Home » What Modern Car Features Do You Refuse To Use? Autopian Asks

What Modern Car Features Do You Refuse To Use? Autopian Asks

Aa Features You Dont Use
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The cars of today are technological powerhouses filled to the brim with more bits and doo-dads than you’d find in the cockpit of a Cessna.  I find that some features are genuine game changers, others I just can’t get behind.

The newest car I own is a 2016 Smart, and the most advanced technology it has is a forward collision warning system. That’s it. It has  a cute radar dome on its front that’s supposed to warn me seconds before I ram into a car ahead of me. In reality, it just beeps every time I go through a curve with any kind of speed. Thanks, Smart!

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Sometimes, hopping into a new car feels like I’m strapping myself into a space shuttle. Today’s cars have a smörgåsbord of systems, each with a nearly unintelligible acronym that I will not remember. A lot of them are helpful, but to me, someone who some might describe as a Luddite, it can be too much.

There are two systems I don’t like using. The first is adaptive cruise control in most vehicles. You can get adaptive cruise in everything from rental Toyota Corollas to BMW motorcycles and with some exceptions, and so many of these systems suck. I like adaptive cruise in theory. The car can brake and accelerate all on its own. You just need to keep it pointed in the correct direction. That’s brilliant!

In practice, the last Toyota Corolla I drove practically slammed its brakes for minor changes in traffic flow and it was always just flipping on the brake lights. Using cruise control is supposed to be relaxing, but the Corolla was driving like a teenager, so the adaptive cruise got turned off. It was a similar deal with a Nissan Sentra I drove. The car seemed scared to even go the speed limit, let alone keep off its brakes. Thankfully, I’ve usually found it possible to disable adaptive cruise and just run with old-school regular cruise control.

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To be clear, I always test these systems out because that’s my job. But if they prove to be more bothersome than they’re worth, I will end up not using them for the rest of the time I’m with the car. There are exceptions. I found the adaptive cruise control in a Volkswagen Atlas to be pretty decent. Likewise, BMW Motorrad’s adaptive cruise is so good it almost freaks you out. A motorcycle that responds to traffic!

Before I wrote about cars I wrote SQL queries and Java. You’d think I’d be all over techy sorts of stuff like Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Once again, I test these systems out in every vehicle I encounter, but I prefer old-school Bluetooth. I put on my tunes and hit the road. If I need navigation, hearing the turns through the speakers is good enough for me. I don’t need to have Google Maps on a 12-inch touchscreen. I also run a number of modified APKs on my Android devices and Android Auto sort of conks out when you try to use them in the system.

I suppose that part is weird. My wife is trying her best to push me into the modern era in that regard. Alright, enough about that, how about you? What are the modern features you don’t (or outright won’t) use?

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Sean Ellery
Sean Ellery
15 days ago

Not so much as ‘refuse to use’, as ‘have no need to use’, and that’s the flappy paddle gear changers and the cruise control in my 2019 G20 BP Mazda 3 Evolve (sedan in machine grey)

I just don’t need the features.

Tricky Motorsports
Tricky Motorsports
19 days ago

Automatic transmissions. Have never met one that behaves how I want.

Jeff Morse
Jeff Morse
20 days ago

Lane keep assist and any sort of driver monitoring system. I can stay in my lane or keep my eyes on the road without nagging.

Sean Ellery
Sean Ellery
15 days ago
Reply to  Jeff Morse

I turned off the lane assist in my Mazda 3 before I even left the dealership.

67 Oldsmobile
67 Oldsmobile
22 days ago

Voice command and lane assist,those are probably at least 10 years away from working correctly.

Scott Sabinson
Scott Sabinson
22 days ago

I have two cars that are voice-command capable and I don’t think I’ve ever used that feature. I’ll only use the voice feature to answer texts if I don’t foresee a stoplight in the near future. Safety first.

Last edited 22 days ago by Scott Sabinson
Cody
Cody
22 days ago

I hate that I can’t drive with the door open. It might sound dumb to be annoyed by this obvious safety feature, but in most newer BMW’s at least, if you open the door the transmission goes into park.

SkierX
SkierX
19 days ago
Reply to  Cody

My jeep does this too, I hate it!

Josh Jones
Josh Jones
22 days ago

I wouldn’t particularly consider it “modern” but I don’t use cruise at all, smart or not, I don’t see much benefit in holding a particular speed anymore.

When I first started driving, I found it useful to help me keep under the limit when I drove through known speedtrap areas, but (thankfully) that hasn’t particularly been a real problem for me for a about a decade now. The local PD have calmed down about it, and 90% of my driving is out of the way of the state boys.

When I do find myself on a highway, I’d much rather have full control of the vehicle at all times, because it’s clear that most of the folks around me don’t, and aren’t paying enough attention.

MGA
MGA
22 days ago
Reply to  Josh Jones

The benefits of maintaining consistent speed are numerous, both for you and other drivers. Your speed fluctuations are a contributor to congestion. Use your cruise control on the highway, because what you consider being more in control of your vehicle is actually you not maintaining your speed as well as standard (not smart) cruise control.

MGA
MGA
22 days ago

Smart/ adaptive cruise and lane departure assist (or whatever it’s called). The former destroys the benefits of conventional cruise control and ruins driving for active and efficient drivers, and the latter should never be allowed to give a tangible resistance to a driver changing lanes without a signal.

You can disagree, but you’re wrong.

No More Crossovers
No More Crossovers
22 days ago

I’m glad you mentioned the atlas because the ACC on my 2017 gti is the only reason I could make it to savannah from charlotte while hungover. Incidentally that’s probably the most advanced feature I’d be willing to use, sorry blue/super cruise.

Laurence Rogers
Laurence Rogers
23 days ago

On the work vehicle, I use adaptive cruise all the time. Many of the rural highways around here have few good areas to overtake, and the system in the company Isuzu MU-X is quite well calibrated.

The Toyota Prado before this wasn’t as well calibrated, and would slam the brakes on if a car was in a turning lane up ahead. I got used to mashing the accelerator before it could get on the anchors to cancel this out.

Lane Keep Assist can get in the bin, though. I am yet to find a system for this which isn’t overly aggressive.

ZeGerman
ZeGerman
23 days ago

I purchased a new 2023 Subaru Crosstrek Limited in January of last year. It has a surprising (to me) amount of tech in it. My previous car, which I still own, is a 1998 BMW, so the jump in tech was rather profound. Here is some of the tech my Crosstrek has:

Adaptive cruise controlPre-collision brakingLane keep assistLane departure warningBlind spot monitoringReverse auto-brakingRear cross-traffic alertRear parking sensors & cameraSteering responsive headlightsAuto high-beamsAuto dimming mirrors (interior & exterior)Engine auto start-stopHill hold assist (pointing up)Hill descent control (pointing down)
I self-identify as a technically-minded “enginerd”, and I’m also a race track instructor and very much like the activity of driving. All that said, I have found that the tech in the Crosstrek actually functions exceptionally well in most instances. I’m not a fan of engine start-stop, but I can either turn it off when I start the car or (what I actually do) just not depress the brake pedal to the threshold required for auto start-stop to engage when stopped. It never kicks in that way.

I love, love, love adaptive cruise. Works very well during rush hour commutes in bumper to bumper traffic slowly grinding down the freeway.

And although I’ve never been in a collision in 27 years of being a licensed driver and have what I think is very good situational awareness, I also appreciate things like blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert. Old farts love to disparage stuff like this, but in reality it serves as an additional safety net, not a replacement for driver attentiveness. There is a lot of closemindedness among some people who have not spent time driving modern vehicles and experimenting with different features.

I will concede, however, that automakers develop and implement all this tech in different ways from one another. As a track instructor, I’ve been in countless vehicles, some of which have tech that is very intrusive, unpredictable, and/or ineffective. So complaints against ADAS tech are valid in some vehicles more than others. It really depends on the execution.

One particular “modern car feature” that I will never ever allow in a vehicle of mine is HVAC controls that are embedded in a touch screen. My vehicles must always have physical buttons and knobs for all HVAC functions. I will not make an exception for that rule.

Last edited 23 days ago by ZeGerman
Peter DeTonnancourt
Peter DeTonnancourt
23 days ago

I’ve disabled the auto start/stop on both my whips.

Hillbilly Ocean
Hillbilly Ocean
22 days ago

This FFS. This. If you spent any time in your youth driving old beaters, unexpected quiet from under the hood is always an ‘oh shit’ moment. I don’t need those unexpected moments in my life. I also really don’t like the slight hesitation waiting for the engine to refire after coming to a stop.

Freelivin2713
Freelivin2713
23 days ago

Basically all of them…most of them are terrible especially putting most functions in screens…I don’t even care about regular cruise control that much let alone adaptive junk. I just want to get in and drive!!!

WM
WM
23 days ago

Lane keep assist, I can’t stand it. It just jerks the car around seemingly randomly

Matthew Loveridge
Matthew Loveridge
23 days ago
Reply to  WM

Yep. Had a hire car last year with it (it was deeply unmemorable otherwise, a Clio?) and it tugged at the wheel constantly going round bends. That’s stupid and arguably dangerous.

Jeff Marquardt
Jeff Marquardt
23 days ago

I’m pretty old school. I like cruise control, but with my daily driver, I think the automatic headlights are the only feature that could be considered “modern”. I still use an old iPhone plugged into a cable that connects to the radio that has a display similar to a game boy but in blue… I’m not complaining at all, I am bragging. I think that that is perfect for me.

I’ve been in a few rental cars that had those features and they were annoying more than they were helping. The adaptive cruise control stopped working because the sensor got covered in slush and my wife’s Jetta has a reverse camera that without fail freezes at the exact same place as she is backing out of her parents street.

A few weeks ago she backed into the wall because she is so reliant on the cameras.

I think that these features are only good for bad drivers, and the second they stop working is where trouble begins.

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
23 days ago

I never use cruise control. Not even the old stuff we had decades ago. I need to be alert and engaged with driving.

Andreas8088
Andreas8088
23 days ago

I don’t mind most of them, but oh my god is the adaptive cruise completely useless on my Acura. It will literally hit the brakes instead of just letting off the throttle, and the follow distance makes people cut in front of me because I’m 85 car lengths from the car in front of me even when it’s set to the shortest follow distance.

That said, I did drive a rental Jeep recently, and the adaptive cruise was actually pretty good, so maybe it’s a Honda/Acura problem.

I have had the collision avoidance thing slam on the brakes when going up a mountain road with tight corners and traffic coming the other way. THAT was fun. Thankfully it only happened one time.

Overall I like the other stuff …. LOVE wireless android auto, don’t mind the lane keep assist most of the time on the highway, and thankfully you have to turn it on if you want to use it, so it’s off most of the time.

LeftCoastDad
LeftCoastDad
23 days ago

Full Self Driving/Autopilot and most driver assistance tools. We own a Model Y and I refuse to (pay for or) use any of that crap. The blind spot technologies, 360 degree backup cameras and most adaptive cruise control features are great. But I turn off or just don’t use anything that attempts to drive the car or apply responses on my behalf. I just don’t want a car that drives for me, but I also don’t commute to and from work five days a week, so maybe I’m an outlier. I know most people see their cars as an appliance, so I guess I can understand why manufacturers are pushing these technologies, but man is it infuriating to those of us that drive as enthusiasts.

Eslader
Eslader
24 days ago

The cars of today are technological powerhouses filled to the brim with more bits and doo-dads than you’d find in the cockpit of a Cessna

Depends on the Cessna. 😉

https://www.aviationtoday.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/longitude-cockpit-1024×682.jpg

Gerontius Garland
Gerontius Garland
24 days ago

Any of them. If the feature isn’t present in an NB Miata, I don’t use it.

Captain Zoll
Captain Zoll
24 days ago

how do you avoid using power steering?

Dan Pritts
Dan Pritts
23 days ago
Reply to  Captain Zoll

NB Miata has power steering.

Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
22 days ago
Reply to  Captain Zoll

I have disabled power steering on my Accord because i’m too lazy to do the significant amount of work to repair it.

FleetwoodBro
FleetwoodBro
24 days ago

Voice control. They know it doesn’t work well. Voice control is the perfect gimmick. It sounds cool in the pitch and it costs less to make. Voice control exists so they can eliminate buttons, knobs, and dials along with the connectivity those require, which cost real money. Microphones cost almost nothing and there’s already a cpu in the head unit. Voice control is a scam.

Peter d
Peter d
23 days ago
Reply to  FleetwoodBro

I had an early E90 BMW 3-series with the first generation iDrive with only one button – the voice control on this car worked really well and was a godsend to deal with that iDrive. I used that voice control all the time. The next E90 had the additional buttons that made the iDrive useful (the back button especially) and I stopped using the voice control – I think that voice control was worse than the previous gen version.

John Burkhart
John Burkhart
23 days ago
Reply to  FleetwoodBro

I second voice control as a “not use”, but not because they don’t work well, but because I don’t talk to machines. It just feels unnatural, like we are pretending it possesses intelligence. I know I am in the minority and I fully concede it can be a safety thing, but I don’t talk to my car or suri or whatever the latest MS clippy clone is.

Rafael
Rafael
22 days ago
Reply to  John Burkhart

I don’t consider myself a luddite, and I always root for the sentient robot in any sci-fi. I even say please and thank you to chatGPT. But I can’t for the life of me bring myself to use any voice activated smart assistant, and I don’t know why. You’ll never hear me using one of those activation phrases like “Alexa”, “Hey Siri”, “OK Google”, and “f$#@ you Facebook” (that’s how you call them, right?).

Jim Nutt
Jim Nutt
24 days ago

I’ve seen the same issues with adaptive cruise on my wife’s Camry. On the other hand, the adaptive cruise on my Ioniq 5 is fabulous. Even in heavy traffic, it slows smoothly for people cutting in front of you.

Vee
Vee
24 days ago

Backup cameras. If I can’t see well enough using the mirrors and moving myself around I already know the backup camera isn’t helping, it’s just making me think I can actually see what’s obscured.

Lane keeping assist. Stop. Pulling. The fucking. Wheel. Shit’s so annoying. It often sees a lane where there isn’t one, and freaks out when it doesn’t see a lane at all because the road markings are too worn down.

Forward collision prevention. This has almost caused a crash multiple times now. The car just randomly slamming on the brakes in the rain because a leaf fell on the front sensor is an engineering failure, not a safety feature.

Proximity beeping. It’s annoying when going through drive-throughs because I get riiiiiiiiiight next to the wall to the point where you can’t fit a finger between the mirrors and the wall since I’m short and drive-throughs are being redesigned to mostly accommodate taller vehicles meaning my arms struggle to reach up and across the gap. Sitting there listening to the beeping for five minutes while waiting for food will drive you mad.

Satellite radio. Nope. I’m not paying for lesser diversity worse quality music that’ll drop out randomly. I’ve got physical media. Be it CDs, an FM transmitter hooked up to an MP3 player, or a USB flash drive with upwards of three thousand songs at a minimum of 320kbps and growing. I don’t like my high hats sounding like tinfoil from bitrate compression, Sirius. Or listening to the long dead voice of Casey Kasem talking to me as if he’s alluding to current events.

Bluetooth. Bluetooth was a shit standard we adopted because nobody wanted to pay for licensing for the better standards of Near Wi-Fi or Z-Wave in 2000 when Motorola and Nokia started conferencing over which wireless standard to adopt. I’ve hated it since I first used it twenty years ago, I still hate it now. Devices specifically designed for Bluetooth can’t even reliably connect, and cars are even worse.

Cruise control. Worse gas mileage and on automatic cars it means the transmission will shift harshly, waking up passengers. I don’t use it because I can manage the RPMs better since I can see the grade the road is at. Adaptive cruise control will never be used because I think you should never see brake lights on the interstate unless it’s an emergency. If I see your brake lights on the interstate it means you fucked up in properly adjusting your speed in the place where everybody is already going fast enough and has enough room that letting off the gas completely is an extreme maneuver.

Air conditioning. Back in my day we opened the vent windows, you weaklings. Kids these days can’t even survive being stuck in traffic in ninety degree heat, I tell ya… No, but seriously, I will avoid air conditioning if I can help it. The cars I drive are weak enough as it is, I don’t need the air conditioning sapping an eighth or more of their total power.

S Chen
S Chen
24 days ago
Reply to  Vee

It sounds like you just drive crap cars that have poorly implemented tech. In all of my cars, all of the features you mention work just fine. I will agree on XM radio though. Waste of money.

Dan Pritts
Dan Pritts
23 days ago
Reply to  S Chen

Bluetooth is very hit and miss but better as the years go by.

I’ve come around on backup cameras, to the point I considered adding one to my NB when I added a CarPlay radio. (If it were my daily I would, but most of my driving is top down.)

Maybe there is good lane keep assist but I haven’t had it.

Cheats McCheats
Cheats McCheats
23 days ago
Reply to  Vee

I am with you 100% for 93% of what you said. I need my AC. Everything else I agree

Davidsaur
Davidsaur
23 days ago
Reply to  Vee

Are you me?
Everything you said is what I was thinking, except that I’m only in my 30’s so I can’t pull a “back in my day”. I avoid AC because it’s so much nicer to have the windows down and fresh air, AC is for 70 on the freeway or days when it is so damn hot and sticky you are basically swimming instead of walking through the air.

Vee
Vee
22 days ago
Reply to  Davidsaur

I’m only twenty nine, it’s just that I grew up riding in cars ten or sometimes twenty years older than I was.

Cerberus
Cerberus
23 days ago
Reply to  Vee

I f’n hate Bluetooth. Multiple kinds of equipment, cars, computers, phones, Yamaha receiver, and so on, they all suck from dropped connections to odd problems, like sounding like a scratched CD. I will never understand the wireless Carplay people who want the Bluetooth connection over a cord. Plus, what kind of batteries do they have that they don’t need to plug them in to recharge, anyway?

I didn’t like back up cameras at first, especially as someone who used to parallel park in tight spots in Boston in traffic in barely more time than it would take a normal person to pull over, but the GR86 has terrible rear visibility down low and not great to the rear sides, so I finally ended up using it.

Hate CC. Used it a couple times in my life on long trips and found it annoying in that it brakes on a downhill, I always end up encountering some jerkoff going 2 mph slower, so I can’t use it long term, plus it’s generally worse on fuel. Adaptive eliminates the jerkoff problem, but not the rest. Ultimately, I like to drive, anyway, and that means using the throttle.

I didn’t need AC 25 years ago, but with climate change, we get a lot more really hot, high humidity days. I still tend to keep the windows down if it isn’t raining even with it on as I like the feel and I can’t tell the difference in mpg even calculating every fill up, maybe I’d average 32 @ 80 instead of 31 (on summer blend)? Eh. Vent windows were awesome.

Anonymous Person
Anonymous Person
24 days ago

We bought a new Trax LS this year, but we haven’t driven it much yet. (60ish miles total since the first of the year) We don’t own a smart phone so we have no use for any of those android or apple play things. We let the free XM trial run out without ever using it. Whatever OnStar stuff it came with will most likely go unused.
It has lane keep assist and automatic braking. I’ve had the lane keep assist beep at me once as I crossed the center line on a curve. Hopefully we never get to experience the automatic braking.

We had to get the ambient light sensor replaced under warranty last week. The wife has yet to drive it. I’m sure she won’t care for all the nanny stuff. Luckily the auto start-stop has an off button, as does the lane keep. Now there’s a recall for the stop-start. We have to bring it in for reprogramming next week. 50% of the miles on it will be bringing it to/from the dealership.

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