Ask The Best And Brightest: What's Your Favorite "Center Stack"?

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

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

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

Edward Niedermeyer
Edward Niedermeyer

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  • Honfatboy Honfatboy on Sep 07, 2011

    +1 for the 6th gen Accord. Nice and simple. Also the E36 dash caught my eye in a BMW ad when I was only 14. So there's that.

  • Revjasper Revjasper on Sep 08, 2011

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

  • Parkave231 I'd rather they remember how to manufacture the things they have before adding more trims and options.
  • SCE to AUX "as if 775 lb-ft of torque in a pickup isn’t enough"Exactly. How about doing something hard instead, like getting your electric truck to meet 'truck' expectations first? That would sell better than a Raptor-like truck.
  • Akear They sell only 20,000 Mustang EVs a year. They better keep the current Mustang!
  • Jkross22 We're thinking about the 500e all wrong. This is a 'new' old car. All of the tooling and R&D is done. Easy way to move an 'Italian' car up market and boost fleet MPG. Plus... dealers can move all unsold models into demo/fleet usage so when Jeep and Durango owners come in for service, they can use this as a loaner.
  • Namesakeone Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy. A light truck coming from Ford. We have never seen anything like it. (This is me trying to sound like I'm excited.)