Answers: The Best Automotive Details

Doug DeMuro
by Doug DeMuro
answers the best automotive details

A few weeks ago, I asked everyone for their opinions on which items make up the best automotive details. Well, you guys weren’t shy. We got 266 different responses, and while not all of them contained details, many included dozens. Some guy (user Wheeljack) even responded with something like two full pages of details solely from the Merkur Scorpio. This, ladies and gentlemen, is what makes the TTAC community so great.

Anyway, I went through the list and picked out a few of my favorites from your suggestions. Here goes:

Holden Commodore Very Low Fuel Warning – APaGttH

No, APaGttH has not warned me that I’m low on fuel. Instead, he has revealed possibly the greatest automotive detail ever for a driver like me. I’m referring to the Holden Commodore’s dual-stage fuel reminders: one for low, and one for very low. This is brilliant engineering, although I do have one quibble: Let’s be completely honest. If you know a “very low” light is going to be coming on soon, wouldn’t you start to ignore the “low” light? I know I would. And that’s why I have AAA.

Nissan Around View – LeeK

One of the coolest modern features in existence is a Nissan system dubbed “Around View.” Here’s how it works: there are four cameras mounted on all four sides of the vehicle. When you’re backing up, you can activate the cameras to get a top-down view of the spot you’re entering. In other words, you can see both sides, the front, and the back. This is perfect for tight parking spots, but it’s even better for nasty curbs. Goodbye, curb rash!!

Buick Regal GS Gauges – kjb911

We all love the Buick Regal GS. I mean, I certainly love it, and if you don’t then I must ask: What do you hate more, the awesome styling or the loads of well-priced horsepower? (You would answer: “the front-wheel drive,” which is why these posts aren’t Q&A sessions.)

Anyway: the Regal GS has a neat touch suggested by kjb911. When you push the “GS” button, the gauges actually change colors to let you know that it’s time to do some serious driving. Now that is the kind of unnecessary money spending that once catapulted Mercedes to the top of the luxury car world. (Mercedes fell to the bottom when they were sitting around a poorly ventilated conference room in Stuttgart and someone said: I bet it would be cheaper to build cars in Alabama!)

Volkswagen CC Rearview Camera – dmw

I admit to being totally smitten with this one. Apparently, if you have a rearview camera in your Volkswagen CC like dmw does, it activates by popping out from under the Volkswagen logo on the trunk. One minute, the Volkswagen logo is sitting there like normal, minding its own business; the next, it’s slightly tilted upwards and you can see if you’re about to back over a flowerbed.

This detail, by the way, should also be filed under: “Reasons why you’d never want to own a Volkswagen CC out of warranty.”

Mercedes R-Class Bottle Opener – tatracitroensaab

This is awesome. The R-Class has two center-mounted cupholders just like virtually every other car on the market, except for my old Lotus Elise which didn’t have two center-mounted anything. But here’s the R-Class trick: pull out the divider between the cupholders, flip it over, and – tada! – it’s a bottle opener. You have to assume the Germans have used this to open every single bottle of beer Gerolsteiner Mineral Water they could find.

BMW Glovebox Flashlight – Car Ramrod

I know this isn’t unique to BMW, but it’s a good idea that definitely deserves mentioning. For years, BMWs had a small flashlight in the glovebox that was hooked up to a charger powered, presumably, by the engine. The result was there was always a flashlight around if you need it. This is especially helpful for BMW drivers since they’re far more prone to slashed tires after pissing off someone on the street.

Toyota 4Runner Rear Window – all people in other SUVs

A few folks suggested this, and I can’t believe I forgot it in the original post. For those who aren’t aware, here’s the deal: the 4Runner’s rear window rolls down. Not the side windows for the rear seats (OK, they roll down too). I mean the rear window, behind the cargo area.

Why is this cool? Dozens of reasons. Dogs love it. People who want ventilation love it. But most importantly, it’s cool just because it’s sort of a 4Runner insider thing – and while Toyota could’ve done away with it each time they redesign the 4Runner, they never have. This requires extra engineering for the rear wiper and the tailgate, but they do it anyway.

Mazda Oscillating Vents – deanst

The pinnacle of Mazda luxury came when they debuted oscillating vents. A lot of people will tell you the Volkswagen Phaeton pioneered this brilliance, but – in modern times, at least – Mazda was the technology leader. With the press of the “swing” button, the vents would swivel back and forth while the air was on, sending heat or cold air to all parts of the cabin.

Chrysler Audio Buttons – Wodehouse

Through all of Chrysler’s well-documented early-2000s-to-now low points, and there have been many, the brand did one thing absolutely right: audio buttons. Hidden on the back of most Chrysler steering wheels are buttons that control the track, the radio station, the volume, and the stereo mode.

They’re unlabeled, which pisses off car journalists who aren’t familiar with the design. But if you actually own a Chrysler, they become your best friend. Not only do you never have to remove your hand from the wheel to change any audio setting, but they allow Chrysler to leave the rest of the wheel clean and simple. And, unfortunately, full of cheap plastic.

There are many more suggestions to cover, but not enough time – or space – to cover them all! Thanks to everyone who participated and, as always, feel free to suggest more in the space below.

@DougDeMuro is the author of Plays With Cars and the operator of He’s owned an E63 AMG wagon, road-tripped across the US in a Lotus without air conditioning, and posted a six-minute lap time on the Circuit de Monaco in a rented Ford Fiesta. One year after becoming Porsche Cars North America’s youngest manager, he quit to become a writer. His parents are very disappointed.

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  • MaintenanceCosts They can't keep selling through the current hodgepodge mess of desperate or disreputable dealers. Somehow the sales model has to change. Whether they become the Don Quixote that tilts at the franchise-law windmill to sell direct, or they cut a deal to get into another OEM's dealer network, something has to change.They've always been able to engineer competitive cars when they want to, but they haven't had a reasonable way to sell them since the Chrysler tie-up ended.
  • Sgeffe There’s a guy on YouTube who owns several Oldsmobile Diesel-equipped vehicles, including an A-Body with the 4.3 V6. Might be the Chevy.IIRC, Adam Wade on the “Rare Classic Cars” channel stated that this engine was also available in 1985 only in the redesigned C-Bodies (98 Regency, Electra, DeVille/Fleetwood).
  • Tassos It's a GREAT value, but what, if any, profit will GM make from this vehicle? When it prices it at only $30k, while the much smaller and much CRAPPIER FIAT 500E goes for OVER $40k????
  • Tassos The consumers (not the "market") DO trust EVs, but those that are superior and well-priced,THey buy millions of TESLAS and very few copies of all the other dozens and dozens of LEGACY BEVs.Makes sense to me. None of these experienced makers have YET succeeded to design and build a better Tesla, that is ALSO PRICED COMPETITIVELY.
  • Tassos NOBODY really HAS to buy a new or even used car in this insane 2022 market, and those who do are damned fools.THIS IS the way to discourage dealer markup. FIX your damn car and DO NOT GO BEGGING THEM TO GIVE YOU A NEW ONE, in this BIGGEST SELLER's MARKET EVER.DO NOT BE AN ECON ILLITERATE. WAIT A YEAR OR TWO, THEN BUY.