Modern cars are loaded with features, absolutely jam packed. Even the most basic, affordable vehicles come with amenities like power windows and locks, Bluetooth connectivity and a phalanx of safety equipment.
From advanced driver-assistance technology to heated-and-cooled cupholders, ventilated seats to auto-dimming rearview mirrors, today’s cars, trucks and crossovers offer a dizzying amount of content. Much of it greatly enhances the driving experience, making it more comfortable, convenient and, of course, safer. But not all features are praiseworthy. In fact, some are downright annoying. Here’s what the Roadshow crew has to say about that.
Factory roof racks
Don’t get me wrong, I love a good roof rack on a car. The right rack with the right attachments can make a generally usable car into a proper utility vehicle — with far more utility than a certain three-letter category with “Utility” as its middle name. However, there’s good reason to never, ever tick the box for a factory roof rack when ordering your new car.
Why? It’s mostly thanks to cost. Most dealer-supplied roof racks are simply rebranded units from Thule or Yakima
, overpriced and often incompatible with the latest accessories. Those that aren’t rebranded racks are probably cheaply made crossbars with odd shapes, again excluding you from the wealth of great options from those two aforementioned brands. You’re far better off taking your new car home with a naked roof, then ordering your own rack with exactly the accessories you want.
And, with the money you’ve saved, you can probably get more accessories for bikes, boats, boards or whatever is your passion. Yes, installation can be a little complex, but I strongly recommend you do it yourself anyway, because there’s a good chance you’re going to have to take it off at some point, and so you might as well figure out how early.
Don’t get me wrong, if you can get factory roof rails that’s a good idea, if only to give your rack something more stable to attach to. But, leave the cross-bars and attachments to the dedicated brands that do it best.
— Tim Stevens
Continuously variable transmissions
Perhaps more than any other type of cogswapper, a continuously variable transmission (CVT) reliably does the best job of delivering strong real-world fuel-economy results. With their theoretically infinite number of ratios, these belt-and-pulley units can keep your car’s engine in the meat of its powerband more of the time so it can operate at peak efficiency. Unfortunately, even the best ones do so while having a deleterious effect on driving enjoyment.
That’s particularly true when it comes to audible feedback. Oh, CVTs have come an incredibly long way in terms of both reliability and refinement, with most these days doing a pretty good job of mimicking a traditional torque-converter-based automatic transmission until you really bury the throttle. But whether using a CVT’s paddles or up/down gate or not, I can always tell in short order whether a car has a CVT, and I just can’t abide by those stretched-rubber-band moments.
Now, I’m not a Luddite. While I prefer a manual transmission to all other gearboxes for engagement, I also love many dual-clutch setups and conventional automatics. I understand and respect CVTs for what they offer customers and automakers, but I’m sorry, I’m just not a buyer.
— Chris Paukert
How hard is it to close a door correctly? Apparently, the answer is “pretty hard,” thanks to soft-close doors, a technology that’s meant to close your door for you in the event your first attempt doesn’t close the door all the way. Talk about a first-world problem.
If your door doesn’t shut when you try to close it, apply slightly more force, then rinse and repeat until success is achieved. If you slam your door beyond the limits of good taste, first of all, what are you trying to prove? Second, apply slightly less force, then rinse and repeat until success is achieved.
This is not a problem that requires money to solve.
— Andrew Krok
Hot word voice command
My hands are already on the steering wheel, my thumb inches away from the voice command button. Whether it’s useful or not, short of volume control voice command is probably the easiest tech feature in most cars to access. Yet every time I say “BMW” in a modern Mercedes or , the car wakes up like a less useful to ask if I need help. If I needed help, I’d push the gee-dee button, car!” or “
I’m all for encouraging voice command and making tech easy to use, but this sits at a strange confluence of super-lazy driver behavior and too-helpful tech. Plus, we’ve all got smartphones with actual smart voice search, useful features and functional IoT integrations in our pockets already, which you can access with — you guessed it — a long press of the voice search button!
Dishonorable mention to BMW’s gesture system that cranks the volume or swipes through menus when I’m simply gesturing to my copilot. Does anyone find this useful for anything other than showing off how fancy your car is? It’s wack and you’re wack if you like it.
— Antuan Goodwin
Why navigation is even an option in today’s cars is beyond me. Most of us have a smartphone and it is so much easier to just plug in toor . Even if a car doesn’t support those platforms, I’d rather suction cup my phone to my windshield than depend on in-dash navigation.
Most systems just aren’t that intuitive. There are menus and submenus to navigate through (pun intended), sometimes I have to enter the state before I can enter the street address and if I want to find, say, a Target on my route, forget it. Programming a waypoint is akin to programming a VCR from 1989 to record Jerry Springer so I can watch it after school. And don’t even get me started on voice recognition, which can’t read back or understand any Spanish-language street names that are so common here in California.
Now, having said all that, I do like that the Mercedes-Benz MBUX system that uses a video and an overlay showing you the exact place to turn. Having said that, I still wouldn’t shell out the money for manufacturer’s navigation. Not when it’s free to call up on Apple CarPlay.system in Jeeps gives a latitude and longitude in the nav system. Even if you’re nowhere near a road, knowing a lat/long can help you find your way out of a jam. I also like the augmented reality on
— Emme Hall
These days, luxury cars — especially SUVs — can be had with 21-, 22- or even 23-inch wheels. I hate it. Not only do I think that the rubber-band tire look should go back to the mid-2000s where it belongs, but it also wreaks havoc on a car’s ride.
Sure, less sidewall means less lateral flex, which can help with handling, but having no sidewalls means that you’re relying on the suspension (which was likely tuned at the Nurburgring or some nonsense) to handle all the ride quality stuff for you. Not ideal.
Give me a set of sub-20-inch wheels with reasonable 45-series or bigger tires any day and I’ll pass you while you’re on your way to the chiropractor to deposit all the money I saved on tires at my friendly local credit union.
— Kyle Hyatt
Electronic parking brakes
What was wrong with the tried-and-true handbrake? I know the answer in automakers’ eyes, but seriously,are just… kind of clumsy. From a packaging perspective, I suppose it does create a cleaner area for the driver, but flicking a switch up and down feels mighty unsatisfying.
Plus, there’s no way to pull off some fun skids in a closed and controlled environment — which I know is important to almost no one, but come on. For the masses, I totally understand the move to the electronic solution, but the mechanical noise of pulling up a handbrake is entirely unmatched.
— Sean Szymkowski
The idea of engineis great and makes complete sense. Not running a car’s engine when you’re not moving in stop-and-go traffic or a stoplight is wasteful, but I’m not a huge fan of these systems. Some work great to re-fire an engine instantly, while others seem to take a split-second longer, or worse, are so rough they make the whole car shake.
Unfortunately, 90% of today’s stop/start systems fall into that latter, bad category. That’s when I quickly scan the car’s controls in search of the “A” with an arrow looping around it — the disable button. Thankfully in most cars you can switch stop/start off, but there are some cars out there where you can’t.
Admittedly, I could learn to live with stop/start idling through rush hour and waiting for a light to turn green at intersections, but what would be more difficult is getting comfortable at left turns where you are looking to shoot a gap in traffic. In those situations, it’s unsettling to be sitting there with the engine turned off.
— Jon Wong
One feature I would never, ever opt for in an automobile is a sunroof. Nope, I don’t like ’em. The idea of taking a perfectly good vehicle, cutting a hole in the top and then adding a bunch of weight to the worst possible place on the entire machine is just stupid. But this isn’t even the primary reason why convertibles, either.are on my personal shit-list. I can’t stand the glare they cause. Electromagnetic radiation from our solar system’s star shining into my eyeballs can ruin an otherwise pleasant drive and leave me with an annoying headache. This is why I don’t care for
Complexity is yet another reason to shun the sunroof, and it’s perhaps the single best argument against them. Aside from some hefty pane of glass or two, they often require tracks and a motor, switches, sensors and a retractable shade. There’s a lot that goes into one of these things, which can cost a young fortune to fix when failure inevitably occurs. Also, sunroofs are an open invitation to leaks. If their drains get plugged or seals go bad, rainwater will happily find its way into your ride’s cabin. Our own Andrew Krok has this very issue with his personal whip, a.
I’m fortunate enough to test all kinds of new cars and trucks working here at Roadshow, and in the media vehicles that pass through my grubby paws I literally never open the sunroofs on any of them. Whether they’re modestly sized or larger than a sliding glass door, they remain closed up tight, as do the shades. Now get off my lawn.
— Craig Cole
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