuse to buy iAnything.

    • 0 avatar

      Keyless ignition is already standard on most Nissans. True to their reputation, GM is just now figuring out how to manufacture the switchblade keyfob that Mercedes had by the early 1990s and VW/Audi adopted by the late 1990s (the new Equinox/Terrain feature the switchblade key). I give it another decade before GM figures out how to put keyless ignition on their mainstream vehicles. Just like their wide turning circles, GM’s internal “good enough” standards don’t match what the rest of the market is doing.

    • 0 avatar

      Keyless start should go. I know it won’t. It was one of those things which is an unnecessary luxury feature. I don’t know of anyone who got carpal tunnel syndrome from turning a key.

      +1 on AWD being unnecessary and a drag on mpg. I live at latitude 53 and we have the white stuff from October to April +/- a month or two. I’ve pushed more AWD CUV’s on crappy OEM tires out of the ditch last winter than I’ve jumped started. AWD on all(3) season tires just means you get to drive more arrogantly and get stuck in deeper snow banks.

  • avatar

    I’ll admit I do like heated seats. I could definitely live without it but it is a nice option. The rest I could leave. I don’t need any stinking power options.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    Standard safety features are likely to increase in the future. ABS and stability control are godsends for the average driver, so I am glad to see entry level cars get them and keep them. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Volvo-like automatic braking systems to prevent rear-end collisions becoming more mainstream in the near future. More computer control and less driver interaction in the name of safety.

    CVTs should go, and I don’t know why any conventional car will need more than 6 forward gears, so please don’t equip future family cars with complicated and expensive to service 8, 10, 16 speed automatics.

    I wish EPS would go away but I know it won’t.

    I wish more manuals will be offered, but I know they’ll decline further.

    Increasing CAFE regulations combined with America’s appetite for larger vehicles will probably result in more “innovations” that improve a vehicle’s performance in the EPA test cycle but hurt driveability without giving much benefit to real world fuel economy.

    • 0 avatar

      Each planetary gearset doubles the number of forward speeds, so by the time you get to a five speed you have 3 gearsets running in series (unless they are doing funny things with running both gearsets in their reversing mode to get fifth). You can get 8 speeds out of the same 3 gearsets. In the past it was hard to coordinate the shifting logic needed to control all thee gearsets in a seamless manner, but with computers supervising everything the task is relatively easy. I’d say 8-speeds are here to stay at least with “conventional” automatics.

  • avatar

    This is firmly in the “to-go/killed with fire” catagory. I think that spoilers on cars that can barely get out of their own way need to be destroyed, especially the humungous monstrosities popular in the tuner crowd.

    Another object I’m not fond of would have to be mirror mounted turn signals. Are these really necessary? I can understand having an indicator along the side of the car, similar to some Jettas in the past, that would indicate to a car in a perpendicular lane of traffic what you were doing. On the other hand the mirror mounted signals help those that are unaware that they’ve activated their signal see the “dumb guy” light. Last week I was behind somebody who had his “dumb guy” light on for 10 miles and didn’t seem to notice at all.

    • 0 avatar

      I think more manufacturers should adopt the resetting high-beam stalk like in Mitsubishis. That way people don’t ignorantly drive at night with their high beams on.

      The turn signal click should be made louder.

      • 0 avatar

        I had a Lincoln MKZ press car with automatic high beams. When in the “on” position, they would automatically toggle between high and low beams depending on the amount of oncoming traffic. Like rain-sensing intermittent wipers, auto high beams are one of those technologies I hope trickles into all automakers, since I’m sure it saved at least a few people from being blinded when I forgot they were on.

    • 0 avatar

      Mirror mounted turn signals are a brilliant idea.

      Now that the front turn signals in so many cars are tiny 20W orange bulbs incorporated into the headlight assembly, completely lost in the glare of the 60W halogen projector lamp three inches away, they are often the only visible turn signal.

  • avatar

    I think CDs will be a goner, but it will take time. The idea of carrying around a car filled with CDs is going away as fast as the idea of carrying around a car full of cassette tapes did in the 90s. Most people who burn CDs have already or will soon go the MP3 route anyhow.

    I suspect we will start seeing car entertainment systems (what I still quaintly think of as the “radio”) come with USB connections that can integrate all our devices at once and allow them to run on the car’s power. It would be nice if the electronics makers and the car manufacturers got together and designed a standard dock, like someone mentioned earlier.

    Variable valve timing and fuel saving options that allow engines to shut down cylinders for fuel efficiency and idle-stop are already on the way, too. All that stuff will be standard on all cars within a decade, I think. CAFE standards are going to force the manufacturers to pull out all the stops and squeeze as much out of a gallon as they can. I think it will be a good thing.

    Heated and cooled seats may well be the wave of the future if they prove more energy efficient than heating or cooling the whole cabin. Since they offer direct contact with the car’s occupants, my guess is that they are more efficent anyhow.

    I am also thinking that cars will start gaining real networking ability soon. Some people may think it is big brother, but when our vehicles start talking with one another and even the streets motoring will get safer too. Cars that are “self aware” and can put on the brakes when they detect another vehicle or are running into a sharp corner too hard are not too far off.

    Google’s car experement fascinates me and I suspect that fully automatic cars will replace our current cars the same way early autos supplanted the horse. Sure, it will be in fits and starts – and early adopters will be riducled, but 100 years from now, people will wonder how we took our lives in our hands every time we wet anywhere.

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t want an idle stop option. They want us to shut off the engine at a stoplight in Switzerland. I refuse. It’s bullshit. It doesn’t save a significant (read; noticeable) amount of fuel and it causes unnecessary wear to the the engine and starter motor. Bullshit. I don’t want it.

  • avatar

    I can’t imagine heated/cooled seats will ever become a standard item. The wife likes hers in her Durango but I don’t much care for them even when it’s cold.

    One thing I’d like to see become standard everywhere is cell phone integration. Sync is my favorite feature in my ’09 Taurus. No nav screen, and it’s a pain to set up, but it sure is handy (and safer) to just have to push a button on the steering wheel when my cell phone rings.

    I don’t know what they’ll do with music integration other than provide an audio and USB jack and maybe Bluetooth access to the player. There are too many different phones out there.

    I don’t personally like nav and think it’ll go away. Every smartphone can do this just as well.

    It would be nice if every vehicle had a loud warning chime if the turn signal were left on too long.

    I also like the electrochromatic rear view mirrors and wish they would be standard everywhere, even on the outside mirrors. Heated outside mirrors are very nice.

    • 0 avatar

      I second the electrochromatic mirrors on all mirrors. I have one for the first time and it works quite well, with the exception of dealing with the sun in the morning. That may be because of the condensation on the back window still? Anyway, it seems like a lot of people don’t know that rear views can be flipped up/down to divert bright lights, and this would help many clueless drivers.

      There was a story about self-inflating tires not too long ago. I see this wildly taking off as soon as it is affordable/reasonably effective. I could even see it being mandated like I think they are doing with TPMS.

      I would like to see directional headlamps, but they’ve been around a while now and I don’t think they’ve made it much past Mercedes and Volvo.

      Just about any safety innovation is a good bet to become mainstream. I’m torn about this because I enjoy driving without a computer doing it for me, but I also am 1,000,000% for anything that is going to keep the idiot in the car next to/behind/in front of me from connecting with mine. I guess as long as there is a way to turn it off I would be ok with it… We’ll see, eh?

    • 0 avatar

      I think bluetooth is the answer here vs a standard “dock”. A2DP profile players let you keep your phone in your pocket (just like car keys nowadays) and your phone will just provide audio to the vehicle directly via bluetooth. Mazda already has an extremely robust implementation of this in their 2010+ mazda 3’s, and I’m sure other vehicles in their lineup as well. It’ll even resume the song when you return to the vehicle.

  • avatar

    New trends that I positively hate are:
    – proliferation of assembly replacements. Example – suspension arm where ball joints and bushings cannot be replaced separately, but only as a set – at 10 times the cost.
    – option packages. I want a sunroof but I don’t want all that crap that comes with it in the same “package”! All the stupid useless gadgets (OEM navi, overhead DVD player, “smart” cruise control or lane departure systems, etc., etc.) that inflate the price of the “package”. Marketing bots who push for them should burn in hell.

    • 0 avatar

      Having just paid $900 to replace lower control arms when all that was bad was the bushings, I concur.

    • 0 avatar
      Vipul Singh

      Interesting point on large vs small assemblies. But I wonder how big a market there is? I would imagine having smaller assemblies would make sense for people working on the cars themselves, but not for those going to the stealerships or even independant workshops

      But this makes complete sense in third-world countries. In fact, one of the reasons behind Ford’s resurgence here in India is the ‘Child Parts’ concept. Labor being a much cheaper substitute for high-priced imported parts, Ford now provides kits for repairing the alternator, startor motors and various other assemblies which the mechanics can use to fix the failed part, instead of having to replace it. I was really surprised to learn that they also have a ‘door skin’ child part so that in case of a minor ding, only the skin of the door can be re-welded and painted, instead of replacing the whole door!

    • 0 avatar

      Are option “packages” really a new trend? Haven’t there always been “trim levels” you opted into as a model, since, well, forever?

  • avatar

    Instead of mp3 player integration, I’d like to see large flash drives built into the car and the ability to copy from any USB device to that drive. I’d also like to see lossless file capabilities, even if you might not hear the difference in a car. I’m sure this will never happen though.

    Nav in cars can go as far as I’m concerned. Now that it’s on smart phones and standalone GPS is getting cheaper, I can’t possibly see paying for a built-in one. Especially when I only want to use it once or twice a year.

    CVT can die, I’d rather have a dual-clutch auto, stick, or regular automatic.

    • 0 avatar

      Better lossless support would be great, to Mazda’s credit my 2010 3 with the base stereo will play back lossless WMA but not FLAC or OGG.

      I’d like to see manufacturers make ICE systems more modular and standardized: upgradable hard drives, amlifiers, DAC chips etc. It would be nice to have easy to replace speakers and slots(like a PC) to add MP3 player integration, sattellite radio modules, bluetooth ect without tearing the dashboard completely apart.

      Car manufacturers have gone backwards on this which is unfortunate. I upgraded all 4 speakers and headunit in an afternoon on my ’94 Mazda MX3 – it had a single DIN stereo and access panels for all 4 standard-sized speakers. It took me an entire weekend of fabricating adapter plates and tearing apart door panels to replace the speakers in my 3. I haven’t worked up the courage to replace the headunit yet.

      • 0 avatar

        The first company that implements flac or ogg AND HAS ASSETS will be sued for patent violations. Right or wrong, somebody has land-mine patents to that technology. I’m not claiming the patents have merrit, but greed knows no bounds.

      • 0 avatar

        Really? There are quite a few companies manufacuring digital media streaming devices and portable music players that support FLAC and OGG, how would implementation in a car stereo be any different?

        In theory since it is covered under the GNU GPL ( should be able to be used in the same way Linux is for commercial purposes. I don’t know that a lawsuit would get very far.

        I susupect the true reason it isn’t supported is because most people don’t know/care.

      • 0 avatar

        I have a Logitech Squeezebox at home that supports FLAC and Ogg. Seems like if they could do it someone else could, but I know next to nothing about legal stuff like this.

        I guess there is (was?) the PhatBox/Kenwood Music Keg system… probably dead from lack of interest. Oh well.

  • avatar

    Go – OEM Navi – couldn’t agree more about the cost and usability issues.
    Stay – keyless entry/start, vented seats, USB integration, handsfree connectivity, auto up/down windows, backup camera

  • avatar

    Heated seats are a must for me up here near the 45th parallel. Touch screen anything needs to go.

  • avatar

    How about turbos in economy cars? While I see it as a viable choice on perfomance/ high end cars where the owner has made the decision to spend more (up front and in maintenance costs) for the benefit of speed. That a Chevy Cruze should come with a turbo as the optional engine seems a waste. Why not just a 2.0? This engine choice is going to prove a liability when these cars get over 100K miles on them and their resale values will reflect the average consumers apprehension of owning an inexpensive car with the potential of needing it turbo replaced/repaired. And while I somewhat also fear the cost of replacing a set of direct injectors (vs the cost of a carburetor rebuild) it seems a technology that I would still be willing to take the risk on.

    • 0 avatar

      They can dump the timing belt as well.

      And the CVT: the answer to a question no one asked and doesn’t seem to provide the improved mileage claimed over a conventional automatic, either.

      No more fixed in place rear side windows on anything 2 door or 4 door. A bad idea from Europe in the 60s that the Big Three adopted to the point of stupidity: Opera windows and the intermediate GM four doors,2 door SUVs with fixed side glass. If you’re going to cram passengers back there at least let them roll the rear windows down to keep from getting claustrophobic [Hello Challenger……]…

      I am in league with others who’d like a stripper with options “al a carte” instead of combined in overpriced packages.

    • 0 avatar

      There is a GOOD compelling reason for using turbos, to allow smaller motors to perform much like their larger brethren to reduce both emissions AND fuel usage.

      Many companies are doing just this, with FIAT, they combine both variable valve timing and a turbo to allow for GOOD torque at low rpms, yet allow the variable timing to provide good performance at higher revs for a truly drivable motoring experience and this is found in the new TwinAir (900cc) 2 cylinder motor and it only produces 85HP in one version, up to 105HP in the more aggressive version. Without a turbo, it only cranks out 65HP or something close to that, but without the torque that is found with the turbo(107 Ft Lbs at 1950rpm or something like that with a turbo).

      • 0 avatar

        Turbos don’t reduce fuel usage. That’s a common misconception. Fuel usage is a function of brake specific fuel consumption which is a function of required horsepower. A twin turbo Ford 3.5 V6, with the same horsepower of the 5.7 Chrysler Hemi in a car weighted similarly to the Chrysler 300C gets the same fuel economy. Take it from an engineer.

      • 0 avatar

        Turbos don’t reduce fuel usage.

        They do when the turbocharged car is driven lightly. Of course, for those who right feet are always buried into the accelerator, then the turbo provides no benefit because the engine is operating near peak power more frequently, which is what is burning the fuel.

        A twin turbo Ford 3.5 V6, with the same horsepower of the 5.7 Chrysler Hemi in a car weighted similarly to the Chrysler 300C gets the same fuel economy.

        They’re not completely comparable because the Taurus SHO has AWD, which would reduce fuel economy.

        According to the website, the Taurus is rated at 17/25, while a 5.7 liter AWD version of the 300 is rated at 15/23. If you take that as gospel, then the Ford would have a modest improvement (although calling that “green” is a bit of a stretch.)

  • avatar

    I would like to see more interior colors than black grey and IBM ivory. Whatever electronic equipment we have in the car I would like to have fewer screens and menus, I’m no longer impressed by them.

  • avatar
    Rod Panhard

    Oh, that’s easy.

    – NOAA weather radio. I’ve had it in two cars. Love it.

    – Ejector seat. Haven’t had it. Needed it.

    – Paintball guns. Needed it yesterday for the idiots in South Orange, NJ who honked as I waited for an old man to decide whether or not he was going to cross the street. Instead, the old man doffed his cap to two ladies. Rude horn honking ensued. A paintball gun aimed at their windscreens was not necessary. The were NOT cheering on the old man.

    – Rotating license plates for post-paintball mayhem.

    – Self-inspecting vehicles. In NJ, we have mandatory emissions inspection. Why can’t that data be collected and uploaded?

    – Deer tagger. When you hit one of those fetid ungulates, a harpoon with a homing beacon needs to be automatically stuck in the damn thing so the whoever people can pick up the carcass.

    • 0 avatar
      slow kills

      As a fellow Jersey driver, I second self-inspecting vehicles. At least have a simple continuity test for brake lights. Also, ambiguous red turn signals need to go, as do lights the serve as both the tail light and the brake light. Three functions require three distinct lights.

      The Swing function (oscillating center vent) of the old Mazda 626 needs a comeback.

      And rear fog lights really need to disappear from American market cars. Tire pressure monitoring systems are worthless crap

    • 0 avatar

      There’s more to just an inspection than emissions, at least in the three states I’ve bothered to register cars in. There’s also a safety inspection to make sure seatbelts, airbags, etc are intact, and a visual inspection to make sure blinkers, wipers, and all that stuff works. Unless you added a couple grand worth of sensors and technology into the car that would cover all that stuff, you’d still need a human to do it.

      • 0 avatar
        slow kills

        Emissions is a federal thing. Cheap states omit safety and expect people to wise up and maybe do it themselves. Neddless to say, they often don’t. I can see the underinflated tires and dirty windshield, but I’m sick of seeing a third eye CHMSL go on unaccompanied by the main brake lights. Make a light on their dash light up, because they haven’t figured out how to back up against a window and check tail lights.

  • avatar

    Polarized windshields would be nice.

    During a freak ice and snow storm years back after the freeways had been heavily dusted in sand my windshield was covered in a mixture of sand and ice my that defroster had little effect on.

    My windshield washer fluid froze so I couldn’t wash it away, and I could barely see down the raod.

    Luckily, my polarized sunglasses somehow had the ability to cut right through the grime.

    Otherwise, getting to work that morning would have been really dangerous or I would have had to have pulled over……

    or just had the proper mix of windshield washer fluid that wouldn’t freeze. However, since Firestone changes my oil and tops of the fluids, they should have put the proper mix in.

  • avatar

    I love headlight wipers. I hope they made a comeback! As Acubra said, they’re very useful in the winter. A feature that I wish would come back: slim pillars and high, airy greenhouse, and the low dash that go with it. Er, and defroster for rear side windows too. Saab is the only car that I ever saw with one, are there any more? Again, should be very useful in the winter. And while we’re at it, two or three tone colors choices!

    • 0 avatar

      I would not hold my breath for lights’ wipers return – all modern lights have plastic covers that do not tolerate abrasion.

      Slim pillars – if fashion changes…

      Rear side defrosters – I think Volvo XC90 has them. Also some Germans, but am not sure.

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        “Slim pillars”
        Yes! We need cars you can actually see out of! Bulbous, swoopy exterior styling that robs rear seat headroom and kills visibility should go.

        With all the cell phone use and onboard touchscreen interfaces in cars, distracted drivers need all the visibility they can get.

    • 0 avatar

      The side defrosters are still there in many cars, just look at the small vents at the top of your dash on the ends near the doors, that’s likely what it is. I think Mom’s 04 Stratus has them, I believe the Fiat 500 has them, they just aren’t as big as they once were I don’t think for some manufacturers.

      • 0 avatar

        MrWhoopee was talking about defrosters for the REAR side windows. This is a Saab feature that is so obscure that most owners are unaware of them. Virtually all cars have defrosters for the front side windows.

  • avatar

    What should go: Nav/touchscreens, backup sensors, leather.

    What should stay: start/stop systems.

    What should make a comeback: a true stripper — no power locks/mirrors/windows, no tach, no radio, styled steelies with no wheelcovers (all over LA people are driving without their wheelcovers on purpose — OEMs take notice), no expensive-to-fix ABS/traction control.

  • avatar

    Any form of electronic stability control, radar-assisted anything, brake assist etc-I’m a competent driver and I can take care of things just fine, thank you, and If I can’t, well tough, I guess I’m going-shiny side-up

  • avatar

    What should stay:

    Vented seats. Works much better in hot weather. Heated seats are awesome in the winter especially going to the gym in the morning. Warms up my hamstrings.

    Bluetooth. Given the crackdowns on talking on cell phones, bluetooth is as necessary a safety feature as seat belts.

    HID lights. Another safety feature. The difference in illumination from the old lamp headlights is damn significant. Drove a car recently with old lamps–felt like two underpowered flashlights compared to HID.

    Rear-view camera: Yet another safety feature–especially in cars with huge blindspots. Insurance companies should subsidize them.

    MP3 integration: How tough is it to include it anyway? Gotta be cheaper than the nearly defunct CD players…

    What can go:

    NAV. Keep the screens for ease of readability. But all smart phones have NAV these days. A needless option that most times is tougher to program than a cell phone.

    Touch screens: They get dirty and its impossible to watch road while fiddling with them.

    • 0 avatar

      The only disagreement I have with your post is the HID lights. I’m sure they’re wonderful when you’re in the car, but it doesn’t seem like car manufacturers know how to aim them properly. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been driving and have these buggers shining right in my eyes and then it takes a couple of seconds to recover and see properly.

      If they could be made to provide better lighting for the motorist in the car, as well as not blind everybody else I’d be fine with them.

      This just lead me to another thing that should go. Bright blue lights give me the biggest headache ever. I can’t imagine the view inside the car is that good either.

      • 0 avatar


        I’m in agreement and a lot of what you see are user installs and one of the biggest issues with HID lamps is using the wrong bulb types with your existing reflectors. Most systems that aren’t projectors rely on the reflector for optics and if the filament isn’t what they were designed for, then the reflectors won’t work as well and often to a detriment as they then bring on glare as you’ve just altered the beam pattern that they were initially designed for with the original bulb. This is also true of glass optic systems too, such as projectors, but I think the issue is less an issue here as in the parabolic optic reflectors so commonly used.

        The other issue is often, what you get are poorly designed reflectors that don’t produce a decent beam pattern, nor are they reasonably even, especially with parabolic reflector type headlamps, which are more common.

        Projector units tend to produce a much more even spread of light, which helps and thus, to me, may make needing brighter bulbs less needed than a poorly designed head lmap assembly.

    • 0 avatar

      I ditched my handheld GPS, figuring my smartphone would do the trick. Unfortunately, if you don’t have data signal, the phone will be able to use GPS to track you, but will not give you much, if any map data, and it won’t be able to give you turn-by-turn direction.

      I’ve come around to power windows/locks/mirrors. Power windows are now lighter than manual crank ones (that’s why they’re now standard on the Miata), manual locks are just stupid on anything with more than two doors, and it’s impossible to properly adjust the passenger’s side manual mirror if you’re by yourself.

      • 0 avatar

        Forgot to add as a Must Have…

        How about NAV screens/radio band strips that don’t disappear when looking through polarized sunglasses? Seriously, how crazy is that!

        Most drivers use polarized lenses as they cut road/window glare. Except many NAV screens and radio station numbers are nearly impossible to see with them.

        With all the auto tech advances, that problem is downright annoying and inexcusable.

  • avatar

    General principles:

    Keep it simple, stupid
    get rid of unnecessary weight
    get rid of driver distractions
    get rid of those damn backup beepers on priuses

    bring on stuff that can help elderly people drive more safely. Including nannies. Just make sure those who don’t want them don’t have to have them.

    • 0 avatar


      When they come out with Buicks that come with a nanny I’ll be the first in line to buy one, might even pay over sticker as long as she is European or Asian:-))…………..or Brazilian or………..

  • avatar

    bring back real vents, that don’t require fans for venting. The familial ’65 Peugeot had these, so did my ’77 Corolla, so did a lot of other cars of old

  • avatar

    I’ve gotten a bit soft in my old age. Power windows/locks, along with keyless entry can stay.

    Automatic transmissions should go, but Americans would never tolerate that.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    Good stuff: VVT, DI, reliable forced induction, ESP, ABS, traction control, power door locks, electric window lifts, real leather seats, mobile phone integration, DCTs )properly adjusted and reliable); LED DRLs

    Useless or nearly useless: lane departure warning and similar, non-defeatable electronic stuff; tachometers on most cars, side dual zone climate control (not front/back dual zone)

    Stuff that scares me: PWM motor-driven oil and water pumps (see BMW, MINI), DI engine intake valve deposits, elaborately-managed electrical systems for waste energy recovery on non-hybrid cars (again, see BMW), “intelligent” cruise control and automatic braking systems, routine vehicle tracking using on star or similar mobile-phone based telematics; smart keys and fobs which are very expensive to duplicate for multiple drivers and even more expensive to replace when lost

    Future stuff: plug in hard drives (already used for PCs) that can carry 1TB of uncompressed music from your PC-based audio system to your car (MP3s sound like shit on a decent audio system), streaming audio through your mobile frequencies, networked navigation systems which use data from other cars to generate real-time traffic information and automatically re-route around traffic problems

    Unnecessary stuff: cooled seats, tachometers, car navigation systems (unless they’re a lot better — see networked cars — or a lot cheaper); sunroofs (a poor substitute for a convertible, reduces headroom and a source of potential leaks); AWD on on-road vehicles (cars, “crossovers”); CVTs (inferior to DCTs)

  • avatar

    The whole point of this article is kind of curious for me. Everybody here complains about lack of choice in the american automotive market (primarily – I know there are a number of contributors from other regions/countries), but then there is a big article about which features should go away, versus which should stay. Isn’t this a further reduction in choice?

    Make everything an option, then give us the base car (4 tires, chassis, frame, some doors and lights) for a price that is slightly above materials/manufacture costs – to provide the manufacturer some profit. Once we have the base car make everything an option with prices similar to what you might pay on the aftermarket for products such as radios/speakers and anything else the AM might be able to provide, and provide the option for A/C and power accessories for a price that is slightly above the cost to manufacture and install – again so the manufacturer can make their profit. After that we can order cars Chipotle/Dell style.

    EDIT: I understand that I have contributed to the “what should go, versus what should stay” debate already and recognize the irony of my posts.

    I know the above, or something similar, was discussed in another post awhile back, but it seems appropriate.

    • 0 avatar

      Agreed so much that it hurts. I really wish I could go into a dealer(or webshop) and say I wanted a ‘stripper’ with the biggest engine, a sunroof and a decent drivers seat lumbar support. That is more or less how my 1983 Sierra XR4i was originally ordered by it’s first owner, except for the sunroof.( I wish he could have ordered some extra rust protection though) It’s the only XR4i I have ever seen without power steering, sunroof, power windows or any other option ticked. It was quite possibly a dealer special just to have a XR4i in the showroom.
      This is how cars were built in the past, until Honda invented the two level (DX,EX) cars. (one thing I really dislike about my second favorite manufacturer)

  • avatar

    Building new cars. Cars have gotten more and more uninteresting in the last 20-30 years (well, not counting ‘retro’ designs which proves my point even further), in the early 90’s they were probably as good as they could get, from now on manufacturers should just make upgrades for existing models. (airbags and Injection systems for 64 Impalas, A/C and Esp for Sierra Cosworths, sound insulation for Hondas ,etc. Not to mention galvanized replacement body parts for everything…)

  • avatar

    I’m a very back-to-basics kind of guy in some regards, but not others.

    Infotainment: As long as the HMI is done right (read: not what BMW currently uses), I’ll gladly punt the CD player in favor of the iPod interface (or just an aux-in jack). Something I fear is here to stay are the stupid “artsy/stylized” gauge clusters. What ever happened to good, basic, informative clusters like those in BMWs and Hondas from the late 80s and early 90s? Sat Nav should always be a true tack-on option, so as not to screw up the design of the versions of the vehicle without it (BMW comes to the rescue once again, with the E38/E39 being the best example of the proper way to do this).

    Driver comfort:
    Dual-zone climate control I’m ok with, but for gods sake, give me back my manual controls. Best HVAC panel ever: BMW E32/E34. Dual zone, proper manual knobs with pots behind them, fully manual distibution controls, allowing infinite possibilities for how you’d like to mix the air. That last one I feel is the piece de resistance of this unit (and other BMWs with similar setups). Although I still don’t know what the “lower than 1” setting on the fan speed is for… Seats-wise, 8+way adjustable is fine, but ever single one of those (with the possible exception of seat height) should be manual. See the E36 M3, for example. I like leather, but I’d also always like a cloth option (and not velour, please). Heated/Cooled; take it or leave it, but I shouldn’t ever be forced to take it as part of another options package.

  • avatar

    What can go:
    Giant heavy-ass wheels/tires. I mean really, 20″ tires on a Venza? WHY?!
    Traction control/stability control that cannot be turned off.
    Dual zone HVAC. You sit about a foot from your passenger, how much of a temperature differential can you expect in a closed cockpit?
    Navi that doesn’t cannot piggyback off a smartphone via bluetooth for map data (I don’t know that any do, but it would be cool).
    Brand-specific extensions to OBDII that independent mechanics cannot access with reasonable equipment.
    More than 5-speed auto transmissions (I own a CX-9 with 6 speeds and it’s always hunting)

    What can stay:
    Heated/cooled seats
    Standardized Bluetooth interface for audio/phone
    Station wagons, yee-haw!

  • avatar

    I’d like the ability to get sporty cars and basic trucks without the power package to save weight and cost, unlike Porsche who charge thousands extra for the “privilege” of buying a 911 with window cranks. I think factory nav systems deserve to lose as well, the consensus among friends whose cars have them is that Garmin’s user interface is much better and and you can get a Garmin with lifetime map updates and traffic service for $150 at Costco while new maps for a Honda Pilot are $200. Sadly electronic nannies are here to stay so a Series IIa Landrover is on my wishlist for the most basic possible vehicle.

  • avatar

    I quite like Power Windows/Doors, I don’t see what is bad about them. Unless you open the window 13354646345 times a day, they won’t break.

    I also like Heated AND Cooled leather seats. MMI and XDrive can go, they are just needlessly complex. The headlight wipers are a neat toy, but are just one more thing to break.

  • avatar

    I don’t think I want another car that doesn’t have power locks and windows. My previous car lacked both and I’d forgotten how much trouble it was to have to check all four door locks in case one of the kids forgot to push the switch, or to yell at the youngest when he decided to roll down his window on a 30-degree day just to get a rise out of Dad. (Now I press the window lock button.)

    I can live without cruise control, but I’d rather not. I would probably go mad if I couldn’t listen to my music in the car. A CD player still does that job nicely for me, as I’m a child of the ’70s and will probably think of music in terms of albums until the day I die.

    I’ve owned two of the car I drive now, one without and one with ABS. The ABS is nice, but I know how to drive on ice without it.

    I’ve owned cars with the high luxury stuff, and I’ve rented some majorly tricked out cars. I am perfectly happy without heated seats, nav systems, display screens, billion-speaker premium sound systems, sunroofs, leather, multi-zone climate control, et al.

  • avatar

    Drop: CD player, power seat adjustments, dual zone comfort control, 8 cylinders.
    Keep: remote keyless entry, pushbutton start, satellite radio, cruise control, power windows and locks.
    For the future: from the world of HVAC, get rid of dual zones but give us ‘dead-band’. So, cooling setting could be 72, heat setting is 64. In between, it’s just fresh air. Both settings would be adjustable. Also, CO2 sensor to boost outdoor air intake when the car gets stale. Speaking of air quality, maybe a CO sensor to shut off a car when the inside gets unhealthy.

  • avatar

    – key fobs: these are the perfect process control to keep you kids from locking the keys in the car. I am not impressed with pushing a button to start a car.
    – tire pressure monitors: it doesn’t need to be an idiot light, but it is good to have something to easily let you know your tires aren’t inflated properly–I’d be fine with a valve stem that has a color indicator if the pressure is too low.
    – nav systems: I don’t need or want them, but I think they are useful enough for enough people that they are worth keeping.

    – touch screens: these have no place in a car and should be scrapped like automatic seat belts. I don’t care how cool some iPad lover thinks it is, it is worse than old-school knobs & buttons. Paying more to get less performance is the realm of the stupid.
    – auto-(fill in the blank): auto-headlights, auto-windshield wipers, auto-dimming mirrors, auto-volume control radios, etc. I really dislike car makers removing decision making from the driver. They assume they can make a car smarter than me, and frankly, they can’t. There are exceptions, such as cruise control & automatic transmissions, but I should be able to override those. Also, get rid of the constant-distance cruise control–why in the world should my car/driving be controlled by some numbnut in front of me?

  • avatar

    -Windows that can be rolled up and down aside from the driver’s. Picks up a couple inches of space and crush area in the doors for free. Almost anything has A/C now anyway. If people cared about fresh air, they’d buy convertibles, and they don’t.
    -Door locks. What sense is there in locking a glass box? You can see it, the windows hardly protect it, and they cost more to replace than almost anything you’d leave in a car. Maybe make the trunk lockable.
    -Power steering. When manufacturers see sense and move the engine behind the passenger compartment where it belongs, there’ll be no need for it.
    -Manufacturer navigation systems. They’ll keep them as long as some people buy them, of course, as a $200 system that can be sold for $2000 makes them as much as the whole rest of the car, but they’re doomed.
    -CD players/changers are soon to meet the fate of the 8-track. Good integration of portable devices is here to stay because most of us upgrade mobile devices more frequently than cars.
    -Manual, automatic, CVT, and dual-clutch gearboxes as we know them. The manufacturers should count their lucky stars that so few of us ride motorcycles, because we’d all be demanding the plain-jane 1-down-5-up gearbox that you can shift so fast it barely shows up on the acceleration graphs. It also doesn’t require any big actuators or pumps.
    -Carpet. Why we put up with heavy, smelly, slick, water damaged, uncleanable carpets in cars is beyond me. I put skateboard tape in the driver’s footwell and the gain in pedal feel had to be experienced to be believed. With a plastic backing you could hose it out.
    -The spare tire, jack, and lug wrench in cars. Given how infrequent tire failures are nowadays, and how ill-equipped motorists are to deal with them even with the provided tools, I’d ditch them. This allows you to have centerlock wheels that save a couple pounds each. As a bonus, mechanics wouldn’t be able to get away with bending up your studs with an air impact wrench – if you strip out the only bolt holding the wheel on everyone’ll know, and if you bend it you’ll be able to tell.
    -The traditional thick seat and adjustable backrest. Grab an ordinary car seat and then a Sparco Sprint VI and notice how much weight and space you save with it. A pair of those turn any 2+2 into a true four-seater. Adjustment of your seating angle will be provided with about half a dozen little air bladders.
    -The heater core, to the delight of every shade-tree mechanic, will go the way of the dodo, as soon as manufacturers realize how much faster the car can warm up without a heater plumbed in. Either we all get heated seats, wheels, and gearlevers, or we get a duct from the front brake discs to what looks like a little intercooler.
    -Mechanical AWD, because a manufacturer could just build a RWD car or truck and add two modest front wheel motors in order to take advantage of regenerative braking.
    -Separate designs for LHD and RHD cars. Just build the steering support to have two column holes, put in pedal bracket mount holes on both sides of the floorboard, and have a “spacer shaft” attached on the right side of the steering rack in LHD cars and on the left side in RHD cars.
    -The dashboard. Put the gauges on the top half of the steering wheel where they belong, and free up a ton of space. It’ll take exactly one cable.

    Staying around:
    -Driver information displays. Manufacturers used to get a 1 MPG CAFE credit for a little green upshift arrow on the dashboard. They should be able to get more for a display showing instant, 5 minute average, and tank average MPG. If you don’t think it works, take a look at my Corvette’s mileage log – I gradually adapted to watching the average MPG gauge and picked up about 3 MPG (10%!).
    -The manual transmission, as long as the EPA and EU mileage tests allow upshifts at the speeds specified by the upshift light or “economy advisor” display. Right now they’re required to wind out to 15, 25, 40, and 45 MPH before they go into the next higher gear even under very light acceleration.
    -Decent first-fifty-yards acceleration. Do you know anyone who traded in a car for one that was slower? I suspect given the choice between hustle and heft most people will keep their ability to torch the next guy at the stoplights when the price of gas goes up. Light cars with little, rear-mounted engines and short 1-2-3 gears work beautifully for the traffic light grand prix.
    -Tall high gears, and lots of gears to choose from. There’s just not much of a weight or cost penalty for giving you six, seven, eight ratios in the box. For good cruising economy you want a towering top gear for downhills, a shorter one for the flats, one slightly lower than that for minor grades, then a couple of choices of passing gears. Add those to the three takeoff burst gears and that’s your eight!
    -The gear-position indicator, because you won’t be able to look at the shift lever to tell which one you’re in.
    -Hybrids of all sorts, because no IC car aside from a kart wouldn’t be improved by a little front wheel regeneration and payout, and no electric would be better without a little 10-hp auxiliary “get me home” engine.

    • 0 avatar

      I agree on almost every point when it comes to what we (car enthusiasts) want, but I don’t think many of the points are realistic when it comes to what either the manufacturers or general car buyer wants (or understands that he/she wants, since they know either little about cars or give little thought about how their car is built or the possibilities outside what they see in the showroom) Some that I think are very realistic are the ‘crossover’ hybrids. With either a small extra electric motor like Honda Hybrids, or with an ‘Extra’ ICE engine. And I have also though about the AWD idea with electric front wheels on a RWD car. Which in turn would help initial acceleration, on any road condition.

  • avatar

    Besides what I agreed with earlier, how about just having a very attractive, simple car? How about:

    Radios with two knobs?
    Bench seats availability?
    Narrower consoles?
    Three-box design, again?
    USB interface so I can plug in various devices if I had a mind too?
    Internet radio?
    No spoilers on 4 door cars?
    Usable large coupes (see earlier comment above)?

    I can probably add more, but most everyone else has covered it.

  • avatar

    How about a decent set of factory tires?
    LED’s in. Conventional bulbs out. Spare tire becomes a standard option. Have they got any further with paint that can heal thyself? Back-up camera as the GPS becomes more widespread.

    Bring back analogue ticking clock, stuff digital daylight savings. How many can do it w/o the manual – be honest.

  • avatar
    Sam P

    Make a dual-clutch transmission that is easily serviceable and will last well past a vehicle’s warranty. In short, make it as reliable as a “classic” three-pedal manual gearbox.

  • avatar

    I like the idea of a smart phone based Nav system, but only if the iPhone/iPod/Bluetooth smart phone integration includes a GPS antenna mounted in the car. I try to use the Navigon software I installed on my iPhone but in order for the phone to get a GPS signal I have to put it up on the dash where I can’t see it and where the charging cable (an absolute necessity since the GPS kills the battery) tries to pull the thing back to the console.

  • avatar

    I want a car that I can see out of. The frame pillars are way too thick these days. We need more greenhouse. High-strength steel will solve the problem if they put it in the roof frames much like a steel cage in a rally car.

    A/C should be available on all cars as standard equipment. It is essentially a safety feature. Clears the foggy windows in damp weather by acting as a dehumidifier. Anytime I had a car without A/C, driving in the rain became dangerous as I spent most of the time trying to clear the windows.

    • 0 avatar

      Hear, hear on AC, and it’s virtually standard these days, at least in the US anyway and I agree on what it CAN do in wet winter weather.

      Fortunately these days, when you hit defrost, the AC automatically comes on to help dry out the air and to quickly clear windows on most newer cars of the past 10-15 years or so (provided the AC even works) but one problem I see are people who keep the recirc on during raining weather and no matter what, the windows are in a perpetual fogged up state. It’s true that it’s usually because there is either NO AC or it’s broken and the idiot driving said vehicle doesn’t know how to keep his/her windows clear.

  • avatar

    What might go away: In-car NAVs. Unless the automakers just make them standard equipment, I think that the market will favor portable devices.

    What should go away: Digital speedos. A gauge with a needle conveys more useful information far more quickly. Knowing ones speed to the precise MPH or km/h is worthless information and probably takes the brain a bit longer to process.

    Please, please, PLEASE go away: Touchscreens that serve every purpose. Again, an easily accessible knob or button on a dash is far more useful and less distracting. I can accept that automakers need to provide the vidiots with their toys, but I would prefer that they confine the use of touchscreens to stuff that doesn’t matter.

    What will make me cry for days when it goes away: The manual transmission in the US car market. Its days are numbered, and I would expect that within a decade or so, only the Germans and a few occasional other models will offer them.

  • avatar

    For me here are the things I think should stay.

    Bluetooth, for hands free phone usage.
    USB/Aug jack for even the base stereo, leave the CD as there are still plenty of us out there who use that format and have it support at least MP3/WMA for CD usage, and add Lossless WMA for USB thumb drives. Make the iPod integration better and have all systems support both playlist formats (WPL and M3U).

    power locks and windows – especially for 4/5 door vehicles, nothing worse than locking your driver’s door, but failing to ensure the rest are locked. Having seen this with my Dad back when he was alive, it’s a necessity/safety thing. One key/button close of all windows and sunroof. That way, you hit the lock button or turn the key to the lock position, hold until all windows/sunroof are closed and release, all locked up and secured.

    Power mirrors, especially the passenger side as it’s now ubiquitous on all cars these days.

    A dychroic filter for the outside mirrors to help reduce glare at night (looks like the mirrors have a slight blue tint to them)

    The ability to turn off completely, or mostly the nanny systems, especially ESP, ABS I want.

    Make repeater lights mandatory (side mounted blinkers, be on the car’s flank or in the outside mirrors), rather than an option (they’re permissible, but not required)

    Things that can go.


    Touchscreens and most of the excess infotainment units now on offer (Sat Nav, DVD etc)

    Slit windows and bad visibility

    Huge tires/wheels unless absolutely necessary (and really, how necessary outside of bling, bling?)

    The US sizing standard (inside capacity of a given car) and go by the Euro classification instead with a more fixed set of sizes to make it easy on everybody.

    Get rid of overly complicated audio units such as found in the Fiesta/Focus

    A few things I’d bring back.

    A more simplified car with less gew/gaws, smaller sizes, something simple but not necessarily stripped out, but simple in concept, I’m thinking early Civics/Accords, early SAAB 900, early Rabbits and the like.

    Reduce the height/mass of most consoles.

    And for 2 door cars, at least bring back the wing venting window in the back seat area.

  • avatar

    If people want to spend their money on any of this stuff, let ’em. But give the rest of us a choice. I want to be able to order the equivalent of a ’67 Chevy Biscayne if I want to.

    Some of the things I am least likely to choose for me:

    1. Anything that is an unnecessarily complex way of doing something where the simple way has worked fine for decades. That includes pushbutton starters and keyless fobs, touchscreen or trackball anything, and rear vision cameras.

    2. Any airbags beyond driver, passenger and MAYBE one side bag per side.

    3. More than 4 or 5 gears in an autobox. We’ve gotta be reaching the point of diminishing returns on the gear inflation.

    4. Manual shifting options on an automatic that I’m never going to use.

    5. Rear head restraints that block vision and can’t be lowered or removed.

    6. Wheels bigger than 17 inches.

    On the other hand, things that add greatly to the driving experience that aren’t intrusive:

    1. The auto-dimming inside mirror. Greatest invention ever.

    2. Electrical controls for the outside mirrors.

    3. Cruise control. Where I live, just about any drive that is more than 20 miles is likely to be over 100 miles.

    And I’m not rigidly averse to nav screens, but they should all be like the one in the Cadillac CTS that pops up only when needed.

  • avatar

    OHV engines
    Dual exhaust outlets.

    Big plastic engine covers.
    Forced induction engines that don’t whistle or whine at WOT

  • avatar

    Here are two things I would like to see…

    Turn signals on the steering wheel at ten and two. Just manual switches that have to be turned on and off, but do away with the stalk.

    I would like to see OBD integrated into the main display so information could be presented on the screen. Instead of having to go to Autozone to have codes read, and then look it up on the internet, the display could tell me what is wrong and give enough information so i know what to do about it. They could sell additional software that would allow those who wanted it to see real time engine performance. Everything is in place for this, it just needs a connections and a little software.

  • avatar

    Stay: heated seats, smarter automatics, Bluetooth integration (including music from your phone while still in pocket…there should be a standard). Safety stuff (abs etc).

    Needs improvement: ability to use GPS or antenna of the car for rock solid navigation and data connectivity. I use my phone as GPS in my car, but my friends Honda GPS tracks FAR better than my Samsung galaxy S… I wish there was a way to use the car’s increases reception/antennas. Speaking of which, cars should be able to use your phone connection to get traffic and real-time gps map info.

    I’d like to see bumpers be NOT made of painted/scratchable finish too. I’m going to tap your car when I parallel park…just like you’ll tap mine. Would be nice if that didn’t require a new paintjob.

  • avatar
    Darth Lefty

    Radar cruise control for everyone!

    Get rid of bing-bing reminders that the key is in the ignition and the door is open. I know, I want to play the radio, that’s why I left it in there.

  • avatar

    Ai, ai , ai

    You guys have it so good. Power packages are charged (dearly) here. Not to mention AC and hydraulic/electric steering. Autotrans? A distant dream. Heck, your lucky your car comes with a spare,And it does only cause the law demands.

    6s? 8s? The wave of the future is 2 and 3 cyinder engines. Looks like a 4 will soon become something akin to what an 8 is today. A museum piece.

    • 0 avatar

      Wow, so those who still dreams about really basic car should move to Brazil!

      In Indonesia they’re seem to go with the U.S. route. Every car, even the cheapest one, came with power windows & locks, and air conditioning, of course (mandatory in this hot & humid country, though Brazil isn’t exactly cold either). Except for commercial vehicles, it’s rare to find a car without such equipment. Somehow we are very reluctant to pay for safety equipment, though, (life’s cheap here) dual airbags has only became commonplace a few years ago, and there are still plenty of cars without airbags. ABS is also still rare.

  • avatar









    Glossy wood trim needs to stay.

    Carbon fiber needs to go.

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      Tell me how you really feel. My next car purchase will be V8 simply because I don’t know how much longer (save supercars and pick up trucks/SUVs) the 8 will be with us.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    Can’t compare TV remote with power windows, window cranks are within reach w/o getting up while unlike decades ago, there are a lot more channels to choose from compared to the 3 or 4 that were available before the advent of TV remotes, ps crank windows don’t malfunction and need repairs like power ones.

  • avatar

    You can choose or not choose many of these things with the level of trim in a vehicle . But what I would like to see standard in even the most basic vehicle trim – rear orange blinker lights which are easier to see and therefor safer , USB and 3.5 MM connections to all factory audio systems , height adjustable drivers seat , tilt/telescopic steering wheel , and built in small convex rear view drivers side mirrors to help see blind spots .

  • avatar


    – idiot lights in place of temp guages and oil-pressure guages. My Fit, excellent as it is, has no temp guage. And most cars in the last several decades have no oil-pressure guage.

    – CD players. With MP3 who needs them?

    – Factory nav systems. They’re over-priced ten-fold and obsolete the following model redesign. Portable Garmins on the other hand are cheap, effective and can be replaced with the latest and greatest at will.

    – Spoilers— especially on econo boxes and especially if they block the view to the rear. And don’t even get me started on the after-market ones I’ve seen pasted onto the hood of some boy racer’s Civic at the base of the windshield.

    – High door sills, especially on sports cars. The claustrophobic look sucks. The Nissan 370Z looks like a pig compared to it’s original 240Z, Miata or 1st-gen Rx7 for this very reason.

    – Rear seats that are too small and cramped to accommodate anyone larger than a cabbage patch doll. Why even bother?

    – Digital speedometers. Gawd, they look so…dated. As opposed to analogue speedos, which are more classic.

    – Water-based “enviro-friendly” paint. Worst idea ever. Unlike the older more durable paints, these are easily scratched by such insignificant items as plastic zippers on the clothing of folks making their way through the parking lot or by soft plastic bristles on a snow brush or self-serve car wash brush. The enviro-nazis of course don’t give a rat’s derriere because their ultimate goal is to force us out of our cars and onto bicycles. That way they don’t have to move out of their parents’ basements and get jobs to keep up with the Joneses.

    – “Assembly components” that require an entire (expensive) assembly be replaced should one part of it fail. Hello Chrysler, with your fuel filter housed inside the fuel pump which is located inside the fuel tank!)

    – “Factory-sealed” ball joints which require no lubrication. Well, that’s not entirely true. They DO require greasing— it’s just that many manufacturers prefer to no longer install grease nipples on them. They’d rather the parts fail sooner so that you’ll have to buy new ones— from them!

    – Engine covers and inaccessible service bay items, the likes of which require special tools to do such mundane tasks as adding transmission oil or changing spark plugs. Might as well just slap a label on top of the engine that reads “No user-serviceable parts inside.” I avoid buying these vehicles.

    – Automatic transmissions. Well, at least 50% of them. Making manual transmissions as rare as they’re becoming is a recipe for breeding a whole new generation of “coma drivers” who couldn’t be bothered to check their mirrors if their miserable lives depended on it. Oh wait— their miserable lives (and those of others sharing the road with them) DO depend on it…


    -Cruise control. The best defense against speed traps since the radar detector.

    – Power windows, door locks, mirrors, etc.

    – Air-conditioning.

    – MP3 player.

    – Bluetooth.

    – Outside-air-temp guage.

    – Manual transmissions. In fact, make them have at least six gears, the fifth of which is an overdrive and the sixth of which is a very tall overdive for highway cruising.


    – a second 12V power outlet. Or even a third and 4th for rear-seat passengers, who likely would appreciate having the option of charging their cell phones since the ones in front are already commandeered by you for your cell and GPS.

    – A manual “erase” button for info stored on your car’s ECU. Yeah, I know— those who drive like an @$$hole deserve to get caught. But having you car rat you out for going 5k over the speed limit when a red-light runner T-bones you– and giving your insurance company a lame excuse to deny your claim and the cops to issue a ticket— seems way too nanny-state for any country outside communist China or draconian Saudi Arabia.

    – security cameras that look out all windows and even upward at a 60-degree angle from both front side windows. These cameras must have the capability to automatically upload video footage to any computer you program it to, even several computers. This helps police to identify that car jacker, or to see who was really at fault in that fender bender. Or, in the event of you finding yourself on the receiving end of a rogue cop abusing his authority, it would offer an opportunity to get justice when the department goes into CYA mode at your expense. Nanny-state devices may suck, but sometimes a big-brother device can be beneficial for keeping those few bad apples with too much authority for their flawed character from preying on the innocent and vulnerable.

  • avatar

    Ideas to come: Car to car intercoms. If you’re following some jamoke doing 10 under and they’re weaving from yellow to white, I’d love to hit an intercom button and ask them if they’re okay.
    Mandatory Google cars for people who own handicapped placards or have been convicted of DWI or who own a cell phone and need to use it while driving.

    Ideas for now: car to car missiles, driver’s side spent uranium machine gun, a decent PA system. WAKE UP AND DRIVE PEOPLE!!!

    (Sorry about the rant, I became a commuter this week.)

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    I hate leather seats. Hot in Summer and cold in winter. Heating and cooling them is not a cheap or eay solution. The real solution is to bring back cloth upholstery. And not in black. Cloth does not have the heat capacity to discomfort you.

    I also hate the lack of visibility in contemporary cars.

  • avatar

    -Manual transmissions
    -More limited slip differentials, helical please.
    -Power windows
    -Power locks
    -keyless entry. My last car was all dinged up around the driver key slot by the previous owner.
    -Auto climate control (I only touch 1 knob and the car does the rest. how is that bad?)
    -TCS, ESP, DSC, LMNOP, etc (as long as it’s defeatable and in levels)
    -Sidemarker or mirror-based turn signals
    -Steering wheel mounted controls
    -Elecric Power Steering. Hydraulic just has so much more feeling.
    -USB Connectivity
    -Heated seats. always like a cold weather package on my car, even someplace with mild winters.
    -HIDs. It’s not the same driving without them at night

    -Fancy keys/pushbutton starts
    -CUV. Get the minivan you know you really need.
    -non-truck based SUV. I want this thing to go off-road
    -factory nav
    -touch screen in lieu of buttons (with buttons is ok)
    -Radar based cruise/backup
    -Lane departure warning
    -Cars with giant rear-ends/no rear visibility
    -Massively heavy cars. A civic should not weigh 3000lbs
    -20 inch rims on a grocery getter/suburban soccer mom cruiser from the factory. do you have any idea how much those tire replacements will cost?

    Give me Now!!:
    -More hatches
    -RWD without buying a pony car or German, maybe in sedan or wagon form?
    -Beep when the low fule light comes on. I had an old A4 that did this, never looked down and wondered “How long have I been running on fumes for?”
    -Integrate smartphones to car MMI for music/nav/etc via USB. I love my wife’s new Mazda 3 and streaming the audio and GPS lady through the stereo, but full integration with a cradle/cable and enhancing the respective antennae would be amazing
    -Stripper models with a la carte options.
    -Gauges. I want my voltmeter and coolant temp gauges back. I could think of some more I’d like (oil temp, oil pressure, AF, boost) but then the interior just becomes too busy or you have a racer-boy pillar or gauge pod somewhere.

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