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Today’s Cars Require A Technology Test Drive


Technology in cars changes gears faster than ever before.  We get in and become lost.  Car to car, brand to brand, the technological aspects to using a car renders the concept of get-in-and-go almost an anomaly.  It doesn’t work this way any more.

  • Where is the…?
  • How does this navigation system work, it isn’t like my last car?
  • How do I select my iPod playlists from the car?

Switching cars can leave a person helpless.  I just want to get in and be able to drive the car without a three hour tour.  And no, I’m not one of those.  I actually found programming a VCR effortless.

Do you put the technological automotive gadgetry through a test drive before you buy?  You might want to consider it.  Every car is different2013-mercedes-benz-s-class-550 gear shift via Motor AuthorityYou’ve already heard me bitch about the stupidity of Mercedes putting the gear shift back on the stalk with positions which render it much like a turn signal or windshield wiper.   After 30+ years of driving certain things become mindless, until you think you are turning on the windshield wiper and slam the car into neutral.   It happened, not a good thing. No matter what car one gets in, American, Japanese, German, Italian or English at some point the hand reaches for a control, time is suspended, how do I make this work?

Why can’t the navigation system work the same?  It is still just a map.  On one I have to pick the right state, on another it is next to impossible to change the state, on yet another it won’t let me type in an address starting with the street address.

Here is my list of what not to mess with:

  • Door Locks – For those car designers without a girlfriend take note: an all-door-lock button needs to be accessible from the passenger seat.
  • Volume and Phone Controls on steering wheel – pick a side and stick with it.
  • Home Link / Garage Door Opener  – the majority are overhead, keep it this way.
  • Gear Shift – make it look and act like a gear shift.
  • SAT/NAV – make them work intuitively and consistently, if it is touch screen make it work like other touch screens, put the buttons in the same location and label items consistently.
  • iPod/iPhone/Bluetooth – same as above but make the music interface work the same as it does on the phone or iPod.  Playlists should navigate the same.
  • Windshield Wiper Control – keep it on the same side of the steering column.

Can’t we all just get along?   Switching between Apple and a Microsoft is easier than hopping into a different car.  Thankfully nobody has changed the gas pedal to the left side (don’t get any ideas).  There is no reason some items can’t just be a given, placed in the same general location regardless of car make and model.  Is this really such a strange concept?

On a recent dark snowy night I was so frustrated I called my husband from the driveway, “Where is the garage door opener in this damn car?”  I had tried every button I could find.  It was on the underside of the rear view mirror.  Lovely.

The next time you are looking for a new car, you might want to put the technology through a complete test drive. Lisa sig2

Photo credit for Mercedes: Motorauthority.com

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