QOTD: Time For A Luddite Trim Level?

Derek Kreindler
by Derek Kreindler
qotd time for a luddite trim level

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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  • Nrd515 Nrd515 on Mar 21, 2013

    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.

  • Wheatridger Wheatridger on Mar 21, 2013

    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?

  • Tassos What was the last time we had any good news from Ford? (or GM for that matter?)The last one was probably when Alan Mulally was CEO. Were you even born back then?Fields was a total disaster, then they go hire this clown from Toyota's PR department, the current Ford CEO, Fart-ley or something.He claims to be an auto enthusiast too (unlike Mary Barra who is even worse, but of course always forgiven, as she is the proud owner of a set of female genitals.
  • Tassos I know some would want to own a collectible Mustang. (sure as hell not me. This crappy 'secretary's car' (that was exactly its intended buying demo) was as sophisticated (transl. : CRUDE) as the FLintstone's mobile. Solid Real Axle? Are you effing kidding me?There is a huge number of these around, so they are neither expensive nor valuable.WHen it came out, it was $2,000 or so new. A colleague bought a recent one with the stupid Ecoboost which also promised good fuel economy. He drives a hard bargain and spends time shopping and I remember he paid $37k ( the fool only bought domestic crap, but luckily he is good with his hands and can fix lots of stuff on them).He told me that the alleged fuel economy is obtained only if you drive it like a VERY old lady. WHich defeats the purpose, of course, you might as well buy a used Toyota Yaris (not even a Corolla).
  • MRF 95 T-Bird Back when the Corolla consisted of a wide range of body styles. This wagon, both four door and two door sedans, a shooting brake like three door hatch as well as a sports coupe hatchback. All of which were on the popular cars on the road where I resided.
  • Wjtinfwb Jeez... I've got 3 Ford's and have been a defender due to my overall good experiences but this is getting hard to defend. Thinking the product durability testing that used to take months to rack up 100k miles or more is being replaced with computer simulations that just aren't causing these real-world issues to pop up. More time at the proving ground please...
  • Wjtinfwb Looks like Mazda put more effort into sprucing up a moribund product than Chevy did with the soon to be euthanized '24 Camaro.