By on March 18, 2013

In the endless rush to attract younger buyers, luxury car brands may have ended up alienating their traditional customer base – older buyers, specifically those old enough to collect social security – by implementing complex, technologically advanced features like touch screens and complicated infotainment systems. What if there were a way to opt-out?

Larry Vellequette of Automotive News has jokingly suggested a “Luddite” trim package for older buyers, which pairs traditional knobs and buttons with comfortable seating options. It may be a semi-satirical idea, but I am sure that plenty of older buyers would take well to it. I know of a few instances where older buyers have gone for the car that offers the least technology, even if it meant forsaking the brands they were traditionally loyal to.

That has meant traditional customers of Lincoln and Cadillac have shifted over to something like a Lexus ES350, because they found CUE or MyLincoln Touch to be too much of a burden. Bear in mind that these are the sort of people who find sending an email to be a great technological feat, and it’s not hard to understand their reluctance in embracing in-car computerization.

Vellequette notes that the resistance to touchscreens and their ilk is ultimately a futile pursuit. It’s also true that this demographic is literally a dying one, and the future of these brands will be with those who are technologically savvy. On the other hand, those with the means to buy new cars tend to be older. Perhaps the solution would be the ultimate automotive tech cliche – an iPad-like interface with a simple menu and easily recognizable icons. Though I’m not a “Mac Guy”, Apple products like the iPad and iPod seem to click with older users, with a minimum of futzing around required to operate them.

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176 Comments on “QOTD: Time For A Luddite Trim Level?...”


  • avatar
    Tomifobia

    Still in my forties here, but I’d gladly take a Luddite edition. Throw in tires taller than a 60 series, and I’ll show up, cash in hand, no rebates or special financing necessary.

    • 0 avatar
      Pig_Iron

      Agreed. Take a car from the 1970s for example. After a week of driving, you can operate every control by touch, blind. That made rural driving at night great, because you could do it without bright interior lights, leaving your eyes adjusted for your exterior headlit line of sight.

      Even at the dimmest settings some of thes new controls are chopper landing pad bright. Plus, you have to glance at the screen before you punch it up. If a setting is deep nested its risky to do while in motion. I’m not saying go back to the ’70s, but use the new screens sparingly, and mind the brightness and glare. KIS.

      • 0 avatar
        yesthatsteve

        Doubly agreed. I’m not the type of owner who drives a vehicle until I get distracted by something newer and shinier. I drive it until it won’t drive no more.

        The technology running the infotainment/HVAC/other systems within the cabins of many of today’s vehicles represents a significant and costly point of failure, one that will likely come well before that of any other systems. I haven’t seen anything indicating those technologies are easily and cheaply upgradeable, replaceable, or repairable. Eight years from now, I don’t want the automotive technology equivalent of a Pentium 4 with 512 megs of RAM.

        Definitely KIS.

        • 0 avatar
          Kyree S. Williams

          “Eight years from now, I don’t want the automotive technology equivalent of a Pentium 4 with 512 megs of RAM.”

          I’d offer up the 2005 Volkswagen Phaeton that I recently drove as an example of this. Even though our own 2005 Nissan Murano’s navigation/infotainment system is two generations behind, I can still use it to get directions to get anywhere I need to. The Phaeton’s, on the other hand, was practically useless. Moreover, the Phaeton had some kind of proprietary fiber-optic communication bus, meaning that you couldn’t even do something like add an auxiliary input line for your iPod…

          • 0 avatar
            corntrollio

            “Moreover, the Phaeton had some kind of proprietary fiber-optic communication bus, meaning that you couldn’t even do something like add an auxiliary input line for your iPod…”

            If that’s the same fiber-optic system that’s in current/recent Audis, many of those have iPod connectors, so it’s not like they’re mutually exclusive.

            In any case, it was easy to find forum posts on connecting an iPod to a Phaeton.

            VW/Audi has been good about keeping knobs for stereo volume and for automatic climate control temperature even while having MMI for a variety of systems.

        • 0 avatar
          mklrivpwner

          I’ll spare you the research. They are neither cheap, nor easy to replace or upgrade.

          I owned an ’08 Chrysler Sebring HTC (go ahead and snigger) and on my list of regrets was not opting for the $2,000 Navi-tainment-speaker-phone-blah-blah-blah. I used an mp3 in the AUX jack, so the only reason to spend $2K would have been a permanently installed GPS and bluetooth speaker. I was told by the dealer’s shop that (opposed to common sense) getting the GPS would not be as simple as running an install CD. Instead, it would require an entire new unit plus a minor reprogram of the car’s on-board computer. One issue (which I hate Chrysler for) was that even though the tactile buttons existed on the radio unit, complete with printed labels, the wires to control those buttons did not! But, also, to save on the cost of producing the units, they had completely different sets of hardware. The only similarities being the radio itself.

  • avatar
    froomg

    It’s not only the very old who would like a Luddite package. I’m 38 and fairly tech savvy, but I would much prefer to control my car’s HVAC and radio with simple knobs and a few buttons rather than a complex series of touchscreen menus.

    I recently bought a new Ford Focus, and am delighted by its three-knob, plus an a/c button, HVAC controls. Of course, the car also has a manual transmission, so it’s a Luddite’s delight.

    On the high-end cars, why not offer a touchscreen interface together with redundant if-it-ain’t-broke-don’t-fix-it controls?

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      “but I would much prefer to control my car’s HVAC… with simple knobs and a few buttons rather than a complex series of touchscreen menus.”

      Especially the HVAC.

      And, listen up, car! Don’t turn on the A/C compressor unless I tell you to! Winter conditions here sometimes mean you want maximum heat, undiluted by the A/C, right at the base of the windshield with fan on low-ish and new cars don’t seem to offer that mode.

      • 0 avatar
        froomg

        Amen. I can figure out for myself whether I need the compressor running to defog my windows. Let me have the control.

      • 0 avatar
        ant

        I agree with this.

        I can decide when to push the AC button.

        Let me defrost the windshield the way I see fit.

      • 0 avatar
        Toad

        You are smart enough to know when to use your A/C to defrost or defog your windshield but most drivers have no idea. How many times have you driven past a car with ALL the windows fogged up?

        A good comprise is to have the A/C default to off when the HVAC is set to defrost, but allow the driver to manually turn off the A/C compressor.

        Unfortunately, cars (and all other appliances) have to be designed for the lowest common denominator. That said, I know people who are unable/unwilling to master basic email, and a significant percentage of the population does not even use the internet at all. These people want and needs simple controls and they represent a large market.

        In addition, what happens when the high tech interface dies? Does the whole car stop working, or all of the interior systems? Do you trust the manufacturers who brought us products like Dexcool, the Pinto, or any number of major mistakes to make a computer system with a touch screen interface that will operate for a decade or more without failing? The Luddites may be right on this one.

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        On my daily driver, the car decides when the A/C compressor should be on, and I’m fine with that (even when I’m in Tahoe and it’s 11 degrees out). However, if I manually want to turn the compressor off, as in your use case, there’s an “ECON” button that turns off the compressor. It’s effectively an A/C button by another name.

        Which recent cars don’t allow you do to this?

        • 0 avatar
          wumpus

          The switches cost measurably (at least to bean counters) more than the thermostat circuitry (which is little more than a few lines of C and a few actuators). Lack of an ECON button costs you, putting it in there costs the manufacturer. Finding out how many ways the company screwed you over isn’t easy.

        • 0 avatar
          MBella

          Almost all new cars have the compressor kick on in defrost, with no choice to turn it off other than change to a different setting. The one major reason for this is to keep the refrigerant oil circulating through the system and help seals from drying out.

      • 0 avatar
        nikita

        This was a problem back in the 1970′s with the first generation Cadillac climate control. Many had an override switch installed. I just hacked my Honda Fit in order to cut the A/C compressor on defrost when I want to.

  • avatar
    catnapped

    Touch screens in a car are the PERFECT thing in a car when one should be…um…er…DRIVING.

    • 0 avatar
      Dave56

      +10

    • 0 avatar
      gearhead77

      + infinity. I love my touch screen mobile devices, that don’t have four wheels attached to them. Simple knobs and push buttons for those often used functions please. I don’t care what you do with the infotainment system, just as long as it pairs simply and quickly with my chosen mobile device.

    • 0 avatar
      missinginvlissingen

      Such an obvious truism, yet the industry ignores it.

      You cannot use a touchscreen while watching the road. Buttons and knobs, no problem (once you get accustomed to their location and feel).

      I’m no luddite, so I accept that cars will continue to contain more complex technology over time. But I really wish we could skip the touchscreen phase and go directly to voice commands (with audible confirmations), which are intrinsically safer.

    • 0 avatar
      Brunsworks

      I’ll chime in with another hearty “YES!” here, and for similar reasons to gearhead77. I am an absolute tech junkie, but I owe it to myself, my passengers, and the other human beings on the road to have my eyes looking around outside my vehicle as much as possible to make sure I can watch where everyone is going.

      The best controls inside a car are those I can navigate by feel.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      It’s not just about safety, although that’s as good or better a reason as any to reduce the “geewhiz gadgetry” in passenger vehicles.

      It’s just as much about the overstuffing of gadgetry into cars to compensate for a diminishing, if not now absent, focus on making the…you know…actual “car stuff” like the chassis or driveshaft (there’s rumor that a new car of a sporting type sold new for around 30k in North America as late as 2011, and it had a steering wheel core made of magnesium and a carbon fiber composite driveshaft, but alas, nothing similar with such goodness that’s all about “sweating the details” is sold new for anywhere near that price any longer; good thing I bought mine for less than 24k out the door when I had the chance).

      But I suppose this is my “get off my lawn” phase, and that I should be happy & feel fortunate to purchase a new craptastic same-basic-shape-and-driving-characteristics three cylinder enviroboost German/Korean/American/Japanese/whatever mobile with ‘precognitive remote start’ and a voice & hand gesture interactive Sudoku/Chess/Gears of War player in 2022.

      Goodbye, vehicles as an exercise of the mastery of engineering & physics; Hello, iCar that contains over 5,700 transistors & the latest in LED technologies.

      • 0 avatar
        wumpus

        5700 transistors? I’m 42 and will most certainly have to get off your lawn. I’m pretty sure that the Atari 2600 had more than that, and you might barely get ODB-II in under that (and only if you hire engineers that can handle assembler if not microcode).

        Try billions (think of Carl Sagan if you have trouble). Every gig of flash is 4 billion transistors (plus plenty more for buffering and error correction). Intel made CPUs with over a billion transistors something like 10 years ago, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that recent Samsung job has that many just in the CPU (my half hearted attempt at googling didn’t tell me).

        Now I feel old. Or was that an extremely specific number for sarcasm.

        • 0 avatar
          corntrollio

          “Or was that an extremely specific number for sarcasm.”

          It was more an “I’m such a Luddite, I don’t know what a transistor is” comment. :)

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          “It was more an “I’m such a Luddite, I don’t know what a transistor is” comment. :) ”

          Edited since corntrollio’s comment: This is actually sad but true. I’ve seen photographs of transistors and actually probably have seen them in real life when tinkering with my computer (installing memory, etc.), but their actual function is quite abstract to me.

          It was a seriously bad underestimate on my part– see, I am honest – luddite that I am (I do actually know that there are millions of transistors in….say…an average “smart phone,” though).

          I’m all for technology that substantively improves things (you’ll never meet a bigger fan of stability control systems, which have probably saved more lives of drivers and their passengers than airbags and antilock braking systems combined).

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Put me down as a luddite… if the technology isn’t helping the car perform better then what’s the point?

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      +1

      Too much electronic accessories that add nothing to the job of the driver, driving!

      • 0 avatar
        Kinosh

        Electronic accessories allow for vehicle collision notification and voice recognition. Having a vehicle that can call for help doesn’t add to the “performance” of the car?

        One advancement I’ve found useful is the instant/short term fuel economy trend meters. Having these in my vehicles has raised my mpg by at least 10%-15%.

        • 0 avatar
          corntrollio

          “One advancement I’ve found useful is the instant/short term fuel economy trend meters. Having these in my vehicles has raised my mpg by at least 10%-15%.”

          Speaking of which, I thought it was clever of Ford to include gamification as a way to increase fuel efficiency of Ford Fusion Hybrids.

        • 0 avatar
          WRohrl

          My 1986 VW GTI had the instant/average MPG readouts so that’s hardly a recent advance. You are correct about the effect on mpg.

          • 0 avatar
            golden2husky

            Items like the MPG indicators and the like are fine. The problem is the user interface between man and machine. Burying common operations in layers of clicks is not useful in a vehicle. All the basic, commonly adjusted operations are best handled by standard knobs and buttons. Infrequently adjusted items can be touch/click menu driven. Not to mention those touch screens get smeared and disgusting looking…count me as wanting a semi-luddite interior.

  • avatar
    PartsUnknown

    Top Gear UK just did a hilarious take on this. They modified a Fiat Multipla, tailored to senior citizens. For example, the satnav had precisely four, clearly marked destination buttons: Home, Bingo, Post Office and Peggy’s House. High comedy.

    I’m only 45 and am very comfortable with technology, but I like my cars simple. I’m bombarded enough at home and at work by texts, e-mails, etc. My car is a respite. I just bought a Mazda 6, base model and a 6 speed manual. No nav, no rear end detection, no forward 360 frontal heads-up blah blah…and I love it.

    • 0 avatar
      Joe K

      I agree 1000 %. We are surrounded by technology EVERYWHERE and I bet most of us don’t understand how to use more then 1/2 of what any given product has available to us. What ever happened to just wash/spin/soak ? Technology is just appearing for the sake of technology at this point. Interfaces in a car should be able to work with or without a computer. HVAC should just be knobs. From a cost and mfg point of view I can understand throwing it all on a touch screen and tiny computer, but from a user point of view it is hell. I shouldn’t have to reach the encyclopedia in the glove box to figure out how to operate the HVAC. Most people won’t use 80% of what some cars have available. TopGear has made that point several times, where there is just too many settings to fiddle with and not understanding what they do. God forbid the car is used by multiple people in the family, is everyone going to have to take a 3 hr prep course to drive the car?

    • 0 avatar
      gearhead77

      I loved that episode of Top Gear!

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      That was an enjoyable segment.

      “It’s hard to find a chair that’s easy to get in and out of, as we get on a bit.”

      “YOU KNOW.”

  • avatar
    kosmo

    Just passing 50, and also would love the luddite trim. Just not looking for that kind of technology in a car, and my wife absolutely despises it. Screw touchscreens, the iDrive was one of 3 main reasons I moved on from BMW after over 20 years of ownership (the other two being throttle lag and the inability to engineer a truly flat folding seat in a vehicle the size of the X3).

    The screens aren’t going anywhere. The best compromise seems to be a screen paired with enough buttons that a wife, kid, friend, thief, etc. can drive the car without ever needing to use it.

  • avatar

    I recently bought a Luddite edition Mazda 2. Fantastically free of backup cameras, built in navigation, etc. If I could have ditched the power windows and locks I would have. I work in the tech field but I don’t need all the extra electronic crap that comes in most cars these days.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I hear you, also in the industry and am painfully aware of the short lifespan in both hardware and software (not to mention bugs). What happens when your car’s firmware is no longer supported? UPGRADE! It matters not if the next generation of product is complete garbage, you’ll be forced too.

      • 0 avatar
        BourbonBob

        Started my tech career in the late 70s, developing touch panel driven software. Hated touch panels then, hate em now (back then, it was alignment problems). Isn’t there anyone at NTSHA with the kahunas to stop this stupidy? The 3D tactile feel of good old knobs and switches is far superior to 2D touchscreens. I first coined the term “Road appliance” when I borrowed my girlfiend’s new 74 Corolla. The “road appliance” continues on. Everyone got suckered on automatic trannys and now touch panels. When Google introduces the driverless cars, it will all be over.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        Not to mention the security problems that are soon going to arise. I’m not sure what the figure was, but I believe they said that the current 7-Series has more than eighty onboard computers, and a good number of them communicate wirelessly. Some services pose even more problems, like OnStar, Blue Link and BMW Assist, which allow their respective brands’ cars to be unlocked, started and basically controlled from remote locations. So now, on top of everything, you have to trust that the manufacturers are staying ahead of hackers and infiltrators. My personal computer being hacked is one thing, but a two-ton, road-going machine equipped with wheels and propulsion is quite another.

        • 0 avatar
          Kinosh

          Valid point. There seems to be a growing movement in making the switch from the (easily tampered) CAN system between ECUs to ethernet.

          Anyone have any ideas on the security effect of this? I understand CAN was never designed with security in mind…

    • 0 avatar
      ...m...

      …i just did likewise, after entering the dealership fully intending to buy a top-trim mazdaspeed 3…

      …all the touchscreens and driver-assist systems coupled with ‘upscale’ models are a major turnoff: i want a vehicle which functions well as a car foremost, with everything superfluous implemented in secondary fashion so not to compromise that core mission, and the 3 disappointed profoundly by comparison to the 2′s elegant purposefulness…

      …i fear that in the future i won’t be satisfied with any new car developed post-mid-noughts…

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    Cars are becoming too complicated for consumers and mechanics. Minimizing frangible options when buying a new car, or buying as close to a “stripper” as possible used, will significantly reduce maintenance and repair expense. This means no turbos, four wheel drive (4WD), all wheel drive (AWD), complex traction control systems, upgraded infotainment packages, rear air conditioning, power sunroofs, seats, doors and liftgates, backup alarms or cameras, big wheels, or run-flat tires. A $150 Garmin portable GPS works better, is handier, easier to use, and costs nothing to update unlike a $2,500 built-in factory navigation unit.

    Avoid bleeding edge technology. Allow a couple of model years for new woo-hoo engineering, way trick information and entertainment consoles, and gazillion speed transmissions to mature and prices to moderate. The things that could go wrong just boggle the mind. Let adventurous early adopters with deep pockets take the giant financial hit if they fail, not you.

  • avatar
    Maxseven

    I’m completely in favor of having both analog and digital controls together, wherein either can be used to operate various systems. As for complexity – bring it on. The more visually complex dash the better. There should be more in the way of sensors, gauges and controls in all cars. In fact, I’d like to see a driver’s education system, where one has to be ‘rated’ for certain cars, similar to airplane training for pilots.

    This reminds me of that ill-fated event with the Lexus, where the driver did not know how to put the car in neutral, nor turn off the engine, when the accelerator malfunctioned.

    • 0 avatar

      But even for airplanes the type rating is only considered necessary for transport category airplanes (and historically, jets). A certificated Private pilot with a Multi-Engine rating and a High Performance endorsement is legal to fly just about anything that’s less than 12,500 pounds gross takeoff weight without needing a type rating. It’s really insane to require a certain-car rating for common cars. For example, you would be unable to rent anything under this system. Car in the shop? No loaner for you, ride a taxi.

    • 0 avatar
      nikita

      There is a similar issue in small single engine airplanes just like in cars. All the newer models have Garmin “glass” panels. Sometimes though, you can still special order traditional “steam gauges”, but no one stocks those planes. When Garmin decides to stop issuing updates to the $30k gps on your $200K airplane in a decade or so, guess what, your plane is no longer legal!

      While I am licensed to fly with these things, I wouldnt consider myself safe unless I take a class in how to use them.

  • avatar
    glwillia

    I’m 32 and I program supercomputers for a living, but I still think luxury cars are too focused on electronic doodads. I’m very happy with my 1994 Mercedes E420, which has leather and wood but the electronics basically date back to the car’s debut in 1984. All the nav/music/etc is already on my smartphone, and it’s much easier to upgrade that than it is anything onboard in the vehicle–plus I can take it with me if I rent a car.

    • 0 avatar
      Feds

      You’ve got me beat. I’m 33 and manage 1,000,000+ sq.ft of institutional real estate. Building Automation, energy management, etc, etc, etc…

      My issue is that I’ve yet to come across a system that works better than knobs and sliders for HVAC. Being 2013, I am starting to long for bluetooth integration in my cars (all of which are pre-OBDII) so I can shout “CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?!?” at the mirror, rather than a hand held device, but that and an “AUX IN” are all the technological integration I really need.

      • 0 avatar
        wumpus

        Can’t say that binary choices for recirculation/outside air was ever a good system. Also it has to be cheaper to simply design a thermostat that will hit a specific temperature than all those switches (of course without those switches you lose control over the combined defrost and heating combo).

        • 0 avatar
          glwillia

          In theory, that’s what the automatic climate control on my W124 does. In practice, there’s no fan speed between “infant blowing on you” and “gale-force winds”.

          I think the best system for climate control is just the three knobs you twist–one for temp, one for fan speed, and one for direction, with two separate buttons for a/c and rear defrost. The E36 318ti was just about perfect in this aspect.

          As for audio, I’m really happy with my existing factory tape deck. Use a cassette-to-3.5mm adapter and I can use any streaming audio solution I want.

    • 0 avatar
      cc-rider

      I own a 95 E320 and love the simplicity of the W124 Mercs!

  • avatar
    The Dark One

    I myself tend to agree with the “Simple is better” philosophy. My wife having nothing but trouble with her touchscreen phone while I went out of my way choosing one with the best rated overall sound quality and simple straightforeward buttons; other (young) people I know get frustrated with their phones because simple tasks such as muting the ringer or text alert requires jumping through multiple hoops.
    Had my Mother-in-Law known that the Toyota Rav-4 didn’t come equipped with back-up cameras she would have purchased one instead of the Honda CR-V she wound up with that she absolutely hates. (she is scared to death to press the ECON button, and never got a satisfactory answer when asking her salesman exactly what an ECON button was!) The only reason she purchased it was that they stopped making the Element, and she had shopped the dealer before and hates venturing far from her comfort zone.
    A big influence on the way I think comes from the time I was 19 and drove a friends full sized pick-up through Atlanta. (I was used to small vehicles like my 72 Beetle and 1980 Celica) Being a teen, music was a big priority in those days, and the teeny tiny buttons on his radio while driving 80 mph on the Atlanta freeway convinced me to seek out car stereos with large buttons and easy to read displays.

    • 0 avatar
      corntrollio

      “other (young) people I know get frustrated with their phones because simple tasks such as muting the ringer or text alert requires jumping through multiple hoops.”

      The most recent touchscreen phones I’ve used (multiple Android devices + iPhone 5) all have volume + and – buttons. How much easier do you want it to be?

      Some Android phones will automatically silence the ringer based on movement of the phone (e.g. if you are pulling it out of your pocket to answer it).

      “(she is scared to death to press the ECON button, and never got a satisfactory answer when asking her salesman exactly what an ECON button was!)”

      If it’s like certain other cars, sometimes it shuts off the A/C compressor. However, it’s trivial to read the owner’s manual.

  • avatar
    Botswana

    Not quite in my 40′s yet but I’d prefer to take a discount on the vehicle and do away with the complicated systems. Let me have a place to plug in my iPod and make sure I have somewhere to charge my phone (Hint: most vehicles already do that) and I’m happy.

    I test drove a Cadillac CTS-V Coupe recently. Awesome car but just loads of options I don’t care about. Other than being seen in such a spectacular looking car, I couldn’t justify the price.

    As for a more, er, attainable car, knobs and buttons provide a nice tactile feel that are easily manipulated without taking your eyes off the road. If texting is causing so many accidents what the hell are all these touchscreens going to do for distracted driving?

  • avatar
    Larry P2

    I prefer my cars to be raw, satanically-powerful, uninhibited go-carts with snarling, popping exhausts as the only sound system. Some of my cars arrived with expensive and elaborate aftermarket stereo systems. I have seen faceplates from Alpine adoring the dash, Rockford Fozgate electronics hidden in corners and under seats, massive wires running here and there. Some of them have been yanked to save weight. None of the rest of them have ever been turned on.

    If you need a sound system, then your car isn’t sorted out enough to make you love the sheer exuberance of really driving, rather than being a passive and gullible consumer of content. All of this garbage about “soft touch” switchgear and plastics and aeromatic leather as per TTAC’s interior fetish religion is not the writings of true gear heads. And yet the lard-assing up of modern cars is lamented, as though it is a mysterious force that nobody can stop.

    No truly entertaining car needs an “entertainment system.” A yawning hole in the dash where 50 pounds of ugly and useless “entertainment system” used to belong, thereby evincing a real determination to lose weight, is a great first step into turning a car itself into a real entertainment system.

    • 0 avatar
      Type57SC

      Tick the track-pack option.

      • 0 avatar
        Larry P2

        You can surf the net and read your emails while you are laying on the chiropractor table, getting the aches and sprains fixed from a car that accelerates and corners WAY too hard for the human body to endure.

        For sheer car entertainment, nothing works like driving an angry blown, nitrous-fed Pro-Street El Camino, sans any interior at all other than competition buckets and a five-point restraints, the only extraneous decoration in the interior being a nitrous controller readout, and setting off the car alarms on late model cars just by driving by them.

        • 0 avatar
          golden2husky

          Hard core loud performance is a load of fun, but not all the time. Would most like to commute in a ProStreet ride? No. Holes in the dash? Surely you can put something useful there…

  • avatar
    Halftruth

    Agreed 100 percent. There is simply too much distraction with every I-FAD electronic doo-dad that is out there. I have always been a proponent of the stripper models for their simplicity, ease of maintenance and in my case, enjoyment. Give me knobs, just a few buttons, crank windows and a bench seat.
    And throw in a fold-up map or book map and keep the GPS.. GPS directions have
    caused me more grief when the map told me all I need to know. I realize this isn’t for everyone out there but some of us do like our vehicles simpler.

    Things I can live without:

    -Super big wheels and tires
    -Electronic nannies galore that do everything but drive the damn car
    -Gi-normous consoles that take up all sorts of space
    -Diminishing headroom and visibility due to current, popular design
    -Myriad button consoles that are not easy to navigate when driving
    -Hideous angry headlight profiles
    -Oh and let’s not forget lo-beams that are much brighter than yesterday’s high beams.

  • avatar
    ant

    I’m 38, and I am not a fan of the touch screens. Buttons work just fine IMO.

    Seem to me that a lot of this crap comes at a cost of not implementing features that would make the car better.

    Like, why not put HID headlights across the whole line up of cars? I’m sure folks young and old would like to see better whilst driving at night.

    Or, putting in an outside temp gauge on the dash, with a freezing roadway warning?

    Why did it take so bloody long to put in running fuel mileage computers in cars?

    Instead of satellite radio, how about better quality speakers?

    Our newest car (12tsx) has an integrated hands free cell phone system that works very well….. every car sold today should have this.

    Car designers too often get distracted with gimmicks (like huge rims), and fail to make cars better.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      HIDs are great, just not when someone installs the bulbs in his 2001 Mitsubishi Galant. Oh, and let’s not forget the various aftermarket E46 HID headlamp assemblies which look tacky and weren’t engineered to any safety standard whatsoever. One of our cars has built-in HID headlamps and I’m glad that it has a system that allows me to aim the lights toward the ground instead of right into peoples’ windshields.

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        Yes, illegal HIDs are a much bigger problem than any sort of legal headlights.

        Also, the stupid color-tinted conventional bulbs that are supposed to look like HIDs, but can be spotted as fake from a mile away, need to go away too. They produce less light because of the tint, of course, so the poseur has actually decreased the performance of his vehicle with this mod.

    • 0 avatar
      corntrollio

      “Or, putting in an outside temp gauge on the dash, with a freezing roadway warning?

      Why did it take so bloody long to put in running fuel mileage computers in cars?”

      I’m not sure why the first one disappeared. My old Panther had an analog temperature gauge attached to the driver’s side mirror. However, many recent cars I’ve driven had an outside temperature gauge, and some have a freezing roadway warning.

      For the latter, it was often considered a “luxury” feature in the past, and you had to often get the trip computer as an option on a high trimline in the past for many non-luxury makes. On many current vehicles, you still need some of the electronic systems to get a trip computer, and so it’s still usually only a higher trimlines on non-luxury makes. It also used to be standard for certain cars, but de-contenting has also made it disappear on occasion.

  • avatar
    E46M3_333

    The extra gizmos are a mixed bag. For example, I love rain sensing windshield wipers, but I don’t like automatic climate controls.

    • 0 avatar
      gearhead77

      The rain sensing wipers on my Mazda 5 seem to have a mind of their own. It appears that the sensitivity adjustment is only for show too. I could do without them, but I like the auto climate control most of the time. I love HID headlamps, I will take those over anything else though. Visibility is key to driving, dontcha know…

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      I can’t put mine in auto because it runs the AC compressor all the time (killing MPG), at the ready – even if it’s 25F outside and there’s no way I’d need any cool air.

      • 0 avatar
        gearhead77

        Forgive me if I’m wrong, but I believe the reason most cars run the A/C compressor is to take advantage of the moisture removal function of air conditioning, not providing cold air, though IIRC, that’s why the air feels cool with A/C.

        I can turn off the A/C in the Mazda and Nissan, even though the 5 has an auto climate system. But the 5 defaults to it being on, not good in a 153bhp minivan. It’s usually off, until the windows fog.

        Most cars I’m familiar with run the A/C by default anytime the system is in defog or bi-level (floor and defog). That’s happened in domestic cars for a long time, imports or captive imports only started that maybe in the last decade I suppose. That and the recirc button are the reason you’ll see lots of older imports with foggy windows during the cold or cool time of the year. Max A/C is also a recirculation mode.

        • 0 avatar
          golden2husky

          gearhead, you are 100% correct about the A/C. The primary reason to run the compressor is to dehumidify the air. The output of the heater core can easily overpower the cooling capacity of the A/C, so you would be hard pressed to say the A/C was watering down the effectiveness of the heat. And yes, domestics for years ran the compressor automatically in defrost. Japanese imports had the extra button, and while there were times shutting of the compressor might have been desired, the primary effect was that those who didn’t think to run the compressor often complained that “their Honda had crappy defoggers”…Never run recirc with the defroster; it is a recipe for fogged windows.

          • 0 avatar
            gearhead77

            Golden, neither car will let me select recirc if its in defrost or bilevel mode. Must be in response to all those complaints of foggy windows(lawsuits?) I don’t know how long that’s been true, but I remember foggy windows in my 88 Legend and looking down to see recirc with no AC on.

  • avatar
    carrya1911

    The whole concept of complex in-car electronic systems is outdated in and of itself. There’s no reason why instead of an iPad style interface we couldn’t just have a means of slipping one of the smaller iPads or Android powered tablets right into the dash where it would receive power and be able to interact with the car’s computer systems via manufacturer specific apps.

    Increasingly the aftermarket is producing infotainment systems that piggyback off of smart phones and their data connections. It’s already kind of happening. Clued in modders are already finding ways to do this. It’s complicated and kludgy right now, but if some guys with heat guns can accomplish it I would imagine that Mercedes could come up with a system where you dock your iPhone or Droid and can access all the functions you want from the phone, including GPS.

    Personal communications devices are the future of pretty much everybody who hasn’t decided to live off the grid. The company that lets go of the idea of making a fortune off of their own home-grown system and figures out how to integrate the customer’s own PCD seamlessly into the vehicle will be ahead of the game.

    • 0 avatar
      Dirk Stigler

      This. It’s painfully obvious that Ford cheaped out on the hardware underlying SYNC. Any of us that want that kind of system in the dashboard already have perfectly good hardware in our pockets. Just dock it to the car and give it software to do the UI functions. Then the automaker doesn’t have to become a computer company, and the driver doesn’t have to pay for an extra device that they never really get familiar with because the only time they get to play with it is when they’re driving and have other things to pay attention to. Everyone wins.

      • 0 avatar
        missinginvlissingen

        RIGHT ON. If people with 2- or 3-year-old phones are clamoring for new devices to replace their “outdated” model, then how is it a good idea to build today’s infotainment technology into a dashboard screen that I’ll have for 10, 15 or 20 years?

        Cars should come with an empty dock to house an easily-upgraded piece of gear or smartphone. Anything permanently installed will be obsolete LONG before the car is retired.

        • 0 avatar
          gearhead77

          I’m probably not the only one thinking of the CRT screens in the Buick Reatta right now, am I? Not sure what other GM products were graced with those, the Reatta comes to mind first. Maybe the Riviera? I think only Buick got them.

          Another case of GM being ahead of its time without the proven technology,mechanical ability or computing power to back it up. V8-6-4 anyone?

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            The Reatta and Riviera were the only ones to get the CRT screen.

            But there were also complex electrics and “modern” computery things in the 91-96 Ninety-Eight sedan. Millions of buttons.

            Oh, also the Allante had screen stuff.

          • 0 avatar
            Kyree S. Williams

            That particular CRT-touch screen system came and went before I was even born, but even GM realized it was a mistake. The Riviera had it from ’86-’89 and the Reatta had it from ’88-’89. It went away as soon as the cars got refreshed interiors (and airbags). Of course the Reatta was axed, and GM rightfully chose not to give the following and final Riviera (’95-’99) any kind of complex, touch-screen-based system. It didn’t even get a digital instrument cluster like the ’86-’93 models had.

          • 0 avatar
            dtremit

            Don’t forget the Toronado Troféo.

            http://smg.photobucket.com/user/Toronado3800/library/Autos/1989%20Toronado%20Trofeo

        • 0 avatar
          CJinSD

          The manufacturers want you clamoring for a new car after two or three years. Planned obsolescence was what made the US auto industry work for a while.

    • 0 avatar
      bryanska

      Every 2 years I get a new smartphone that is 3-4x more powerful than the old one. Each is a quantum leap in terms of capability. The new Galaxy has eye tracking, for chrissake.

      Any infotainment system is obsolete before it reaches the dealer. What I love about the new Mazda6 is the big, square double-DIN opening in the dash. I know I can drop in the latest Pioneer AVIC instead of wrestling with a laggy OEM unit.

      I am a tech head, but the only thing worse than Luddite features are undepowered nav units. I’d gladly take a AUX-in jack any day, and a flip-up Galaxy Note mount in front of the head unit.

      • 0 avatar
        carrya1911

        Hell yes. I just bought a 2013 Accord and apart from having the worst stereo imaginable, the electronics in it aren’t going to age well.

        …but it being a Honda Accord, I’m sure the aftermarket will eventually deliver a suitable upgrade.

      • 0 avatar
        dtremit

        Don’t get your hopes up too much…on at least one other Mazda model, if you take out the nice standard double DIN radio, the A/C stops working and you lose the ability to set the clock.

    • 0 avatar
      corntrollio

      “I would imagine that Mercedes could come up with a system where you dock your iPhone or Droid and can access all the functions you want from the phone, including GPS.”

      But that still requires the car company to be a “computer company” to some extent, as Dirk Stigler phrased it, or a large amount of industry cooperation.

      In order to do this, you would generally need a common connector for all phones to hook into the car, and you would need an API for the phone to access the car’s systems that all of the car’s systems are connected to. The latter still requires the car company to be a computer company.

      Furthermore, this would require either:
      (a) every manufacturer must work together to come up with a standard for accessing car systems (see e.g. OBD/OBD-II) plus a common connector type; or
      (b) every car manufacturer has to develop their own custom apps and custom cable that run on and connect to available smartphones (and they’d have to update them constantly) — which makes them a computer company again.

      In a world where Apple uses proprietary connectors and then changes them every so often, this seems like a tough ask. Android phones at least often use standard Mini/Micro-USB and HDMI ports.

      Someone like VW/Audi might have an easier time with something like this because of how VCDS works and how the CAN bus works. It effectively is a common interface for many of the car’s systems.

      However, do I really want my car so easily hackable? That’s not the only issue of robustness. Car manufacturers have a rigorous testing regime that all car systems go through. Do I really want Honda service writers arguing with Apple’s tech support on who caused the problem?

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        OBDII standards worked because the “bad old government” mandated it. manufacturers could have additional power built into it, but the interface and codes for a given set of parameters was mandated. That is not going to happen with UI’s. CAN bus construction is common on cars for operating the myriad of electrical devices. Without it, the wiring in the vehicle would be staggering…and as you pointed out, Apple and others change connectors on occasion, to line their pockets and render your equipment obsolete. It is not only the Worldwide auto industry that works on the concept of planned obsolescence…

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    I would love a Luddite edition. I am 29. I am OK with technology. For example, prob hypocritically/ironically I would love a touch screen unit on my motorcycle, mainly to integrate GPS, fuel economy monitoring and music. But I could do all that with a cheap Android tablet to no ill effect on the bike.

    With a car things are too integrated. What do you think is going to happen in a few years when these “MyTouch” units start shitting the bed? It’s not like the old days where the only integration between the ECU and radio/HVAC was maybe a speed signal for automatic volume control. Now the ECU IS the radio, and there are millions of cars out there with prototype grade (read: not fully sorted) interface systems just waiting to crap out and render the whole cars useless. I like to keep things modular + separate for reliability.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    Of course, I’m very much in the Luddite generation, but I love my i-phone (which by the way, makes a better navigation device — Google Maps! — than either Garmin unit I have, much less some expensive built-in. However, other than voice commands — if they really did work — I think a touchscreen in a car is the devil’s own invention. First, because you have to look at it to operate and second because all of the functions can’t be displayed in the home screen, so you have to get inside the designer’s head to figure out which nested menu will get you the control that you want.

    I use a Bluetooh earpiece with my I-phone, so I don’t have much desire to connect the phone function to the car. Yes, it would be cool to run Pandora from the car, or to connect the iphone to the car audio system to play music for less than the cost of a Sirius XM subscription.

    Self parking has got to be the ultimate geezer app, but the truth is it would be attractive to all manner of incompetent and or inattentive drivers: same with lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control and something that hits the brake so you don’t mow down a pedestrian.

    My personal view is that a car should keep the driver a bit busy. If it doesn’t the driver is likely to become inattentive, doing other things, etc. I am mindful of the studies that indicate that one of the problems with using mobile phones in the car isn’t so much holding the phone up to your head, or even looking down to dial a number. It’s having the conversation itself. If that’s true than various other 21st century communications techniques, no matter how accomplished physically, are equally risky, such as texting, e-mailing and so on.

    Even traction control and dynamic stability control (of which I generally approve) have their limits. A couple of years ago, I found out that I made better progress in snow with the traction control off, just taking advantage of the benefits of the limited slip differential. I also found that heavy use of the traction control in snow made quick work of the rear brake pads.

    And then there’s the automatic climate control in my Honda Pilot which not only runs the a/c compressor when it’s 40 degrees, but grossly overshoots the program temperature when you start out, alternately baking or freezing the occupants until the sensor figures out what temperature the cabin actually is. (In fairness, the automatic climate control in my 92 SHO worked perfectly.)

    I get the sense that lots of these “features” are simply a way of differentiating car A from car B.

  • avatar

    I’m 36, count me in for a car that doesn’t have all the high technology of today. I work in IT and I’ll be damned if I want to figure out why the touch screen on the car crashed because of an update or some such broke something else.

    I love both my cars for the sheer simplicity of them now, though the Explorer has EFI, and all sorts of electronic gizmos of 1995 (speed sensitive wipers, overhead console, etc) its been pretty solid and rather unobtrusive for anything, and the Chevelle… well I think the radio is the smartest thing in it, and it dates from 1978, otherwise the car is about as stone simple as they can get, granted I am under the hood more often adjusting things, but thats still a rare time.

    My brother-in-laws Acura MDX just drives me bonkers because its not a simple task to change the radio, though the A/C system works with buttons, it’s got a plethora of buttons scattered across the dash, which reminds me of my old 6000-STE.

  • avatar
    carguy949

    And while we’re at, who needs a phone? I can just open up the winda and yell and people can hear me just fine, by crackey! :-)

    Seriously, I’m 52 (pre-geezer?) and I’m very happy with the technology – if it works well. And, in my Infiniti, it does. And I completely agree about waiting a year or two, at least, before jumping into any new system.

  • avatar
    ToxicSludge

    I’m in my 60′s,and still haven’t figured out all the touch screen crap on my 2012 Equinox ltz,and I quit tryin’.The only ‘modern’ thing I like in any vehicle is bluetooth for my cell phone,(not smart phone),and chevy has that too damn complicated.I’m going back to pickup trucks,a simpler way of life…..

    • 0 avatar
      ant

      In of itself, I consider Bluetooth to to be epic fail.

      How about they put a cord in the car that I can plug into the phone, like a headset?

    • 0 avatar
      The Dark One

      I love my somewhat simple 89 Chevy truck, the only fault I have with it is there are no slider controls or knobs for the HVAC system. Just an annoying 2 inch green screen (think pre-windows computer display)with a button to increase/decrease the temperature electronicly that works when it wants to. I usually change the sitting twice a year – all the way cold in spring, and all the way hot in late fall; and that consist of punching the button repeatedly and hoping to see the little tri-ange indicator move from one side to the other.

  • avatar
    FJ60LandCruiser

    It’s been six months since I got my Entune? equipped 4Runner. Four months since I realized I can mute the screen to “off” and not deal with annoying “apps” that serve more to discract than “enhance” my driving experience.

    Mercifully, Toyota chose not to integrate the climate control, 4WD, or any driving or comfort controls into the system and made it purely for entertainment and therefore quite easy to ignore except when the glare from the morning sun hits the shiny screen and sends a fireball of light into my face.

    The screen also serves to feed images for the backup camrea, in case a rich politically connected man borrows my car and decides to run over his kids while drunk and blame SUVs for it. The lens coverage is actually kinda narrow and doesn’t really replace the mirrors as much as supplement them.

    Did I want this fancy infotainment system?

    Nope. It came bundled with the truck as part of a popular equipmunk package someone in Toyota felt I needed to fulfill my driving existence–or even affirm my own existence as a human being.

    Since then, a rear bumper mounted spare has covered up the backup camera and rendered it useless, so the screen serves no further purpose to me that some LED lights wouldn’t suffice. I hate Bluetooth since every call while in the truck immediately comes over the speakers–and people outside the vehicle can hear my conversation through the quite good JBL stereo… that and it drains my phone’s battery. The USB seems to more confuse my Android, probably because it’s not an iPhone and Toyota was too lazy to make a system that worked with BOTH manufacturers, so they decided to gamble with one and screw 50-60% of smartphone users in the process.

    Would I get a luddite package? Sure.

    Would dealers offer one when every ignorant, uninformed buyer feels their car needs to be loaded to the gills with needless crap so the customer can fell like he got his car “loaded” and not some stripper rental model? No.

    We’re facing a reality that cars have become less driver oriented and instead focusing on endless distractions and nanny devices–and also bristling with computers.

    Even those who want a simple driving experience and find all that crap confusing may be conned into buying the infotainment laden car because it’s “better” or has good resale value… Dealers did the same nonsense in dumping SUVs with cargo-space eating third row seats on the public. Come trade-in time the lack of the vestigial and brutally punishing third row seat was considered a deal breaker and reason for the dealer to screw you out of 2-3k of the vehicle’s value.

    I can see similar arguments being made of a car lacking all the LCD, touchscreen, voice operated, Bluetooth bulls### come trade in time.

    • 0 avatar
      gearhead77

      I don’t know if it’s the car manufacturer, phone manufacturer or Android OS. I’ve had problems in more than a few rental cars of various manufacture trying to get the system to sync with my HTC Android phone, but not my stand alone iPod touch (1st generation).

      With my phone,sync through Bluetooth is OK most of the time, but when I use the USB port, that’s when the problem starts. My phone (and most Android devices?) only wants to use the USB to charge or access the phone memory, not both. I’ve gotten it to work, but most of the time it’s after 10 minutes or more of fumbling around, still not sure what I did to make it work.

      I could save myself from that by carrying the 12v charger and using Bluetooth, but I feel this defeats the purpose of the USB port appearing in most cars.

      • 0 avatar

        The phone problem may be the infamous switch away from normal storage protocol to MTP in the Android 4.x (Ice-cream Sandwich). The idea was noble – to allow transfers without blocking all access from the phone/player, but the protocol is not very impressive.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    How bout keep all the controls operated by good old fashioned nobs and buttons but give me a nice integrated mount for a smart phone or small tablet? Then knock the silly amount those factory SYNC/U-connect/etc. cost on the sticker off the price.

  • avatar
    sirwired

    I’m in my mid-30′s, a computer engineer, (for a computer company), and I have no desire whatsoever for a touchscreen in my car. I have no problem whatsoever operating the HVAC and radio controls without the dubious assistance of a touchscreen. And, moreover, I can do so without taking my eyes off the road. What advantage does the touchscreen deliver over buttons and knobs?

    I supposed integrated navigation would be nice, but not as a $1-2k option that works no better than my $130 Garmin perched on the dash.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    To answer the question: A guarded “maybe”.

    Why? It’s simply too expensive for automakers to add a separate model with simple controls when the car is built to operate electronically with computer controls rather than manual. I suppose you could have an option that replaces the touch-screen with controls that LOOK like manual, but work electronically, if that’s the correct term.

    I miss the LARGE radio buttons on our old 1984 Chrysler E-Class. The ultimate in ease-of-use!

    I’m now 62, and enjoy all the technology, but there appears to be a tipping-point in how much you have to do to actuate, operate conveniently and intuitively as you drive to be able to drive SAFELY.

    There was a time when I was young, that a buddy and I SWORE we would NEVER own a vehicle that had any more than a stick shift and radio. A/C? Perish the thought! PS? No way, José. PB? Only if no other way. Power Windows? Really? How lazy can you get? Leather? Only if we were wearing dress shoes at that moment!

    Then we grew up…

    My 2012 Impala LTZ does not have a touch-screen, thus seriously behind the times in that regard, but I bought the car for reasons other than blingy tech. Still, in retrospect, I would have liked to have a car with the touch-screen and all you get to play with, but it’ll wait ’til my next ride if my eyesight holds up.

    Oh well – it does have a compass, so at least I know what direction I’m headed in…

    Perhaps I’m thought of as a “geezer”, but I sure try not to fill that role!

    • 0 avatar
      carrya1911

      Just an example…the 2013 Honda Accord I just bought has buttons that control the radio…but the buttons themselves are just interfaces to a radio unit (essentially a computer) that lives behind the dash. The controls can be buttons and knobs, but instead of having some mechanical linkage it will run to a computer system behind the dash.

      In other words, the buttons and knobs on the dash will work essentially the same way that the keyboard and mouse work on your computer. Manufacturers can make button controls that do all the same things as a touch-screen interface.

      • 0 avatar
        Zackman

        You bought a very nice-looking car. I love the way Honda cleaned up the mess with the design details with all sorts of odd zigzag angles and such and smoothed out things – now the car, at least on the outside, is complete. The inside? Not too bad, either.

  • avatar
    oldowl

    When you are driving alone, changing radio stations, temperature, etc., are most easily and safely done by the feel of tactile knobs and switches or by voice, not by sight. If you have a gizmophile passenger aboard, that person can fiddle with the touch screens while you keep your eye on the road.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    There is certainly some truth to the idea that older buyers are often alienated by technological complication, or even simple change.

    The Grand Marquis offered some of the biggest buttons ever seen on a radio, and be darned if that AM radio reception wasn’t good under all conditions.

    Still I think most manufactureres realize this and most offer a basic controls version of their vehicles. However this often sacrifices other luxuries. The days of the stand alone option are largely gone.

    • 0 avatar
      gearhead77

      IIRC, isn’t this one reason why when the tech boom really hit the market, that the German marques took a nosedive in quality? I-Drive, COMAND,etc. (and the associated systems) attached to them were foiling the older wealthy buyers attempts to operate their cars? Therefore, when the CR or JD Power survey came, they were all given bad marks.

      I’m sure it still plays a role today, but the initial boom of these cars caused MB to drop to the bottom or near the bottom of the quality surveys I think.

    • 0 avatar

      My Explorer’s AM reception is horrible as well. though to be fair, it was competing against the AM only radio in the car that was pulling in stations from 300 miles away with the crappy windshield antenna, when the Ford radio could only do about 40 miles with a mast antenna.

  • avatar
    gearhead77

    Texting and driving is bad news, how is an overly complicated touchscreen infotainment unit any better? All this does is force people to not pay attention to what the road, traffic and car are telling them.

    Judging from the responses here, most of us are drivers, we enjoy driving(shocking on a website devoted to cars). A vast majority of the population (in the US anyway) prefer any distraction to actually driving a car. This is sad and apparently has always been true, now the OEM’s are just giving us reasons not to.

    Automated pods, here we come!

    • 0 avatar
      wumpus

      Seriously, the time of the automated car is long overdue. I’ve always thought it was for Seniors (who would love the autodrive, even if they put their hands on the wheel to pretend they have any buisness driving), soccer moms (fire and forget Dakota off to soccer camp), and drunks (who would have no legaslative effect whatsoever). Turns out that gen-Y simply won’t buy cars without it (actually do-anything-but-drive “drivers” are all over the age landscape).

      Me, I want to stop inching along (with a stick, natch) the highway during rushhour and start auto-hauling while drafting. In theory the present roads can handle a much number of cars, but only without humans driving. I’m just counting on there being a way to turn it off, presumably for areas with pedestrians.

  • avatar
    Boff

    I’m gonna disagree with everyone. In-car tech is awesome…give me more give me more more more. My wife figured out the tech in her new 328i by herself…and if she can do it anyone can, trust me. People just have to accept that there will be a learning curve that is steeper than cars of yore…just like a smartphone has a steeper learning curve than a rotary dial phone and a GPS unit has a steeper learning curve than a map. You spent $40K on the car…for the love of God spend a few hours learning it before hopping in and going to bingo. If you’re that hopeless there are many serviceable Panthers still populating used car lots. Not all of these systems are defensible, mind you…poorly-reacting touchscreens that complicate mundane tasks being the prime offenders. In many cars, the voice commands (which OMG you have spend a few minutes learning!!!!) make up for it. Redundant buttons and knobs for these tasks will make a comeback (case in point: BMW). And as far as reliability…I guess we’ll have to see but hell they couldn’t be any worse than brakes or automatic transmissions or coil packs which fail/require replacement all the frickin time. Software may crash occasionally, but it is much more durable and reliable than the greasy bits.

    • 0 avatar

      This is the same 06 & 10 3 series that my sister had?, that we had to call BMW techs out to program the damned Homelink system because the instructions are useless and it doesn’t program like ANY other Homelink system.. I installed a later model Homelink system in my ’95 Explorer and it programmed right off the bat using the same instructions that BMW quoted in her owners manual.

      Sis explicitly ordered both cars without the iDrive because she didn’t want the huge screen in the dash, and frankly it looks so much better without the unblinking eye.

      • 0 avatar
        Boff

        No hers is an F30 (2012 model). All models come with a big screen that looks great and iDrive that works great (mostly). Can’t comment on the Homelink as her car is not so equipped. I agree that the screen integration looked like ass in the E90′s like your sister had.

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        Did you use the rolling code programming mode properly and point your remote at the right spot? I doubt BMW even makes the Homelink system, so hard to blame them. People have discussed this E90 programming on the forums — a quick search found more than one link to help you out, and all of them said, follow the instructions to the letter.

        “because the instructions are useless”
        “it programmed right off the bat using the same instructions that BMW quoted in her owners manual”

        So are the instructions useless or not?

  • avatar
    SteveMar

    My 75 year old dad is one of the unfortunate victims of this car-bound tech overload. He lost is 2010 Fusion in Hurricane Sandy and, having had a great experience with the car, decided to buy a 2013 Fusion. He found one with the same basic engine and trim level, except the new one comes with the My Ford Touch system. It was the ONLY way he could buy a Fusion after the storm. The poor guy has always loved cars (and worked on them), but he is one of those folks for whom email is still a mystery.

    Watching him fumble with the touchscreen is painful to watch. And I think, is this really an improvement? Before, he hit a button and tuned his radio. Now, he is afraid to switch stations otherwise he may turn off the heat or make some other mistake. Not to mention the long term reliability of the system — which, if it goes, will ground the car and lead to a lot of replacement cost.

    I’m a happy user of an iPad and a smartphone. But I believe my car exists so I can drive it. And everything about it should help me do that one job. The contrast between the Fusion and my ’96 Volvo 850 convinces me that the march of time does not always lead to improvements.

    • 0 avatar
      Joe K

      A number of my neighbors have the same issue. They had to replace their trusted steeds after Sandy and now hate the interfaces they were forced to buy. And why are these things packages in such a way that if you want a sunroof you have to get a touchscreen?

    • 0 avatar
      Boff

      You should have seen the look on my 70-yo dad’s face when I showed him how he could plug his iPod into the USB port in his Escalade and hence control the iPod using the truck’s touchscreen. Of course, he’s the first to admit he refuses to read any directions for anything.

  • avatar
    BourbonBob

    I remember a guy from work bought a brand new 80s Lincoln. While in the car, I asked what the big “N” was on the dash. “Cool, huh? It’s a DIGITAL compass!” Eventually, it changed to “NE”. This was progress?

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      I remember the years where the only instrument cluster you could get in the Town Car was the digital one.

      My grandfather actually much preferred the digital dash, and it was one of the reasons he quit Lincoln after taking a 1998 Town Car with a needle for a speedometer. “The writing is TOO DAMN SMALL” was his defense in traffic court after getting caught doing 50 km/h over the limit.

  • avatar
    Shankems

    If the Luddite trim level is less expensive and does not preclude other options then I am all for it. I’ve got technology up the ying yang where I find it to be a value add or even just neat. In a car, it is quite simply a distraction. I’m not climbing in this CTS-V to investigate the entertainment system Mr Salesman.

    -26 Years Old

  • avatar
    juicy sushi

    Put me down as another young (33) luddite. I don’t want the distractions of touch screens when driving. It is a safety concern and I do not understand why manufacturers think that it is a good idea.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    Is there anyone who really likes the screens? I really want a USB/wireless interface so I can “talk” to the car when I want. I don’t want most of what I had to take. The data I mostly use is the super low res info in the speedo.

    The thing about the story’s suggested fogey package that got my attention was comfortable seating. My Volvo salesman said it has become a huge draw for them. There are comfort competitors, but they play so many games with options packages (imports) or pricing gimmicks (domestics) that they just were not worth it.

    Perhaps the problem is that no brand wants to become the fogey brand? This package would only work in a brand so huge it wouldn’t hurt the brand to take on more older buyers.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      I’m no gadget person, and usually tend to gravitate towards simple, but I really like the 8.4″ UConnect interface in my Charger. Probably because it is simpler than other comparable systems.

      If you make use of satellite radio, navigation, bluetooth functions etc. it’s probably the simplest and least confusing way to centrally organize all these features, rather than have buttons hidden all over the place.

  • avatar
    nickoo

    Hmm, this begs the question, stripper entry lux such as 3 series or loaded compact?

    Personally, I would rather have a car that’s built to a higher quality and to last than tech that’s going to be outdated in several years. I can plug my garmin in just fine. Quality cloth seats, P/S, P/L, P/W, Air, that little clicky button to lock/unlock, and I’m good, maybe a backup cam that pops up in the mirror when you put the car in R (had one in a rental Camaro SS, it was pretty sweet since you can’t see out of the damn thing. I don’t need 50 buttons on the console or 10 buttons on the wheel, that stuff is too much of a PITA. I guess I’ll be buying late 90s early 2000s cars for a long time to come.

  • avatar
    niky

    Absolutely loathe touchscreens and resistive controls in cars. Don’t work properly, not even with haptic feedback. And then the firmware bogs down and you’re left with an unresponsive system which requires several button presses (waiting long seconds between each press while the system processes your request) to perform an action that would take a single flick of a switch or twist of a knob in an older system.

    Touchscreens may be fun to play with, but when you’re doing serious work, nothing beats an actual keyboard or buttons. I can touch-type on an iPad, yes, but not while piloting a two ton contraption down the road…

  • avatar
    Junebug

    My first touch screen car – 2012 Camry SE. For one, I had a great salesman and he took the time to show me how it works, pretty easy and the few questions I had later were easy to figure out with the manual. I have the big knobs for fan & temp and push buttons for where to send the air, and AC. I really like the back up camera, saves time parking. I don’t know why that guy put a rear bumper mounted spare on a new 4Runner, but it’s his toy. The touch screen itself, I only glance at, changing the radio is easy with the steering wheel buttons. The other stuff is interesting when you’re stuck waiting for the wife (only take a minute – yeah right) at the mall. And the blu tooth is easy, voice commands work great, and all and all I’m happy with the car. Oh, turning 54 in a few months, don’t know if I qualify for geezer yet.

  • avatar
    taxman100

    We have a big touchscreen in our 2011 Routan – you always have to take your eyes off of the road to use it. At least the climate control is still knobs and buttons. Plus, when the car starts, the back up camera is never ready when you want to start backing up – you have to wait for the system to “boot” up if you want to use the camera.

    Went to the Auto Show over the weekend. Try to find a small car with heated power mirrors without all of that entertainment touchscreen garbage – something with good gas mileage, you can park outside in the winter, yet not full of useless options.

    I split time between our two old cars – 2000 Corolla with a cassette player that has been broken for probably 8 years and burning a lot of oil, and a 2002 Grand Marquis. While I’d like a hard drive to store music in the radio, other than that there is nothing I saw in the newer cars that seemed worth the money.

    Combine that with no bench seats, and it looks like I’ll be buying another used Grand Marquis once these two go to the boneyard in the next 5-7 years.

  • avatar
    GTL

    I’m 60, but no luddite by any means, as I work in technology for a technology company, but give me knobs. Don’t care a bit for automatic A/C & heat, self-dimming mirrors, push-button start, electric seats, and automatic transmission. Give me a car that is fun to drive, gets good mileage and is affordable, please. Please!!!

  • avatar
    johnny ringo

    I hate all these touch screens because you have to take your eyes off the road to use them-a potentially dangerous situation. I want to decide when I chose to use the HVAC, I do not want to delegate that function to a computer. Also, a lot of these electronics are going to be obsolete in several years and trying to update or repair them is going to be a real hassle. As far as I’m concerned, simpler is better.

  • avatar
    Omnifan

    YES….YES…..YES!!!!!
    The simpler the better. And while they’re at it in the dumbing down department, how about factory car radios that don’t require reprogramming when you want to install a different one. Same applies to being able to install non-factory radios without other weird stuff happening to dash lights, etc.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      “how about factory car radios that don’t require reprogramming when you want to install a different one.”

      I wouldn’t expect this to return as making the same module work across many model lines with different features saves the OEMs a lot of money. If the scan tool can quickly flip the right bits to make a single radio work with the different features in many vehicles, a lot of cost saved.

      It’s also a bit of an anti-theft feature and gets the vehicle back in the dealer.

  • avatar
    Waterview

    + Infinity to the many responses who preceded mine with “yes, simpler is fine”

    Chicago traffic is filled with enough knuckleheads trying to text and drive already. Don’t need to give them another screen to “surf” while they’re commuting.

    Also – there are parts of the world where operating knobs and levers is easier in cold weather (i.e. with gloves on). Unfortunately, the 80 or so of us who would prefer simplicity are likely out-of-step with those who are designing our next cars.

  • avatar
    bunkie

    Can’t say I agree with this one. I’m 57, a serial Cadillac buyer and am very tech-savvy. The issue is poor interface design. I have no doubt that things will improve as time goes on.

    Oh and I’m getting pretty tired of this notion that boomers aren’t technophiles. Who do you think invented the microprocessor revolution that made Twitter and Facebook possible? My generation looked at microprocessors (originally intended for appliances and process-control) and saw personal computing. We not only saw it, we made it happen.

    So get off my lawn!

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      If you read through the thread the great irony is most of the Gen X/Ys are in favor of the luddite trim packages and the guy looking toward retirement is the tech savvy one.

      By-the-by speaking as an IT pro, I would have preferred micro-processers evolved more as appliances than what we have today. Nuclear plants, coal fire plants, assembly factories and my own contribution, the drug dispensing robot I used to work on, rely on DOS level or earlier techonolgy, I believe if our world were completely run by the current level of technology (and bugs) in our phones, navi systems, and PCs, we would literally be back to feudal system.

      • 0 avatar
        niky

        Look at it this way, you can’t very well have a nuclear war when guidance systems run on Apple maps…

        Ah… DOS. Until just two years ago, our entire accounting and enrollment system ran on good old DOS. We were offered something several years ago that ran on the then-latest version of Windows. It was slower, had less flexibility and customizability, was difficult to install, and it cost a fortune. We passed.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          My my, in the US there is a DOS based drug dispensing robot my former employer sells to many hospitals going to Windows now (there were 270 DOS based ones in North America when I left in 2011). My former co-workers are working on their resumes.

          • 0 avatar
            niky

            They could, well… errh… sell to China? I’d say you could use the command prompt, but I’ve a devil of a time making my serial-interfaced engine controller run through Windows virtualization AND a USB-serial adapter (hell of a time finding one nowadays) at the same time! And that’s on a relatively modern Windows 3.1 build!

            I sympathize. All the best solutions were the simple ones, but now, nobody wants you to use them. Should have programmed the robot with Linux. :p

          • 0 avatar
            Zackman

            I did like Windows 3.1…

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      I see where you’re coming from bunkie. My father is older than you and is way more of a gadget junkie than I am as a gen X/Y. He’s got a far fancier smart phone than I can tolerate, and quickly figured out how to use all of the techno features in his fully equipped new vehicle that I don’t even bother to use.

      So it goes both ways. But for the most part, older generations are far less likely to be techno concious than younger folks. Just a generalization of course.

  • avatar
    cRacK hEaD aLLeY

    My mother in law (72) drives a new XC60 T6, loaded.

    I once arrived home just to find her there, just sitting inside the car on the driveway. She had been in there for a while, unable top move: Could not find the E brake release.

    Upon her return from the supermarket she left the car running on the driveway and called me because she wanted to turn the wipers and headlights off before leaving and locking the car. The woman was seriously frustrated.

    She would have been much happier with a CR-V, but was sold into the whole safety nanny features of the Volvo.

    If Volvo did a senior-citizen optional package and charged a fortune for it they would sell it.

    • 0 avatar
      corntrollio

      Neither the e-brake release, wipers, or headlights are high tech features at all. How did she not learn where these things were before leaving the car dealership? A nice salesman would have been happy to explain them to her before she left. I’m seriously wondering if your mother-in-law should even be driving, no offense.

      Unless she was either a previous Honda or CR-V driver and the new model had the same switchgear, I’m not sure why these incredibly basic items would have been easier in the Honda.

      • 0 avatar
        niky

        Unintuitive location. You might have it explained to you, you might not. Good car design should have such important controls in easy to find locations. BMW has an electronic parking brake, but at least it’s center console, in full view. Easier for passengers to pull in case of emergencies, as it acts as an emergency device, slowing the car down gently to a stop.

  • avatar
    Feds

    My Delica (manufactured way back in 1996) came with a touchscreen HVAC/NAV/Radio/TV combo from the factory. I’ve lived with it for a year, and it is terrible. I can’t find the right buttons without REALLY taking my eyes off the road. So I’m in the process of doing this:

    http://translate.google.com/translate?sl=ja&tl=en&js=n&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&layout=2&eotf=1&u=http%3A%2F%2Ffusionsbx.exblog.jp%2F14387209%2F

    For entertainment, I have ordered a cheap Chinese Navigation/DVD/Bluetooth unit, but I searched high and low until I found one with knobs for both volume and tuning. Much easier to grab a dial and spin than try and land your finger on the same little spot while driving.

  • avatar
    kurtamaxxguy

    Three big weaknesses of screen-based car tech:
    poor visibility of the screen in bright light,
    confusing controls,
    sluggish or unstable response (system crashes/reboots for the Ford products).

    Those can make driving downright dangerous (you can’t see alerts, or make needed changes to HVAC for fog elimination, etc.).

    Do the young customers the car companies are pitching this tech to find these same issues to be true?

  • avatar
    n_tesla

    I’m looking forward to adaptive cruise control and lane departure warning systems in my next car. But the infatuation with putting poorly designed and implemented touch screens in instrument clusters is silly. I don’t want a menu system, I want a knob that I can find by touch. I don’t want a factory Nav system either. My iDevice does it better and cheaper and is upgradeable. Look at the Nav systems in 10 year old German cars. You can’t even buy current maps for their Nav systems.

    • 0 avatar
      corntrollio

      “Look at the Nav systems in 10 year old German cars. You can’t even buy current maps for their Nav systems.”

      That’s not true. Here is an updated disc for the Audi nav system that was available starting in 1999 — it was a Blaupunkt DX-based system:

      http://www.bluespot.co.uk/shop-online.aspx/navigation-software

      Do you really think these car manufacturers are designing their own satnav systems?

  • avatar
    340-4

    44 and sign me up.

    I loathe touch screens and video monitors.

    Was thrilled when I checked out (then bought) the new Altima – dials and knobs!

    It’s turning out to be fairly easy to operate without looking – although the worst feature by far is the fact that the fan speed is controlled by buttons, not a nice fat knob in the middle.

    I grew up with, and drove for 14 years, 60′s cars with power nothing and sliders and switches and danged if I could drive in any condition and just automatically know via muscle memory without having to look how to do anything in those cars.

    This concept has been sadly lost.

    Do the designers *want* us to drive into trees? Or rear-end the car in front of us?

    I feel the need to mention BMW’s i-drive; wasn’t there a story a few years ago about how many steps it took to simply change the radio station?

  • avatar
    7402

    Words are important. Let’s try “elegant”, “understated”, or “simple” rather than “luddite”.

    Subaru does a nice job with their knobs on the theory that they should present no problems for gloved hands. Function over form/appearance.

    We test drove SUV a while back and almost all failed the drive-with-boots-on test. What were they thinking?

    I’m OK with electronics and fancy screens as long as they don’t reflect. I just want buttons I can control without looking at them.

    In interface design, the fewer clicks/user actions to get from one place to another is always a good design goal. That would be good for cars as well.

  • avatar
    Alexdi

    I’m 27 and a computer geek. The Luddite edition isn’t what I’m after. I like the ease of customization that comes with a large screen and clever new features.

    What I don’t like are the implementations today. Here’s why:

    1) Touchscreens suck. You have to look at them and not the road. The UI changes with context, so you have to consciously interpret the button placements and effects. And they require manual dexterity that a lot of folks don’t have.

    2) The technology sucks. Every LCD, all of them, glow grey at night. It’s incredibly irritating if you hate distractions. They glow because they can’t display black. OLED can. We haven’t seen it appear yet. In daytime, these screens wash out in sunlight. We need a technology that becomes reflective at the pixel level.

    3) The technology dates horribly and is expensive to update. By the time you see a UI, it’s already three years out of date. Even at day zero, it looks half-assed compared to anything from Apple or Google. What in-car NAV system compares to Google Maps? Why does your OEM want $250 for a map update?

    4) The UI is designed by people who don’t use it or understand how people use it. Too many distractions, too many small elements, too little consistency, too many functions that require unstated inferences. Speech recognition is miles behind what you can find in any new Apple or Google handset. My friend’s ’12 Focus asks him to run a ‘vehicle health check’ every time he starts the car, disabling the rest of the screen. Who thought that was a good idea? Why should he care?

    What I’d like to see is a HUD system with steering wheel and voice controls. Everything should be projected on the windshield. The car should, at your option, drive itself (automatic cruise, lane-following) while the UI is activated. Until then, I’d like to see most ‘smart’ functions delegated to my phone with only those abilities central to the car’s role (e.g., backup cameras) integrated into the dash.

    • 0 avatar
      corntrollio

      “What in-car NAV system compares to Google Maps?”

      Audi’s and Mercedes’ current satnav systems. Why? Because they’re run by Google Maps!

      Hyundai and Kia are next:

      www dot theregister dot co dot uk/2013/01/04/google_maps_in_cars/

      “Speech recognition is miles behind what you can find in any new Apple or Google handset.”

      Infiniti’s voice-activated Bluetooth system was far better than smartphones I’ve used.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      I generally agree, but I have yet to find a good use for voice commands. The key is making complex tasks simpler, but too often voice commands make simple tasks complex. Also, if there’s anyone else in the car, voice commands become epic fail.

  • avatar
    raded

    I’m 27 and work in IT and I’d probably opt for the luddite package.

    If you have a touchscreen in a car, and that’s a big if, it needs to be specifically for things you would never want to use while driving. I loved the new Ford Focus, but the MyFord Touch system was so maddening I couldn’t imagine using it daily for the next several years.

    Seriously though, why do car companies ignore usability and ergonomics in favor of poorly executed versions of the newest technologies? It’s like they think people judge cars on how long their list of features are instead of just the experience of driving it.

  • avatar

    I’m only 30, but I definitely feel I’m one of the few Gen-Y’ers out there who would prefer a trim level with knobs/dials/levers only on my cars. I own 2 1998 Chevy Lumina LTZs and a 1990 Chevy Celebrity wagon. The Luminas have power windows/locks, etc, but the Celebrity is pretty spartan, with its crank windows, manual locks, no cruise, etc. I actually enjoy the wagon despite the lack of modern features. I know exactly where everything is by Braiile on any of the 3 cars. Want to crank up the radio? I know exactly where the volume control is (though the Luminas’ steering-wheel radio controls are a nice feature). Need to flip over to defrost? Flip the knob (on the Luminas) or lever (on the Celebrity) all the way to the right. All that without taking my eyes off the road. All the tech they put in cars now is making it hard for me to figure out what I’m going to want to replace one of the Luminas with when that time comes.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    The test should be real simple: Can you operate the HVAC and radio knobs with a pair of work gloves on? Anything else is an epic FAIL.

  • avatar
    mkirk

    I don’t mind a touch screen for things like navigation and maybe even tied in to the entertainment system if it is well designed and able to one day be removed without rendering the car useless. But I dont need a touchscreen to control my HVAC, adjust my seats, or do any of that stuff. I wouldn’t mind an integrated iPad for media/nav function though. If the Volt had a no BS Apple designed interface would the hipsters be more receptive? Prius is cool with that crowd, but Apple is king.

  • avatar
    mkirk

    iPad mini would work better BTW as the form factor is closer to current auto touchscreen standards.

  • avatar
    TW4

    I’m 31. Ten years ago, I purchased a new car with manual everything. During the 10 years of ownership, I have removed the carpet and Rhino-lined the interior. The car is one of my daily drivers.

    Gen Y likes complicated communications and computing devices. Gen Y does not like complicated equipment for chores. Do I want a vacuum with a touchscreen? No. It’s a crappy chore, and a touch screen won’t make it better. Do I want a touchscreen in my car? No, I have a cell phone in my pocket. If I’m a savvy consumer who enjoys driving, touchscreens aren’t going to improve the experience.

    Most of the junk on modern cars isn’t even superfluous, it’s just digital planned-obsolescence and a one-way ticket to the poor house.

  • avatar
    jd418197

    I’m a tech nerd, (only) 34, and I’d go ludite all the way. When I want heat, I want to crank the knob to red. When I want the fan on high, I want to crank it to, well, high. And I can’t be the only one who wants to start my car by turning a key, rather than pushing a button. While I’m at it, can I have my “roll ‘em down” windows back in a luxury car? A friend’s dad abandoned his usual 7-Series because manual windows are one less thing to break. I can’t believe the number of “young” responders here who agree – tech is great, but not while driving. The only good thing that comes to mind is the tone you hear when exceeding a pre-set speed in my dad’s VW; I love that it’s there, but love even more that it can be programmed how you want it – for example, if you want it OFF.

  • avatar
    mypoint02

    I’d gladly buy a Luddite spec as well. Sadly, I don’t think infotainment whizzbangs are going anywhere anytime soon. As anyone who has been to an auto show within the last 10 years can attest, the first thing people go for when they get into a car these days isn’t the wheel or gearshift, but rather the stereo or multimedia interface.

    Aren’t the Feds mandating rear view cameras in 2014 as well? Having an LCD/touchscreen mandatory on every car will pretty much cement our fate.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      Many car makers are trying to put the rear view camera display in the rear view mirror to save cost.

      Personally, I don’t mind an info screen in the dash. It’s the loss of real buttons & knobs with their direct control (i.e., no menus) & tactile feedback that bothers me.

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    When I first started to drive, the only electronics in a vehicle was an AM radio with mechanical presets.

    If one wanted to adjust the outside rearview mirrors, one had to roll the window down -manually.

  • avatar
    dougjp

    Derek, either you fell for the auto manufacturer’s Kool-Aid on this one, or you are trying to bait us to get participation. :)

    This is not just an age issue, as proven by the majority of the respondents here. We don’t want what the manufacturers are pushing down our throats, and never have. That’s because a majority of people of all ages are intelligent enough to know that, while driving, one motion to accomplish something is far better than 2, 3 or 4.

    Back when iDrive was introduced, all auto journalists were “on our side”, deriding the system, endlessly making fun of it. However, like politicians, the auto manufacturers plowed forward, star struck by the brilliance of their marketing gurus’ visions and slaves to the almighty sub prime financing generation.

  • avatar
    big jay

    I’m not thrilled with the touch screens but I could maybe learn to live with them. What really worries me about them is their longevity. That touch screen effectively makes your car a disposable item. 8 years from now when it dies how many thousands of dollars will it cost to replace? Will you even be able to find a replacement? It’s one thing to have the screen be there for purely information purposes but, on most new cars, it is the only way that you can control the radio and environmental controls. So, once it goes up, you’re SOL if you ever want to turn on the heat or AC.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      Ford has already run into that problem with MFT.

      Under its first incarnation, it would glitch so badly that all controls–even HVAC–would go haywire. People reported stereo volume going to max and being stuck there. The radio controls would actually adjust the AC blower. People had to pull off the road because they could no longer drive. The only solution was to disconnect the battery or pull a fuse to force a reboot.

  • avatar
    ajla

    ” …technologically advanced features like touch screens and complicated infotainment systems.”

    So advanced that a lot of it was available back in 1987.

  • avatar
    Marko

    Kudos to Subaru, Scion, and Mazda (there must be at least one more) for making their entertainment systems the easily upgradeable, universal DIN type.

    • 0 avatar
      ...m...

      …have you seen the newest mazdas?..their operation/entertainment systems have unfortunately succumbed to the same siren song as most major manufacturers…

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        The newest Mazdas still seem to have the standard DIN interface. The touch screen units in the CX-5 & 6 can be ripped out and directly replaced with the non-touch screen found on the basest trims, as far as I can tell.

        Conversely, compare that to MFT, which due to all interior controls being routed through it (even HVAC), cannot be replaced with any other unit, even if you could find/make enough trim & brackets to make it fit.

  • avatar

    30 years from now, will the cars made today be able to be restored?

  • avatar
    redav

    A thousand times, yes!

    Of all the devices I have used with touch screens (car, phone, tablet, TV remote, appliances, etc.), I have yet to use one that worked better than real buttons. The only benefit I have yet found for touch screens is when you cannot have fixed button locations, such as picking points on a map. For EVERYTHING else, physical buttons work better, especially in cars.

    I desire my car to be a car, not a smart phone. But given how kids nowadays prefer phones to cars, the gee-whiz gadgetry isn’t surprising. What is surprising is how car makers are increasingly not even giving their buyers a choice. I would love it if the NHTSA were to finally stop their hemming/hawing and step in to cripple these devices so badly that drivers no longer want them.

    I believe people ought not blindly accept everything new. They should embrace what works best. They should reject new technologies that do not work well or only perform unnecessary tasks. Using my phone when driving is one such unnecessary task.

  • avatar
    Robbie

    Car companies do not want a luddite trim level at all. They prefer to charge $3000 more for a $70 screen plus $35 hardware…

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      Sure, but these screens are becoming standard, even in the base trim. I am willing to pay a couple hundred bucks more to rip it out and put in a real stereo. Car makers should not be opposed to that since they would make more money off of me.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      “Car companies do not want a luddite trim level at all. ”

      You’re right. This is an example of the bean counter trifecta: cutting costs, charging more, and duping the customer into thinking it’s a beneficial advance in technology.

  • avatar
    nrd515

    I want the power windows, door locks, trunk lid, remote start all the stuff that is pretty much bug free when it comes from the factory, and I really like the seat heaters and the bluetooth phone interface. My car (2010 Challenger R/T)has knobs for heat and A/C, but the stereo is touch screen and a hassle to work while in motion, but not nearly as big a hassle as friend’s Edge is or another friend’s Caddy C…whatever model it is. I like the cars, but not the touchscreen stuff, it’s slow to respond, or it “misses” what you touch. My car doesn’t have any problems with that stuff most of the time, since I rarely mess with the settings for tone and fading, but I wouldn’t be shocked if the 2014, or next generation one does. I really don’t understand a move to touchscreen heat or A/C at all, it’s just more steps added to what would take a second with a knob.

  • avatar
    Wheatridger

    The verdict is in– we hate in-dash touchscreens. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen such a unanimous opinion here. i

    I just bought a 2009 GTI. A new Golf would have been about the same payment for a longer term, so affordable. But it would have come with a touchscreen radio, one that takes four precise control inputs just to turn the bass up or down. That’s unacceptable, and quite difficult when you’re moving in three dimensions (stiff suspension+ bad pavement= vertical motion).

    Touchscreens are irritating even when you’re not struggling to use them. In bright daylight (very bright, here in Colorado), they’re too dim, but at night, it’s like a video billboard drawing your attention away from the road. The geniuses who design this stuff in an ideally-lit office in a gloomy, sea-level climate such as Detroit or Tokyo have no clue at how dark or how bright it gets in this corner of the real world. Planning a long road trip with my 2013 Tiguan, I’ve actually made a custom shade from popsicle sticks and fabric to slip into the CD slot and obscure that damned screen at night. Then I’ll only be distracted and enraged by the bright, garish LCD billboards polling up all over the place.

    Thirty years ago, we started closing down the drive-in theaters. Maybe someone knew that we would be installing the theater in our cars, not the other way around?


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