Home » What Buttons Do You Wish Your Car Had?

What Buttons Do You Wish Your Car Had?

Msisingbutton
ADVERTISEMENT

Buttons once proliferated in our vehicles. The 1980s saw cars like the Pontiac 6000 go nuts with controls plastered everywhere, and Mercedes-Benz applied a similar design ethos to the S-Class in the 1990s. More buttons meant more features which meant you had more money.  Then, the world turned, touchscreens arrived, and suddenly, buttons were disappearing like wedding guests after the open bar dries up. So today, I ask you—what button do you wish your car had?

Now, you could take this question to mean what feature your car had. You can choose to answer the question that way. Personally, I’d like it if my car could do the James Bond thing where it deploys an oil slick to throw off enemies in pursuit. I think we’d all enjoy having that button on the dash.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

Really, though, I’m thinking about this in more mundane terms. What regular feature should your car have a button for, but it doesn’t?

Lloyd You (pyramid Sch3me Remix) 0 1 Screenshot (1)
Pontiac loved buttons like Garfield loved lasagne.

For me, the answer is simple. I have a 2007 BMW 320D with a wonderful climate control system. I set it to 22 degrees, and every time I get in the car, it cools me down beautifully. Sometimes, though, I don’t want to feel the air blowing in my face. The annoying thing is that the climate control system doesn’t have a simple off button. To turn it off, I have to hit the fan speed button four or five times to turn it off completely. I wish I could just shut it off with a single button press.

For my girlfriend’s car, I wish it had a button for cruise control. Her 2007 Toyota Yaris is a competent city car, but it has a terrible accelerator that’s at entirely the wrong spot to interface properly with my right foot. If it just had cruise control, it would be ten times better.

ADVERTISEMENT
Justoff
Just give me an off button, BMW!

Those with more modern cars likely have bigger problems than I do. Tesla famously put shifter controls on the touchscreen in some models, a decision so maddening I still can’t believe they did it. Indeed, the company’s vehicles are so lacking in physical controls that aftermarket button pads have become a popular aftermarket item. Meanwhile, Volkswagen infuriated the world when it implemented a touch-sensitive interface for climate controls in certain models. Last year, the German automaker admitted its folly, and that it would return to using physical buttons for HVAC controls in future.

I don’t want to come out as some sort of button evangelist. Some controls are fine to stick on a touchscreen, like navigation, for example. I also don’t like the way that modern cars cram over 30 buttons into the steering wheel alone.

As it stands, though, some features simply must have their own button, and it should be that way across every car. You should be able to shut off the sound system with a single button, and the same goes for the climate control. Just about any feature that you would conceivably want to adjust while driving should have its own physical control. That’s my ethos.

But now, it’s over to you. What button is sorely lacking from your own car?

Image credits: GM, Lewin Day

ADVERTISEMENT
Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on whatsapp
WhatsApp
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on reddit
Reddit
Subscribe
Notify of
124 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
PunkyBrewstersHubby
PunkyBrewstersHubby
1 month ago

I have only one real issue with one of my cars, a ‘24 Mirage G4. The fan speed toggle is on the right and the fan speed is on the left and this always drives me nuts. But for this $20K car, everything else is fine and it has a genuine knob for the volume.

TheFanciestCat
TheFanciestCat
1 month ago

All down/All up window switch. Great for that squeegee move after rain/fog and for just enjoying drier weather.

Buttons for audio sources would be nice. Getting from my usual Android Auto screen to the car’s radio is too many steps and I would switch over more to find live sports if it was less of a distraction to do so.

A custom button. With all of these menus buried in infotainment systems and everything about the car being computer controlled anyway, I should get a custom button to use how I wish, whether it’s a one-touch favorite for climate control settings or or a 2-3 step routine like a smart home control, it should be possible. OLED keys are a thing now. It wouldn’t have to be an ugly black square that says CUSTOM. There could be a library of icons.

Memphomike
Memphomike
1 month ago

AC off button when defrost is on. If you start before the windshield fogs, the fan is sufficient to keep it clear. BRZ AC can be turned off, but Crosstrek AC must be on with defrost.

MP81
MP81
1 month ago

I actually can’t really think of any I’d wanted added to my ’17 Volt.

Maybe a mode for the heater to only use engine heat (if the engine is or was previously on), but I’m not really sure how that’d even be labeled. I can modulate that pretty easily by just watching engine coolant temp, knowing where it will start kicking in electric heat once the engine coolant temp drops to a certain point with the engine off.

Aside from that…all HVAC controls are buttons, the radio has a volume knob and a few other buttons for common functions (and I also have my steering wheel controls well), so…I think it’s actually pretty well set.

Dirk from metro Atlanta
Dirk from metro Atlanta
1 month ago
Reply to  MP81

2019 Volt owner. Same.

Slow In Slow Out
Slow In Slow Out
1 month ago

I’ve got a 2022 Veloster N and luckily it has a decent amount of physical controls. I’d love dedicated buttons or toggle switches for my most commonly adjusted “N Custom” settings: suspension damping and exhaust mode. I’d also love a “back button” for my infotainment screen. A physical button that’s in the same spot all the time that I can reliably hit in a moving car would make my infotainment screen (and probably many modern infotainment screens) a lot easier to live with day to day.

BTW one of my favorite buttons after I customized it, is the star shaped shortcut button. Now it’s a dedicated screen off/on button. Sometimes I just want to drive without distractions.

Last edited 1 month ago by Slow In Slow Out
Pneumatic Tool
Pneumatic Tool
1 month ago

I drive a 2021 Mazda6 and what I’d really like is an off button for the stereo. Oh, I can push the little volume knobbie thing on the console to mute it, but that puts a strange “no sound” icon on the display. Perhaps there’s a way to do this by fiddling with the infamous Mazda rotary wheel screen interface, but that would require me to actually do research, and what’s needed is a damned button. (obligitory “off my lawn” inserted)

BudBlade
BudBlade
1 month ago

Stealth mode. Turn out all exterior lights on the sides and back

Col Hathi
Col Hathi
1 month ago

I’d love a button that lifts my wiper blades off the windscreen so all the leaves and twigs can escape instead of smearing themselves all over the glass when I hit wash/wipe.

Press the button again, and the blades return to their home position, gently.

Lightning
Lightning
1 month ago

Climate control off? I like rotary switches for fan speed/off way better than on non-climate control HVAC system way better than any buttons. Buttons rate below switches and sliders for speed and not needing to look at them. I dislike all the buttons on modern steering wheels. I don’t seem them as being better for driver control or comfort than easy to use switches on the dash. I think peak car interior is Radwood era Japanese cars without the ridiculous number of luxury feature buttons in the European cars of the era.

I remember wishing there weren’t so many blanks on the Volvo 265GL family wagon that I learned on, but they were blanks for switches. The main thing I thought would have been nice would have been fog lights and maybe driving lights.

Last edited 1 month ago by Lightning
The Dude
The Dude
1 month ago

My car was built before Toyota made Bluetooth calling integration a feature, so I’d love dedicated call, hang up, and voice activation buttons on my steering wheel since I installed an aftermarket head unit.

Thankfully I was able to remap the stereo mode button on my steering wheel so a quick tap accepts a call and holding it down rejects/hangs up a call, so I’m mostly there.

Henry Smith
Henry Smith
1 month ago

I want all the buttons. Screens are for displaying information not entering commands.

If the designer says but wait we’ve run out of space for the buttons, perhaps that feature shouldn’t be in a car in the first place.

I also want dials for HVAC and volume. These things should not be buttons.

PunkyBrewstersHubby
PunkyBrewstersHubby
1 month ago
Reply to  Henry Smith

AS400 comes to my mind.

Knowonelse
Knowonelse
1 month ago

I like the foot-controlled high beams button on my truck and wish it was available on my newer cars.

Andy Individual
Andy Individual
1 month ago

I want an infotainment off button.

4004
4004
1 month ago

Huh, was just discussing this the other day, related to your point: I want a MAX/REST button on my E46 IHKA. E38, E39, E53, all got one, I’m sure it can work off the aux water pump, it’s been added to E32/34 cars with a retrofit of E39 IHKA, and even the bloody E90 has it!

HayabusaHarry
HayabusaHarry
1 month ago

I’d like a passenger side ejection seat button when my wife starts blithering on about my driving.

RataTejas
RataTejas
1 month ago

Drive mode for my S60. It’s two menus inside a screen. I want full scoot mode on demand, not three presses away.

Urban Runabout
Urban Runabout
1 month ago

I would like a button for self-loading, front and rear firing bazookas please.

Vinny Patton
Vinny Patton
1 month ago

I wish all my vehicles had an automatic climate control system like my Sonata. It has and Auto button that you can press to set to high, medium or low. Instead of adjusting the fan speed yourself, these settings let you stay in Auto mode but with different levels of fan blowing intensity. Sure I want the cabin to warm up or cool down but I don’t want the fan blowing on the highest setting until it gets there. I love that button!

Tangent
Tangent
1 month ago
Reply to  Vinny Patton

That’s how BMW climate controls have worked for several years now. In manual mode the fan speed buttons control the fan speed of course, but in Auto mode that increases and decreases the intensity.

On the topic of BMW climate controls though, I want the temperature dial back to the physical dial between the center vents instead of behind a touchscreen menu! That was literally the only climate control function I’d adjust on a regular basis and that’s the one they stuck behind a menu…

OnceInAMillenia
OnceInAMillenia
1 month ago
Reply to  Tangent

Really? I adjust temp maybe 4-5 times a year. I adjust fan speed every few minutes, because I’ve never had a car that could convince me that auto was worth it. I’m trying to cool myself off, while auto seems to be trying to cool the ambient air

Needles Balloon
Needles Balloon
1 month ago

Not quite a button but a setting: fan speed 0.

On older cars such as a B5 Passat, when you turn off the HVAC fan, air still came through the vents passively due to the ram air effect at speed. This is good for maintaining defogged windows without the additional noise of a running fan or the hot air getting in your nostrils.

In new cars, when the fan is set to OFF, it closes the cabin air intake to minimize drag and noise, which I appreciate, but I still want the ability for that air intake to be open and the fan to be off.

OnceInAMillenia
OnceInAMillenia
1 month ago

This. I just want to keep the cabin from getting stale. My Mazda millenia had four actual blower settings but defaulted to this if the system was off. It was great.

On the flip side, I was in a VW ID4 recently and could not figure out how to turn the blower motor off.

Last edited 1 month ago by OnceInAMillenia
Myk El
Myk El
1 month ago

Well, it’s present on one of my cars, but not the other. Mute audio. I think that one should be standard on all cars, especially in the more complicated, modern infotainment systems where off or pause and similar are on touch screens.

TheFanciestCat
TheFanciestCat
1 month ago
Reply to  Myk El

I found out it’s a gesture on my steering wheel volume controls on my Honda but not an actual button.

124
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x