By on May 11, 2015

2015 Chrysler 200 rotary dial shifter

Even in a day of standardized controls and homogeneous design, there are a few oddball controls that – for better or worse – stick out like a proverbial sore thumb. Whether it be window switches (door or center console?), seat controls (side, front, or door panel?) or even shifters (lever or knob; column or console?), today’s cars are still a complex assortment of controls that vary greatly from one make and model to the next.

TTAC commenter MrFixit1599 writes about a recent Chrysler 200 rental:

At a red light, I decide to turn the fan off for the A/C. I didn’t notice a change at the time, but then the light turned green. I attempted to accelerate. The car would not move. I assumed I had forgotten to shift back to S. Turns out, when I went to rotate the knob to turn the fan off for the A/C, I actually rotated the knob for the transmission and put the car in P. As in Park. At an intersection with a green light showing. And me not going anywhere. Just sitting there revving the engine.

Now I am wondering what exactly would happen if you rotate the knob for shifting – into, let’s say R – while cruising at 75 down the interstate. I had a buddy in high school that did that on a column shift GM car of the mid 80’s sort and the transmission literally exploded.

I am sure this comes off as a “GET OFF MY LAWN” type of commentary, but I believe that shifting the transmission should NOT resemble 3 other dials that are in close proximity that get used frequently.

Shifting into R or P while in motion is impossible thanks to shift interlock mechanisms. Doubly so for the newest ZF units at Chrysler as there’s no mechanical connection between the dial and transmission (this is what allows for that cavernous storage space under the center console). But, a design like this is still cause for concern for the unacquainted in a strange rental car. The shift interlock mechanism will only allow you to shift into P or R if the brake is depressed, which it would be if you’re sitting at a red light or in stop-and-go traffic on the freeway. Pop it into reverse instead of turning the fan up before driving away and you might end up staring in a YouTube video.

Jaguar Land Rover uses a similar control for their ZF transmissions, except the knob can be pushed down into the console, hiding it away from a grabby child riding shotgun or absent-minded driver. Chrysler? No such luck. (And if we’re being honest, it’ll likely break in your Range Rover just as you get out of warranty.)

Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupé (2014)

Personally, I don’t mind the Pentastar “Dial-a-Gear” as some call it. At least not as much as the column-mounted idiocy at Mercedes-Benz (and, thanks to a supplier agreement, on the Tesla Model S as well). Driving any other vehicle, I instinctively know the location of the cog swap controller. In a Mercedes? Even after a week, I’m still required to actively think how to shift out of Park and into Reverse or Drive, even so far as almost putting a C400 into Neutral as I tried to wipe the windscreen clean. The C-Class is not a pickup. Why is the shifter on the damn steering column?

So, Best & Brightest, what’s your most hated interior control?

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189 Comments on “QOTD: What Interior Controls Drive You Mad?...”


  • avatar
    Occam

    I hate automatic transmissions with selectors that are styled and shaped like manual shift knobs. It’s stressful to be in an unfamiliar rental car in an unfamiliar city. It’s more stressful trying to drive this unfamiliar car in an unfamiliar city in an automatic, telling myself, “don’t shift, don’t shift, don’t shift.”

    I’ll still often reach for the lever, but touching a knob that is a T-shape is a good reminder. Even worse, some of them don’t have the thumb-button anymore, but use the left-right motion lever through gates. I had a heart-stopping moment trying to shift a rental Dodge Avenger from 4th to 5th gear, and suddenly realizing that not only had I jabbed the brake to the floor and caused a flurry of angry honking drivers behind me, but pushed the left up and to the right from D into R.

    Either my guardian angel intervened, or it has a system to prevent engagement of reverse at 45 mph. Either way, I’m still surprised that it didn’t burst into flames.

    And that’s why you don’t buy second-hand rental cars.

    On some cars, they take it a step further – perfectly round knob, chrome ring, leather shift boot. Nobody wants a manual anymore, but everyone wants a faux manual shifter in the console!

    Aside from all that, the usual – no industry standardization about the locations of various controls. The loose norm seems to be left stalk for signals and high beams, right stalk for wipers and washer, left steering wheel spoke for radio controls and Bluetooth, right steering wheel spoke for cruise control. I’ve driven a few cars that switched the steering wheel spokes as a giant middle finger to the driver, or (the stupid Avenger again) hid the radio controls on the back of the steering wheel.

    If you’re going to put controls in unconventional places, at least put a light on them!

    • 0 avatar
      TDIGuy

      My current VW and my previous Mazda both had manual shift options on the automatic transmission. The Mazda made sense to me, pull back to upshift. It was a faster motion from the steering wheel to the shifter. The VW is the opposite way and needless to say, I was subject to a few unexpected moments of high revs until I got used to it.

      My wife’s Santa-Fe is the same way as the VW, which makes me think maybe forward to upshift is the norm? She says it makes sense to her.

  • avatar
    Bozi

    Many recent cars especially BMW’s have turn signal switches that don’t easily cancel out. If you hit the turn signal to turn right and try to turn it off manually, many times it will go to turn signal left instead of going off.

    • 0 avatar
      energetik9

      I personally like the BMW style turn signals. A light tap and it blinks three times. A full click and it signals until an opposite turn of the wheel. Took a few tries to get used to it, but I prefer it now.

      • 0 avatar
        zamoti

        I also like BMW signals. First time was odd, you think about it a moment and it all makes sense. I don’t understand how this seems to flummox so many people.
        I also like that there’s no loud *clack* *clack* *clack* as you turn the wheel with a signal on and no snapping back of stalk position. It’s quiet, unobtrusive and works well. Being an old coot, I don’t like it when automakers attempt to improve upon a function by abstracting it (see twisty shift knobs) to oblivion, but with the signals, I don’t miss any of that racket and I enjoy the three flash on a half-push.

      • 0 avatar
        This Is Dawg

        My Mazda does that too. I’ve gotten used to it, but I wish it would flash 4 or 5 times instead. I was pleasantly surprised to see the new Sonata I rented lets you pick how many times it flashes on a tap. Jealous.

        • 0 avatar
          redav

          My Mazda has it as a feature that can be turned off.

          I don’t like the feature. Since I feel a proper lane change needs more than three blinks, the only time the auto three blinks ever occurs is when a mistake is made or I change my mind, and in those cases, I don’t want it to keep blinking, even if only two more times.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            Exactly what redav said. I like the quiet operation of the BMW signals, I really don’t like the three-blink “feature.” It just encourages people to change lanes without sufficient blinking.

          • 0 avatar
            darkwing

            It makes perfect sense on the Autobahn — three blinks is just about the right amount of time to make a high-speed pass into the left lane, or back again into the middle.

          • 0 avatar
            A strolling player

            I love the lane change feature. I’ve sort of adapted my lane-change-signaling style to accommodate it. I signal as I’m changing lanes if there aren’t cars very close to/behind me. If it’s going to take longer to change, I can still hold it down as before.

            One thing I miss about my Fiat 500 is that the lane change feature was additive – each time you tap it again, it adds flashes to the end, 2 more if you tap it on the last click. So it maintains a smooth motion. For certain lane changes I could get 5 flashes by simply tapping twice. My Focus doesn’t do that, sadly.

          • 0 avatar
            beastpilot

            On most newer BMW’s, the number of blinks is adjustable.

    • 0 avatar
      Occam

      I had a rental F150 that had something similar. You push the lever, and it doesn’t click, but bounces back to center. To cancel the signal, you have to push it the same direction again, rather than the opposite way. I tried to cancel a signal, engaged the opposite signal, reengaged the first one, and finally broke attention to the road to figure out the finicky lever.

      You shouldn’t have to relearn signaling while piloting an obese “sorry-its-all-we-have-left-at-Enterprise” bro-dozer through city traffic!

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    Is it too late to bring back column mounted shift levers and no more center consoles so we can sit 3 across in a bench seat when you need to do so?

    • 0 avatar
      jpolicke

      Since they would be hard pressed to find a location for the airbag for the center position, and given the take rate for a non-split front seat doesn’t extend much past you, sorry, afraid the answer is yes.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        The Panthers has a bend seat until the end, a 40/20/40 set up in the Town Car and a 50/50 unit in the lesser cars. There were the handful of CV LX Sport, GM LSE and Marauder that had the TC buckets, traditional console and floor shifter. So air bags have nothing to do with it.

        • 0 avatar
          jpolicke

          But was there a set of seat belts for a middle passenger? I was under the impression that there had to be an airbag for each front seat passenger.

          • 0 avatar
            dtremit

            Yes, they had center belts — as did the optional bench on the W-body Impala through the end.

            The airbag requirements are for driver and outboard front passenger only, though I seem to recall that the passenger airbag was wide enough to cover the center position on some cars.

    • 0 avatar
      Featherston

      Pickups still can be had been bench seats, so I don’t think airbags are an issue. It’s just a cost-benefit decision by the manufacturers. It’s also tough to justify three-across front-seat comfort when virtually no sedan on the market has three-across rear-seat comfort.

      What were the last non-pickup holdouts? I’m guessing (in no particular order) the Lucerne and previous-gen Impalas and Avalons.

      I wouldn’t mind seeing a present-day take on GM’s Strato Bench: bench-ish seat bottom; bucket-ish seatbacks for the driver and right-front passenger; wide center armrest/console that can be flipped up to be a center seatback.

      http://rivowners.org/features/evolution/images/66/66-strato.jpg

      Even if the center position weren’t great from a seating comfort standpoint, it would give the driver the option of avoiding a large, fixed console immediately to his or her right. I suppose that’s what today’s pickups have, in point of fact.

      – – –

      Addendum: Your point about airbags is well taken, though, within the context of cost-benefit. It’s a variable and an expense in sedan design that can be ignored if you don’t offer a bench seat.

      • 0 avatar
        Drzhivago138

        That “Strato Bench” is exactly what every remaining bench seat has been for the past 5 years. It gives the driver and right passenger control over their respective seating positions, an armrest and/or center console to hold drinks and little fiddly junk like pens or whatever, and it gives a third passenger seat in a pinch. All the advantages of both a bench and buckets. The only disadvantage is you have to make sure the lid is latched before you tip it up.

        And yes, in order for a front bench to seat three abreast comfortably, you’d have to make the whole car wide enough to do so. With the current state of Americans’ waistlines, it’s easier just to stuff ’em two wide and three rows deep in a CUV or miniva, rather than the other way around.

        • 0 avatar
          Slow_Joe_Crow

          I find this disappointing, I really like the Fiat Multipla’s setup of 2 rows of 3 semi-bucket seats, very roomy for 4 and bearable for 6 on short trips.

      • 0 avatar
        Volt 230

        Trucks have different regulations than cars, center air bag would not be mandatory for a truck.

        • 0 avatar
          Featherston

          At least according to an exceedingly brief internet search, front center passengers never have been subject to a frontal air bag requirement in either cars or trucks. For the driver and right passenger, they’ve been required in cars since 1998 and in “light” (<8,500 lbs) trucks since 1999. You could get an Impala with a bench seat as recently as the 2013 model year.

      • 0 avatar
        dtremit

        The DN101 Taurus had one of the more innovative takes on the front bench I’ve seen. In addition to the back of the center seat folding down as an armrest, the seat cushion folded *forward* to provide a stowable console in front of the armrest:

        http://www.ford-taurus.org/taurusinfo/G3/963cup.JPG

        (That pic shows the console deployed and the armrest flipped up — when folded down, the armrest covered the gap at the back of the console.)

      • 0 avatar
        lot9

        Bring back the bench seat. Why I buy pickups.

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      You can still get those in any full-size base or mid-range pickup truck, and (at least for the next couple years) as an option on the base Suburban/Tahoe/Yukon/XL*. But if no one buys them, they’ll go away.

      *Okay, the bench is a 40/20/40 split with a flip-down middle console, but honestly, that’s infinitely more practical than a true bench, the last of which was last seen in 2010 on the outgoing XL Super Duty IIRC.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      Buy a truck.

      • 0 avatar
        Drzhivago138

        Ah, if only! If I could afford the upfront cost, a brand-new ________, custom-built from the website, would be sitting in my driveway right now. Paying for gas would not be an issue, because given that my driving is 90% highway, any modern drivetrain gets about the same (or better!) MPG than what I’m currently driving. Insurance might get hairy, but maybe I could register it for “farm use”. I know for a fact that if I hauled one load of hay a month to the sale barn, I’d be using it for more farmwork than most of the guys around here do with their jacked-up Powerstrokes and Dirtymaxs.

        And then I’d get a slide-in camper (not named Rocinante) and a dog (not named Charley), and I’d travel the US of A having all sorts of crazy adventures

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    The placement does seem odd of the “dial a gear” in that it is so close to some very frequently accessed controls. Even on most washing machines you have to pull the nob out or push it in to do what you want.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m fairly certain you need to push down on the “Dial-A-Gear” to get it in and out of P and R.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        So “Mr. Fixit” not only turned the nob but pushed it in?

        Sorry I’m not in the habit of pushing or pulling on the knobs of my car unless that very rare time I want to turn the radio off which is pretty seldom since I have a mute button for the drive through etc.

        I’m certainly not going around pushing and pulling on my climate control knobs. Now that you clarified I just don’t see how he could “accidentally” put it in park.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          Me either. There are such a limited number of things which are both knobs and require a press down to use.

          Also, I’d FEEL the car shifting into park. Or hear it.

          • 0 avatar
            Flipper35

            I would also think you would notice the fan not doing as you thought you had asked.

          • 0 avatar
            MrFixit1599

            Trust me, you would never realize it. I had just rolled the windows down, which was why I was turning the A/C off. I also had the radio playing at a fairly high level. This transmission is eerily quiet. I could never really hear it actually doing anything.

        • 0 avatar
          This Is Dawg

          I’m actually going to defend Mr. Fixit here. I rented a 200 a month ago, and didn’t even realize the tranny knob could be pressed in until the third day of driving it. It twists to any position with almost zero resistance. If you push it in, you can’t twist it more than one position at a time. I don’t know if that’s as designed, but I definitely made that mistake when I picked up the car.

          Also I’ve never felt leather as fake as on the 200’s steering wheel.

        • 0 avatar
          lot9

          The rotary knob in Dodges and Trucks are not handicap friendly. Went to buy a dodge durango and roomie could not rotate the know due to crippled hands. Arthritis real bad.
          Did not buy the dodge.

    • 0 avatar
      MrFixit1599

      I don’t recall having to do anything special to place the car in Park. I was sitting at a red light, and had the brake depressed, so it shifted right into park. Also, this was seconds before the light turned green, so I never really had a chance to realize the fan speed had not changed.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        OK so if it doesn’t require being pushed in or pulled out while turning then the design is a stupid/non-intuitive design.

        • 0 avatar
          MrFixit1599

          That was why it caught me by surprise. To get it out of park you have to press the brake and push it down, but to put it in park from drive, you just turn the knob all the way to the left. The same you would turn the fan knob all the way to the left to turn it off. It literally took me a few seconds to figure out what the hell happened and why am I not moving.

    • 0 avatar
      lot9

      Washers and Dryers are not handicap friendly. Too bad. People with arthritis or aged can not use them easily.

  • avatar
    PeriSoft

    The worst ergonomic feature of my ’15 Sonata is the proximity and general similarity of the climate control and volume knobs. In the first few weeks I had the car, I more than once reflexively lunged to silence an obnoxious commercial only to instead set the driver’s side temperature to 400 below zero.

    My six-year-old son found this highly amusing, but I did not.

    Thankfully it hasn’t happened recently, so I think it was just a learning-curve thing. And I really *do* appreciate Hyundai’s not only retaining physical knobs for things like volume and temperature, but using tactilely-satisfying hardware to do the job.

    • 0 avatar
      stodge

      This – I can’t see the logic in having stereo and HVAC controls that are exactly the same size and look. It’s too confusing, especially when you’re driving and your attention needs to stay on the road.

      Also, I hate, hate, hate with a passion controls that are too small to operate while wearing thick winter gloves. I swear some car controls are designed for use by people carrying chopsticks or for aliens with sticky, tiny fingers. The Sonata controls that Perisoft are dreadful for this – why so small?

      • 0 avatar
        PeriSoft

        Personally the size doesn’t bother me (heh heh heh) since I never drive with gloves. I can turn my car on from my cell phone and warm it up, and damnit, I *will*! Certain things are worth the cost for the feature and the gas. This, for me, is definitely one of them. It would be very hard to go back to a world where I can’t, in the dead of winter, turn my car on when I get to the supermarket checkout aisle and get into a warm car 7 minutes later despite the temperature hovering slightly above absolute zero.

      • 0 avatar
        Sigivald

        On the other hand, once you’ve driven the thing for a week, it doesn’t matter that they’re the same size, because they’re in different places.

        For non-rental non-journalist use it really isn’t a big deal.

  • avatar
    duffman13

    Poor control placement is more of a pet peeve of mine. We got my wife her ’14 Santa Fe with all the trimmings last fall and there are some glaring switch placement issues that confuse me as to what the designers were thinking.

    1. The steering feel button is on the wheel, while the steering wheel heater button is on the dash in a far corner. The former you never use once you decide which setting you like, while the latter you use every time you turn on the car between December and March.
    2. The parking sensor on/off toggle is next to the shifter, while the hill descent and diff locker buttons are on the dash next to the steering wheel heater button. I feel like the sensor button should have been swapped with one of those since you might actually use them while driving, even though at this point I’ve had no reason to hit any of them.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      It’s not cool enough to have a setting for “automatically turn on the wheel heater when it’s cold”?

      Shame.

      (My Volvo has that, though it’s odd that that doesn’t have a “turn it off automatically when the interior’s warm” option, too.

      Also, on the reverse sensor?

      You turn that off while driving if you ever TOW, I assure you, so that’s one reason.

      I suspect that Hyundai is realistic about the likelihood of anyone driving a Santa Fe ever actually using HDC or the Diff Lock…)

  • avatar
    bball40dtw

    I’m looking at you 2011-2015 Lincoln MKX with your haptic feedback seek, tune, volume, HVAC, etc. You can go straight to hell. The previous Lincoln set up, like my MkT, and the current Lincoln set up, 2016 MKX, are so much better. Even I, who knows MFT, Ford steering wheel controls, and how to use the haptic feedback “buttons” thinks that satan devised this horrible interface.

    • 0 avatar
      stodge

      Haptic feedback (I need to research where haptic comes from) need to disappear quietly and never darken the interior of a car again. It’s also why I hate using touch screens to adjust HVAC settings. I want a physical interface so I can feel what I’m doing. *shakes fist at Ford and Cadillac in particular*

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        With MFT, I don’t so much hate the touchscreen. Like you, I just don’t want to use it for HVAC stuff. It’s perfectly fine for displaying other thinsg graphically.

        Unfortunetly for prior gen Edge and MKX owners with MFT/MLT, they get fake buttons to control stuff if they don’t want to use the touch screen. THEY SUCK. It either won’t adjust the fan speed, or does it two speeds at a time. They might as well give me a hammer to hit the dash with. The result would be similar.

        • 0 avatar
          srh

          My new ford truck with MFT has controls for /most/ of the HVAC controls. With the notable exception of the heated/cooled seats.

          This means that I can’t easily replace the MFT HU with something less offensive, without figuring out some way to jerry-rig/install physical buttons to control the seats.

          The voice control drives me insane.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Doesn’t the 2015 F150 have a heated/cooled seat button below the physical HVAC controls? The 2015 F150 I drove had it there.

            And if you buy a MFT equipped vehicle, just expect that you aren’t going to replace the headunit.

          • 0 avatar
            gator marco

            We have an 2014 MKX and a 2014 Tacoma. MKX has all the stuff, you practically have to drive with the owner’s manual open to do minor things like tune the radio. It took over 2 hours after purchase to get the phone and garage door opener hooked up. Of course, my wife loves it.
            The few times I drive it, I tend to not touch anything, because then we’ll have to stop by the side of the road and get out the manual to figure out how to put it back.
            The Tacoma is as basic as can be purchased in the US. Anyone who has driven an American car in the past 40 years can jump right in and go. The radio hooks up just about anyone’s cell phone in seconds, and the steering wheel phone options work a heck of a lot better than Ford’s version.

        • 0 avatar
          dtremit

          I’m repeating myself — but somehow, the only controls that suck *worse* than those haptic buttons on the Ford MFT/Sony systems are the physical buttons in the middle of the volume knob. Talking about this monstrosity:

          http://www.ford.com/ngbs-services/resources/ford/edge/2014/equipment/edg14_models_detailflip_sony.jpg

          Good luck getting any one of the five functions in that thing to activate reliably. You have to hit the center *perfectly* to get the power to turn on or off.

          I like my car but this thing needs to die in a fire.

      • 0 avatar
        Sigivald

        Haptic feedback is good.

        Using haptic feedback on a touchscreen where discrete controls are the proper choice is bad.

    • 0 avatar
      Pig_Iron

      Thank you. Just because something can be done, doesn’t mean it should.
      :-(

  • avatar
    zerofoo

    Wife’s ’14 Grand Cherokee has an electronic gear select in the shape of a T handle. It’s a good compromise – I only wish the detents in the travel of the gear selector were more pronounced.

    • 0 avatar
      Maymar

      I’ve tried that in a couple Mopars, and hate it with a passion. Most cars with a non-standard shifter do something like tap forward for reverse, tap back for drive, hit a button for park. The Chrysler way of tap back a little for reverse, tap back a little further for drive is sort of infuriating.

      • 0 avatar
        87 Morgan

        Wow, this helps me feel better. I have rented several mopars with the electronic T shift, and I think that I have it down. The first couple of days in one are frustrating to figure out why every movement almost is the opposite of what they have been for decades.

  • avatar
    LeMansteve

    The E65 7-series has a column shifter that is very close to the windshield wiper stalk. As a valet in college, I would routinely activate the wipers when trying to take the car out of park.

    The interior door handles on my E46. If the doors are locked, you must pull the handle twice to open the door. The first pull merely unlocks the door, then it takes a second pull to open the door.

    Our Hyundai Santa Fe has a wiper stalk that works opposite from every other car i’ve driven. Up for mist/brief wipe, down for intermittent and permanent wipe.

    Our old B5.5 Passat. The seat heaters had 5 levels. Five! 1=Miami winter and 5 = North Dakota winter? Who knows. Also, the sunroof knob had at least a dozen different positions for “open”. Yet the intermittent wipers only had 3 speeds and the headlights only had off/DRL or all on.

    • 0 avatar
      Occam

      Our Hyundai Santa Fe has a wiper stalk that works opposite from every other car i’ve driven. Up for mist/brief wipe, down for intermittent and permanent wipe.

      Up for mist, pull for wash, down through three notches for intermittent, low, high wipers has been on every car I’ve owned, aside from my first (it was down for mist, twist for wipers – Honda Accord) and a GMC truck that had it in place of the headlight twist. (Headlights were a separate knob on the dash).

      • 0 avatar
        CRConrad

        My SEAT Exeo has it the other way around, down for single-swipe and up for interval through low to high. And since that is based upon (i.e, basically *is*) a previous-generation (2004-08) Audi A4, that model also had it that way. And since the Germans are sticklers for consistency, I’d guess that means most VAG products from, say, this century have worked the same. I must say I was surprised at noticing, just today, that a close relative’s 2006 Fiat Punto has it the other way around, with swipe down and various stages of “on” upwards; I may have assumed the VAG way was “industry standard”.

        As for other brands, I’m fairly sure most rentals I’ve driven in the last decade have worked like the Exeo — but perhaps not all. VAG-style, AFAICR, have been various Volvos, an Opel Zafira, a Peugeot 3008, and of course a 2007 A6 and a ~2013 Ibiza. I’ve also driven an Alfa 164, a 2008 Mercedes C-class, and a, when was that… A Toyota something, probably an Auris, from this decade. In those, it may have been Exeo-style or the other way around — I just can’t remember (and may never have used the wipers in those).

    • 0 avatar
      duffman13

      I’m guessing you’ve only owned American cars? Because every Japanese and Korean car I’ve ever been in had was up for single swipe, down for normal wiping – It’s been a decade since I sold my Audi and I think that was the same as well, though don’t quote me on it.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        @duffman

        You’re correct on Audi, as long as it was about 1993MY+. My 87 5000 I don’t think had a one swipe option, you had to just pull it toward you and hope you didn’t get any window spray (usually they were clogged anyways).

        Also, the 5000 had the stalks reversed, with the wipers on left and turn signal on right IIRC. I remember it bothering my dad quite a lot, but because it was my first car I didn’t notice. Until I got a different car.

      • 0 avatar
        LeMansteve

        My ’93 Honda and ’97 Acura were down for single swipe and had a twist knob at the end of the stalk for int-lo-hi wipe speeds. My 2004 BMW and wife’s old 2004 VW are also down for single swipe and up for int-lo-hi.

  • avatar

    As someone who specializes in software UI, Chrysler’s implementation of a rotary gear selector in the 200 is a gross failure, and you’re not the only person to point this out. A dial that controls the car’s drive-train should be stylistically and spatially separated from dials that control its HVAC and radio functions.

    • 0 avatar
      Truckducken

      Seconded. The dial also needs to feel more different from other round dials on the console. Knurling isn’t enough, it should be scalloped. Furthermore, it also should require a decent amount of resistance to turn; it’s too easy in today’s incarnation.

      BTW, speaking of infuriating controls, I need to amend a prior tirade on this site about the new 200’s lack of adjustability of dash brightness while driving. There is a little thumbwheel hidden behind the steering wheel, in about the same place as many other makes and models, which one would expect to adjust brightness. However, it does NOTHING. Nothing at all. However, I have serendipitiously discovered that if one gropes even further behind the steering wheel, there is a SECOND thumbwheel that will adjust your dash brightness – even while in gear. Now all I wanna know is what in blazes that dummy thumbwheel is doing there, other than pissing people off.

      • 0 avatar

        I had a newer 200 as a rental. That bright *blue* lighting, at any brightness, makes my eyes sore.

      • 0 avatar
        JMII

        I think the second wheel is for ambient lighting.

      • 0 avatar
        Sigivald

        It’s for – as far as I can tell from the owner’s manual, which you might want to LOOK AT – the ambient lighting system, which is optional (and possibly dealer-installed).

        Nobody puts in a control in a car that never does anything – that’s a waste of money.

        But they do sometimes put in a control that’s useless without an optional feature, if it’s easier to just have one stock number with both things than to make it installable.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      So if it WILL shift when the brake is depressed – if you’re going 75mph, hit the brake a little and turn the shift knob, will it work then? Or is there a speed sensor in there too.

      • 0 avatar
        A strolling player

        No way in hell. My Prius had an electronic shifter; if you tried to shift into R while driving it’d just beep at you, and if you tried to shift into P it would beep at you and shift into Neutral instead.

        One of the biggest benefits of “soft” gear selectors is that it makes it impossible to nuke the transmission on your own accord. I’m sure even Chrysler has figured that out.

  • avatar
    1998redwagon

    any automatic transmission.

  • avatar
    davefromcalgary

    Touch controls. Buttons and knobs please.

    Electronic e-brake. Its such an innocuous action that its easy to forget if I’ve engaged it. The pull and ratcheting sound of a proper handbrake has no such issues. I know this is supposed to free up space, but in manual I like a real handbrake, so combine it with the rotary dial trans selector in automatics.

    One that I really dislike is the rheostat in the Verano. Rather than a dial, its a toggle switch you have to toggle repeatedly in whichever direction. Just give me a dial PLEASE!

    Honestly, what it really comes down to for me is change because it improves things vs change for changes sake. The rotary shift knob seems like a genuine improvement (if well implemented) for drive select on an electronically controlled auto, freeing up space and whatnot. But as bball mentions, even though Ford work hard to improve MFT/MLT, I will forever be convinced that proper buttons and knobs are the best way to control HVAC in a car. This is change for change sake and don’t care for it.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      The buttons knobs are back on MFT/MLT. If a vehicle doesn’t have buttons/knobs now, it will soon.

      I very much like the implementation on my C-Max. I’ve never used the touch screen for the HVAC. Knobs for the dual zone temp, buttons for everything else. Simple and effective.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      I’m sort of with you on the electronic e-brake.

      What I don’t understand is why there’s no setting for “apply the e-brake AUTOMATICALLY” under various conditions (such as perhaps “when shifting to park and turning the car off”).

      (Pedantry: If it’s an on-off switch, it’s not a rheostat. The problem is that it SHOULD BE a rheostat, but isn’t!)

      • 0 avatar
        darkwing

        I’ve learned to love mine — it can be incredibly convenient to use it to hold the car at an extended stop, and to get going again by just tapping the gas.

        Mine, I’ve discovered, will engage automatically if you open the driver’s door while the car’s in gear. (Apparently it also won’t disengage unless the driver’s belt is buckled, but I haven’t tested that one.) So there are at least implementations with some intelligence.

  • avatar
    Jeff Weimer

    The temperature knob in my Cruze – when turned to maximum cold, it activates recirculation regardless of the position of the recirc button. the button has a light when you activate it, but the light doesn’t turn on when recirc is on by way of the temp knob.

    • 0 avatar
      davefromcalgary

      Great call Jeff. GM HVAC systems, while generally well laid out, have the annoying trend of forcing certain settings over other certain settings. Such as forcing the A/C on when defrost is selected. This isn’t always necessary.

    • 0 avatar
      medfordjim

      I had the same complaint about our 2012 Camry. Turning the temp to lowest puts AC at max. Pain in the *ss if you just wanted fresh air.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        @medfordjim, I’ve learned to adapt to that on Toyota AC systems. The only wrinkle is when my wife jumps in the passenger seat and is hot, she cranks the dial as far as it will go (regardless if it is ONE tick away from maximum cool) which engages MAX RE-CIRCULATION AC. This is annoying if it is a 65 degree day with low humidity (common this time of year in NM) and you might need AC for about 5 min before switching to vent.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      Both my Mazdas (both 2009 models) do the same thing. If it’s set to cool, as soon as I turn the fan on, the AC turns on. All I want is some fresh air while the windows are up. If I wanted AC, I would have hit the AC button!

  • avatar
    hf_auto

    The entire center stack on the Volt- I absolutely hate touch controls and this is one of the worst offenders with 1) small targets with no outlines or dimples, 2) mostly text/no icons and 3) totally illogical layout.

    Trying to do anything is akin to reading a paragraph written by a 7-year-old practicing their tiny fonts, then staring at your finger as you reach for the 2 millimeter target. By the time you’ve changed the fan setting, the weather’s changed and you have to start all over again.

  • avatar
    Willyam

    I agree (I own a ’14 Odyssey, so I know about insane touch-screens) but buttons can be just as bad, ask the Germans! In a rental Jetta (’15 TSi, the new motor is excellent, the springy automatic not-so-much) the audio system requires you to go into setup to enable the AUX input. Really. Why not just have an AUX button? The phone bluetooth-connection worked immediately, and my Windows phone auto-signed on. Then the wife called. There were three buttons, a face with voice lines, a phone handset, and something indecipherable. I could not answer the phone with any combination. The second call I got to connect, but I still have no idea which one worked, as no button offered any feedback, and no display told me anything but “PHONE”, which began as soon as the ringing did.

  • avatar
    Flipper35

    When the manumatic transmission have push to upshift and pull to downshift. It is backwards from a proper sequential transmission.

    • 0 avatar
      zamoti

      Previous Mazda CX9 did that, hated it. Almost never used the manumatic because of it. That you could audibly and thoroughly curse the slow shifting in the interval it took to actually get a shift to happen didn’t help.

      • 0 avatar
        A strolling player

        No, the CX-9 does it right. You read it wrong. Mazda is one of the few manufacturers that gets it right. Pull to upshift, push to downshift. Same as you would do between, say, 3 and 4 in a manual, plus it works a lot better and more intuitively because of physics and science.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    The GM SmartStalk.

    Especially if you’re in a GM vehicle with significant options. It’s a turn signal! It’s cruise control! It’s rear wiper control! It slices! It dices! But wait there is more, call in the next ten minutes and we’ll double the features on one tiny, injection molded plastic stalk that hasn’t had a user experience redesign in 40 years!!!

    • 0 avatar

      Oh, they actually had a *name* for that nonsense feature? I had no idea. The only GM car I ever dealt with that had the cruise control on the turn signal stalk was our family friend’s 2006 Cadillac STS-V. Since the advent of the GM Global A electronics architecture circa 2010, I think all GM cars have had their cruise control switches on the steering wheel.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      Had one on an ’84 Trans Am. It was still there on a 2000 Camaro SS. I imagine they’re even more fun once the print wears off.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      I don’t know if it’s the same thing, but the Corvette’s stalk has cruise control, and it’s terrible. I don’t think there’s a cancel command without either braking or turning it off. I strongly prefer cruise to be buttons on the steering wheel.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      And feels like it will break off every single time you use it, just as a bonus.

    • 0 avatar
      TheyBeRollin

      One stalk to control them all.

      Curiously, after learning how to operate a super complex left stalk on my first car, I found less-capable ones disappointing. I was accustomed to doing practically everything with my left hand.

  • avatar
    bigev007

    While driving an AMG GT for about 2km, I somehow managed to hit the start/stop button with my elbow THREE TIMES. Which is more than a little bit dangerous.

    The current regular Benz shifter is a PITA as well. One button to take it out of park, different button to go into park, this one’s on the column and flipped sideways!

    Last is the Cruze. I can’t find a way to drive one without hitting my knee on the temp knob hard enough to engage the AC. And the amount of pressure will break the knob in a very short period of time.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      It really sounds like you need to control your body motions while you’re inside cars more effectively. Or maybe you’re too large for these cars you’re using.

    • 0 avatar
      This Is Dawg

      I can count the amount of times I’ve elbowed the center console on…. no fingers. The knee thing I can see, as I rub my knee on the wife’s Corolla console everytime I drive it.

      • 0 avatar
        Sigivald

        I was tempted to agree, but I looked at pictures.

        The AMG GT’s design is … special. And has a really low seating position.

        I can totally see someone hitting the GO button with their elbow.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m nervous about the fact that my Golf SportWagen has the start/stop button on the center console, and somewhere you’d easily hit it. I wish Volkswagen had just put the button beside the steering column.

      • 0 avatar
        This Is Dawg

        Does anyone know what happens if you press and/or hold a car’s start/stop button while in motion? I hope nothing, but I guess I can see some sort of shutdown feature being needed for unintentional acceleration fears. I don’t think my service tech would appreciate me testing this while my car has a thousand miles left under warranty.

  • avatar

    All of the driving-related controls on my ’08 Civic (stick) work fine for me. My (minor) complaints have to do with changing the clock, and ejecting CDs.

  • avatar
    Russycle

    Windshield wiper stalks that increase wiper speed as you press them down, and you have to flick them up for a single, manual wipe. Who thought this was a good idea? Swiping the lever down is much more easy and natural than lifting it up, and those of us who live in wet climates without the luxury of adjustable intermittent wipers use that lever a lot.

    For years one of our two cars was an up-to-wipe-once vehicle, and the other was a down-to-wipe-once, always made for a bit of confusion when switching cars. Now both car are up-to-wipe-once, and both are Japanese(Honda and Scion). Coincidence or is this a Japanese thing? The American and German cars I’ve had were down-to-wipe-once.

    • 0 avatar
      duffman13

      Every Japanese and Korean car I’ve been in or owned has had that style of wiper control function.

    • 0 avatar

      This.

      Actually, I’d just like a standard. My 2006 Audi has press down for single wipe, up gets you interval, slow, then fast. My 2010 Volvo is opposite. Going between cars, this always, ALWAYS gets me. I mean, it’s not a huge thing since presing in either direction gets the wipers going, but it means I have to think about it every time.

      Either way is fine – neither is better, as far as I can tell. But a single way to do it would be wonderful.

      Manumatic shifters are like that too – what’s wrong with a little consistency?

    • 0 avatar
      A strolling player

      My first three cars (two Toyotas and a Fiat) were up to wipe once (“mist”), down to turn the wipers on. Now I have a Focus that’s down for mist and up to turn them on. I still get backwards sometimes.

      It’s what you’re used to, I guess. I find the Toyota/Fiat system more intuitive, but it might just be that I’m used to it. Either way, all of those are better than the everything-on-the-left-stalk twist-to-wipe crap on like, Ford trucks and my girlfriend’s six-seater column-shift Taurus.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      I have cars with both. I’m more used to the Japanese method, but I don’t think one is inherently better than the other. But I agree, a standard would be desirable.

    • 0 avatar
      dtremit

      Funny, I prefer this mode. Having “on” in a different direction from “swipe” means you don’t end up doing the former when you mean to do the latter.

      • 0 avatar
        CRConrad

        Dtremit, you may have misunderstood Russcycle’s complaint. All the cars he mentions have one swipe in one direction, and interval/on in the other direction. The problem is, it’s not the same way around in all cars. (I’m with him: Down to get one swipe, up for on is good; up to get one swipe, down for on is bad.) HTH!

        • 0 avatar
          dtremit

          Ah, true. I prefer the other direction, but de gustibus.

          My current car is down for swipe, turn for on, which I dislike — but it has really effective automatic wipers, which means I don’t really have to touch it at all.

    • 0 avatar
      Occam

      I’ve noticed that many Japanese cars have the signal and wiper stalks slightly upswept. If you are holding the wheel at 9-and-3, with your thumbs where the two horizontal spokes meet the wheel, your fingers are naturally just below the levers. Swiping up is as easy as sticking your finger up and making an upward movement. Swiping down requires moving farther.

      If the default position of the stalk is lower, and your fingers are naturally above the stalk, then swiping down for single wipe makes more sense. The design of the controls and interior overall would determine what is ergonomically more pleasing. It also seems that some of the innovations in controls are things that might make sense over long term ownership, and come to feel very natural over time, but aren’t necessarily as easy for someone switching cars (rentals).

      For example, a closely positioned throttle and brake pedal allows easy movement between the pedals, and heel-and-toe driving. For someone coming from a car with wider spaced pedals, it feels ambiguous, and may lead to Audi-5000-ing into a farmer’s market.

      And thus, the reason everyone hates rental cars!

  • avatar
    red60r

    “Pull twice to open door” is present on my 2013 Volvo XC60 (and, probably all Volvos). I’m sure it is intended as a safety feature. If the doors are already unlocked, one tug does it. The controls are generally very well laid out and differentiated in their whole model suite. They have the most logical HVAC setup in the industry. I haven’t gotten a good look at the new XC90; I hope they haven’t messed up the functionality for the sake of style and follow-the-leader. In some Mercedes commercials the driver gets into the car and seems to caress a “S” on the top of the shift knob. What the ???? is that for?

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      Our ’08 Volvo C30 has the same thing, it may be safe but its annoying. When I pull on the door its because I want out NOW. As mentioned the HVAC and other general controls (like audio) are perfect.

      My rental Charger last week… no so much. The A/C controls are a combination of the touch screen and buttons below. Worst is the radio which is all touch screen EXCEPT the volume which is on a totally separate dial. Normally I would applaud having a real volume knob but since it was no where near the touchscreen I stumbled around with a blaring station till I figured it out. The Charger also has TWO interior dimmer controls – one is for the dash the other is for the ambient lighting. That fooled me for awhile as well.

    • 0 avatar

      That’s a very Euro thing. I know some of the (Euro-designed) Fords do it as well. One tug unlocks the door; the second one actually opens the door. It’s generally used in the back seats, which may not have an actual lock/unlock switch.

      • 0 avatar
        A strolling player

        On my 2013 Focus only the back doors do this. The front doors open on the first pull even if locked, which is fairly typical on a modern car in my experience.

        I don’t think I’ve ever been in a four-door car where a locked rear door opens on the first pull. In fact, most cars in my experience won’t allow a locked rear door to be opened by the handle alone at all. I think the difference is that the Focus (and I assume many European cars) have electronic locking with no manual option, so there has to be SOME way to unlock and subsequently open the back doors. Fine by me; a good balance of safety for children and convenience for adults.

        • 0 avatar
          TheyBeRollin

          This trips the hell out of some of my back-seat passengers. Older cars all had some way to unlock the back door, which you had to do before a pull to open. I don’t see it as a problem, but it would be annoying in the front seat.

  • avatar
    jhefner

    For a little while, I was switching between driving the Taurus with the column shifter and a Suzuki Esteem with a console shifter. While sitting in the Suzuki at a light one day, the truck ahead of me started to roll backwards. I reached for the shifter to try and back up and avoid a collision; but watched helplessly as the windshield wipers came on instead, and she hit and dented my hood.

    Every time I get into a rental car; it takes me several minutes to figure out where everything is, how the entertainment system works, along with adjusting the mirrors and seat. The one that caused me the most confusion was the center mounted door lock button on the Focus — it does make sense to put it there; but it has been on the doors for so long it never occured to me that someone would move it.

    • 0 avatar

      Well, that sucks. What was the reason the person in front of you rolled back? Was it something to do with a manual transmission or letting her foot off the brake, or did she just kick it into reverse and then not pay enough attention to you?

      • 0 avatar
        jhefner

        I don’t think she was a regular driver. It was a left turn lane on top of an overpass. I think she realized she was sticking too far out in the intersection; and backed up without realizing that I was behind her.

        The damage wasn’t bad on a 2000 year car with 200K+ miles that already had a massive case of paint failure; it was my beater commuter car that we originally bought new for my daughter. (I used the money to work on the brakes instead.) I started commuting with it full time around 2010; it was solid like a tank (paint nonwithstanding) with even the A/C holding out through about 2012. We then let our son drive it as his first car; he finally killed it sliding on black ice last year with about 250K on it. It just beat out the 1990 Dodge Spirit for the car with the longest life and most amount of miles; though the Dodge was stil running when I sold it in 2005.

  • avatar
    turf3

    1) Non standardized windshield wiper/washer/headlight/turn signal/cruise control stalks. I have preferences on how they are laid out, but I would abandon those preferences in a microsecond if EVERYONE WOULD JUST DO IT THE SAME FREAKING WAY.

    2) Mandatory console shifters for automatic transmissions.

    3) Multi level menus required to make minor adjustments to the radio. While I am reading through all these damn menus and trying to figure out which one is the thing I want to change, who’s watching the road? Yep, no one. Since I prefer not dying, the audio goes unadjusted.

    4) Fake knobs. For example, I just turned off the car with the radio on, loud. I realize the next time I get in it’ll be too loud. With a real knob I can just twist it counterclockwise, and it’ll be soft when I get in. With a fake knob I have to turn the ignition back on.

    5) Seat adjustments that are different for every make and model. I have spent ten minutes trying to figure out how to adjust a rental car seat.

    • 0 avatar
      This Is Dawg

      Fake knobs are the only way to make steering wheel buttons play nice. I’ve been in an older TL that had a “real knob” that rotated about 180 degrees, as well as steering wheel buttons. When you adjust the volume on the steering wheel, the dash knob is motorized to keep position. While amusing, it seems like that’s just asking for stupid repairs.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Wow, what a ridiculous system that has no need to exist. It’s just asking for someone to grab it and turn in the opposite direction as you’re adjusting on the steering wheel.

        I think the 05-09 RL had the same synced knob thing. It just doesn’t make sense to do that.

        • 0 avatar
          This Is Dawg

          Lol now I’m imagining all the people that approved those stupid motorized knobs before that car could be made. “Nope, this isn’t dumb at all, definitely luxurious to have an itty bitty motor behind the dashboard controls.”

        • 0 avatar
          PeriSoft

          “It’s just asking for someone to grab it and turn in the opposite direction as you’re adjusting on the steering wheel.”

          I’m envisioning the button frantically pressing itself repeatedly to keep up when that happens.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        The right way to deal with the volume issue is to be able to set a default startup volume.

    • 0 avatar

      My Jetta SportWagen had a “max startup volume” you could set so that if you had the radio up loud, it wouldn’t immediately start up at that volume again. I’m not sure if the GSW has this feature or not.

  • avatar
    carguy

    I find unusual transmission controls the most troubling. Now that all are electronic there is a lot more freedom to place them in creative places but I wish at least some common sense would prevail.

    Transmission controls that are either located too close to other similar controls or are too easily bumped are dangerous. I don’t care if it improved the aesthetics of the cabin, its simply bad industrial design.

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    When I open the door with the metal key on my 2011 Outback the alarm goes off. This is not unique to my vehicle, all of them do it. What blithering idiot thought of that?

    The UI systems don’t really bother me. Most journalists hate on them because they drive a different car every week and have so many to deal with. For someone who actually owns a car and drives it everyday, mastering an MMI system isn’t too hard.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    VW and German car controls in general are silly. Everything in their cars is labeled with heiroglyphics, and they often buck convention for no reason. For example the windshield wiper stalk in my wife’s Rabbit works the opposite way from literally every other car I’ve driven- Japanese, American, Italian whatever. And there’s no label on the stalk, aside from a picture of a windshield being squirted on. There’s also some kind of ventilation device on the top of the middle of the dash… I still don’t know what it’s for, but I know that turning the dial on it is the difference between the A/C system being totally effective or useless.

    One should be able to operate the important controls in a car pretty much immediately. It looks like things will only get worse as more complex infotainment systems reach their tentacles further and further into controls interfaces.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      I think the people who draw the directions for putting together Ikea furniture also label VW vehicle controls.

      • 0 avatar
        Maymar

        I think Ikea borrows some of Lego’s staff for making instructions, as they follow pretty much the exact same format. I played with Lego plenty as a kid, so Ikea seems pretty straightforward.

    • 0 avatar
      CRConrad

      If there weren’t hieroglyphics, it would have to read some text. And then either all ze Tshermans would go, “Vy ze heck does it read ‘WIPER’ in some foreign language in my Tsherman car here in Tshermany?”, or the Merkins would go, “What the heck is a SCHEIBENWISCHER[*], and where the heck is the wiper control?”.

      And no, they wouldn’t make more than one version. Because if they made a separate version for the Ungebildete Amerikaner who can’t read Deutsch, then how many versions would they have to make? “Quoi, Monsieur, are you sayeeng zat le French iz not ze world language? Force de frappe, De Gaulle, 300 fromages!” Español, Portuguinho (for Bresil), Hindi… And Mandarin is hieroglyphics anyway. So no, it’d have to be just one language. And whichever one they cose, that would be the wrong one for more people than not. So hieroglyphics it is.

      [*]: Also, the stalk would have to be so long that it would have to be operated from the passenger seat.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    It drove me nuts in my GS when Lexus felt the need to place the trunk release, gas cap release, and the hood release in the same general 2″ of lower dash, out of sight and labeled on the (grey) dashboard in white lettering, and not lighted. All release levers were the same shape and made of the same texture plastic.

    At night, good luck to you on picking the right one. It’s quite embarrassing when you pull up to the passenger pickup area at the crowded airport, and pop the hood.

  • avatar
    Chan

    Mercedes-Benz’s column “shifter” is irritating, far more so than Chrysler’s rotary dial.

    This is subjective, but after having used said stalk on my parents’ car countless times, the motions of using that thing have never become second nature for me.

  • avatar
    gearhead77

    Personally, I’ve never understood why you’d want to turn the fan off while driving, unless you’ve got the windows down. Don’t turn off the fan (which usually turns off the system), adjust the temperature or airflow. Find the A/C off button or Econ button if you don’t want the A/C on. Drives me nuts when I’m a passenger and no one knows how to use the HVAC properly. OK, rant over.

    I get the point being made about various knobs of similar shape and size though.

    I’m mixed on the touchscreens in cars. On our Odyssey, the touchscreen system is slow, but HVAC controls are knobs and buttons, so I’m fine with that. I think the touchscreen system was a rushed attempt to eliminate the myriad of similar buttons on the previous Odyssey, it should get better.

    I like the one touch turn signals, so much so it takes me a moment when I’m back in my Mazda5 to realize I don’t have it.

    I’ve not found anything that really gets me worked up in the interior of any new car I’ve experienced, but they’ve all been simply equipped mainstream vehicles. Only odd things like rear window wipers or things like that cause me to pause. I do miss the simple analog controls with sliders and I know knobs are going away too. But I’ll just have to adapt, like I do to any vehicle I drive.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Dude what time period are we talking here?! Cars don’t have ECON mode any more. There’s auto, or manual, with auto being AC compressor running all the time. If you put it in auto then shut off the AC, you’re back to manual.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        @CoreyDL, lol

        Well I could have come here and complained about the lack of intuitiveness with the heater controls on my 67 Mustang but that really seemed like it was missing the point…

      • 0 avatar
        gearhead77

        Sorry, I was trying to keep it relevant to the older set here who might remember such things. I was just in my folks 95 S-Class, so it came to mind.

        If you don’t want A/C, find whatever manner turns off the air conditioning compressor in your vehicle. Better?

      • 0 avatar
        gsnfan

        @Corey: The prev-gen Hyundai Sonata has an Econ Mode. My parents leave it in Econ and the A/C is quite cold.

      • 0 avatar
        A strolling player

        Not on all cars.

        The climate control on the Mk3 Focus has three modes of operation for the A/C button. If you leave it in auto, the compressor will turn on and off depending on conditions—usually, it turns itself off if outside temperature is at least 10° below inside temperature, but it’ll turn back on to defog, and maybe it has other sensors/criteria too. Perhaps this is somewhat like an “ECON” mode, I don’t know. Or you can elect to manually operate the compressor by pressing the A/C button, and it’ll stay either on or off depending on where you set it. Just press the main “AUTO” button again to resume automatic compressor operation. You can similarly override either the fan speed or the mode (e.g., panel, floor) without overriding automatic control of the other. The MFT display makes this evident, showing “Auto” and some brackets over that which is being automatically controlled at any given time.

        • 0 avatar
          Sigivald

          Really, the compressor is always “on” in the sense of “can be active”, unless AC is totally off.

          It’s only “on” in the sense of “actually compressing” when it’s both “on” in the *logical* sense, and the system actually needs it to be.

          AFAIK none of them run on a 100% duty cycle in normal use; they might for a short time when initially cooling a very hot cabin.

      • 0 avatar
        cbrworm

        My ’06 G35 has ECON mode. I use it during the winter. I know it’s not exactly a new car, but not ancient either.

        SIGIVALD

        Many newer cars (such as my above mentioned G35) have variable displacement compressors that run full time when A/C is turned on (unless it is locked out due to low ambient temp, WOT, or low idle).

    • 0 avatar

      Right! And I wish they would put the starter button back on the floor where it belongs. Right next to the high-beams.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        HEY, I like floor mounted high beams. Makes switching them on and off more MANLY. (Stomp foot, stomp foot again… hear the click/click of the on/off routine.)

        • 0 avatar
          claytori

          Ya! and how about the rubber bulb thing for the windshield washer fluid as well. It would be like playing a pipe organ. (I have actually driven a car with this “feature”, a late sixties stripper Dodge Dart with a leaning tower of power and three on the tree).

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    One could almost write a book on today’s vehicles annoyances starting with piss poor visibility, over reliance on technology to counteract high window belt lines, the stupid rotary knob shifter, Mercedes column mounted craziness, annoying touch screen menus just to adjust radio volume, finger prints and dumb piano black trim that shows every single smudge and piece of dust and scratch, painted silver that wears off after use, black and gray interiors with sand paper cloth seat material, feed back touch capacitive buttons that need to be hit 10 times to do anything, stubby rear overhang that renders trunk space useless, plain side exterior doors that invite dings and dents where the protective and decorative molding used to reside, chrome molding at the bottom of the doors that do absolutely nothing and look out of place, LED strips of lights all over the place like a spreading disease, massive overly wide center floor consoles that steal front seat space and make the car feel tight and hemmed in last but not least plastic shrouds slapped all around the engine engulfing it and covering everything up to try and reduce DI injector clatter and make the engine bay look like one giant slab of land-o-plastic!

  • avatar
    Sky_Render

    Electrically-controlled parking brake switches. Seriously, what is the point of this, other than to have one more thing that can malfunction?!

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      Cables stretch/break. I just had to replace the trunk/fuel release cable assembly in my Civic. I don’t think a cable is any more or less reliable than a switch, and the switch can be programmed not to lock while driving (as ABS, EBD and redundant brake circuits have pretty much rendered the “emergency brake” useless). Even you called it a parking brake.

      • 0 avatar
        Sky_Render

        I will say that the fact that the car automatically releases the electric parking brake after applying a certain amount of gas does make it a great form of LAUNCH CONTROL.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      It does permit the car to automatically engage the parking brake when the vehicle is turned off. There’s some advantage to that.

      • 0 avatar
        Sigivald

        Oddly, of the few vehicles I’ve driven with one, I don’t know if any of them DID automatically engage. Which puzzles me.

        Mostly I think the point is to save space and weight; I don’t know how the actuation works. It probably reduces long-term adjustment needs, too.

    • 0 avatar
      turf3

      How do you start a standard transmission car on a steep upgrade, when the emergency brake is electrically actuated?

      • 0 avatar
        CRConrad

        A) By heel-and-toeing, you klutz. If Björn Waldegård, Walter Röhrl and Hannu Mikkola could do it, then why can’t you?

        B) Actually you don’t have to pretend to be a rallying ace from the seventies. You just move your right foot swiftly from the brake to the gas just as you release the clutch. (You might roll back a foot or two at first, but starting from rolling ever-so-slowly backwards on a slope of X degrees is just the same as starting from a standstill on a slope of X+x degrees. Your clutch will survive it, and with practice, you’ll shrink that foot or two to an inch or two.)

        C) Right foot on the brake pedal, engage first gear, then let up the clutch halfway to where you hear from the engine sound (or feel through the seat of your trousers) that it is just beginning to engage. In many (most?) modern cars, this will engage “hill start mode”, which applies the brakes for you even without a foot on the pedal, and then releases them as you release the clutch. So if you just keep the clutch pedal at that height, you can move the other foot from brake to gas at whatever leisurely pace you prefer.

        I have both a mechanical hand brake and a “hill-start assistant” (or whatevertheheck it’s called) function in my car. The parking garage where I keep it has a long steep uphill exit, and a proximity key-thingy reader just inside the gate[*], where you have to stop and hold up the little magnetic or electronic (or radioactive or whatever) thingamajig to the reader. So I practice this every day, and have tried all the methods. I, too, am too klutzy to regularly pull off heel-and-toe. But I still don’t need to use the handbrake — it’s just more hassle than methods B or C. (Personally I think I tend to use B more than C. Finding that clutch position is also unnecessary fiddly compared to just starting as usual, only slightly more swiftly and decisively than usual.)

        HTH!


        [*]: It just occurrs to me: WHY?!? Even if someone lacks the authority to keep his car down there that having the key-flap thingy implies, why the heck would they want to stop him from getting OUT of there? Weird…

        • 0 avatar
          A strolling player

          What kind of wack-ass car do you have that requires all this finagling to get the hill start assist to work? In a normal car with this system, if you’re at a stop with the clutch in and your foot on the brake, put it in gear and release the brake, and the car will hold the brakes on for you until you release the clutch and go like a normal person.

          Not all cars have hill start assist – my 2013 Focus didnt come with it – but I would assume any car with an electronic parking brake would have it.

          • 0 avatar
            CRConrad

            SEAT Exeo 2009, a Spanish-built compact sedan from the Volkswagen group; basically a re-badged version of the 2004-2008 Audi A4. Not very “wack-ass” at all, IMnsHO.

            It doesn’t have an electronic parking brake but a mechanical one. I think any car with ABS and/or ECS has all the equipment needed for hill start assist, and being just electronics it pretty much wouldn’t have to cost anything, so I would have thought pretty much every car has it now. (Maybe the manufacturers just don’t switch that circuit on in the basic versions, in order to have something to charge for in the fancier variants? :-)

            Idunno why they implemented it that way… This being the first car I have with this function (the only one I owned before being a 1953 Volvo), I just assumed this is how it’s supposed to work. Hmm, could be the “put it in gear” bit: I don’t usually park on an upslope (and even if I did, I might leave it in first and just start the engine with the clutch down), and in the garage-exit scenario above, I’m driving up to the post with the reader where one opens the gate. So I’ve always already have first gear engaged going uphill, and only depress the clutch while stopping.

            But if I put it in neutral while engaging the key reader and then back into first while on the brake, then maybe it would behave as you describe? Will have to try that next.

          • 0 avatar
            A strolling player

            I don’t mean that any car *without* an electronic parking brake *won’t* have hill assist, just that any car *with* an electronic parking brake probably will. A little logic problem :)

            My FIAT 500 had hill assist; honestly, I don’t know why my Focus doesn’t, as it’s a top-trim model and the Mk3 Focus in Europe apparently has it. (Actually, I was able to enable it in software using a tool called FoCCCus and an OBDII USB adapter!) Maybe they just don’t bother because of the rarity of a manual Focus in the states…

            You might want to try putting it in neutral when you’re at the card reader, that might work. I would expect it to work even if you keep it in first while you’re stopped though, as long as the brake and clutch are in, but maybe the VAG hill assist system is a bit different.

  • avatar
    fincar1

    Hey Chrysler, I have a suggestion. If you don’t want to have a console shift lever, there actually could be a group of push-buttons on the left side of the dash. I’d charge you for the idea, but it’s your own, not mine!

  • avatar
    ktm

    This is not so much an interior control per se, but its function is to let you inside the interior…….2013/2014 VW Jetta key fob.

    I had one of these as a rental last year and nearly ever single time I went to start the car I would set off the panic alarm. How do you do that you ask? Because the genius’ put the panic button on the SIDE of the key fob, right where your thumb goes as you turn the key…..

  • avatar
    A strolling player

    Two small things in my 2013 Focus annoy me quite a lot. The fog light button, first of all, is small, hard to distinguish, and shares an edge with the inside hatch release button (why is that necessary??). It’s so easy to open the hatch accidentally when trying to turn the fog lights on. It’s a miracle I’ve only managed to do that two or three times in two years. Second, the rear wiper control is a rocker switch on the end of the wiper control stalk, where off is the down position, intermittent is middle, and on is up. It’s not easy at all to tell by feel or sight which position it’s in without clicking it on and off or vice versa. Also, it’s not very robust, so I used to accidentally click the rear wiper on by accident when I kept my phone’s dash mount a little closer to the wheel. I rented a Sonic once where the switch was similar, but the center position was off, the switch actually looked flat when it was off, and it was a lot harder to activate by accident.

    Everything else on it has been between fine and great, even MyFord Touch (granted, I don’t have to use it to adjust climate or heated seat controls).

    I actually find SYNC-equipped Fords without MyFord Touch a lot harder to use. You have to dig into menus to switch between Bluetooth, USB, and aux in, for example.

  • avatar
    Minnesota Nice

    Others have covered a ton of annoying features, but one that hits home for me is the 2012+ Civic.

    With the small I-MID screen on the dashboard showing a ton of information, I am able to use a knob to scroll through 3,000+ songs on my iPod, but the second I go into the Phone menu, I am forced to either come to a stop to scroll through my Contacts, or use one of 15 name ‘tags’ that I have to spend minutes setting before departing.

    Whoever designed that UI should be shot.

    On newer Honda’s, the mandatory touch screen system completely removes the volume knob, which should be an executable offense. You have to mindless jab at the touch screen to find it, otherwise take your eyes off the road to find it (and God help you if the sun is hitting it).

    Ironically, the new HR-V has touch screens for the HVAC. There is not a single knob or button for the radio or HVAC systems in that car. I won’t be buying a Honda again until that brainfart disappears.

  • avatar
    redav

    Touch screens and touch controls have no place in cars. I fully support catapulting designers who use them.

    There should never be more than two stalks on the column. Cruise on a separate stalk? That’s a paddlin’. Shift lever as a stalk? That’s a paddlin’. Personally, I prefer one stalk with nothing but lighting controls (turn signals, headlights, fogs, high beams), and the other controls only the wipers. Cruise should be buttons on the steering wheel.

    I find I don’t like a lot of Chevy controls. The C6 Corvette has volume & tuning knobs that aren’t labeled and are located in odd locations. Cruise on the stalk is just bad. The steering wheel controls are poorly placed, and the radio controls are wonky. A single button to cycle through radio presets in only one direction but seek buttons for both directions? Seriously?

    • 0 avatar
      gearhead77

      Thank you for the Simpsons reference.

    • 0 avatar
      dtremit

      The only exception I’d make to the “one stalk per side” rule would be the stubby cruise stalk seen on a lot of Toyotas and a few other Japanese cars. Like this:

      http://i.imgur.com/pzd49dN.jpg

      They’re short enough, and out of the way enough, that they can’t really be confused for anything else.

      I’d also propose that any control you don’t touch frequently should get off the damn wheel. I would include headlights in this rule on any car with autolamps — and my recent experience suggests auto wipers could put them in the same category on cars where they’re standard.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Yes! My GS had that little stalk for the cruise, as well as the Impreza wagon I had, and they are very handy, and fall to hand easily. GM U-body vans also have this little stalk.

        My current car has a push tab way up high, and it’s not convenient.
        http://www.roadfly.com/new-cars/wp-content/uploads/gallery/2007-infiniti-m45/2007-infiniti-m45-steering-wheel.jpg

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        BMW did this right until the latest generation. I infinitely prefer stalk-mounted cruise to wheel mounted. Mounted down low and much stubbier than the turn signal lever. I have never hit it by accident, ever.

        Operation is simplicity in itself. Set by either pulling or pushing, cancel is up or down. Slight push or pull to change speed by 1mph, push or pull past the detent for 5mph. Push speeds up, pull slows down. Push the button on the end for resume. The mechanical “speed bug” in the speedo is cute, but IMHO it should stay put to show what you will resume to when a speed is set.

        I also like that when you slow down with the cruise the brake lights come on. Some may object to that as a cop alert.

        • 0 avatar
          CJinSD

          The BMWs I owned had cruise control on the right, under the wiper switch. It worked well and was quite simple. The recently departed 2012 Audi used a stubby stalk under the turn signal lever for cruise control operation. It looked like a cheep afterthought and was probably the worst ergonomic mistake in the car’s interior until a drink fell out of the substandard cup holder and into the horizontal infotainment controls.

  • avatar
    theonewhogotaway

    I travel a lot and I rent a lot of cars. Usually have the pick of the litter, but still lots of pet peeves:

    – Those Chrysler (mainly, some GM cars have them too) switches on the back side of the steering wheel that you inadvertently touch and change the radio station.
    – Parking/Emergency brakes that use switches that look like window switches. Or heated seat switches. I like the level, I can deal with the left foot thing. Thank you.
    – Crazy push button all in one screen navigation system temperature control radios dvd entertainment mess. Please. I’d like a scan button to find radio stations and I’d like to know how to set the temp and get it going constantly within seconds I am in the car.
    – Modern push button starters. The first push button car I experienced was a FIAT 126p I had for a summer. It also had a choke level and a priming rubber button (think lawnmower.) PTSD. Also I leave the darn things running and get out of the car.
    – Oversized back seat head restrains that block 70% or the rear window and do not fold. All 3 of them.

    That’s about it as far as quality of life with a car goes. There are some irritating things also, but are secondary.

    • 0 avatar
      dtremit

      I actually like the Chrysler rear volume controls, but I don’t understand why they can’t print something on the front of the wheel to tell you where they are. I can never remember which side is volume and which is tuning.

  • avatar
    dr_outback

    I guess we have become too busy as car enthusiasts to take 10 minutes to familiarize ourselves with a new-to-us cockpit layout.

  • avatar

    I like the controls in my 2012 Elantra for the most part with a few exceptions. My biggest complaint is that it is almost impossible to touch the dimmer switch without bumping the ‘Active Eco’ button. Even when looking at it, I’d say I hit both switches nine times out of ten. Also a bit of differentiation between the heated seat and defroster buttons would not be uncalled for. I will often go for the rear defrost button and turn on the passenger side heated seat at the same time. The air blend buttons (panel, blend, floor, etc) have little plastic separators in between them to prevent two from being pushed at once….why not the others?!

    Also I’d LOVE to know who at Hyundai decided the rear heated seat switches should latch on. I compulsively check mine almost every time I get in the car because I know if I don’t, they’ll stay on for a month or more and burn out.

  • avatar
    cbrworm

    My wife’s E60 BMW has a mostly great user interface. There are very few things I don’t like about that car, but the couple of things that do annoy me are really annoying.

    The previously mentioned turn signal – I frequently turn on the left signal trying to cancel the right signal.

    The wiper interface. I just don’t know how it works, and it always returns to center. Is it up three times for fast or down three times to turn them off? I don’t know – and I’ve been driving the car since ’08. Luckily the Auto feature works pretty well – and is a regular push button.

    The transmission manual mode – push forward to downshift, pull back to upshift. Maybe this is normal in other cars too, but it is opposite of what I am used to, and what my FX45 does.

    Other than that I like every other interface control. My favorite is the cruise control and iDrive stuff. iPhone integration is great.

  • avatar
    TheyBeRollin

    Wiper stalks. There is zero consistency here and it is extremely annoying. You’re driving in slick conditions and you have to figure out how operate some stalk that is totally inconsistent. It isn’t just in a random rental car, either, as people with multiple cars will often have to think before using whichever car they are in. This is dangerous.

    I have seen so many variations in operation and markings that it’s a roll of the dice what will happen when I touch the thing. Up/down for mist? Up/down for cleaning? Button for cleaning? Forward/back for cleaning? Little switch on there for something… How about some twist knobs? This one is for the hatch and this one is for the windshield. What direction is faster or slower for intermittent? Longer or shorter bars? Do they indicate delay or speed? Forward or back for faster? Right stalk? Left stalk?

    There are even more things they move around, but you get the idea. This should be dead simple and completely consistent.

    • 0 avatar
      dtremit

      We had a first-gen Tempo that had the wiper controls right on the top of the dashboard, to the right of the cluster. That worked pretty well; I’m not sure why it never caught on. You could actually *see* the control.

  • avatar
    dtremit

    Steering wheel audio controls on the right side of the wheel (on a LHD car).

    If I wanted to use my right hand to adjust the stereo, I would reach out and adjust the stereo.

    Putting them on the left means I can adjust the stereo with either hand, rather than having two ways to do it with the right hand.

    Runner up: the turn signal stalks on the first-gen LX platform cars (and, I think, their Teutonic cousins), pointing at about 8:00 on the column. Can’t count how many times I grasped for air or nearly snapped off the cruise control when renting those cars.

    • 0 avatar
      CRConrad

      So where’s the blinker stalk supposed to point, in your opinion?

      • 0 avatar
        dtremit

        Somewhere between 9:00 and 10:00, as it does on pretty much every non-Mercedes-influenced car I’ve ever driven. If there are two stalks on that side (which, as redav rightly notes, is a paddlin’), the turn signal ought to be the upper of the two.

  • avatar
    Paddan

    I despise the cruise control lever on Mercedes- Benz vehicles. They are placed where the turn signal lever is supposed to be. No matter how hard I try, I turn on the cruise when making a turn. I wonder why M-B persists in using this design. They have used it for years and I wonder how many accidents have happened. I just deactivate by punching the brake. But not an optimal design.

  • avatar
    Sam-I-Am

    I’ve driven three BMWs with I-drive and they’re needlessly confusing. you a great sense of accomplishment once you’ve figured it out though.

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