We’ve seen some interesting new ways to control your car at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show and 2016 Detroit Auto Show. That reminded me of the touch-free tech most cars have had for years; voice-activation. Yeah, remember that?

I’ve conducted a few informal polls of friends and Twitter followers to find that, no, most people of the handful I heard from do not use any kind of “push to talk” voice-activated controls on their car.

I didn’t find this all that surprising, because I don’t care much for voice-commands myself.

The first car I’d ever driven with voice-commands was my own 2005 Acura TL. There’s a little button on the steering wheel you tap, after which the car begins listening for a command.


Its capabilities are relatively vast; you can theoretically move through the whole set of infotainment menus, control a paired phone (though only its for “calling” abilities) as well as the car’s climate control.

At first it was a lot of fun. I felt like Jean-Luc Picard bossing ensigns around my car. The Acura was easily able to understand “SET TEMPERATURE MAX HOT,” “FAN SPEED SEVEN” and the orders to make a phone call.


Then for some reason I just, stopped. The tedium that came with the pause between me barking and the car doing outweighed the novelty of talking to an imaginary bridge crew after about a week. To this day I only use the “Call ____” command, because yes I still use a telephone.

How about you? Do you use your car’s voice commands? Or if it had them, would you use them? Think the latest and greatest touch/pinch/swipe human-machine interface systems will go the same way? Talk to me!


Image by the author; graphic is Ford’s voice recognition icon.

Contact the author at andrew@jalopnik.com.