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Hooniverse Asks: What’s your least favorite modern feature in new cars?

Jeff Glucker October 8, 2018 Hooniverse Asks 74 Comments

Head-up displays, lane keep assist, rev matching, and so much more. There are many tech features available to the modern driver and a whole lot of them are, at best, quite helpful, and, at the worst, a minor nuisance that can be toggled off. I enjoy a modern HUD on some vehicles but feel it’s unnecessary on others. With a rev-match capable car, I find it makes both slow speed maneuvering and performance driving a more enjoyable experience without removing any of that perceived “soul” of a car.

Other features can be quite annoying. An overactive lane-keep assist is something I’ll turn off every time I get in a car. I typically turn off Start/Stop in a modern car as well, as I have no love for such systems.

What modern features do you find to be the most annoying?

  • Victor

    They no longer make them , but I had a car years ago that had an automatic seat belt. Hated that mess.

    • Harry Callahan

      A narrow time window…1992-93 if memory serves, driven by Federal rule making. I liked almost ever aspect of my 1993 Nissan Altima…except that!

      • Victor

        Some little mercury that was bought to be sold. what a crap setup.

        • Zentropy

          My sister drove a ’92 Topaz with that feature.

      • My 94 Escort had the rodent rollercoster shoulder belts.

        • Harry Callahan

          It was especially entertaining as those cars aged, and the power window regulators on the driver’s window stopped working. Any time we would need to pay at a toll booth, or at a fast food drive-through, we would open the door, and get our forehead smacked by the power-retracting shoulder buckle. Priceless!

      • Tank

        I believe it was to get around putting airbags in the cars.

        I remember being a lot attendant at Honda back in the early 00’s. I was backing up a customer car 92ish Accord when I opened the door and got choked by the seatbelt motor.

        My 92 Prism wasn’t automatic but permanently affixed to the top of the door

        • P161911

          It was GM’s solution was to mount the belts to the doors. You were supposed to keep the belt buckled at all times.

          The worst was if you were in the car and then stopped, opened the door and leaned out to pick up something, like a newspaper in your driveway, back when that was a thing.

          • Tank

            It did help with one weird thing. I had 2 friends that liked to jump out of cars when they got drunk at the time. Was able to stop both of them (seperate times). One no longer drinks, the other I dont’ hang out with anymore

    • tonyola

      My 1990 Honda had the automatic belts. Never really bothered me but I did learn the hard way just how to hold a 7-Eleven Super Big Gulp when the belts engaged.

  • Harry Callahan

    Matte paint. Bleh.

    • crank_case

      Looks bad-ass on a 32 Ford hot rod done right, looks try-hard on a Merc CLS

  • Right now, it is lane departure and collision warnings. I just drove the Ring Road in Iceland in a 2018 Suzuki Vitara, and its radar system was frequently inaccurate or disabled. It would be inaccurate by beeping when a paved road became unpaved, or when I drove over a cattle guard. And it became disabled in minimal amounts of fog or if snow stuck to the front fascia, which was common. Both scenarios would turn the driver’s LED gauge display a bright red. And I couldn’t find a way to turn the damn feature off.

    • Papa Van Twee

      I rented a 2018 Nissan Maxima here in the US, and it was much the same. I love cruise control. Adaptive cruise is a technology I really liked in the Maxima. But the radar system kept conking out and that would take the whole cruise control system with it. I don’t think the radar itself died, but that it get confused easily and when it does, it takes a time out.

      That said, blind spot radar was pretty good,

  • Lokki

    Agree on Lane Departure warning as being far more annoying than useful. My recent Toyota rental had it and we just didn’t get along. I did like the adaptive cruise comtrol though.

    For second place I would choose CVT transmissions. I’ve only driven two or three, and I found them odd. In the Toyota however, to be fair, I could not tell you how much of my dislike was directly for the CVT or the overall sluggishness and coarseness of the entire drivetrain compared to my daily driver.

    For third place, I’ll toss in my annoyance with the way my Bluetooth and my iPhone interact with my car. If Bluetooth is turned on in the car and the phone, it will automatically override my headset and switch the phone over to The car’s system. Okay, but then the phone/car will automatically start to play the music on my phone. As an aside, note that the car’s display always automatically shows the album art. This meant that after Apple force-downloaded U-2’s “Songs Of Innocence” onto my phone, the album began to play every time I got into the car unless I took affirmative steps to halt it. Not being a U-2 fan, I didn’t enjoy that much and certainly not every fricking time I got in the car. It also displayed the album artwork on the screen automatically, which the more I looked at it -especially in context with the album title- looks more and more like homosexual soft porn (which is not to my personal taste in soft porn).

    By the way, the album could not be removed from the phone at first and it took several months for Apple to change that. So that album is gone but the music auto play feature remains an annoyance in the car.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/8c9b31d4b35d4c54ae7a9eec6aaf3f080367fbe52d98cd100d646015707f56e8.jpg

    • Lay this at Apple’s feet, not the car makers. It’s their stupid decision to have music start to play every time you plug in a USB audio device, and it’s just one more example of how far Apple has fallen from the “insanely great” days.

      • Fred

        That happens with my Android phone as well. Fortunately there is an app BLuetooth Connect Stop Play to prevent it, well at 98% of the time.

  • On those rare occasions when I end up in a new car I’ve found I can ignore most of its modern features long enough and well enough to drive it more with resignation than with annoyance, other than the power windows. I hate power windows.

    • Zentropy

      I railed against power windows for years until I had kids.

      • Wouldn’t it have been easier just to get a car with manual windows?

        • I can’t believe I survived childhood riding exclusively in cars with manual windows. Or air conditioning. In Texas.

      • Tank

        I’ve been against them. But since I’ve caved each car I’ve had with power windows have broken within weeks of me buying the car

    • Jeff Glucker

      After pulling the window crank off the doors of my F100… I do not hate power windows.

  • 0A5599

    The window sticker. I remember a friend being in disbelief that his new pickup cost five figures (something like $10,700, if I remember correctly). Now it’s not hard to spend $60 grand or more on a truck that hauls the same amount of plywood.

    • Victor

      Had a windfall a few years ago , found a basic F-150 that was not too gaudy . Then I had sticker shock . our governments have imposed rules and guidelines that cost us money.

  • The looks. I realize that I am flirting more and more with the “get off my lawn” attitude during the last years.

  • Citric

    Mine is very specific: For some unknown reason my car dings when it hits 4C. I guess it needs to remind me to wear a sweater. When the weather is hovering around that temperature it dings all the time and it is never not annoying.

    • Likewise, the “Ice Possible” warning message that a good number of new cars have at startup. Who decided I needed my car to tell me this? I think one guy who wrote the software routine for a dash thermometer display threw it in just because he thought of it and it was a “feature” that wouldn’t cost anything to implement. Then the competition saw it and had to copy it.

      • Fuhrman16

        Indeed. I remember when I first saw that message when I borrowed my mother’s Arcadia one winter. I thought to myself, “There’s a foot of snow on the ground, I don’t need my car telling me it might be icy”.

      • P161911

        My basic 2011 work truck does this. What is worse is that means the truck knows the outside temperature, but refuses to tell me any other time, or even tell me the exact temperature.

        • Sjalabais

          That’s the blank button that isn’t even a button then…

    • Smaglik

      Not terribly new, but still annoying. BMW did this in the 80s, and it was more confusing than anything else. 37F.

    • Number_Six

      Mine does that as well. When I come out of my constant 20C underground parking, it takes a few minutes for it to realize it’s 4C and warn me with a bong (audible not smokable) and a flashing snowflake. Meanwhile I’m all crashed up on the neighbour’s front step because obviously I lost control not knowing it was 4C?

  • crank_case

    Over the air updates – which not just Tesla are doing. Not because the concept is a technically bad one, but rather what it represents – you no longer really owning your car, and the potential for Apple style built in obsolesense.

    While most updates will be innocuous, when a manufacturer can dial into your car, enable or disable things at will, it’s no longer really “your” car is it? Not to mention the potential for state mandated nannyish meddling. The car as service rather than thing you are personally attached to seems an inevitable endpoint.

    I think, practically, we’re all going to end up in these things for transport needs, but there’s a cut off point where you’re going to want to keep something from the current era that’s “off the grid”

    The Japanese anime “Ex Driver” where kids use analog cars to rescue drivers when autonomous connected cars go wrong, seems oddly prophetic now.

    *gets tin foil hat*

    https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-lQ3-9m5q5fk/WT3jOGbih7I/AAAAAAAAHIE/lBpqfZJ2E506ljKz3g4yNJm8vKHyzdylACLcB/s1600/%25C3%25A9X-Driver%2B2.jpg

    • Lokki

      My BMW has a feature where it alerts the dealership directly if it encounters a fault condition. Then it calls my phone with the (paraphrased) message,

      “Your car indicates that it requires immediate service”. Please contact your dealership”.

      This has put me in the odd position of calling the Service Department for an appointment and having this discussion:

      “I need to bring my car in for service”

      “Yes Sir, What seems to be the problem?”

      “I don’t know. The car told me to call you”.

    • Tiller188

      Hey, another Ex-Driver viewer! Yup, those were much my thoughts, as well (both regarding OTA/connected/autonomous cars and the anime). I’m sort of hoping that the rise of Uber and Lyft, and the development of autonomous sharing fleets (by them and by the major automakers who want to get in on that market), will result in a parallel “car-as-service” marketplace but still leave room for a “car-as-personal-property” marketplace for the old-fashioned, the die-hards, and the recreational/enthusiast drivers. Actually, I’m sure the market will continue to exist, but I have to hope that law and policy don’t end up squashing it by making “manual” driving either prohibitively expensive/difficult to be approved for, or legal for so few and so limited scenarios as to be pointless. Wonder how much training time and cost an Ex Driver license takes to achieve…

      • crank_case

        That’s why Jay Lenos “horse” analogy (the car didn’t kill off recreational horse ownership) makes me uncomfortable, sure people still own horses, but it’s not exactly an ecomically/logistically accessible hobby for many people.

  • outback_ute

    The automatic high beam in my father’s M-B a couple of years ago was pretty hopeless, switching on and off frequently for no apparent reason, and the low beam lighting wasn’t that great.

    Generally my life is free from ‘modern’ features, apart from a CVT which has been fine – less programming type snafus than the previous conventional and dual clutch autos I’ve lived with. Every one has occasionally got ‘stuck’ hanging onto a gear and not shifting up, preventing the car from increasing speed, including the M-B. In that case it wouldn’t shift out of first gear, had to stop and turn the car off and back on to reset.

    • outback_ute

      Only a few hours after writing the above, it happened again – accelerating sharply out of a fuel station only for the engine/transmission to hang at high revs and stop accelerating… Doh!

  • Harry Callahan

    Start-Stop.

    While some systems function more seamlessly than others, I just can’t get my head around how this “technology” saves the owner any money. Replacing failed starter motors isn’t much fun, replacing worn ring gears on torque converters even less so. Methinks the much more frequent cycling of the engine starting system will result in repair costs far in excess of whatever minuscule fuel savings the systems represent–resulting in a net loss. No thank you.

    • ptschett

      It does depend on the system. The new Ram 1500’s has the alternator also be the start-stop starter motor & mild-hybrid assist motor, and some extra electrically-activated tensioners on the drive belt; if the engine is cold enough to need the positive engagement of the normal starter then it uses that just like a conventional vehicle, but once warmed up the engine turns over easily enough the alternator/motor can turn it over.

      • Harry Callahan

        That is a lot of added weight, cost, and complexity to save a few thimble-fulls of fuel each week. I bet the added engineering validation, software, and hardware cost of that system NEVER be fully offset by fuel savings. And how much petroleum was used to build that hardware…ship it to the factory, install it…etc.

        It will also be interesting to see how the hardware holds up after 10 years and 150,000+ miles of commercial use.

        • ptschett

          Really the problem they’re solving is CAFE. Comparing the Hemi Ram 1500 with eTorque to the Hemi without, the eTorque version gains about 2 MPG city / 1 MPG highway / 2 MPG combined (window sticker reckoning) which gets them about 2 MPG in the unadjusted / CAFE reckoning, going from about 22 to about 24. [numbers corrected because I read the wrong columns in the EPA chart]

  • Fred

    Automatic day-night mirrors. They are slow to react and don’t block out the headlights well enough. My 2014 Acura is the first car I’ve had with them, so maybe it’s just Acura, but I wouldn’t pay for it if I could avoid it.

    • Zentropy

      This was a complex solution for a problem that didn’t exist. How hard is it to flip down a mirror???

  • Zentropy

    Honestly, I hate heated seats. My wife leaves them on in her car all of the time, and when I drive it (usually only to fill the tank late on Sunday evening), I’m 2 minutes into the drive and roasting.

    And wings. Rear wings are useless on probably 95% of cars that have them.

    • Fred

      I got to disagree with that heated seat comment. Maybe I’m just old, but a warm rump is a delight on those cold mornings.

      • Zentropy

        Nope. I HATE heated seats. I’m always hot (despite my age). We have our home thermostat set on 72F, and my wife sleeps in full fleece under two comforters while I’m forced to go au naturale under a thin sheet just to be comfortable.

    • Harry Callahan

      You mean your 1.7L 2001 Civic doesn’t need downforce on the street?

      • Zentropy

        ^This. Exactly.

    • P161911

      In Georgia, heated seats are only good for pranking people in the summer.

    • Sjalabais

      Heated seats are heaven sent if you get into a stiff frozen car in the morning.

  • tonyola

    Automatic Emergency Braking. I’ve heard too many stories about the brakes being applied at the wrong times. I’d rather trust my own judgement, thanks (and i don’t play with a phone when driving).

    • Harry Callahan

      Here is one example:

      https://youtu.be/_47utWAoupo

    • crank_case

      Eh, you can still and should use your own judgement, these systems are simply a backup and like any system have limitations. Pretty interesting video into how such systems are tested here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cECsj2Bznig

      • tonyola

        But I’ve read too many road tests where the braking system decides to misread the cars ahead while on the road and then the brakes are applied hard with no warning. Too buggy for my taste at least for now.

        • crank_case

          I dunno, in the case of pedestrian avoidance at least, I’ll take a few false alerts over wiping out a pedestrian because I was sneezing or something. They seem in principle like a good idea, and just need to get better over time. I reckon active safety that only cuts in an emergency plus human driver with intution/anticipation is going to be safer than the false panacea of totally driverless cars.

          Driverless cars have a worse accident ratio per mile travelled than regular ones, despite a large percentage of those humans looking at their phone, eating icecreams and shouting at children.

          • Tiller188

            Just to play devil’s advocate, I’ve heard of a couple of (possibly apocryphal) cases of human drivers seeing a driverless car, getting curious, and deciding to “test” it. Leaving that aside, I seem to recall seeing a statistic at some point about how, in the majority of autonomous-car-involved accidents, it was actually the human driver in the other car at fault. Having said that, I don’t have any great trust in autonomous cars, and even if the human driver was at fault, I would imagine many of those accidents could have been prevented by having a second human driver in the other car, or even an autonomous system that behaved more “naturally” /as we’d expect another human to do (which involves all kinds of rule-bending and gray areas – – not fun to try to program, I’m sure). My concern with some of these emergency safety aids is, how do we effectively communicate or enforce that these are emergency-only and not to be relied upon? I fully agree that these systems are backups and that a driver should still exercise his or her judgment, and that having such a backup can be, if well-executed, a good thing. Certainly, I’d rather be dealing with a human driver, but specifically an alert, conscientious human driver. I just wonder how we manage to keep drivers from becoming complacent and comfortable with driver aids, if they’re going to be there. Automatic braking, forward-looking collision warning cameras (they’re called “eyes”, guys) or even radar cruise control can probably help prevent an accident here or there, but I fear that they could become viewed too much as convenience features rather than a just-in-case last resort. Still, I’m only human, too, and it’s not my place to tell someone else “no, you may not have this potentially-useful bit of safety tech”, so, what do? *shrug*

            • crank_case

              I’d see a system that only cuts in when things go crazy in the same light as ABS or ESP, if they’re cutting in on you, they’re either not working, or you’re driving incorrectly for the conditions, so there should be no real worry in terms of “handover.” Yo

  • I_Borgward

    Strings of white LEDs festooned all over the front of a vehicle, most especially those that switch off when the turn signal is on. Hey! Half of that car’s headlights just turned off! Why? What the hell? Oh, look, now there’s a little amber blinky thing.

    (Disclosure: I will admit that this is pure sour grapes from driving a car that I added four more factory sealed beam headlight buckets to, for a total of eight. I lost count of how many times I got ‘splained in a parking lot by some weasel-faced wannabe cop that they weren’t legal, plus a few actual cops. Oh, but if spent $$$ on a new car with -even more &^%ing lights- on the front, that’d be just fine, the more, the merrier! Feh.)

    • outback_ute

      Especially the ones that are bright enough that the dimbulbs behind the wheel don’t switch their headlights (and tail lights!) on when it gets dark…

  • Harry Callahan

    I will take this occasion to say how much I like 1) keyless entry/starting 2) Bluetooth, 3) Navigation. I don’t love technology for technology’s sake, but these serve to make driving better.

  • Fuhrman16

    To be honest, I can’t think of a single feature that has been introduced to cars in the past 20 years that I like. I like my cars simple.

  • Maymar

    I complained about it last week, but I’ll complain about it again – I like CVT’s just fine. They can be a little weird, but I don’t find them any worse than conventional automatics. Likewise, I get the idea of having artificial gear settings, if you want to force a “downshift” since I assume no one’s going to install a choose-your-own gear ratio dial any time soon. But a Sport mode on a CVT that runs through the artificial gears instead of just keeping the revs up at the optimal point is infuriating, especially in a non-enthusiast vehicle where you’re not seeking to maximize driving enjoyment, just looking for expediency.

    • Zentropy

      “I don’t find them any worse than conventional automatics.”
      I completely agree, but unfortunately that means I still hate them.

    • outback_ute

      The constant-rev drone sucks, but I’m not sure that changing to a slow rpm increase would be much better. I do use sport mode regularly to get more engine braking for a hill or similar, or very occasionally manual mode.

  • theskig

    “Growing” turn indicators on Audi’s and VW’s.
    First they just appear stupid, like an aftermarket mod from a Fast and Furious teenage fan.
    Second: they are difficult to spot in a blink of an eye, you have to take more care when you’re at a junction.
    I really don’t know why they homologated that solution (I know in USA there are restrictions but not here in Europe)

  • robbydegraff

    Passive entry, where you can keep the key in your pocket and open/lock the door. Half the time it never works.

    • crank_case

      It messes with my “did I lock the door” insecurity too much.