Useful Or Useless?
We take a look at ten useless automotive features.
Web2Carz Senior Writer
Published: January 28th, 2012
There's a lot of new car tech that is divisive. For example, some folks love safety features like blind-spot alert systems, while others think that electronics shouldn't be doing the driver's job. Regardless of whether you're a tech geek or car purist, we can all agree that there are certain features that just seem useless. Popular Mechanics listed their top ten useless features, and we take a look to see if we agree.
Paddle Shifters: We agree with Pop Mech that for the most part, paddle-shifters for automatic transmissions don't make a heck of a lot of sense. There are exceptions to the rule, but in most cases confused computers defeat the purpose. Additionally, as much as we love manual transmissions, with paddle-shifted automatics, we tend to get lazy, since the computer just slides back into "Drive" anyway if we forget to shift.
Interlocked Seatbelts: In 1973, Congress decreed that seatbelts must be interlocked with the starter so that the car couldn't be started if the driver wasn't wearing his or her seatbelt. Those living in colder climates quickly found a way around this system, and Congress eventually saw the uselessness of the law and rescinded it. We agree with PM that this law and this feature needed to go.
Rain-sensing Wipers: We feel this is a good idea that still hasn't been executed quite properly. Humans can still do a better job of managing the windshield wipers' usage manually in a light rain than the computer can—sometimes convenience actually leads to inconvenience.
Swiveling Headlights: We disagree slightly with the mag on this one. Popular Mechanics would rather have broader light beams in the first place, and we support them on that. And we agree that these systems sometimes don't live up to their billing. Still, it's a good idea, and it looks kinda cool, even if the safety benefits are marginal. We don't think it's a useless feature, but it could stand some improvement.
Map lights: Popular Mechanics calls map lights useless since paper maps are going out of style, but we still find ourselves using map lights and interior lights fairly often. We still need to read an old-school piece of paper once in a while, and sometimes using the map light in conjunction with our smartphone screen helps save on some eye strain. This is definitely not a useless feature.
Motorized Rearview Mirror: We haven't seen this feature in too many places, but we believe that if you're too lazy to use your own hand to adjust the mirror, you have some serious problems.
Motorized Seatbelts: We remember these relics from the '80s, and not very fondly. We're glad they died a slow death, but we would have preferred the mercy of a swift execution.
Proximity Warning Systems: Popular Mechanics doesn't much care for the confusion that the beeps from these systems can cause, and while we think these systems could be better, we also feel they are a good start. We don't totally agree that they're useless, mainly because they've helped us parallel park in some pretty tight urban spaces.
Electronic Parking Brakes: They save space and look cool, but they take away some advanced maneuvering ability. Not cool, automakers, not cool.
Chevrolet Volt Touch Controls: Our experience with the Volt's touchscreen thus far has been minimal, so we'll refrain from judgment. We do think it's unfair to pick on one car when others have similar systems, all of which have their flaws. Someday, touch-screen technology in cars will improve. Until then, it's a feature that looks cool but occasionally frustrates.
As long as cars exist, automakers will try and sell features that consumers find useless, and in some cases, legislators will force these features on the market through legislation. We'll keep fighting the good fight against unnecessary tech and safety, even if it is an uphill battle.
[Source: Popular Mechanics]