Annoying Things Automakers Need To Stop Doing

Opinion / 16 Comments

An open letter to all automotive manufacturers.

When you have a group of people reviewing a vehicle per week with the consumers in mind, they get frustrated with some of the decisions automakers make repeatedly.

Designing a car isn't an easy process, and they are built to a price point - even if that cost is over half a million dollars for a Ferrari SF90 Stradale. However, not all of these can be explained away on cost, mainly when the decisions are made on premium cars.

Sometimes it's a style decision, which is often the most baffling. Style over function in a feature on a vehicle people use for hours at a time every day makes little sense. So here we are, and we're not holding back.

Low Profile Tires On Everything

Low-profile tires have benefits when it comes to performance. Having less sidewall means less flex when cornering, which is a good thing when it comes to grip and handling. However, as with anything that adds performance, there is a trade-off.

In this case, less height in the sidewalls means less give in the tire on the road to soak up the initial lumps and bumps. The suspension on a car starts with the tires, and it makes a difference we regularly notice when moving between trim levels.

Your average commuter car doesn't need low-profile tires, but along with big wheels, they're used as a selling point. It gets even more absurd when they're put on luxury vehicles, particularly when they're also sold as off-roaders.

We remember speaking to someone at Land Rover once and being told that larger sidewalls improve the ride on the road and ability off-road on Range Rovers, but customers want low-profile tires, so that's what Land Rover puts on them.

CarBuzz/Ian Wright
CarBuzz/Ian Wright

Piano Black Plastic Trim

We know why it exists - it's cheap to make and adds gloss to an interior. However, this is a crappy thing to put in a car that someone will live with for years.

Initially, it looks great, but in a matter of days, it shows up every speck of dust that comes into the car when the doors are opened. Then, it shows every fingerprint and speck of dust after that, and it's a pain in the ass to clean properly. The real problem, though, comes with time. The finish wears quickly, and once there's even the tiniest of micro-scratches, it shows. Yes, it gives an excellent first impression, but your customers must live with it for years.

Please stop it.

CarBuzz/Ian Wright
CarBuzz/Ian Wright

Touch Capacitive Buttons

We've had a few years now to learn that capacitive touch buttons are annoying and add unnecessary costs to a car.

We already have buttons that work reliably and satisfactorily. They're called buttons. We can also extend this to touch capacitive buttons that give tactile feedback when used, as we already have buttons that provide feedback to the user that lets them know contact has been made. They're called buttons.

Do we need to bring up touch capacitance buttons set in piano black plastic trim? Because that makes us even angrier.

CarBuzz/Ian Wright
CarBuzz/Ian Wright
CarBuzz/Ian Wright

Bose Audio

For the love of kittens, please stop pushing Bose-branded audio as a premium option. It's as if Bose only designs its sound signature to make people think, "Oh, that's got a lot of bass and is clear," upon their first impression as they sit in the car at the dealership. Because after twenty minutes to half an hour, all Bose systems cause audio fatigue with their harsh treble and loose boomy bass - all of them.

Some are less bad than others, depending on the way it's integrated into the car, but all of them. From Buick to Porsche. All of them. We've yet to hear a great one, and it's a shame because many brands can tune an audio system to sound consistently excellent.


Glass Roofs With No Shade Or Just Cloth

This is one of the most baffling things we've encountered, which seems recent. For some reason, we've had cars arrive with no shade for a glass roof, which defeats the idea of a roof. Mainly if you live somewhere the sun shines, which is a lot of places around the world. Even the UK for six weeks of the year.

The problem is that the top of your head warms up, and air conditioning can't help that, and you get glint from any silver trim on the steering wheel or the center console.

We've had a few cars come through with a thin cloth shade, which is hardly any better. If you find yourself being sold a vehicle with glass in the roof but no real cover for it, turn that option down. It gets annoying quickly.


Wireless Apple CarPlay Or Android Auto But No Wireless Charger

This doesn't happen often, but on the odd occasion, it has, it is baffling. The idea of wireless Apple CarPlay and its close competitor, Android Auto, is that (once paired) your phone automatically connects and works to supply infotainment without needing to mess around with wires, and both systems are great.

However, if there's no wireless phone charger in the dashboard, it defeats the purpose if you have to play the USB or Lightning cable game when your phone gets low, or you're on a long trip. Conversely, wireless charging with wired-only CarPlay and Auto is just as frustrating.

Apple CarPlay Honda

Re-Inventing Things That Don't Need Re-Inventing

The easy target to point to is Tesla trying, as a few automakers have before, to re-invent the steering wheel as an oblong. However, many things fall under this subtitle, with the most unpractical and, at times, dangerous one being the automatic transmission shifter.

Whether it's buttons or a rotary dial instead of the traditional shift lever, they can be unintuitive to use, leading to frustration with a learning curve, minor accidents, or death in the case of the young actor Anton Yelchin. His 2015 Jeep Cherokee was under recall as customers had trouble telling if they had put the automatic transmissions in park. It rolled backward while he had left the vehicle, and he died of blunt traumatic asphyxia from being pinned against a security fence.

CarBuzz/Ian Wright
CarBuzz/Ian Wright

Putting All The Controls On A Touchscreen

Recently, we were driving the new Chevrolet Colorado and entered an area that required headlights to be put on during the day. We reached down to the area where you would typically find the headlight switch on a Chevy truck, which wasn't there. It wasn't anywhere. We pulled over and looked, but to no avail, as they are controlled by the touchscreen.

That's the first time we've seen headlights controlled like that, but in a bid to minimize or eradicate buttons from a dashboard, we're coming across more and more cars moving things like essential HVAC functions to the screen. It's a dead horse to beat, and automakers know all this, but seriously, it's just good design sense to use buttons and dials for the most common functions drivers and passengers use.

CarBuzz/Ian Wright
CarBuzz/Ian Wright

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