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Cars Are Getting Stupider: Trends That Should Be Phased Out

Five trends that should go away for improved user experience

TUNDRA NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: JACK GOETZ
May 30 2024

I remember when I was younger, cars used to be pretty simple: They were easy to drive and operate. Cars should take people from A to B with no complications. However, the car industry as a whole has been getting deeper into focusing on consumer and industry trends in the industry as of late, and some of the features that have become trendy just don’t make sense.

Okay sure, saying that cars are getting stupider isn’t the nicest thing to say, but the simplicity of getting in a car, putting the car in gear, and getting on the road is a lot more challenging than in years past. (And I’m only 20 years old.) Here are a few trends that, based on following the industry for 15 years, should be phased-out. Why? Because the trends are annoying and pointless for the end user (aka the drivers). 

Let’s go:

1.    Integration of Controls in the Infotainment System: 100% Unnecessary

Infotainment System with integrated controls         SOURCE: SLATE.COM/FORD

Cars used to have separate applications when it came to controlling some of the features built into the system. Drivers always prefer to know where things are and the muscle memory of knowing what functionality does and the location of those features is important. However, many companies are moving those controls into infotainment systems, practically going away from the functionality. What used to be a touch of a simple button is now through multiple touch points on a screen which could take seconds or even minutes to access, distracting driver attention thereby creating less-than-optimal safety conditions.

2.     Gesture Control:  An Embarrassing Feature

Gesture controls in BMW 7 series.          SOURCE: BIMMERTECH/BMW

Even with the integration of controls in car infotainment systems, many consumers are finding ways to make it easier on the consumer to control and find these features. Gesture controls are a common hatred among consumers as many people do not see the gesturing of a hand to change a song necessary at all. Your hands should be on the wheel, not fiddling about trying to change the songs or answer phone calls. Buttons are a much better and easier alternative. And let’s face it, gesturing to a dashboard could easily be misinterpreted as a form of road rage, and that’s all we need.

3.     Fake Engine Noises: Driving Drivers Bonkers  

The New Electric Muscle Car from Dodge.              SOURCE: INSIDEHOOK/DODGE

This is trend that appears to be the most pointless, depending how it’s used. Cars are loud enough (or can be even louder) if it has a nice sound. The interior of a car should be quiet and not filled with fake noises to create this annoying sound that you have to turn off every time you’re behind the wheel. Many manufacturers are trying to make vehicles more engaging to drive, but at what cost? It’s a federal rule to have a sound play on the exterior to make pedestrians aware of a vehicle. However, sounds that are played inside are pointless, that, let’s face it, can’t be of aid or any use other than driving its drivers bonkers as they cruise down the road!

4.     Integrated Navigation: Built-in GPS = Dinosaur Tech

New apps phasing out built in navigation.           SOURCE: MAKEUSEOF

This is a feature that used to make complete sense, but other features have drowned out the necessity for integrated navigation. In light of how frequently smartphones are used while driving, the integration of smartphones into infotainment systems has made use of applications such as Waze and Apple Maps ubiquitous, making it easier and more convenient for people to use navigation, especially with how easy it is to operate. Companies are still trying to put money into their onboard systems and making people pay a premium for it, which really isn’t necessary. It’s time to move on from integrated navigation.

5.      Subscription for Heated Seats:  Standard Tush-toasting

BMW charging for heated seats                     SOURCE: ARENAEV

Heated seats have always been an option in cars, yet they should come standard. Companies are still charging outrageous fees just to heat the seat, which, given the evolution of the tech, the feature should just be standard equipment. For premium cars costing over $40,000, such as BMW and Mercedes, many economy cars come standard with these features costing nearly half as much. Manufacturers may even charge up to $20 a month for a subscription just to have these features available. Just make heated seats standard.

These features and trends have sparked controversy in the industry, as consumers often view them as unnecessary or as tactics to pressure buyers into adding options they don’t need. As we enter a new era of electrification and advanced technological capabilities, there’s hope that these trends will be phased out.

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