Hooniverse Asks- What Car has Offered the Most Needless Feature?

infiniti switches

When you think about it, the purpose of our cars and trucks isn’t just to get us from point A to point B, wherever those are, they are also to keep us comfortable and entertained along the way. That’s why after car makers finally got the hang of building rides that would go and stop without much drama – and would do so without the need of either a riding mechanic or hitchhiking instruction – they started focusing on the accouterments that can make our trips more pleasant.

That led to the rise of things like radios and air conditioning, and eventually to cup holders, heated seats and under-dash record players. Oh sure, some of these features, like climate control and power brakes, make a lot of sense, but cooled steering wheels and multi-hued cup holder lighting? I mean, what’s that all about?

What I want to know today is what you think has been the most over the top and needless feature that has ever been offered on a car or truck. Do you think that in-car WiFi is weird? Or, do you feel un-moved by moveable pedals? Which automotive feature do you think has been the most needless?

Image source: Car and Driver

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115 responses to “Hooniverse Asks- What Car has Offered the Most Needless Feature?”

  1. DonFehlio Avatar

    My Cressida has auxiliary controls for the radio and AC just a few inches away from the actual controls for the radio and AC.
    <img src="http://birdphotographic.com/gallery/var/resizes/Cressida/IMG_4136small.jpg?m=1370156649&quot; width="600">

    1. I Think Not Avatar

      Those were still present in my '91, except rendered even more useless because a PO had fitted a cheap Kenwood tape deck.

      1. DonFehlio Avatar

        My factory Technics tape deck has a Motorhead tape trapped in it, because it's the only tape I owned when I bought the car. The power antenna had long since stopped working, so I bit the bullet and replaced the stereo. AC controls still work though!

        1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar

          The AC controls still work on the Town Cow, too. It's just the compressor that doesn't work.

    2. rustylink Avatar

      a rare sighting of natural dash moss

    3. Nimmo Avatar

      Ooooh yeah.. really miss that about those cars.
      Actually, I found them really useful because you could look at what buttons you were pressing (if you couldn't quite remember) while keeping an eye on the road.

  2. JayP2112 Avatar

    Specific to a vehicle- Prius Sport Package.

  3. LTDScott Avatar

    Funny, a friend of mine just posted this on Facebook: "The Buick Encore has a heated steering wheel, the ad says. I don't need my steering week hotter, I need it cooler on hot days wham I can't touch the top of the wheel and I have to drive the car for ten minutes with that one little piece that isn't hot."
    So apparently there is a market for cooled steering wheels, although are you sure the button above is for steering wheel cooling and not heating? I'd be interested to see how a cooled steering wheel would work.

    1. GTXcellent Avatar

      location, location, location – in the frozen far north of Minneeeesotah, we drive with gloves on about 9 months out of the year. A heated steering wheel? sounds like a brilliant idea to me.

  4. P161911 Avatar

    I rented a Jaguar once. It had POWER tilt on the steering wheel. It took me two days to find it and figure it out.
    I drove a F-150 once with the power pedals. In stop and go traffic I kept my foot stationary and used the power pedal button to adjust the throttle.
    Also, any aftermarket radio that has a remote. Why do I need a remote for something that is within arms reach?!

    1. CalculatedRisk Avatar

      The radio remote has come in handy for me when I'm tailgating or the like. I've also been considering velcroing it to my steering wheel so I can adjust the volume like im in a fancy new car.

      1. MVEilenstein Avatar

        Yep. I like to use mine when I'm having lunch in the bed of my truck, sitting in my camping chair.

    2. JayP2112 Avatar

      Man- the Focus SVT has a remote for audio on the left side of the wheel. Loved it.
      When I got into the Audi, I was reaching for a switch that wasn't there.

      1. P161911 Avatar

        I was referring to the aftermarket hand held ones. Steering wheel ones are cool, use the ones on the Trailblazer all the time.

      2. Dean Bigglesworth Avatar

        The one in the Focus is practical, but I think he was talking about actual remotes. The only situation where these might be useful is if you're driving from the back seat..
        <img src="http://www.alpine-europe.com/fileadmin/images/MainNavigation/Products/Product_pics/16_Accessoires/11_RemoteControls/RUE4202/productpic_RUE4202_01.jpg&quot; width="250" &lt;="" img="">

        1. Manic_King Avatar

          Car stereos are used in many places, in boats/yachts, caravans, motorhomes, vans, buses, big rigs with bed for driver etc.
          Probably useful in some of these vehicles, but yeah, pointless in a car. Pioneer and Blaupunkt and probably some others though had once remotes which were meant to be attached to steering wheel, I could see a small point there.

      3. LTDScott Avatar

        Yeah, I loved it there too. Thankfully the Mazdaspeed 3 that replaced my SVT Focus has steering wheel audio controls too. Sadly, the factory stereo on the MS3 is WAY worse than the SVT.

        1. JayP2112 Avatar

          Looking for a pic of the SVT remote just now, I found a 2003 3 door for $3200. Needs paint and cleaning- but that would make a trick track car.

          1. LTDScott Avatar

            If I had sold my 2002, that's about what I would have asked. It was a salvage title (theft recovery) with clear coat coming off in sheets. Unfortunately it was totaled before I had the chance to sell it, but the insurance company paid me handsomely.

          2. CalculatedRisk Avatar

            Wow, that seems like a bargain. Never driven an SVT focus of that era, but I feel these are an unappreciated hot hatch. LTD- do they handle well?

            1. JayP2112 Avatar

              I used mine at HPDEs for a few years. It really was a fun car to drive. Only issues- power steering pump ate it when I started using R compounds and the suspension needed warranty repairs. I'd love to have another.

    3. BobWellington Avatar

      "I drove a F-150 once with the power pedals. In stop and go traffic I kept my foot stationary and used the power pedal button to adjust the throttle. "
      This is hilariously awesome. I have the power adjustable pedals in my Explorer. I might just have to try that.

  5. Preludacris Avatar

    I think you nailed it right here:
    "multi-hued cup holder lighting"
    It did not distract me from the weird transmission in the rental Fiesta.

  6. $kaycog Avatar

    A perfume atomizer was offered in Maybach Zeppelins at a cost of $5000. That stinks.
    <img src="http://www.thedetroitbureau.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/2010-Maybach-Zeppelin-perfume-atomizer.jpg"width="500"/&gt;

    1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar

      That's not needless at all. Maybach passengers tend to be filthy

      1. $kaycog Avatar

        Indeed! Also available are these sterling silver champagne flutes along with a rear seat refrigerator to keep the bubbly chilled.
        <img src="http://www.seriouswheels.com/pics-2009/klm/2009-Maybach-Zeppelin-Wine-Glasses-1920×1440.jpg"width="500"/&gt;

        1. dukeisduke Avatar

          For the fourth and fifth owners, it could chill their Boone's Farm, or Night Train.

          1. $kaycog Avatar


    2. pj134 Avatar

      Perhaps you could be talked into some Zymol Royale to go along with your perfume. $8500 for this wax is clearly a bargain.
      <img src="http://www.vertar.com/media/zymol-royale-glaze_6_1.jpg&quot; width=500>

      1. $kaycog Avatar

        Absolutely! *waves hi*

        1. pj134 Avatar

          *waves back* I guess it has been a while.

    3. DonFehlio Avatar

      It keeps Jay-Z's car from smelling too much like weed.

      1. $kaycog Avatar

        Good point!

  7. krazykarguy Avatar

    That button in the lead photo is for the heated steering wheel (not cooled), and in the colder climates, I hear it's a very nice thing to have.
    As far as 'most needless feature' on cars, though, I'm going with the Federally-mandated TPMS systems. What a pain in the ass!

    1. LTDScott Avatar

      Ah, thanks for confirming that.

      1. Vairship Avatar

        Actually, pushing that button transforms your Ford Granada into a smelly Mercedes.

  8. Maymar Avatar

    That's actually the icon for a heated steering wheel, which is pretty nice on really frigid days.
    I'm going to call out Lexus's self-park system. It takes me longer to get a spot plugged in than it does just to back into place. If you need that, you shouldn't be driving. I'm less bothered by the parallel parking equivalents (Lexus also, and Ford) because at least that's one of those things that you don't have to know how to do until you do (well, I parallel park every day). I just can't vouch for their effacacy.

    1. dukeisduke Avatar

      They'll only become useful when they can steer and brake automatically.

    2. Van_Sarockin Avatar

      I thought it meant "Bacon Dispensed from Hovercraft Fan'.

  9. LEROOOY Avatar

    I still don't see the point of push-button starting.

    1. I Think Not Avatar

      I see you've never owned a mega-beater with the keyed ignition broken, then…

      1. dukeisduke Avatar

        And no key lock to wear out.

        1. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

          I forget which car it was , but I drove something once with both push to start and a key start as well. I remember being blown away by the pointlessness.

          1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar

            Redundant systems have proven valuable over and over, and will again in the future, forever and ever.

  10. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar

    The "full" mark on an RX-8's dipstick.

    1. krazykarguy Avatar

      Or a WRX. Or anything else with a turbo…

    2. rennsport964 Avatar

      You, sir, win the Internet.

    3. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

      I believe that the massive oil consumption was always intended as an homage to the pre-war radial with its total-loss lubrication system.

    4. Maymar Avatar

      Hey, if you hit the FULL mark, you know something's wrong. That seems useful.

  11. desolit Avatar

    A cooled glovebox for sandwiches. i had one in my rabbit. 1. why would i be carrying a loose sandwich 2. the modern glovebox has become more of a filing cabinet for all the leagal paperwork and the War and Peace (insert your car name here) edition. 3. dont know about anyone else but i dont want my sandwich anywhere near my gloves 4. now i need an 'insurance card warmer' to get the frost off of it before i hand it Johnny Law.

  12. Alff Avatar

    The Yugo came with a vanity mirror.

    1. dukeisduke Avatar

      To see if there's grease on your face, after you've tried getting it running after the latest breakdown?

    2. FreeMan Avatar

      Speaking of the Yugo it also came with the most useful feature ever installed in a car – the hands warmers embedded in the rear window. Very nice for pushing when it broke down, again, in the winter.

    1. I Think Not Avatar

      SAABs are marvelously quirky.
      Your argument is invalid.

    2. pj134 Avatar

      [youtube ZO_B2pMTCEw http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZO_B2pMTCEw youtube]

    3. FuzzyPlushroom Avatar

      I actually like the Black Panel/Night Panel feature… except that my car has a permanent CEL, so only the tach actually goes out – the less-useful fuel/temp gauges stay lit and working.
      I'll admit that having instrument panel lights/gauges that refuse to stop working is an interesting novelty, but it still bothers me.

  13. Derek Denney Avatar

    A fully loaded 90's car has everything I could need. Anything added on later is useless fluff.

    1. FuzzyPlushroom Avatar

      All that and an auxiliary jack – which was, of course, possible then if your tape deck's manufacturer planned ahead for a Discman rather than giving you a six-disc changer that wouldn't read half of your CDs.

  14. I Think Not Avatar

    Power steering?
    A roof?
    A self-shifting transmission?
    All superfluous to motoring!

    1. pj134 Avatar

      Some people here would argue that any means of providing power to the rear wheels more complicated than a grinding stone is completely unnecessary.

      1. mdharrell Avatar

        True, although even my KV has its peculiarities. I'm not convinced that the supercharger for the fuel line contributes much to its performance:
        <img src="http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5088/5731724122_d1f23555a3.jpg&quot; width="325">
        It's the line marked A. I'm pretty sure the system is instead essentially entirely dependent upon gravity-feed.

        1. Vairship Avatar

          Since I can read French, I know that that's not a supercharger, instead it provides extra oxygen for the fuel tank. More oxygen in the gasoline obviously helps with the combustion. Clever people in that renowned KV engineering department!

  15. marmer01 Avatar

    The only one that comes to mind for me, not really annoying, but sort of "why?" is the motorized oscillating center dash vent on '80s Mazda 626's. If you root around in the world of '80s Japanese iron, you'll find a lot of that kind of quirkiness. Like the Cressida AC controls in the first post.

    1. dukeisduke Avatar

      I rode in a 626 with those once. I thought it was kinda cool (pun intended).

  16. SSurfer321 Avatar

    MyColor – Ford's color changing dials.
    <img src="http://www.examiner.com/images/blog/wysiwyg/image/EX-Ford_Mustang_2010_dash-mycolor(1).jpg">
    Do modern Ford's still have this?

    1. Devin Avatar

      Yep, had a Focus overnight with color changing ambient lighting, I mentioned it above.
      I personally think all interior lighting should be red, but for some reason manufacturers don't agree with me, including the manufacturer of every car I've owned.

      1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar

        Actually, you are factually correct — they really should all be red.
        Longer wavelength light impairs your night vision less, which is why airplane dash lights are red.

        1. FuzzyPlushroom Avatar

          Probably why I prefer red to orange to green to blue. (Seriously, blue is awful in anything other than a Mk4 VW, where it's merely another quirk.)

        2. Ate Up With Motor Avatar

          Unless you're red-green colorblind, in which case red instrument lighting is a real PITA.

      2. qwerk Avatar

        one reason to love Audis

    1. JayP2112 Avatar

      right click – save as

  17. DemonXanth Avatar

    My Corvair came with 0 cup holders, 0 seat belts, but three ash trays.

  18. nanoop Avatar

    Life time average speed.

  19. Batshitbox Avatar

    Never mind "air conditioned steering wheel" tell me more about the "Pass Air Bag"! Does it catch your farts to keep the air clean? Can you save them up and release them onto pedestrians?

    1. Devin Avatar

      My brother once theorized that you could make a car that runs at least partially on farts, collected in the seat, due to methane being flammable and stuff. With CAFE, maybe people are putting his theories into practice?

      1. Batshitbox Avatar

        Burritocharging! Stick that in your pipe and smoke it!

  20. Stu_Rock Avatar

    On some cars with dual-zone HVAC, there are "sun load" sensors so that the controller can add an extra smidge of AC to the side facing the sun. It does not work very well, and I've never met anyone who gets bothered by having to bump his/her setting up or down by a degree every once in a while.

  21. macko Avatar

    I've had several cars that really, honestly didn't need locks. One of them had the ignition from a lawnmower in it.

    1. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

      Same. I own a 1997 Rover.

    2. FreeMan Avatar

      my FIL once had a pick up where you had to have the gear shift in just the right position to get the engine to start. he left the keys in the ignition.

      1. MVEilenstein Avatar

        That's a safety feature!

      2. P161911 Avatar

        I rewired the START function on my old F-150 to a push button down in a cubby hole by the steering wheel. You still had to turn the key to ON, then press the button to start. I did this after about the third time the starter wouldn't disengage using the key ignition.

  22. helihaole Avatar

    TPMS sensors, what a waste, now changing to winters costs an extra 50-75 per tire .
    self parking, learn to drive.

    1. qwerk Avatar

      I bought mine without them and ignored the warning light

      1. Stu_Rock Avatar

        Look up "TPMS pipe bomb."

  23. Doug Higgs Avatar

    Auto-on headlights, rain-sensing wipers, power-operated tilt/reach steering wheel, tire-pressure sensors, adaptive cruise, park-assist, etc. etc.
    I will do MY OWN driving, thank you very much. I can check my own tires. I can drive at a safe distance from others. I have 2 functioning eyeballs in my head and 2 arms and legs for operating my car. Why do I need the car to do things for me?

  24. FuzzyPlushroom Avatar

    Until recently I would've nominated GM's little coin holders…
    <img src="http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4021/4425384531_a3e0038156_b.jpg&quot; width="600/">
    …but I've actually got a few dollars in mine at the moment. Hey, I was bored.

    1. smokyburnout Avatar

      I pulled one out of a BMW last time I was at the junkyard. Sized for quarters and half-dollars
      <img src="http://pbs.twimg.com/media/BJn2MzzCQAA63D5.jpg:large&quot; width="600"/>

      1. FuzzyPlushroom Avatar

        I wonder what former German coin happened to be roughly the size of the elusive United States half-dollar…

    2. ptschett Avatar

      Handy for drive-thru dining. (Now if we could just get McCashiers to grasp enough basic math that when handed a $20, 2 $1's, and $.xx in coins for a bill totalling $7.xx, that they don't try to give back the $1's and coins as being 'extra'…)
      3-slot coin holders irritate me. Where are the pennies supposed to go?? In my Dakota they go in the storage bin beside the cup holders, to merrily rattle around in there.

      1. FuzzyPlushroom Avatar

        My car is strictly smoke-free (well, technically the rule is that if you're holding a lit cigarette, it, as well as your head and neck, must be outside the car…) so I've carried on the previous owner's tradition of using the ashtray for pennies. The cupholder is sized for a can or 16-to-20-ounce bottle, so it actually gets used.

  25. mac350 Avatar

    Not a fan of the compass as a car accessory. A compass might be great if every square inch of dry land was paved. "Set a course north by northwest and keep a sharp eye out for pirates."
    <img src="http://www.formotionproducts.com/Window%20Compass%20Large.jpg&quot; width="600">

    1. mdharrell Avatar

      Superfluous for street use, perhaps, but they're invaluable on the track. Ours is between the thermometer/hygrometer and the altimeter, immediately below the Aifab Gemini:
      <img src="http://farm7.staticflickr.com/6020/5994072753_b3daa2ec54.jpg&quot; width="550">

      1. mac350 Avatar

        Oh, sure, an AiFab Gemini…who doesn't have one of those. But where's your air speed indicator?

        1. mdharrell Avatar

          I don't know that we can afford the added drag.

      1. mac350 Avatar

        I was thinking more about all the little dashboard compasses in the town cars and caddies in Florida. Didn't consider off-roading. But don't you guys check the trees to see which side has the moss?

        1. mdharrell Avatar

          At least here in the Pacific Northwest, the damp side of the tree has moss, which is to say the outside.

          1. jeepjeff Avatar

            Came here to say that. Leaving satisfied.
            (I grew up in Olympia and went to college in Seattle.)

        2. jeepjeff Avatar

          Besides seconding the esteemed Dr. Harrell's retort, I usually use the sun and an analog watch face. (Ok, yeah, it's cloudy where I grew up, so that doesn't work either. Navigating without a compass in Washington is an art. The watch trick works better down here in California, well, except for San Francisco.)

    2. ChuckyShamrok Avatar

      I actually prefer cars with the compass on them. Its helpful when you don't use GPS and read maps alot. its also a great way to get lost for a day. "Today im going to head southwest." Doing that I found a cool little diner in the middle of nowhere.

      1. mac350 Avatar

        Now that, to me, is the best rationalization I've ever read for having a compass in a vehicle. I've met the nicest people, seen the best scenery, and eaten the tastiest food just meandering about with no particular place to go.Thank you, sir.

    3. Ate Up With Motor Avatar

      Unless it's dark out, in which a (lighted) compass is really kind of handy.

    4. Jason Avatar

      If you've ever moved to a new city having a compass is a great way to aid in your learning your way around and keeping a sense of where you've been and where you need to go.

  26. shawn Avatar

    Automatic transmission. Worst invention ever. I will even blame bad traffic for it, and yes there is some logics behind that. With manual transmission, braking happens less often.

  27. sc296 Avatar

    my saturns black steering wheel gets so hot in the summer that an air conditioned wheel would be great

  28. tiberiusẅisë Avatar

    The covered vents in the Phaeton.
    [youtube vx-A5emoIEY http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vx-A5emoIEY youtube]

  29. Roberto G. Avatar

    I'm proud of owning a 2009 car with a lighter and an ashtray from the factory, instead of the dumb DC socket. It was designed before the great PC plague, thank God…

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