By on September 13, 2017

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Fifty years ago the equipment disparity between luxury vehicles and economy cars was vast, but things are different today. With the exception of nicer materials and cutting-edge technology, you can get essentially everything you would want in a basic hatchback. We’re not talking about power windows and air conditioning either; the technological trickle-down now includes things like active safety systems, heated seats, in-car navigation, multiple driving modes, and more.

As it turns out, the great unwashed masses of today enjoy their pleb-mobiles at about the same level as affluent individuals like their own diamond-encrusted executive mobility suites. The reason? Because nobody cares about premium features they can’t figure out how to use, nor do they miss technology that isn’t part of their daily routine.

Adding some mild validity to the sentiment is J.D. Power’s 2017 Tech Experience Index Study, where overall owner satisfaction with new-vehicle technology among premium and non-premium owners averaged equally. We’re not always fans of some of J.D. Power’s broader surveys, but something focused like this study provides specific insight into the typical consumer mindset.

In this case, the takeaway lesson is that average drivers will turn up their collective noses at features that require a lot of effort to use and appreciate easy-to-understand technology. The study also references a degree of “lost value” associated with some premium equipment — which eats away at the monetary value of implementing certain features, as some owners simply don’t understand how to utilize them or find them unnecessary in the first place.

“Satisfaction is very low among owners who tried a feature but no longer use it,” the study explains. “These owners represent a captive audience who have paid for the feature but, through a poor experience, have decided not to continue using it. The most prominent reason given by owners for not using features is because they do not need them.”

Among the least well-received options is the in-vehicle mobile router. When owners, along with those who have never used the feature, were asked why, 43 percent say they did not need the feature and 24 percent say they didn’t want to incur additional costs to use it. Making your car a mobile hotspot also yields little practical value, since most smartphones already have that functionality. As well, setting it up can be a pain.

All things considered, consumers seem fairly satisfied with the technology on offer in modern vehicles. J.D. Power’s survey yielded an average score of 750, out of a possible 1,000. Satisfaction was highest in the large car segment with 777 points, followed by the compacts (753), premium compacts (751), premium midsize (746), regular midsize (744), small premium cars (739), and the small car segment (732).

Car buyers were most pleased with easy-to-use safety tech like parking cameras and blind-spot detection, and more basic features like power seats and air conditioning. Likewise, satisfaction increased when dealerships bothered to help them understand how to best use a vehicle’s features, especially when the interface wasn’t intuitive. The lesson: don’t splurge on features you won’t use or can’t understand — you’ll be happier in the long run.

[Image: Mercedes-Benz]

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99 Comments on “Nobody Cares About or Uses the Premium Technology in High-end Luxury Cars...”


  • avatar
    Hummer

    Technology has been used for the last several years as a way to justify increasing prices while making cars increasingly less interesting. Why do I need a system that can direct my car into a spot if I can manually eye it and do it faster without having to let the system set it self up? You know what I do need? An engine that isn’t as stressed, cheaper to maintain, increased power output, and sounds great.

    • 0 avatar
      Maxb49

      “Technology has been used for the last several years as a way to justify increasing prices while making cars increasingly less interesting. Why do I need a system that can direct my car into a spot if I can manually eye it and do it faster without having to let the system set it self up? You know what I do need? An engine that isn’t as stressed, cheaper to maintain, increased power output, and sounds great.”

      By far the most astute and to-the-point comment posted here.

    • 0 avatar
      AoLetsGo

      You are right we don’t need most of that stuff. People confuse technology with shiny baubles.
      My new RAM 1500 Tradesman with a Hemi and ZF 8 speed transmission has good power that comes on smooth and easy, however, the factory exhaust could use some “sound” work. All the other standard features are simple to use but would have made it a premium truck 10-15 years ago. I have to admit I do like my one bauble – upgraded wheels and paint so it does not look like a bare-bones work truck.

    • 0 avatar
      Noble713

      ” You know what I do need? An engine that isn’t as stressed, cheaper to maintain, increased power output, and sounds great.”

      Sounds like you need an LS376/525 in your life. ^_^

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        “Sounds like you need an LS376/525 in your life. ^_^”

        More choices would be great, as for now my 2017 6-speed manual SS sedan takes care of my needs. Speaking of which,., I’m having some withdrawals talking about it; need to go do a couple smokie burnouts and twisty roads.

  • avatar
    ash78

    This seemed pretty obvious to me, but it’s nice to have some corroboration (even if it is just JD Power…)

    Way back in my graduate business/marketing work, I remember a case study on the Sony vs Panasonic and how there was an arms race to capture what was left of the waning home phone equipment market (even in 2000, most people saw the writing on the wall with cell phones.

    A Sony exec was asked why their phone had a total of 27 features, even though 99% of consumers only used the same 8-10 features. The answer was easy: “Because Panasonic has 26 features.”

    I’ve always imagined a world where “luxury” could stop being defined by how much tech you can cram into a car, but rather build quality for the long haul. Take away some of the bells and whistles and build to a higher standard. If only consumers wouldn’t get sick of their cars every 3-4 years.

    • 0 avatar

      Pride of ownership is fading from society. It’s all about the newest and most cloud-compatible disposable bullshit you can find.

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        Maybe the people who can afford that bauble turnover never had pride of ownership, but those who can’t afford that tend to take care of the things they must keep longer. There are actually people who compare cost of maintenance and repair to cost of replacement. They tend to be people who know that the “cloud” is actually servers on the ground. People like that are what’s holding back the economy!

    • 0 avatar
      Dan

      Buying a new car (or anything else for that matter) before the old one wears out is the biggest luxury of all.

    • 0 avatar
      Philosophil

      I like this. I’d much rather pay more for build quality than for a large quantity of features and esoteric gadgets I’ll never use.

      I also hate the fact that to buy an upper level vehicle with certain safety features or a certain engine I also have to buy a moonroof (or sunroof). Why are moon roofs such a ubiquitous ‘feature’ in cars now? I personally never use them and all they do is eat into my headroom. I hate that I have to pay for things like this that I’ll never use.

      • 0 avatar
        stuki

        Bundling of features into “trims,” in the premium sector, is driven by the trend towards leasing. It’s just not possible to be very confident about residuals, hence to offer competitive lease rates, when every car you sell is a different a-la-carte configuration, and options can account for as much msrp as he base car itself.

      • 0 avatar
        Noble713

        “I like this. I’d much rather pay more for build quality than for a large quantity of features and esoteric gadgets I’ll never use.”

        This is why I’m pretty content to own RWD Toyotas with turbo I6 engines until the chassis falls apart.

    • 0 avatar
      stuntmonkey

      > A Sony exec was asked why their phone had a total of 27 features

      I’ve dealt with Sony in present and past careers. Let’s just say that over-complicating things is ingrained in their corporate culture.

      As a consumer, I much prefer Panasonic over Sony for things like appliances and TV’s, not the least of which is that the interfaces tend to be simpler and more direct.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Ash, people have getting sick of their cars every 3-4 years ever since I can remember, and that’s a long time.

    • 0 avatar
      DweezilSFV

      Ash78: then you’d have all the auto rag scribblers whining about how “stripped” it was because it didn’t have 50 settings for the AC and a heated and cooled trunk.

      How much of this electronic over kill is driven by the internet and auto scribes rather than the actual needs and wants of the actual customer ?

      We all know the Internet is filled with dental floss empire heirs with unlimited bank accounts. But what do the actual buyers rather than basement dwellers want ?

  • avatar
    MBella

    My Silverado came with WiFi for three months. They called me to try and talk me into renewing the subscription. I told them I didn’t use it once. Not worth it.

    • 0 avatar
      MLS

      I can’t begin to imagine why anyone would ever be interested in such a subscription. Truly mystifying.

      And the prices! OnStar charges $20/month for unlimited data, which seems bad until you realize that FCA has the gall to charge $9.99/day, $19.99/week or $49.99/month. All when the smartphone in your pocket offers the same functionality, often with no additional charge.

  • avatar

    I think a couple of different ways about this:

    -Premium car buyers care if there are button blanks, it looks poorly.

    -Packaging of options together, like premium sound with wi-fi, etc nets you a nice stereo you want, and wi-fi you don’t use.

    So they’ll just spend the extra for the options they don’t use, because they’ve got other motivations and after all, it’s just money.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      I’m sure a lot of it is the packages that automakers now have instead of stand alone options. Want a sunroof, you get premium sound. I’m sure some of it is also those dealer that order an option on all of their cars, ie even though the sunroof is a stand alone option on the super special deluxe trim level every single ssd the dealer has also has that $1000 sunroof option. “Well we find most buyers that want to step up to the prestige of the ssd prefer a sunroof, now do you want the silver-beige or the beige-silver? I do think we may have one in greige coming in next week\'”

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Let’s play a game, 28 wants to buy a “premium car”, which is really what is now called “luxury car” (since things like Cadillac/Buick/Lincoln somehow went from semi-premium to “premium”, but I digress).

      So what I want is:
      1. High quality paint and body (can be carbon fiber or high quality metal)
      2. Carbon fiber wheels with whitewalls.
      3. Conventional glass headlights with a chromed grille.
      4. *****Bumpers*****
      5. *****Driving sight*****
      6. Quiet as a tomb with soft suspension for Amerika’s third world infrastructure.
      7. Thick high quality leather interior with heated seats, seat massager, and slide in moonroof.
      8. *****Dashboard with tach, oil/voltmeter/coolant pod, and trip computer*****
      9. *****CD Player with eight speaker setup*****
      10. *****Physical HVAC pod*****
      11. Option for satellite radio. I don’t care about bluetooth.
      12. 300lb-ft+ at low rpms and *****no gas turbo chicanery*****
      13. Roughly 300bhp+, can be at higher end rpm for OHC but prefer it lower.
      14. Needs to be able move but is not supposed to be a speed demon, a steady luxury cruiser.
      15. Can be some kind of hybrid, but needs to have a 400mi or more range.
      16. Coupe preferred, or LWB sedan.
      17. Styled by adults as opposed to children impersonating adults.

      This isn’t much to ask.

      • 0 avatar

        Most of those things are provided by the Genesis G90.

      • 0 avatar
        DrSandman

        So, you want a 1991 Ford Thunderbird. Good luck.

      • 0 avatar
        newenthusiast

        @28Cars

        I don’t care either way about carbon fiber or chrome, but man, why are you in my head? Everything else is what I want from a luxury vehicle.

        And @Corey – the Genesis G90 was mentioned as a good match for me by someone here the last time the idea of ‘what a luxury car is’ came up. Perhaps I need to do a test drive.

      • 0 avatar

        Just described my 08 CTS.

        Bluetooth is important for most of us…but you can live with a smartphone linked to “aux” or bluetooth, the rest of the car’s ICE is meaningless. CD Player ? I have one, but used it once-waste of space today, memory’s cheap, and why not carry every single song in your collection on a tiny chip ?

        It isn’t a sports car, but it isn’t supposed to be. It is for a day where your round trip is 95 miles on varying roads with varying drivers.

        I’d toss in ” a few dollars spent on the parts you don’t see, like alternators, HVAC flaps, and fuel pumps, to avoid the “just out of warranty failure syndrome”.

    • 0 avatar
      TTCat

      “Premium car buyers care if there are button blanks, it looks poorly.”

      It appears I am not a real “premium car buyer” then, as Porsche made sure there is no way I could possibly afford to eliminate all the button blanks in my Cayman…

  • avatar
    don1967

    Some of these features serve no purpose other than making me feel like an airline pilot going through a pre-flight checklist.

    Lane Departure Warning disabled? Check.
    Engine Stop-Start disabled? Check.
    ECO mode disabled? Check.

    Cabin crew prepare for take-off.

  • avatar
    roverv8i

    WiFi hot spots are useful for certain people. My experience is that you need to have kids with tablets and you allow them to use them to stream video. This removes the data load on your phone as it give you a whole extra pipeline. In our A6 I find that the signal is usually better than my phone do to the location of the antenna. The only cost (not including the data that may be used) is the extra device charge on my data plan. I’m guessing other manufacturers may try to lock you into a separate plan. With the Audi you use a SIM card so it is just part of my AT&T family share plan. If you are using Apple devices they are aware of the fact that you are connected to a mobile hotspot when you use your iphone. If you are watching your data this can be good as it prevents cloud backup operations such as photos and videos. But if you do want that to happen over the mobile network then the hotspot in the car gets around this as it appears to the device to be a normal WiFi hotspot. Basically, if you get what I am saying then the in car hotspot may be for you. If you don’t then you don’t need a in car hotspot.

    • 0 avatar
      S2k Chris

      Yeah, I get all that, BUT I have a VZW MiFi for which I paid $50 and has a $10/mo access fee on it. Works great in the car, and I can take it OUT of the car and use it anywhere else I want to (say, the airport or at Grandma’s house). I look at an in-car hotspot vs. a MiFi the same way I look at a car phone versus a cell phone.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      Rover makes some good points. I’m not interested in built-in wifi, but I can see would be handy for some people, and the extra expense for someone buying a $50,000+ vehicle is pretty negligible.

    • 0 avatar
      I_like_stuff

      Yep. Same here. $12/mo is well worth the ability for my kids to stream videos on their ipads on long trips. And we take long trips at least once a month.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    Dealers have extra burden now, to keep technology specialist around. Because setting up purchased cars with electronics now is a full time job

  • avatar
    vvk

    > With the exception of nicer materials and cutting-edge technology, you can get
    > essentially everything you would want in a basic hatchback.

    On the contrary, many economy cars have standard features that are costly options on premium/luxury cars. Things like automatic headlights, rear view cameras, bluetooth music streaming, etc. Some of the cheapest cars on the market have some of these features, while some of the most expensive models do not.

  • avatar
    olddavid

    I am an old dog – hopelessly out of touch with what is wanted by younger buyers today. And you know what cemented that fact in my head? Both of the super-exclusive “hyper-cars”, the Ford GT and the recently announced AMG both come with a V6 engine. Sorry, I do not care if it has 1000 horsepower if it sounds like one of the current F1 cars.The sound of a V8 or a V12 is music to my ears – all else are pretenders to the throne. I even passed on a Viper 10 years ago for about half of book because the 10 sounds so damn weird. The best driving car I have ever driven was a 365 GTB4 Ferrari that a client was allowing me to flog while trying like hell to get $18k for it.1979 was a weird year to be in the car business. But the sound is still etched on my brain 38 years later. My wife’s Infiniti and the family Hudson Hornet are the only sixes in our fleet. One is a relic and one an appliance, but neither sounds like a proper car. And neither does any V6 or turbo four on anything built today. Sturm und drang are my quality objective, and no foo-foo “feature” can achieve that.

  • avatar
    cdnsfan27

    I work at a mid-sized Jaguar dealership. We have three product specialists on staff. The set up your profile with Jaguar, initiate your apps, phone and bluetooth then walk you through the features of the vehicle. Two weeks later they do it again at your home or office. It works and our customers request, understand and use the technology.

  • avatar
    TDIGuy

    Many attempts have been made to make the technology easier to use (such as the mouse-thing in the picture), however manufacturers are looking at who buys their cars. Sure, millenials love tech, however they already have everything on the phone, so why bother learning how to use it in their car, hence the development of Carplay and Android Auto.

    Example, if my wife is going to be taking my car, I have to remember to change the radio station to her music before I shut it off. (Changing the radio station is not a simple case of turning the dial). If I don’t, she always manages to mess up something in the audio settings when she changes it using the touch screen.

    • 0 avatar
      Southern Perspective

      To some of us, a big part of the “luxury” of a premium car is that it be easy to operate. If it is difficult to tune the radio in a car, then it is simply NOT a luxury car, no matter the name on the hood or the price.

    • 0 avatar
      brn

      You might have the wrong car. All your wife would need to know on my car is where one button is. Push it, tell the car what you want, it happens.

      Btw: I don’t understand Carplay and Android Auto. They seem far too limited to me, vs car infotainment features. Before they existed, my proposal was to have the care act as a display and input device to my phone (not allowing the phone to control the car, but the other way around). That would be the correct implementation. Providing an API is too limiting.

      • 0 avatar
        TDIGuy

        I hate voice commands because the system never seems to understand me. However I don’t know if the voice control works on the entertainment system. I’ll try that.

        FYI: Steps to change the radio station… Press “band” button, then touch “station” on the screen to show a list of presets, then swipe the list and tap your station. There is a separate screen to tune manually, or use the tuning knob. Not so hard, but in her own car, she just presses #1 for her station. Doesn’t know what frequency it is. Her whole point is “why does it have to be harder?”

  • avatar
    I_like_stuff

    Heh. My wife has an e300, with that silly joystick thingy. Other than figuring out how to do voice command her iphone to play pandora, I don’t think she uses any of the other gadgets. The odd time I drive her car I do like the different suspension modes available and the manual shifting. Other than that I also have no clue how any of the gadgetry works.

    But having said that, just last week she told me the auto braking system kicked in and prevented a possibly serious crash from happening. Someone cut her off merging in a construction zone and the car hit the brakes before she did. Say what you will about the gadgets, but today’s cars’ safety features are incredible.

    And the car is a blast to drive as well. I was skeptical of the 4 cyl turbo. Until I drove one. And average 30 MPG is nice too.

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    “…the great unwashed masses of today enjoy their pleb-mobiles at about the same level as affluent individuals like their own diamond-encrusted executive mobility suites. The reason?…”

    The reason is that many of these features are merely software, so they don’t add much if anything to the material cost of the car, so even low end models can throw them in.

    I’d say blind spot detection is the best of the new whiz bang features. More useful than navigation IMHO, since the phone sitting on my dash can’t provide that feature.
    .
    .

    • 0 avatar
      jalop1991

      “I’d say blind spot detection is the best of the new whiz bang features.”

      I don’t understand–why do you have blind spots at all?

      Set your mirrors correctly, and you don’t need a whiz bang feature to fail on you.

      http://www.cartalk.com/content/avoiding-blind-spot-5

      More importantly, you can now drive in ANY car ever built that has side mirrors.

      But if you fail to set your mirrors correctly, and instead you come to depend on your car’s blind spot detection, then you are useless in any other car. Good luck with that.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        It’s hard to catch all angles with mirrors, and ever harder to peer around in them to make sure. Especially if you’re lazy. Blind spot monitors are an easy reminder that something is there.

        • 0 avatar
          jalop1991

          No, it’s not. Truly.

          Once you set your mirrors correctly, you see everything. As the car slides out of your rear view mirror, it’s simultaneously sliding into your side view mirror. As it moves out of your side view mirror, it’s visible right next to you.

          There’s no need to look any further than your side mirror, and there’s zero blind spot.

          I’m not sure what you mean by “peer around them to make sure”. If you set your mirrors correctly, there’s zero need to “make sure”. (“Peer around”?)

          It actually works.

          And again, with every mfr doing its own thing, you don’t know how things work in different cars. Mirrors, though, all work the same. Set them and use them, and eliminate ALL blind spots.

          • 0 avatar
            Tele Vision

            This.

            A friend borrowed my V and returned it with all three mirrors angled to show the view directly behind him. No amount of chiding changed his mind about mirror-aiming.

          • 0 avatar
            Deontologist

            I have the mirrors set wide, as you suggested. It’s actually pretty useful, and I used to be a huge proponent of it. However, it remains to be said that there are several limitations to setting your mirrors wide, as suggested in your link (http://www.cartalk.com/content/avoiding-blind-spot-5). I still think that blind-spot detection is extremely useful, and I would gladly pay extra for it on my next car.

            Limitations of setting your mirrors “wide” (as suggested in the linked article):

            1) If there is a big vehicle directly behind you, you cannot see very far behind you with your side-view mirrors. The entire method depends heavily on being able to use your rear-view mirror to see objects that are far behind you. Try sitting at a red turn signal, only to realize that you need to merge back into the main travel lane because you are actually supposed to make a turn half-a-mile down the road. If you have a big vehicle obscuring your rear-view mirror, I’d be wary of merging into the main travel lane because you simply cannot see very far behind you as you can with the “conventional” method of setting up your mirrors.

            2) Even with the mirrors set wide, you need to shoulder check on multi-lane highways. You never know if someone multiple lanes over will decide to merge through several lanes. Blind-spot detection would be immensely helpful if someone decides to cut across several lanes of traffic on a highway; it would warn you immediately of an approaching driver.

            3) Even with the mirrors set however you want, it’s difficult for me to see sometimes at night whether there is a vehicle in the mirror or not. Sometimes people have blinding headlights and it just makes looking into the mirrors a real pain in the rear. Having a blind spot detection system, which is impervious to blinding headlights, would be an added layer of reassurance. In addition, some people have taken to driving with no lights on or just their daytime-running LEDs on at night, and those barely illuminate anything at night, and having a blind spot detection system would again be an added layer of safety.

            4) The stark truth of the matter is that almost no one cares about how their mirrors are positioned; I have seen only one other person on the road in all my years of driving who had the mirrors set the way you suggested (wide). One. Blind spot monitoring would just be an added layer of safety for them.

          • 0 avatar
            Philosophil

            I don’t have blind spot monitoring in my current vehicle (an Element) and I have my side mirrors set wider than most, but not so wide that I can’t also lean in a bit to see the side of my vehicle when backing up. As Deontologist has noted, side mirrors have more functions than simply detecting blind spots and they can’t do it all equally well so there has to be a compromise somewhere.

            While side mirrors are obviously important, I still think blind spot monitoring is very helpful, at least when done well. Unlike many blind spot signals, which are usually located in the corner of the side mirror (some of which I actually have to strain a bit to see in certain lighting situations), in my wife’s Volvo the side spot light is actually inside the vehicle next to the A-pillar. The contrast of the blind spot signal against the darker interior makes it much more visible so that you can see it in your peripheral vision without actually having to look in the mirror. This can be very helpful on the highway or if you have to change lanes in a hurry. While the monitor should never be a substitue for actually checking your blind spots the advance warning provided by a well-designed monitor can be helpful in many situations.

            While setting up side mirrors as described in your link may be helpful for picking up full size vehicles I still worry about being able to see smaller vehicles like motorcycles or bicycles as well (which may not be as readily visible as a car). While not foolproof, a well-designed blind spot Monitor may help one to better detect these vehicles as well, and that can only be a good thing in my eyes.

      • 0 avatar

        Years ago I equipped my 900 saab with the euro mirrors, which had a roll off on the side for the blind spot. Since then, my BMW had euro mirrors, as did my VW. My US cars, not so much, so I had to find not-ugly quarter sized rounds for the upper outside corner. Traffic is tight in my area, and someone ALWAYS sits in my blind spot, even on open roads….I think they are surfing my radar detector, or they just don’t like to be alone.

        I’m pleased to see, only 20 years later, US car makers putting an angle mirror on US car mirrors….

        I do laugh though, at folks who put a blind spot mirror on their flat mirrors, right in the middle of the mirror !

      • 0 avatar
        n4tecguy

        Jalop, have you driven every car available, with the seat in every position? My guess is no. Neither my 2017 Passat nor my parents 2012 Camry Hybrid have a mirror that go out enough to *completely* eliminate the blind spot in my driving position. They go so wide that the outside of the mirror shows its own housing, and still no bueno. I adjust both of them until they hit the limits of their travel. The Camry also starts skipping teeth on the gears

        It’s a bad design but not uncommon. The 1st gen M-Class also had this issue, and some other rentals I’ve driven. Strangely my 2013 Passat TDI did not exhibit the same issue as the 2017 does.

        But I’m guessing the next shot is going to be that I’m driving in the wrong position. Shrug.

  • avatar
    Jerome10

    Doesn’t surprise me. The cars I’ve been in over the past 5 years, I would almost say the simpler/less optioned ones have been overall the ones I liked the most.

    Yeah, it’s nice to get in a luxury car, with the nice leather, and hushed cabin. But that’s about where it ends. I can’t tell you the last time I used an in-car nav system (1-don’t really need them much and 2-phone with GMaps or WAZE works better). I used the auto parallel park feature probably 2x (its faster to just do it myself). What else…Lane Departure? Hate it. Turn it off. Start/Stop fuel saving….Hate it. Turn it off.

    I guess maybe in some ways I’m a Luddite? There is something in my head more satisfying, like actually DRIVING the car, having to use my brain to know where I’m going, the adventure of not always having the car say “turn left, get on the highway” and instead finding my own way, I can feel the car working and talking to me, etc etc.

    It’s actually kinda nice to be honest. In the 90s I always wanted a luxury car. Xenon lights, leather, heated seats, upgraded sound, smooth ride, etc. But lately I’m finding that a pleb car has all that “luxury” stuff I like, even at low to mid trim levels. Potential money savings is pretty big when I can get a mid trim Camry or something instead of a BMW or Lexus to get those nice features. Yeah ok, not as hushed, yeah the leather is cheaper, ok so the passenger seat is only 4 way adjustable instead of 6 or 8. But that jump isn’t worth $10k+ more.

    The Sony/Panasonic comment rings true. We’re to the point where companies just throwing everything in a car, just BECAUSE. Luxury should make you feel special, not like you have a bunch of “stuff” you’ll never use or enjoy.

    I frankly think this is rather bad news for luxury brands. This “stuff” seems to be the biggest reason to upgrade now. Especially since everyone seems to have a 2.0L turbo 4 engine as well. Why bother.

    • 0 avatar
      jkross22

      Exactly. BMWs used to be fun, but now they’re luxury cars – bloated with electronics that most don’t use or care about. When the new Accord is available to drive and the Stinger is released, I’m suspecting that my 18 years of BMW ownership will be over. Why pay a premium if you’re getting the same ‘stuff’ in less expensive cars that have a similar driving experience to the new luxury cars.

      Those cars will be 10s of thousands less than their equivalent BMW, but come with the same options… or more.

      • 0 avatar
        Felix Hoenikker

        Not to mention that the Accord will have vastly lower long term operating expenses compared to the BMW. From what I have seen, the so called driving dynamics of the BMW are not significantly better than those of the Accord. So there’s that.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      NAV must be on the bottom of the list these days. Years ago it was a super fancy high tech feature. Now everyone uses their phone. Most factory NAV systems have no way of updating easily or in many cases at all! Plus half the reason for using NAV is traffic updates which require a cell connection. Telsa is about the only company that has figured out if you put a software feature on a car then you MUST provide a way to update it.

      As mentioned if something is hard to use people will not mess with it for very long. These car manufactures need to get OUT of the software business. Their user interfaces are down right terrible, we learned this from the first Ford Sync mess.

      High end cars need to focus on fit and finish plus driver feel and comfort type things. Reducing noise and vibration, making everything you touch feel nice and have things that work smoothly. You know stuff like soft close compartment lids that are lined with nice materials instead of a plastic bin with a wobbly hinge.

      • 0 avatar

        I’ve two older nav systems, one Caddy and one Acura. I think they use the same Alpine “heart”. Upgrading each of them is a $300 plus day, and I was specifically warned off by the local caddy shop that upgrading the nav isn’t worth it and can cause more problems..
        “If it works now, don’t change anything”.

        My BMW, by comparison, sold a DVD disc for $200 or so for maps, and the SW could be upgraded by a dealer. When my 2003 shuffled off to the crusher, it was with the most up to date nav SW, and it was an improvement.

        It is entertaining to see how each of the older nav (2008 and 2010) deals with a rebuilt highway intersection where the roads are now wrong. on the map…..

        Things change. When I got the Nav in the 2003 BMW, new, it was a big fat deal, and a game changer for a guy who drives too much for work. Today, not so much, and the realtime feedback via WAZE has already given me hours of my life back. I drove Bronx-lower Manhattan yesterday, and Waze took me on local streets the whole way, with “this is 28 minutes faster than the next route”, all of which were standstill red.

  • avatar
    TheDoctorIsOut

    Every time I see the arm-long list of arcane and fussy features manufacturers like to slather on their cars I think of a phrase a good friend of mine likes to cite when confronted with such excess, “Just because a dog can lick its own privates doesn’t mean it’s a good idea for the rest of us.” Of course I had to clean that up a bit but you get the idea.

  • avatar
    its me Dave

    Anybody here ever use fully use the mail-merge functionality that’s been in MS-Word since v4.3 in the early 90’s? Anybody know anybody who has?

    It may be hard for a product manager to add functionality, but damn near impossible to remove it.

    • 0 avatar
      brn

      Yes, I have used it, but not in a loooong time.

    • 0 avatar
      newenthusiast

      As the owner of a what is theoretically a luxury brand vehicle, I can tell you this is true at least for me.

      Functions I have never used in my vehicle:

      1) voice command/control for radio control and phone dialing
      2) bluetooth and address book sync for the phone
      3) setting the max height to which the tailgate opens (which might be useful for short drivers?)
      4) climate control memory for each zone
      5) adaptive/adjustable suspension (meaning I never change the setting)
      6) remote window opening (its some combination of buttons on the fob that I forgot)

      Mine is a pre-touch screen model. When I get loaners of newer models for routine service, I stick to whatever buttons are on the steering wheel and never use the touch screen, because I find it to take too much time away from looking at the road. So, I can’t even tell you what functions I haven’t used in a newer model because I’m not even aware of a lot of what is available.

      You know what I experience every day though?

      1) While I acknowledge that keeping it exclusive garage kept helps, the interior has help up remarkably well. The driver’s seat shows wear of course, but nothing is frayed or cracked or squeaking or rattling.

      2) still has solid, composed road manners. No wobbles, or bouncing, or excessive noise (again, probably just doing routine maintenance is the biggest factor here, but I’ve driven Oldsmobiles and Plymouths and Chevys in my past that did weird stuff after a while even while being maintained.)

      3) Paint looks great

      4) Headlights aren’t yellowed.

      5) no weird electrical gremlins

      6) A/C still kicking ass

      7) sunroof doesn’t leak

      8) Still a pretty quiet interior at highway speeds. Especially when compared to the loaner sedans that have wheels as big or bigger than mine (I have a 7-seat SUV) with rubber band tires. Not bank vault quiet, but it never was.

      So yes, quality of construction, durability, low cabin noise, and ease of use are FAR more important to me than tech. I think the luxury brands should make sure the tech is intuitive, non-intrusive, and elegantly integrated as opposed to flashy and attention grabbing. Seamless ease of use to enhance the driving experience is a luxury, if you ask me.

  • avatar
    HahnZahn

    I appreciate the level of tech/options Subaru makes available. One of the reasons I went with Subaru after Dieselgate was because of their EyeSight suite, which is a safety package, and which people do actually use (adaptive cruise control is the best in rush hour stop-start traffic). And I didn’t have to go for an upgraded stereo or anything in order to get it. I capitulated to the moonroof, as it was on the lot, but I live in SoCal, so it gets used a lot.

    But other companies make it very difficult to figure out what their driver assistance options are called and which trim levels have them. And what they cost, because they’re usually bundled with a lot of other options, like nav and moonroof. Wi-Fi in a car puzzles me; guess it’s for pacifying kids, or like, storm-chasers?

  • avatar
    deanst

    This is really a question of whether the buyers’ expectations are met – you can find satisfied yugo customers if they have realistic expectations.

  • avatar
    AJ

    I recently rented a mid-level four-door and dang, the technology in the car made my three 10+ year old cars feel like they were more like 40 years old. My wife and I for the first time didn’t fight over the AC as the car had dual climate control. AMAZING in a rental. (lol)

  • avatar
    TrailerTrash

    People can’t be trusted to answer polls…as we know more and more today…right Hillary?

    They say this yet demand great driving cars. Regardless of what they know is making it happen, they demand it.
    And if another car runs fantastic, they want their car to run like it.
    Be it the suspension, steering or the complex computer or auto-pilot…if its making their drive great and safe, they want it.

    Maybe there are some silly things like shifters or massaging seats, but the main make-it-drive stuff they want…even it they don’t understand it or see. Take it away and they will ask why the car runs worse.

    Think of the stuff…even the front and side glass, the sound deadening electronics, the new safety tech, seat memory and all of the engine complexities nobody knows how to explain in their cars…all great stuff nobody would go back from.

  • avatar
    Rasputin

    I like to drive. I enjoy driving. I like driving a car that handles well at moderately high speeds on twisty roads. I even enjoy driving long distances on the Interstate – without cruise control.

    I would like to see what I facetiously call The Geezer Option.
    This option would basically de-content all the technological gizmos sitting unused waiting to break (with repairs in the $1000’s).
    I have been driving for many decades. I enjoy driving. I pay attention to my driving. I think I am a competent driver and do not need a computer to tell me to look in my side mirror or that I am drifting out of my lane. I certainly do not need the internet in my car.

    I am currently thinking about buying a new car. I am seriously considering a 30+ year old car. Not a collector car, but a daily driver. Obviously, something that has been seriously had work done on it. For the price of a good mid-range Mercedes, BMW, Lexus, etc., I think I can get a pretty decent late-70’s or 80’s car. I may not be able to get what I want, but I will still resist a car that talks to me.

    • 0 avatar
      Cactuar

      Sounds like you are a prime candidate for a Lexus LS430.

    • 0 avatar
      HahnZahn

      The thing is, the safety tech isn’t just for you; it’s for everyone else, too. Ever more cars are on the road, so the danger increases simply by that fact alone. Everyone thinks they’re a good driver.

      • 0 avatar
        Rasputin

        the safety tech for everyone else is making everyone else even worse drivers than they already are. If you need an audible warning and a blinking signal to tell you, “Hey, idiot, look at your side mirror,” you are already a bad driver because you are unaware of traffic around you. The same with warnings about what is apparent right before your eyes, “Hey idiot, pay attention – you are drifting out of your lane” and “Hey, idiot, don’t worry, I will stop the car before you kill that pedestrian.”

        It is a proven fact that whenever a machine or technology performs a task for a human, over time the human “forgets” how to do the task.
        So I am sure everyone will be much safer with everyone not watching their mirrors and not paying attention to staying in lane – to basically not paying attention to actually driving the car at all. Why should they – HAL will protect them.

  • avatar
    W210Driver

    I suspect many of these features can break from not being used – just like a car can succumb to inactivity (or the human body can become diseased from the lack of exercise).

    In retrospect this is why I personally prefer the way the Germans sell their cars; I get to pay extra for stuff that I want and will use. Everything I specified on my E300D Turbodiesel W210 still works, and I like to think this is because I A) use these features, and B) maintain them well.

  • avatar
    newenthusiast

    As the owner of a what is theoretically a luxury brand vehicle, I can tell you this is true at least for me.

    Functions I have never used in my vehicle:

    1) voice command/control for radio control and phone dialing
    2) bluetooth and address book sync for the phone
    3) setting the max height to which the tailgate opens (which might be useful for short drivers?)
    4) climate control memory for each zone
    5) adaptive/adjustable suspension (meaning I never change the setting)
    6) remote window opening (its some combination of buttons on the fob that I forgot)

    Mine is a pre-touch screen model. When I get loaners of newer models for routine service, I stick to whatever buttons are on the steering wheel and never use the touch screen, because I find it to take too much time away from looking at the road. So, I can’t even tell you what functions I haven’t used in a newer model because I’m not even aware of a lot of what is available.

    You know what I experience every day though?

    1) While I acknowledge that keeping it exclusive garage kept helps, the interior has help up remarkably well. The driver’s seat shows wear of course, but nothing is frayed or cracked or squeaking or rattling.

    2) still has solid, composed road manners. No wobbles, or bouncing, or excessive noise (again, probably just doing routine maintenance is the biggest factor here, but I’ve driven Oldsmobiles and Plymouths and Chevys in my past that did weird stuff after a while even while being maintained.)

    3) Paint looks great

    4) Headlights aren’t yellowed.

    5) no weird electrical gremlins

    6) A/C still kicking ass

    7) sunroof doesn’t leak

    8) Still a pretty quiet interior at highway speeds. Especially when compared to the loaner sedans that have wheels as big or bigger than mine (I have a 7-seat SUV) with rubber band tires. Not bank vault quiet, but it never was.

    So yes, quality of construction, durability, low cabin noise, and ease of use are FAR more important to me than tech. I think the luxury brands should make sure the tech is intuitive, non-intrusive, and elegantly integrated as opposed to flashy and attention grabbing. Seamless ease of use to enhance the driving experience is a luxury, if you ask me.

  • avatar
    newenthusiast

    I’m not sure why my post was a reply to another un-related post and not its own thing. Sorry. It may or may not get deleted. Tech issue?

    Here’s what I posted…again. (sorry for the duplicate?)

    As the owner of a what is theoretically a luxury brand vehicle, I can tell you this is true at least for me.

    Functions I have never used in my vehicle:

    1) voice command/control for radio control and phone dialing
    2) bluetooth and address book sync for the phone
    3) setting the max height to which the tailgate opens (which might be useful for short drivers?)
    4) climate control memory for each zone
    5) adaptive/adjustable suspension (meaning I never change the setting)
    6) remote window opening (its some combination of buttons on the fob that I forgot)

    Mine is a pre-touch screen model. When I get loaners of newer models for routine service, I stick to whatever buttons are on the steering wheel and never use the touch screen, because I find it to take too much time away from looking at the road. So, I can’t even tell you what functions I haven’t used in a newer model because I’m not even aware of a lot of what is available.

    You know what I experience every day though?

    1) While I acknowledge that keeping it exclusive garage kept helps, the interior has help up remarkably well. The driver’s seat shows wear of course, but nothing is frayed or cracked or squeaking or rattling.

    2) still has solid, composed road manners. No wobbles, or bouncing, or excessive noise (again, probably just doing routine maintenance is the biggest factor here, but I’ve driven Oldsmobiles and Plymouths and Chevys in my past that did weird stuff after a while even while being maintained.)

    3) Paint looks great

    4) Headlights aren’t yellowed.

    5) no weird electrical gremlins

    6) A/C still kicking ass

    7) sunroof doesn’t leak

    8) Still a pretty quiet interior at highway speeds. Especially when compared to the loaner sedans that have wheels as big or bigger than mine (I have a 7-seat SUV) with rubber band tires. Not bank vault quiet, but it never was.

    So yes, quality of construction, durability, low cabin noise, and ease of use are FAR more important to me than tech. I think the luxury brands should make sure the tech is intuitive, non-intrusive, and elegantly integrated as opposed to flashy and attention grabbing. Seamless ease of use to enhance the driving experience is a luxury, if you ask me.

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      Another reason for limiting how high the tailgate opens is to prevent it from contacting the garage door above it.

      I’m surprised you never use the remote to open the windows, I do that almost every time the car has been sitting in the sun.

  • avatar
    Spartan

    Cool Features I like:
    Apple CarPlay
    Heated/Cooled seats
    Wi-Fi Hot Spot
    Premium sound systems
    Passive blind spot monitoring
    Adaptive cruise
    Cameras (Front/Reverse)
    LCD Monitors for the kids

    Useless Features I hate:
    Active lane keep assist
    Auto Pilot / Pilot Assist
    Auto parking

  • avatar
    Tele Vision

    I like heated seats, too. Automatic headlights I could do without. The Bluetooth in my truck sucks and my car doesn’t even have it. Also, I’m 47 and haven’t used cruise control since 1991.

  • avatar
    hamish42

    Anyone who applauds the new technology being included in cars has not had to struggle with the onscreen controls on my daughter’s Honda Fit. You virtually have to pull over to the side of the road to figure it out and use it. They’re building in distracted driving. Terrible piece of work.

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    I still see people with cellphones clamped to their ears – in cars that presumably have blue tooth connectivity.

    Either people are buying stripper cars with minimal tech or a lot of ’em don’t know how to sync up their phone.

  • avatar
    Boxerman

    So can we get rid of lane keeping assis, vibrating steering wheels etc, lets also scrap those idiotic button starts.

    Seems to me the etch is actualy cheap to add to a car and can charge a premium. In my experience as others have said if you wnat one part of the car say upgraded headlights your stuck with lane keeping assist.

    Frankly I just turn that stuff all off at the dealer.

    It would be nice to order radar cruise control as a seperate option.

    in fact if manufactuers really wanted to see what people like these would all be standalone options.

  • avatar
    kosmo

    For me, Matt, you’ve hit the nail on the head. I’m a bit older, but still love driving-centered vehicles.

    Don’t care a wit about the tech once you get beyond hands free phone. I prefer the controls in my wife’s beloved (to her!) Honda Element to those in my loaded XC60.

  • avatar
    bking12762

    Where can I purchase a new 1960’s Plymouth Valiant/Dodge Dart-slant 6, 3 on the tree (look it up youngsters), a/c, am radio………Yes, that’s all I need or even want.

  • avatar
    markx35

    It is actually harder to get tech feature on luxury brands these days due to dealer lot mix. One can not always find a BMW or Mercedes that have safety options on the lot. You need to pay some nice bucks to custom order… meanwhile many main stream brands already build these into their trim levels.

    And the differentiating features like air/active suspension, massage/cooled seats, etc? You definitely need to custom order and then wait a long time….

  • avatar
    SunnyvaleCA

    Was talking to co-workers about car features. People couldn’t believe that my car steering wheel has only a single solitary button on it — a big button to be sure, but just one. One colleague thought it was weird that I’d have stereo volume increase without a decrease button. Maybe it cycles through several pre-set volume levels or something? I explained that the button was for activating the “other” sound system of the car. Oh dear.

    Other craziness … no “park” feature. You just leave the car in gear. I explained that was super convenient because then when you start up later you are ready to just drive off!

    The car does come with a pretty spiffy safety feature: a dedicated pedal that disconnects the engine from the rest of the drivetrain. You can push that pedal if your accelerator pedal becomes stuck in the down position.

  • avatar
    wdburt1

    When the technology becomes a distraction from the fundamental purpose of the car, I reject it.

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    I had a my17 Chrysler 300s with that car-starting/find app, that worked maybe twice – I only tried because I was curious (I couldn’t have given a flying fu– to start the darn thing when I wasn’t around); a picky infotainment system that was glitchy, randomly froze, would buzz at the top of its volume range when connected to Android Auto and a couple other features. While the powertrain was nice and the car decently “fast,” the dealer sucked so hard and I lost confidence in keeping the thing.

    When I would try to get the dealer to work on the infotainment system, which glitched out most commonly when connected to Android Auto, the response was that I should: “use the cable which came with the phone,” which I was already doing; or pay $40 for a cable from the dealer, a ridiculously stupid solution; unpair the phone and repair every time there was an update, which sounded like a bunch of BS; or run the phone straight over the Bluetooth system, and thereby defeat the whole point of Android Auto. At one point the dealer replaced a bunch of unrelated parts within the infotainment system and the problem persisted; this was after they had my car for a week and a half with no updates aside from: “we ordered the wrong parts,” “the tech is out,” “the part was a dud,” “we need to order another part.” Never once did they proactively call me to tell me what was happening.

    I ditched that thing like a hot potato because I completely lost faith in the dealer and refused to be around when something more complicated hit the fan, which being a Chrysler was more than likely. I know it sounds petty, but I have low tolerance for being jacked around and felt it worth it to cut my losses and move on.

    I went into an my17 Mazda6 with all of the things I need and use everyday and little extra. It does have the safety suite with the city braking feature, BSM with cross traffic detection (which has been useful a few times when parked between a couple brodozers); most of these I keep on because it’s more of a hassle to turn them off, but I don’t rely on them because I split my time in a 15 year old Buick that doesn’t have any of them. Allegedly Apple CarPlay is dropping in Q4 so that should cover the nav on the 4 occasions every year that I might need it.

    Long story short the geewhizardry is nice, when it works, but if poorly implemented and serviced by a dealer who couldn’t be bothered to understand the problems that arise they can be a major pain in the derrière. I couldn’t be happier with the Mazda.


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