I’ve been seeing some absolute nonsense online recently, nonsense showing some actual real-world car features, and I’ve realized it’s my duty to take a moment and let the whole world know what’s going on here is very much not okay. It’s not okay. I’m not going to sit back and just let it happen, let my beloved universe of automobiles get slowly infected by this insidious, pervasive idiocy because I sat back and did nothing. Not today, Satan. Not fucking today. What I’m not going to let happen is this: gloveboxes opened by a software button on a touchscreen interface, buried inside some bullshit UX. I wanna scream knowing it exists.
I realized I needed to speak up about this – and I don’t think this is hyperbole – grave threat to the very human condition – because it’s somehow infected the new Cadillac Lyriq, and is now showing up on videos about the car, like this one done by none other than our pal Doug DeMuro:
I have to hand it to Doug for maintaining his composure here; I can only imagine moments after this video was shot he was behind a tree, sobbing and vomiting and shaking all over, while one of Doug’s many handlers surrounded him, covering him with medicated salves and telling him that somehow everything will be fine.
But everything will not be fine.
Did you really get a look at what was happening there? There’s at least three steps involved here, and I’m being generous, because depending on what the center-stack display is currently showing or doing, you’d have to add more steps even to get to the menu with that “Controls” icon:
I know I’m not the only one who feels the same sense of rage and dread when they see this sort of thing happen, because I’ve already seen things like this:
Please God no pic.twitter.com/vfhdgfaEya
— Peter (@Peter_M_V) October 10, 2022
This, of course, is the only reasonable reaction to being confronted with the touch-screen glove box release. I should be clear that I’m not trying to single out Cadillac or GM here, they just happen to be the most recent example of this madness, but it has existed before, like on the Tesla Model 3:
I didn’t speak out when the Tesla first demonstrated this, and that’s on me. I foolishly thought this was just some Tesla-only affectation, and there’s no way this poison could seep into the greater mainstream car market. I was wrong.
Speaking of wrong, what the hell is wrong with that guy in the Tesla video? How does he find this cool? Does he have a knee-buckling, pants-ruining orgasm when he goes to a grocery store and steps on the magic mat that makes the sliding doors open automatically? Jeezis, dude, stop encouraging this.
The touch-screen-actuated glove box is terrible because it’s one of those examples where carmakers have found that they have the technology to do something, so they do it, without considering literally anything about what they’ve done. Did anybody want this? At all? It takes something that has never been a problem, opening a glove box, and added cost and complexity to the construction, and added time and inconvenience to the process. No problem is solved, but a fuckload of new problems are introduced.
What if your battery dies, and you have your small emergency charger in the glovebox? Tough shit! What if you’re waiting in a turned-off car while your friend or parent or lover pops inside the liquor store, and you need to get, say, your hyper-important pills out of the glove box? Again, tough shit. And, if you’re thinking, “hey, stop worrying, I’m sure they have an emergency mechanical release for the glove box somewhere,” then I encourage you to fuck right off and take a moment to think about the deep, hurtful idiocy of that statement.
Did they do focus groups for this feature? Did they get responses like these?
“I hate how easy and quick it is to get the glovebox open. Can you guys solve that?”
“Is there any way to make simple acts I’m used to doing a real fucking chore?”
“How can I be sure every single tiny fucking thing on this car will be an expensive hassle to repair in 10 years?
“If the battery dies, is there any way to fuck me over even more than normal? Like, you know, hard?”
“Can you just smack the shit out of me over and over again with like a slab of roast beef, or is there some electromechanical and software solution you can integrate into the car for the same effect?”
I hate this so much. Nobody wants this. Nobody needs this. You want to make the car seem fancy, just make a physical latch for the glovebox out of something nice instead of, you know, crap. Though, with that advice in mind, if I was offered a choice between a conventional glove box latch made from composite material sourced from the hydraulically-compressed feces of convicted sex offenders or a menu-based touchscreen glovebox release, I’ll have mine with the pervert shit plastic, thanks so much.
What if you get pulled over by a cop, and they tell you to turn your car off, like they do, but then you have to explain to the already tense cop that you need to turn your car back on so you can open the fucking glove box door so you can get your documents? Depending on the cop and the circumstance, this can only make things worse.
What’s the problem this was supposed to solve, again? Opening a glove box was too obvious? Too easy? The mechanism was too long-lasting and cheap?
Carmakers are fundamentally like huge, dumb animals. When they do bad things, you have to be firm and forceful and tell them NO BAD, loudly and often, and that’s where we are right now.
So, GM: NO. BAD. BAD COMPANY. Stop. The right thing for GM to do right now, at this very moment, is to recall every single fucking Lyriq out there and retrofit a real glove box latch onto these. I do not care what it costs. It’s worth it. They should also send fruit baskets or cookie assortments or something to every owner that had to deal with this horseshit even once along with a formal apology. And the company should pledge, hand on the gold-covered skull of William Crapo Durant, to never, ever pull this shit again.
You know what? Make Tesla do it, too. Recall every Model 3 with this stupid touch-screen glove box release setup and go through the same shit I said GM should do, but swap William Crapo Durant’s skull for Elon’s groin or something.
Any other car maker who has committed this atrocity should do the same, but I’m not going to look up who else may have done this because I’m a caring, tender human and my very soul can’t take the onslaught of knowing how far this bullshit has spread. It just has to stop. Now.
I’m very curious to see if anyone disagrees with me in the comments. Could there be people out there who like this insipid horseshit? Is it possible? Could there be masochistic, perverse simpletons out there who want to navigate a fucking touchscreen menu to open a lid inches from their fucking stupid fingers? That can’t exist. There have to be more Sasquatches that read this site than blighted morons who somehow, perversely want touch-screen-menu based glove box latches. In fact, I hope there are. I’d rather spend time with Sasquatches, any fucking day.
So, again, to all automakers now or in the future: DO NOT MAKE GLOVE BOXES OPEN FROM A TOUCH SCREEN MENU.
NO. BAD. STOP.
That video had just the amount of Doug exposure one could take for twelve months.
The great things about touch screens are they’re really fast, easy to see in bright sunlight and last forever. Also, they’re great to use when driving at high speeds in heavy traffic. Why just turn a knob like a caveman when you can take your eyes off the road and cycle through three screens to adjust the A/C?
“Nobody Wants Touch-Screen…And It Needs To Stop Now”
There, fixed it for you.
I really do think touchscreens are fine and good for navigation, and audio *in respect to navigating a collection or feature*.
But I think it could be frustratingly difficult to design and make a car system where those functions were basically the only thing a particular touchscreen did. It’s gonna cost me a lot of money to replace the head unit in my ’12 Prius because I want to retain access to the factory customization features (e.g., lock on shifting from park, or headlight delay after turning off). But where else could they put those features that would make them easy to understand and easy to change?
It’s just simple enough that nothing “mission critical” is in the touchscreen, but just complicated enough that it’ll still be a decently expensive project to replace. But at least it’ll give me the ability to replace the speakers and add a sub in the future.
I agree this glove box thing is absolutely worth its own rant in terms of egregiousness, though. This is similarly aggravating to the concept of windshield wipers controlled from a touchscreen…
I use a Garmin with free updates for nav, and music is on a USB stick that plug in. I could use my phone for nav, but I’m a big believer in drivers using the ‘do not disturb’ function and putting phones away.
I don’t mind touchscreens, and I have rented cars with them but never use them unless I have to to set things up before my first drive, usually a very inconveniengt process because there is always never a manual.
Right now, I drive a 2013 Lexus. There is no touchscreen. There is nothing I do right now from muscle memory that would somehow be better or faster on the built on a screen, in a menu somewhere. It shows me my music selection, and it can be used as a nav, but then I’d have to pay for an update. When its parked it can run through all sorts of things regarding estimated maintenance items, allow me to customize climate control, mirror, and seat settings to my key, etc.
I see no benefit to the driver to place these fuctions in a menu or sub-menu on a screen. Its less parts and lower manufacturing cost for the automakers that drives this.
You’ll be surprised listening in on some design discussions…
ProudLuddite stands in solidarity with you on this one Jason
Does anybody remember that Chevy “Real People” commercial, where they have a bunch of punchably stereotypical Millennial hipsters and tell them to text what they think about whatever new Chevy is in front of them, but they can only use emojis, and the one woman’s face completely lights up with excitement, like being asked to describe a mediocre small crossover with emojis was the greatest thing she’s ever been asked to do, ever?
I feel like this feature is designed to appeal to people like that. People like that are likely to still be dazzled by the wizardry that is a touch screen, a technology the rest of us have been desensitized to for ca. 30ish years.
We can only hope that the touchscreens for everything will soon be remembered as the automatic seatbelts of the 90s.
The much bigger problem is electronic handles and latches replacing mechanical hardware on exterior doors. If the 12-volt battery on a Ford Mustang Mach-E, Tesla Model 3, or Tesla Model Y (or many other new cars) dies, you can’t get into the vehicle without a 12-volt power source. To open an exterior door on one of these cars you must first supply 12 volts to a pair of wires hidden behind a cover on the front bumper to actuate the frunk latch. Once the frunk is open you can use a portable jump starter or jumper cables to provide power to the 12-volt battery terminals and open one of the cabin doors. What’s the problem? Even if you have jumper cables or a jump starter in one of these cars you can’t access them if your 12-volt battery fails.
I own a Mach-E and I’ve read the explanation from Ford that the electronic latches reduce complexity and cost. Unfortunately, they’ll also prevent me from accessing my jump start pack if my 12-volt battery dies. Many vehicles with keyless entry and ignition continue to offer a physical key and mechanical latches for a reason – I wish more EVs would do the same.
Think of all the people who had to approve off on this idea to get it into production. “If I say yes, the boss will like me!”
Sigh. Sorry. Scratch “off on” and insert “of.” My editor saw that glovebox and blew coffee out of her nose.
But now you can subscribe and just pay for the glove box in the months you need it! What an innovation!
Yeah, this is evil and needs to stop. I just picked up a car from 1974 and am marveling at the roll-up windows, the actual hand brake, the analog gauges…
Heh. 1974. The year when all the cars sold in the States simply would not start unless you got in, sat down, and put on your seat belt first. Didn’t put on your belt? Car wouldn’t start. Thought you’d be clever and just keep the belt buckled at all times and you’d just sit on the belt? Ha, joke’s on you, buster, car won’t start unless you sit down, buckle the belt, and turn the key… in that order. And that wasn’t just one automaker. That was a federal mandate.
Didn’t last many months, though, before red-blooded Americans rose up in a high dudgeon, saying, “You can’t make ME be safer, dagnabbit!”
Sometimes the world just isn’t ready yet.
Malaise-era shitboxes trained me to NEVER buckle up until after starting the engine, otherwise it would be wasted effort if I just had to get out and get under the hood when it didn’t a moment later anyway.
Wow, thanks for sharing this tidbit. I was born in 1995 and had no idea this was ever a thing.
While we’re on the topic… Glass roofs. Especially those without an opaque liner (which seems to be nearly all of them). No sunroof open fun, no shade. Hot in the summer, risk of cracked glass from falling ice in the winter. A literal greenhouse for your family.
Woof. This is indeed horrible and should be consigned to the trash bin of history at once.
I am reminded of a Cadillac CTS rental I had once where the cover to the center console storage cubby was motorized? What genius thought this was a good idea?
Cue the Jeff Goldblum “just because you can doesn’t mean you should” meme.
“Open the glovebox door please, Alexa”
“I can’t do that, Jason”
“Open the freekin’ glovebox door, bitch!”
“Fuck you, Jason! Maybe you should think about your attitude, Luddite asshole”
Screaming an ancient Māori war cry, Jason pulls out the entire wire harness with his teeth.
Jason, I would be interested in a similar article on headlight aim. I have noticed that with bright projector headlights moving down to cheaper cars that I am constantly being blinded by low beams with terrible factory aim. Almost every time I am blinded, it is by a new Toyota, Honda, Subaru, or Tesla (only some Teslas though, seems highly inconsistent and some are very well aimed). European cars have been doing projectors well for a very long time and I am only ever blinded by these particular brands’ low beam cutoffs being wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy too high. I have even mistakenly flashed my high beams at a few of them and been flashed back, only for there to not be any difference in the amount I am being blinded because I was already receiving the full force of their light output directly to my eyes.
Don’t even get me started on aftermarket LEDs in factory halogen housings and Tacoma owners driving around with aftermarket lights in their fog housings that are always turned on…
I drive a 19′ ford fusion, at night its like being at a rave. Everyone is flashing their high beams at me. They regular headlights are super bright though so I get it. If their is one feature of this car,my first not 30+ year old vehicle, it is the auto dimining/brights.
Weird, I haven’t really noticed it with Fords (other than ones with suspension modifications and no change to the headlight aim) too much but I’ll have to keep my eyes out for Fusions.
My cars have xenons and when I pull up behind someone I can see that my lights are cut off a lot lower than the modern cars I see.
A 19′ Ford Fusion is a huge car. How did you get it that big?
Somehow, it’s more than a quirk, but less than a feature.
What also gets me is the common reply people people had in defense of this – “lol sent from an iPhone!”
The keyboard on a phone screen takes the place of a physical keyboard in the same space, it doesn’t add additional steps to achieve the same function. (Ok, you could argue you might have to select the “reply” space to bring up the keyboard in some apps, big deal. You’re already in the app, you don’t need to leave that one, find and select the keyboard, etc.)
I’d counter that tapping the “reply” box to bring up the onscreen keyboard is in practice no different than clicking inside the box on your laptop or desktop to start the cursor and then taking your hands off the pointing device and, uh, wherever else and placing them on a physical keyboard. So these unreasonable people’s hypothetical argument is moot.
Thank you, Jason, for picking up the flag on this one. Once they started getting rid of knobs, it was only a matter of time. My 2008 Odyssey has no screen, and while a backup camera would be useful, there is nothing else I miss by not having a screen. I can change stations, change the temp, dial down the volume, turn on the rear HVAC and defroster without ever once taking my eyes off the road. The rise of nanny alarms is likely driven by too many drivers dicking around with their screen instead of driving.
I bet it’s cheaper for them to do this with a “simple” magnet or actuator (which is likely the same part already used elsewhere in the car) than it is to engineer and build a mechanical latch, linkage, and handle.
Lower cost is the only reason stuff like this gets approved. It’s a shame though, because it’s a fucking nightmare.
Thank you Torch!!! I swear, waterboarding was invented to be used on whomever thought this was a good idea..
Earlier today the infotainment system on my 2022 TLX glitched in the following manner:
1. Phone rang. Car tells me there’s a call coming in.
2. Car gives me no way to answer the call in the infotainment system or with the steering wheel
3. I answer the handset. It won’t go to bluetooth, only allows me to take the call from the phone
4. The car’s phone ring continues to ring through the entire call
I’m constantly amazed at how bad this system is. Would have expected better from Honda/Acura.
I mean, didn’t infotainment single-handedly drop Honda from the top of Consumer Reports’ reliability surveys right to the bottom? They’ve been horrible at it for years, especially when they decided to (thankfully temporarily) drop the volume knob.
Next model year, they’ll offer a VIRTUAL Glovebox. For your virtual stuff.
And it will be subscription based.
Welcome to the MetaBox.
This is just cost saving, made to look cool. I’ve often wondered how manufacturers manage to get away with this. Think about it, there is no latch that needs to be made, the skin of the glovebox is now one smooth piece, there is NOTHING mechanical that needs to be built, I’m guessing there is either a small actuator or electronic magnet holding that together, if its the magnet then super cheap.
I wonder why a car without keyless start is cheaper. Surely, a full ignition barrel costs more than a button and RFID reciever. Why does Tesla have a screen and not buttons? Same reason, cost. A fancy looking touch screen is cheaper to make and implement than a myriad of buttons and all the wiring and solder and whatever else sits behind a button. You are putting a touch screen in already, so why not cut cost by not putting in physical buttons?
Most stuff that’s been done with touchscreens is cost savings (tarted up to be space-age). But this? You’ve still got to have a latch, and while you don’t need a button to operate it, you’ll need a solenoid. I can’t imagine there’s any cost saving. Maybe it’s to keep the glove box sleek looking? My Soul has a glove box button that’s integrated into the trim, if I don’t tell you where it is you probably won’t notice it.
Coming next: steering and brakes by touchscreen.
I’ve wondered the same – is the “premium” option of keyless start actually cheaper to make than the “base model” keyed start? Both usually have some sort of transponder for the immobiliser, both usually have some sort of RF remote for locking. The keyed start adds the complexity of a mechanical ignition barrel which surely costs more.
I’m not sure what the issue is. There is nothing you can effin’ do in these cars with your gloves on anyway. You might as well lock them away permanently.
Well it is a good start but I’m not spending my money until I can see the contents of my glovebox shown on the entertainment screen so I know if what I’m looking for is in there. See that saves alot of wasted time.
But first it should send an alert to my car app to let me know the Sharpie I had in there has dried out and there is no tire gauge. Or perhaps it would automatically order those from Amazon for me.
Better yet a subscription service that automatically orders you new sharpies and tire gauges on a regular basis with the added convenience of automatically deducting the payment from your checking account.