QOTD: The Worst Part of Growing Up?

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
qotd the worst part of growing up

The headline refers to the automobile itself, though it can just as easily refer to each and every one of us. We’re all along for the ride as the industry ditches coupes, sedans, affordable cars, and manual transmissions en masse, and there’s no option of tucking and rolling as the ride slows to turn a corner.

With that said, what recent addition to a vehicle’s content do you find most hard to live with? For our amusement, we’ll list a single rule: you can’t bitch about the loss of stick shifts.

The list of new kit is nearly endless, and with new features comes new things to break. Expensive sensors that turn a mild fender-bender into a big-bucks repair bill now grace an alarming number of bumpers. Auto stop/start is often annoying, but usually defeatable. We should all get down on our knees and give thanks that Chrysler’s Electronic Voice Alert is dead and buried, even though safety nannies infiltrate all vehicles with their lights and buzzers.

Sometimes you just want to crawl down a dirt trail with your seatbelt off.

As this writer thinks ahead in time, to that day when the Cruze goes the way of the last one (if it matches the first-gen’s longevity, the clock’s ticking fast), one feature comes to mind that I’ll do my very best to avoid: The electronic parking brake.

I loathe these things, and not just because replacing a nearly infallible (or at least cheap to repair) mechanical system with an electrical one seems ripe for headaches down the road. There’s a practical reason, too. Living as I do in the snow belt, the cursed white stuff that falls from the heavens each winter serves as a useful invitation to avoiding time-consuming U-turns and three-point turns. As a kid, one of my great joys was when dad would put our Olds wagon through its paces on the way to the grocery store, cranking that footbrake till the tail got happy, then bringing it all back in line.

“Do it again!” little Steph would shout, wishing he owned an ’83 Cutlass Cruiser.

Later in life, after front-drive living became my reality, I realized the benefit in having drive wheels that pull, not push. The reverse donut is both fun and a time-saver, but a forward 180, always just a yank away, spreads joy faster than Santa Claus. And speaking of front-drive, on at least a few occasions I’ve had to yank the parking brake to position the car in the right direction after a case of excessive plow. This normally occurs in deep snow during a left-hand turn onto a four-lane roadway. A bit of tail action, and you remain in your lane, free to live a life of religious fulfillment.

Good luck getting that infuriating e-brake button to cave to your whims. Yes, they serve a safety purpose in preventing rollaways, but we’re too coddled as it is.

So I’ll try to avoid such devices for as long as possible, despite the fact that an awful lot of excellent cars can’t be had with an old-fashioned, space-wasting, console-ruining hand lever between the seats. Sitting high on that list is the current and previous-gen Mazda 3. Bummer, as the 3 remains an excellent driver’s car for those of modest means.

[Image: Chris Tonn/TTAC]

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  • Jeff S Jeff S on Aug 11, 2019

    @Vulpine--Agree on most Ford products, my father had only 2 Fords during his lifetime and for the most part didn't like them. Both my grandfathers steered clear of any Ford product. I have owned 3 Fords 2 were good and 1 was terrible. Not saying I would never buy another Ford but I have concerns about double clutch automatics and turbo motors and yes I know most of the manufacturers are going to turbo motors along with CVT transmissions but I am still very wary of them. Maybe the problems with turbo and CVTs will eventually be ironed out but I don't want to pay for the privilege of being the guinea pig.

  • Art Vandelay Art Vandelay on Aug 11, 2019

    You know what I miss too...those 90s designs where everything was angled towards the driver. The MN12 Thunderbird, the Bonneville of the era, and many others placed the radio, climate control, etc pointed at the driver. I miss that. I'm the one writing the check for the car...why do I care if my passenger has to crane their neck to tune the radio...they shouldn't be screwing with it anyway.

    • See 1 previous
    • Art Vandelay Art Vandelay on Aug 11, 2019

      @jack4x I do...I would put Pontiac Fiero badges on it and present it as a third gen Fiero to the Corvette types. I may actually do this BTW...it is a ton of car given the price and that is from a professed Ford fan. Ford has sort of left me high and dry though...They offer some Mustangs in that price, but I've never been a huge Stang guy and an I'm inclined to believe that an LS sitting in the middle of that platform would make me forgive alot. And for those reading my earlier stuff, yes I would prefer it with a turbo 6. But until someone makes a kit to drop the alfa giulia quadrifoglio v6 in one and affix Dino badges, I'll be fine.

  • FreedMike One of the things that we here in North America often forget about Europe is that it's a COMPLETELY different world to drive in. Imagine driving in the downtown area of the city you live in 24/7, and never leaving it, and you have a decent simulation of what it's like to drive in a place like Paris, or London, or Rome - or Manhattan, for that matter. As far as the "dystopia" is concerned, I don't really see it that way. This isn't made for people living in the 'burbs - it's for urban dwellers. And for that application, this car would be about perfect. The big question is how successful the effort to provide large-scale EV charging in urban areas will be.
  • Matzel I am hoping that Vee-Dub will improve the UX and offer additional color options for the 2024 Mk8.5 refresh for Canada. Until then, I'll be quite happy with my '21 GTI performance pack. It still puts a smile on my face going through the twisty bits.
  • Stanley Steamer There have been other concepts with BYOT, that I have always thought was a great idea. Replacing bespoke parts is expensive. If I can plug in a standard 17" monitor to serve as my instrument panel, as well as speakers, radio, generic motors, batteries, I'm for it. Cheaper repair, replacement, or upgrade costs. Heck I'd even like to put in my own comfy seats. My house didn't come with a built in LaZboy. The irony is that omitting these bespoke items at the point of sale allows me to create a more bespoke car as a whole. It's hard to imagine what an empty rolling monocoque chassis would look like capable of having powertrains and accessories easily bolted on in my garage, but something like the Bollinger suv comes to mind.
  • Iam65689044 Sometimes I'm glad the French don't sell in America. This is one of those times.
  • SCE to AUX I was going to scoff, but the idea has some merit.The hard part would be keeping the weight and cost down. Even on the EPA cycle, this thing could probably get over 210 miles with that battery.But the cost - it's too tempting to bulk up the product for profits. What might start as a $22k car quickly becomes $30k.Resource-deprived people can't buy it then, anyway, and where will Kyle get the electricity to charge it in 2029 Los Angeles?