Hooniverse Asks: What’s a feature you didn’t expect to find in a car?

I’m in love with the Volvo V60 T8 Polestar Engineered. It’s a mouthful of a name, but it’s one hell of an excellent machine. That’s because this is both a gorgeous wagon and a powerful plug-in hybrid. This lovely longroof also has a motorsport-inspired party trick up its sleeve… er, under its hood.

The front suspension is manually adjustable. These are Öhlins units. Pop the hood and you’ll find an adjustment knob atop both shock towers. This adjusts the damping level on the nose. So you can soften things up or go super stiff. Should you be the sort of oddball hero that wants to track a hybrid Volvo wagon, the Polestar Engineered team has got you covered. Then when you’re done, you can dial back the damping and cruise home comfortably.

This is something I consider to be an unexpected treat on a modern production car. What are some other examples of unexpected features in other cars and trucks?

22 Comments

  1. Should you be the sort of oddball hero that wants to track a hybrid Volvo wagon

    Are there other uses for a hybrid Volvo wagon?

  2. One of the odder featuers in my 2015 Kia Soul is that I can change the electronic steering through three levels. I think I played with it when i bought it but then never really played with it. This was on the base model as well. It has a comfort, sport, and another level. It does change has hard it is turn the wheel is but never made much sense to me. Other than to say that my wife’s Mitsu Outlander is way too hard to turn so this feature makes some sense here.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/eda6409d203eff86a2e1f0eb91731cf22bff32df8f4ef8ce98db15de0af10667.jpg

  3. Should you be the sort of oddball hero that wants to track a hybrid Volvo wagon

    Are there other uses for a hybrid Volvo wagon?

  4. One of the odder featuers in my 2015 Kia Soul is that I can change the electronic steering through three levels. I think I played with it when i bought it but then never really played with it. This was on the base model as well. It has a comfort, sport, and another level. It does change has hard it is turn the wheel is but never made much sense to me. Other than to say that my wife’s Mitsu Outlander is way too hard to turn so this feature makes some sense here.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/eda6409d203eff86a2e1f0eb91731cf22bff32df8f4ef8ce98db15de0af10667.jpg

    1. I drove a Kia hatch of the same era with the same system, and came to the same conclusion. Like many driving modes/settings, you try it out then never touch it again.

      1. I went back to it a couple times and then go back to what I had. Of course you almost get the same thing with the eco button and the gas pedal. It makes it harder to push down.

    2. My base level Focus has it too. Probably easy to fit in cars with electric power steering. When I got it, the steering was quite twitchy and I thought it something I would have to get used to. Then I discovered it was in ‘sport’ mode the whole time.

  5. In my Austin Allegro, switching the wipers on and then off again before they complete their first cycle will put them into an intermittent mode with a nonadjustable interval, which then continues until the switch is toggled on and off a second time. There is no way to activate the wipers for just a single sweep, as they must be allowed at least two sweeps before turning off the switch actually stops them. This is not marked on the switch, which indicates only off, low-speed, and high-speed settings. Furthermore, the possibility of intermittent operation is not mentioned anywhere in the owner’s manual, nor is it mentioned in the factory shop manual, nor in any of the aftermarket shop manuals in my possession.

    The first time this happened I naturally assumed the wiper circuit had failed somehow, until I realized the behavior was regular and repeatable. This does appear to be a deliberate, albeit undocumented, factory feature, as there doesn’t seem to be any type of aftermarket gimmick patched into the circuit, either. I’d like to say it surprises me that BL Cars would have allowed such a thing to have happened in the early ’80s, but I really can’t.

    1. Is it using the factory wiper relay? I remember in the late 80s you could buy an aftermarket relay for Volkswagens that added intermittent wipers via a “secret handshake” with the wiper switch.

      1. I’ll have to check that. I’m only familiar with the “add this box to get fancy wiper options” devices, which usually also allow adjusting the interval. I hadn’t realized there were replacement relays available for reinterpreting the status of the OEM switch.

        Edit:

        Aha! Mystery solved-ish! Fortunately I drove my Allegro to work today (a sentiment perhaps never before expressed) so checking this was easy, particularly as I keep the shop manuals in the trunk for ready access at all times.

        The factory wiring diagram doesn’t show a wiper relay at all, just wires running directly from the switch to the motor, which I had never realized was, in fact, at odds with my earlier observation that the car itself does have what I thought was a relay. What I hadn’t noticed until today was a footnote below the diagram reading “Refer also to the supplementary wiring diagram on pages 86-30 and 86-31.” Sure enough, page 86-30, “Supplementary Wiring Diagrams for Allegro 3” has a small illustration of “Wiper Circuit when Delay Unit is Fitted.” The switch and the motor are the same but now there’s a windscreen wiper delay unit between them.

        I’m still going to count this as a feature I hadn’t expected to find in the car, as there really is no mention of it in the owner’s manual or on the switch. I also still think that my initial conclusion was perfectly reasonable that BL Cars would have developed and installed such a feature without remembering to mention it at all. Burying it in a footnote in the shop manual is pretty close.

        I also now know where to find the supplementary diagram for the front fog lamp circuit as used only in Norway, France, and Switzerland, should the need ever arise. It’s also on page 86-30.

    2. An English company named Smart Screen makes a module like this to add intermittent wipers to old British cars.

      https://www.smart-screen.co.uk/

      As I recall, it worked with the mist, single wipe function. A single wipe was a single wipe, but two wipes within a given time period established an interval that the device would repeat until the single wipe switch was engaged again.

      Years ago I bought one to make the rear wiper on my 1999 Odyssey intermittent. I went so far as pulling the trim off the tailgate to try and figure out the wiring but never figured out how to integrate it.

      1. As I recall there was another English company that was famous for their intermittent headlights and… intermittent everything really.

  6. The 2016 F150 was not available with Apple CarPlay, but for $50, you could plug in a 2017 part number USB port in place of the 2016 it came from the factory with, and presto! Android Auto appeared with a Sync system update.

    I traded it in on my 4Runner, kind of wonder how long it took the new owner to figure it out.

    1. I had this with my old Fiesta ST. I live in the Android world so it wasn’t an issue (AA worked on my car), but it was odd reading about it on the forums.

  7. I like that all new Kia’s have the windshield wiper setting pop up in the instrument display as you cycle through them using the stalk.That way you always know what setting it’s on vs having to peer around the steering wheel. Simple thing, but I miss it on other (usually more expensive) cars.

    Also the new Ford Expedition comes with optional massaging seats. Oh my damn, that’s fantastic.

  8. On my last two Honda Civics w/ manual trans (2002, 2014), when poking along in 1st gear the car will not allow the engine to lug at very low speed. Instead, it will automatically apply just enough throttle (the pedal moves slightly) to maintain ~800 RPM (even climbing a hill), and the car smoothly plods along at the slowest speed possible with no driver input. I discovered this by accident many years into ownership of the 2002, and since I have used it to help me out in bumper to bumper traffic. I posted something to a Honda forum a while back, and the general response was “ummm, all manual cars do this”. Maybe all modern cars do this (do they really?), but any other manual car I had previously owned would have lugged and shaken itself to a stop.

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