Modern cars are chock full of features that stand out in a dealership brochure. Adaptive driver assistance technology, self-parking functionality, even things as wild as windows with buttons instead of cranks. We asked this morning which of these unimaginable luxuries you tried and disliked, and you gave us so many answers. Here are ten of our favorites.
Automatic speed sensitive volume, that shit is annoying. I don’t want or need help adjusting the volume of music.
On the surface, this is a convenient feature. As you go faster, more wind and road noise will make their way into the cabin, so having your stereo volume increase to compensate makes sense — when it works right. At its worst, this feature can mess with your audio mixing and sound worse than no solution at all.
Submitted by: Arch Duke Maxyenko, Shit Talk Extraordinaire
Choose-Your-Own-Gear Automatic Transmissions
In the few automatic transmission cars I have had with the ability to tap up and down gears. I just do not bother. I have set in in 1 or 2 off road on occasion but it just seems that the transmissions do fine on the highway without me telling the auto what gear to go into. I have not owned a car with paddle shifters nor do I have a track car so it might be a good thing there.
I’ll stand by the towing use case for shiftable automatics. Keeping your Tundra near peak torque when you’re lugging around a heavy trailer does genuinely seem like a benefit. Beyond that, though, there doesn’t seem to be much purpose — at least, not until you get into a ZF 8HP or a dual-clutch.
Submitted by: 4jim
Infotainment made by the manufacturer. But worse than that. Voice controls made by the manufacturer. That stuff never worked.
This is the issue CarPlay and Android Auto were built to solve, yet manufacturers still insist on hiding them behind shoddy in-house infotainment. Laggy interfaces, horrible navigation UI, and menus within menus within menus. Good luck trying to circumvent all that with voice commands — they’ll never understand you correctly.
Submitted by: ncbrit
Advanced Driver Assist Systems
My experience is anecdotal and is with two rental vehicles, so take it with a grain of salt, but...
I’ve had two Toyota rental cars recently. Both the adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist sucked. I took two long road trips from Denver to Kansas City and back, so quite a long and relatively straight stretch of road. I own a 15-year-old car that doesn’t have this technology, so I decided to give it a go (I really had no choice with the adaptive cruise since it’s on by default).
What I found was the adaptive cruise control was wildly variable. I set the follow distance I wanted, but it really didn’t matter. Sometimes it would get uncomfortably close to vehicles in front of me, and other times it would start braking way, way too far back; it didn’t matter if it was a car, pickup, semi-truck, flat, hilly, curvy, whatever, but it was just so incredibly inconsistent. Lane keep assist wasn’t much better, especially while crossing windy Kansas. Sometimes it would try to take the exit, sometimes it would just leisurely weave back and forth in the lane. The worst was when I would get a large wind gust (which was quite common) and it would scream and swerve as it attempted to fight the wind and stay in the lane. I mainly keep lane keep assist off, but would occasionally try it out just to see if it was me imagining things or if it really was that bad. It was that bad. I also found that I had to keep my hands on the wheel firm enough to keep the features activated, but that often just wound up overriding the lane keep assist. I found it incredibly pointless and just a huge nuisance and waste.
The annoying thing was, since I was unfamiliar with the car, I couldn’t figure out how to disable the adaptive cruise control either. So while I could turn lane keep assist off, I couldn’t figure it out with the adaptive cruise control, so I just dealt with that headache.
Adaptive cruise control and lane centering systems can be incredibly convenient on long road trips, but they have to work well — and you have to be able to control them. If you can’t get in an unfamiliar car and quickly learn how to manage its features, that’s poor design.
Submitted by: Dr. Martin van Nostrand
Electric windows. You have to switch the ignition on, the button only moves the glass in 1 inch increments, and if you try to finagle it into the perfect position the auto up/down kicks in—unless you’re deliberately trying to activate the auto up/down. Plus they break way more often. I’d much rather have cranks.
I’ll show my age here and say that I’ve never owned a car with crank windows. Having driven my fair share, though, I’ll take an opposing stance: Power windows are good, actually. Automatic power windows, that can go all the way up or down with one click, are even better. It’s a hard truth, but one I’m ready to fight for.
Submitted by: Garland - Last Top Comment on Splinter
Had two rentals in a row with this. For the 1.4L engine in Florida, I didn’t notice it. For the 3.6L in Seattle, it was like someone started a paint mixer at every damn stop light.
Lane Departure Assist.
I would be on a good line on a turn and when I went close to the apex (about 3" from the line” the system would kick in and try to turn me away from the apex. Annoying as hell.
Auto stop-start functionality is extremely hit or miss. In some cars, it’s almost unnoticeable; in others, the entire car violently jerks to life like me waking up from an unintentional couch nap. Try out your next prospective car purchase before you buy to see which one you’re getting.
Submitted by: hoser68
Power Radio Antennae
Old school answer:
Power radio antenna. You think this feature is cool, either for aesthetics or safety or whatever. But the reality is that when the snow and ice set in and that antenna freezes downward and the motor and cable snap for the fourth time you realize this is a really stupid idea.
Gather round, children. Back in days of yore, before the Streaming Era or the Age of the iPod, we listened to something called broadcast radio in our cars. It was music pumped out from enormous towers in the distance, and you needed a smaller antenna mounted to your car in order to receive it and listen. Some cars, not wanting a big antenna sticking out all the time, developed versions that would slide back into the car when not in use. They broke constantly, and were replaced just as often.
Submitted by: cromartie
Reclining Rear Seats
I had a 2007 Chevy Malibu MAXX. One of the features is the rear seats had fore and aft adjustment and the seats would sort of recline. The reality, however, is that they could only go so far back due to the rear bulkhead, and by the time you scooted them forward enough to get any appreciable amount of recline, you no longer had leg room.
One redeeming factor was that every seat except the driver’s seat would fold flat, so that car transformed into a pretty good hauling machine that would swallow up 8' 2x4s.
Having spent a good portion of my college career shuttled around in a Malibu Maxx, I can tell you the secret to surviving the car’s odd rear-seat arrangement. The trick, as I found, is to make sure that you’ve entered a Malibu Maxx that smells so bad, any physical discomfort can’t even enter your mind’s consideration. There is only The Scent, which will distract you from all other ills.
Submitted by: Midlife Miata Driver
I never use them. They’re loud, cold, cause buffeting. They get used once or twice when you buy the car, then you just leave them closed up. I have talked extensively to friends, family, co-workers etc... everybody gets disillusioned with their sunroofs pretty quickly and nobody actually uses them.
Sure, sunroofs make it harder to control the climate of your car. They cause problems with leaking in heavy rain, or with clogged up drains meant to evacuate water away. They don’t open that much, so not enough air gets in, but can still frustrate you with air buffeting. All that, however, pales in comparison to their primary benefit: Looking at stars on a clear night, between getting in your car and starting to drive.
Submitted by: JohnnyWasASchoolBoy
The Eyesight automatic braking in my Subaru. It’s messed up and almost caused accidents more often than it has actually saved me from one - especially in crowded roundabouts, and if there’s any kind of inclement weather (rain, snow, fog, direct sunset or sunrise) it’ll either turn itself off and on or just completely disable itself - you know, when it would actually be helpful.
I’ve never personally had automatic braking intervene in a necessary situation, though I credit that more to avoiding those situations than to any failure of the equipment. I have, however, had it kick in constantly when it wasn’t needed — frustrating at best, downright dangerous at worst.
Submitted by: sschwing