Auto News for Jan. 19

Rant Day!

Popped open the hatch and guess what was missing? The spare tire. All that was there was a Tire Repair Kit that its maker wants us to believe will get us to a garage that can fix the flat. That is slim consolation if you are in the middle of the Arizona desert. (Perhaps that is how they populate the area.) That got me to thinking about features on cars that we once took for granted, but now have gone away.

Like a manually adjustable inside rear view mirror. Yes, they are still available on base models, but the automatic mirrors dominate more upscale wheels. The problem is that the manually adjustable mirrors actually do the job of reducing the glare from the vehicle following you and many of the automatic ones do not.

And let’s mount a campaign for the return of knobs. Those wonderful inventions that you used to turn on the radio, adjust the volume, and select a station. In too many cars, you are required to do all this on a touch screen with tiny icons – not a simple task when you are driving along in fast moving interstate traffic.

For sure, there are many innovations such as the rear view, cross traffic cameras and alerts, blind spot detection, traction control, and stability control that are more than worthwhile. And cars are safer now than ever before, it should be noted.

But … recently drove a Mazda with one of the most, if not the most, annoying features in my more than a decade of testing cars. This synthetic female voice kept reminding me that a red light camera was present at an upcoming intersection. That a speed camera was ahead, so “reduce your speed.” Not just one warning, but mother-in-law like repetition until I was ready to scream. ARRRGH!!!!

The owner’s manual hints that this absolutely infuriating feature can be turned off, but who would ever think back at HQ or at Garmin, that someone would actually want to be hounded to death while driving?















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