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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Joke #119!
Joke #119!
1 month ago

Um, all of them?
I don’t need the backup camera, though my current car (no monitor) has nicely sized windows that I can see out of, and I believe it is important to know how big your own a car is when driving it. Spatial awareness. Being one with your car is important IMO. I do appreciate a beeping notification (frequency increases as one gets nearer) when getting close to something while backing up. Very helpful when in an unfamiliar car. Also, that’s what bumpers are for, though I’m in CA, and bumpers are not allowed to be bumped.
I’m happy using my phone with Google maps for navigation than a car’s navigation. I know (believe) that Google is updated (somehow). In fact, I’d rather that large monitor simply syncs with my phone than use its own nav. That would drop the hidden “We know where you are, where you’ve been, and how you drive your car” data that the mfr might sell to insurers.
I don’t need lane assist. Bots Dots work just fine in most cases. I’m responsible for my driving, not the mfr.
I don’t need shift sync assistance. It’s my responsibility to learn how to shift my car, not the mfr’s.

B3n
B3n
1 month ago

I’m a simple guy, I have no need for anything other than AC, cruise control, power windows and locks, a rear defroster, and a simple FM radio. When I was a kid, even these were only included in Western imported top trim cars.
I always buy base trim cars, as long as they have these. Less stuff to go wrong.
For “infotainment” I use my smartphone, google maps for navigation, it sits on a suction cup windshield mount and a 12v lighter socket adapter charges it.
It’s okay though if a car has other features and they are non-intrusive. But if it’s annoying or intrusive, it’ll just get turned off.

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
1 month ago
Reply to  B3n

I’m a simple guy, I have no need for anything other than AC, cruise control, power windows and locks, a rear defroster, and a simple FM radio”

When I was young, the first car I remember riding in had exactly NONE of these features you listed. And that was par for the course at that time (the 1970s and earlier).

And any vehicle that had all those features were not for the ‘simple’ buyer. They were for people who wanted a premium/luxury vehicle.

When I was young, the simple person’s vehicle had a heater, a manual transmission, driver side mirror only, 2 doors, a cigarette lighter and maybe an AM radio.

I agree that these days, the base trim typically gives you everything you need and provides the benefit of having less stuff go wrong. Plus there is an added bonus of having tire/wheel packages that don’t have oversized rims that give you a hard ride, higher risk of a damaged wheel when hitting a pothole and more expensive tire replacement costs.

Col Lingus
Col Lingus
1 month ago

Old ride here. Really use it all. 2009 Scion. 10 yrs of ownership, not a single issue, ever.

No screens to touch or annoy me.

Have not used laser beam yet as The Jewish Space Laser Protection Center has assured me they have my back…

Gee See
Gee See
1 month ago

Right now I have the free month of FSD. Auto steer is something I won’t use, it is slow, jerky and annoying especially if you know the road well enough during a commute. With modern apartment parking spaces so tight, I find the Summon remote backing in and out feature useful but time consuming.

Emergency braking is useful, it happened so far twice in 4 years of ownership but uncomfortable. It is a car self preserving function, but makes me worry about the car behind me, but it won’t be on my insurance.

Carplay and the ability to share ETA with your friends is extremely useful on road trips but I won’t use it every day. Ability to pickup Podcasts / Music after playing it not in your car is nice, so I can see native music clients as a +.

I think refuse is too strong a word, it has to be more nuanced, especially technology usefulness tends to improve overtime. Albeit not the speed that the hype / marketing people think it would.

Last edited 1 month ago by Gee See
Yes I Drive A 240
Yes I Drive A 240
1 month ago

Lane assist, voice control, automatic rev-matching, TCS/STM (trust me, it’s absolutely horrible in the Corolla Hatch).

I don’t care for new car features at all (okay, except Bluetooth audio, that’s nice) I don’t need them, I just want a car that drives well, I can take to the track, doesn’t weigh 9000lbs, and is comfortable for someone tall like me.

Carter Young
Carter Young
1 month ago

My newest car is a 2006 Outback, but my fanciest car is a 2004 4Runner. And what don’t I use–automatic temperature control. I only use two manual settings: full cold for the AC and full hot for the heater.

VogonFord
VogonFord
1 month ago

I’ve never owned a car newer than 2004, so I’m struggling to even think of what feature there was. I haven’t programmed my car radio?

Adam Rice
Adam Rice
1 month ago

My car has voice control for stuff like audio and HVAC. It’s not very reliable. I tried it once and haven’t touched it since.

It’s old enough that it is not a connected car; my next car probably will have connectivity. I will figure out what I need to do to defeat that so my car isn’t phoning home everything I do.

TheDiscerningMillenial
TheDiscerningMillenial
1 month ago

Parking assist. Does the button even work? I’ve never pressed it once in the six years I’ve had the car.

Cerberus
Cerberus
1 month ago

Pretty much nothing that came out after the millennium changeover except for Carplay (though that’s really just the CD replacement) and its steering wheel controls and, (this is an odd one particular to this car) the steering wheel control/console nanny switches that change between information and alternate display (GRZs have a goofy alternative display of a bar graph tach that has terrible resolution at normal driving rpms and wasted space beyond redline with nannies off and a stupid space-wasting stop watch lap timer feature that can’t be toggled away, though it usefully shows real temps for coolant and oil. The normal display is a lot better, so I’ll sometimes switch between the modes just to get the normal display, though I most often drive with nannies off).

HumboldtEF
HumboldtEF
1 month ago
Reply to  Cerberus

Just to clarify for other readers you likely mean the 2nd gen (22-24) BRZ/GR86 when you say GRZ.

I dont really care for the linear track mode tach in my 22 GR86 but I do toggle it on briefly just so I can see the oil and coolant temps. Oddly the 22+ BRZ’s omit these temperature readings.

I rarely turn off nannies as they really aren’t that obtrusive in the GR86. TC on still allows you to slide around a little bit which I dont do much anyway. I think TC has only kicked in twice in my 2 years of ownership.

Cerberus
Cerberus
1 month ago
Reply to  HumboldtEF

Mine kicks when I want just a little wheel spin pulling out of places, but that’s not too often and it’s not the TC I have an issue with as much as the “stability” control. I spun the car early on partly due to the unpredictable shit Primacy tires on a damp road (sometimes they gripped, sometimes they didn’t, what did they feel like doing that moment? Find out! Either way, they’ll always howl like bias plies.), but mainly because the nannies were on and interfered with what should have been an easily caught, low yaw moment at maybe 45 friggin’ mph that I could have handled as a learner, never mind the tactical driver training and all the sideways things I’ve done over 900k miles. Luckily, I realized the nannies were going to keep amplifying my back and forth counter steering, and I was able to clutch and brake harmlessly into some wet grass. Driving with them off (and with real tires, though HPAS), the car has been great—communicative, responsive, and predictable, even in snow.

I’ve hated nannies since my mk3 Focus, which wouldn’t allow them to be turned off (except the acceptable TC) and made what should have been a fun car in the snow absolutely terrible (and less safe as there was no way to counter understeer). Bought my ST mostly because the nannies could be turned off and I drove like that full time (no weird display penalty). Not only was the car a lot more fun and predictable, it saved its ass (and possibly mine) when I was on a curved highway interchange and someone tried to (inadvertently) sideswipe me and I had to pull into the breakdown lane where there was plenty of sand and debris to avoid them. Thanks to no nannies (which would have tried to plant me into the jersey barriers on the outside of the raised ramp as they try to cancel any yaw angle even when one is needed), I was able to catch the back end quite easily and hold the car at a decent yaw angle with the throttle until the road straightened out and I just re-merged into my lane ahead of the bottom feeder in the Hyundai who was probably wondering what happened if they even noticed at all.

HumboldtEF
HumboldtEF
1 month ago
Reply to  Cerberus

You know I completely forgot about this car having 2 tire options. What you said makes total sense with the Primacy tires.
I started off with the 18″ PS4’s and then switched 17″ PS4S’s which both have a good amount of grip so that mostly explains why we had differing opinions.

Cerberus
Cerberus
1 month ago
Reply to  HumboldtEF

I picked the 17s for the ride and figured the tires couldn’t be THAT bad (and I don’t have any use for heated seats nor was I sure I’d like the bigger spoiler—I actually could go either way now that I’ve seen them—and it worked out as I got what I was looking for and was one of the first in the country to get one, but people wanting the Neptune blue with a manual on the higher end trim were in for a long wait. Of course, I think it looks good in any color, so I could have just gone with a different color, but after bland colors the last few cars, I wanted something bright.). Anyway, I haven’t tried the 18s, but it does ride remarkably well with the 17s. It’s stiff, but it almost glides over broken pavement that everyone else’s SUV/CUVs and even more uppity sedans practically crash and bang on. I’ve been impressed with the car’s ride and practicality, less so with the EPAS—even if it’s good for EPAS—and throttle calibration (I hear the BRZ might be better in the latter regard. The GR has about full throttle opening at about 60% pedal travel and doesn’t feel linear during the effective travel it does have).

HumboldtEF
HumboldtEF
1 month ago
Reply to  Cerberus

I also initally didnt want the bigger spoiler thinking it would block the rear veiw but it hardly blocks it at all.
I also ended up with a Neptune manual. I was after one of the darker blues but I had only told my dealer I wanted blue. So the car finally showed up at the dealer and I was a little shocked… oh its that blue. I sucked it up and its grown on me. My last cars have been white, black & gray so I also wanted some color this time. I got super lucky and it only took a few months on the waitlist which was not common for this color and trim. I posted on the forums and some folks were a little pissed because they had made finding this car and color a full time job and were still waiting.
It looks like you’re on the GR86. org forums too, I might see you over there.

Cerberus
Cerberus
1 month ago
Reply to  HumboldtEF

I ordered mine the day the orders opened and got it in about 6 weeks. I wasn’t expecting it until spring, so I was unprepared to pick it up in January. No mark up, either, besides a couple hundred bucks of options I didn’t want (Except for the black lug nuts, which are nice. Don’t know if standard are chrome, but I hate that chrome crap that inflates with rust underneath like Thunder in Big Trouble in Little China). I hadn’t even seen one in person until I saw mine and I was a little worried about the color, but it’s about what I was hoping for. Wish they came in an emerald green. I haven’t been on the forums much lately, but I check in once in a while.

Fuller Name
Fuller Name
1 month ago

There are too many comments without a car model specified and it seems to make a difference. It seems like even different models in the same brand can have wildly different experiences on something like adaptive cruise or lane keeping.

Personally, my experience is mostly with a ’21 Pilot.

  • Adaptive cruise: Bad. Makes you look like an idiot for hard braking on a mostly open interstate or worse when it doesn’t see the large 18-wheeler you’re quickly approaching.
  • Start/stop: I start the car and turn off the feature. I will say that I drove a Ram recently that was pretty quick and smooth on the auto start/stop.
  • Automatic headlights: I don’t need this and don’t use it. If it’s dark, I turn the headlights on. If it’s raining or not dark enough to need headlights, I turn on the parking lights with the daytime running lights. Hondas have really bright headlights and I do my best not to inflict that on others when it’s not necessary.
  • Lane keeping assist: I use this some on the freeway and because it’s a simple on/off button on the steering wheel.
  • Lane departure warning/mitigation: Off. This is separate from lane keeping and it is too intrusive and annoying.
  • Andoid Auto: I use this and have no problem with it. I just play music with Spotify and use google maps some.

I was always the person trying to have the latest tech or at least being aware of it all. I work in IT now and I’m near 50, but when it comes to cars, I’m more and more annoyed with automated things. I think they foster bad habits and contribute to distracted driving. They detach us from driving and are leading to a WALL-E type future where people don’t know how or why to do things.

Cerberus
Cerberus
1 month ago
Reply to  Fuller Name

I can only give one thumbs up, so imagine it as whale sized (even though they don’t have thumbs, of course).

Jatkat
Jatkat
1 month ago
Reply to  Fuller Name

I agree with almost all of your list except for automatic headlights. It just works too well to not use, and that includes my 97 mercury.

Col Lingus
Col Lingus
1 month ago
Reply to  Jatkat

Agreed on headlights too.

Aaron
Aaron
1 month ago
Reply to  Fuller Name

Adaptive cruise

I’ve got a 2021 Ridgeline. I’ve found that setting the follow distance to one of the longer options helps mitigate the jerkiness. If I’m in traffic that’s too dense to use a longer follow distance, I don’t need to be using cruise control, anyway.

Andrea Petersen
Andrea Petersen
1 month ago

I have never met a lane keeping assist that isn’t terrible. I’m perfectly capable of keeping in my lane and choosing when I need to drift more to one side or another of a lane. I went to pass a cyclist in my husband’s GR Corolla a few months back and when I drifted towards the center line with no oncoming traffic to give the cyclist extra space the lane keeping assist tried to tug the steering wheel towards the cyclist. No thanks, Toyota, we’re not gonna be collecting a skinny, spandex-clad hood ornament. Immediately turned that garbage off.

I also hate auto stop/start and it can screw with doing monitor reset drives, so that always gets turned off in any car I’m in that has it.

Balloondoggle
Balloondoggle
1 month ago

Air bags. I refuse to drive into other objects just to put these to use.

Andrea Petersen
Andrea Petersen
1 month ago
Reply to  Balloondoggle

Username checks out…

Fuller Name
Fuller Name
1 month ago
Reply to  Balloondoggle

I mostly agree but I also hate blowing money on something I don’t use. This really puts me in a bind. It’ll probably be the last thing I need.

Bob Boxbody
Bob Boxbody
1 month ago

The Auto-Start/Stop, or whatever you call it. Manufacturers know we hate it, because they put a dedicated “turn this crap off” button right there on the center console.

Marty Densch
Marty Densch
1 month ago

Fortunately the lane keeping alert can be turned off (and stays off) on my 2020 Fusion. As a general rule keeping your eyes on the road is more effective and produces fewer false alarms. I would give forward collision warning a “meh”. Again, keeping eyes on the road eliminates the need for it but I do find its false alarms amusing. (And it’s just a warning, not automatic braking.)

Dug Deep
Dug Deep
1 month ago

The phone button on the steering wheel…”would you like to something, something, something, or make a call?”
“make a call”
“would you like to dial a number, choose from listing, blah blah blah…”
My choice is always the last on the list and by the time it dials I’m already home and can talk to my wife in person.
So rather than use the phone button, I talk directly to my phone…”OK Google…call x”

Username Loading...
Username Loading...
1 month ago

Lane keep alert/assist has proven to be far more annoying than helpful whenever I’ve used it.
The auto high beems in a previous Gen Escalade were flashing lights at people for no reason for about half my commute before I figured out how to shut them off, other implementations haven’t been as bad, not sure if that vehicle had issues or not.

Deathspeed
Deathspeed
1 month ago

Reading through these comments kinda makes me glad my newest vehicle is a 2013 without most of these bugs features. We use the Bluetooth on it for music, but ignore the factory navigation. Even if it were up to date, setting it up is way clunkier than using a phone.

Arrest-me Red
Arrest-me Red
1 month ago

Nothing really as I have found uses for them all. Not refusal but I will turn off the ones I don’t like.

Mike Harrell
Mike Harrell
1 month ago

I spent last weekend driving a rental minivan while working at a Lemons race. The display kept reminding me about possible software updates and seemed to be suggesting, without quite being explicit about it, that I really, really needed to give it access to my cell phone. We were unable to reach a mutual understanding on this point, however, as I don’t have a cell phone.

Unclewolverine
Unclewolverine
1 month ago

I’ve never seen a in vehicle navigation system that was easier than just using Google maps on my phone.

Arrest-me Red
Arrest-me Red
1 month ago
Reply to  Unclewolverine

When I didn’t have a way to plug in the phone, most of the ones I used were Garmins in the background.

Spikedlemon
Spikedlemon
1 month ago

Low-temperature warnings.

Yes, I know it’s cold. There’s snow on the ground. Stop chiming at me every time I start up the car.

Dug Deep
Dug Deep
1 month ago
Reply to  Spikedlemon

I live at the base of the mountains, so within 20 miles there is very different weather. Yelling “Leave me alone” doesn’t seem to work.

Spikedlemon
Spikedlemon
1 month ago
Reply to  Dug Deep

Does it Echo, back?

Or do you need a Toyota for that?

Jeff Homolka
Jeff Homolka
1 month ago

Onstar. I’m surrounded by too much spyware as it is. I disconnected the Onstar antenna on my Colorado.

Dan Manwich
Dan Manwich
1 month ago
Reply to  Jeff Homolka

I came into this thread preparing to say I proudly use all my features, but then you reminded me of Starlink (Subaru OnStar) and satellite radio. No thanks.

Jeff Brown
Jeff Brown
1 month ago

I’ll use passive systems: BLIS, backup cameras and proximity sensors. I refuse to use (or will ignore if they can’t be disabled) anything active: lane assist, adaptive cruise, collision avoidance, etc.

TheDrunkenWrench
TheDrunkenWrench
1 month ago

Depends on the vehicle.
2010 Genesis Coupe: Traction control, as it was a legitimate hazard
2018 F150: Auto start/stop, as I care about engine longevity and startup is your highest wear point for the rotating assembly until oil pressure is built,

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