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HomeCar CultureCommentaryWhat are the worst features installed on new vehicles?

What are the worst features installed on new vehicles?

Here’s your opportunity to vent (no pun intended)

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Having grown up on a gravel road in the country, where old-fashion bias-ply tires went flat almost weekly, I think the installation of modern radial tires have been among the best features added to the automobile in recent decades.

I’m also old enough to remember when cars didn’t come with seat belts, let alone retracting shoulder restraints or airbags. 

And as I get older, I have come to appreciate the rearview camera, and especially those with cross-traffic warning alerts to help you avoid making contact as you back your sporty car out of a tight parking space between mammoth SUVs in a crowded parking lot.

Those are just a few of the best features that have been installed on our cars, trucks and vans in relatively recent years. On the other hand, the folks at Goodwood Road & Racing on the other side of “the pond” have cast a different sort of eye at automotive features, publishing a list of what it considers to be “The 15 worst car features.”

“What frustrates you in a car?” asks writer Sean Ward. “What really gets on your nerves? Chances are, as much as we love our cars, there’s something we aren’t too keen on.”

That having been said, he lists the 15 worst:

  • Fake exhausts and exhaust trims
  • Hatch windows (you know, those that only open a wee bit)
  • Voice recognition (at least that which does not accurately recognize your voice)
  • Gesture controls
  • Screens that aren’t touch sensitive
  • Low-res reversing cameras
  • Social media integration (displayed anywhere on the dashboard)
  • Tiny cup and bottle holders
  • Lane-keep assist
  • Haptic controls replacing buttons
  • Square steering wheels
  • CVT gearboxes
  • Bluetooth lockout (which prevent you from connecting while the car is moving)
  • Run-flat tires
  • Fake vents

Of his list, I’d rate the worst of the worst as being lane-keep assist. I know how to drive, and if I want to clip an apex, or ignore my turn signal to change lanes when I’m in the only car within sight, I don’t want a buzzer or vibrating steering wheel acting like an angry, correcting nanny. 

Having said that, we invite you to use the Comments section below to share what you feel are the worst (or best) features installed on vehicles in recent years. 

Larry Edsall
A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

76 COMMENTS

  1. 2020 Chevy Silverado. Shuts the engine off if you’ve been idling too long! There is a button you can push to disable that feature, but you have to do it every time you start the vehicle. What a pain!

    • I totally agree. My 2021 Honda Ridgeline RTL-E has that feature. I don’t have a problem with automakers who include this feature…some folks may like it. My problem with it is that it is the default position, so must be disabled every time you start your vehicle. If a driver likes this option, there should be a button to enable it. Those of us who don’t like it shouldn’t have to disable it every time we start our vehicles

    • My Dad’s 2020 GMC Sierra has that feature and i wish there was a way to make it where you could turn it off in the settings where you don’t have to press it or every time

  2. i don’t understand why manufacturers don’t link headlights to windshield wipers, wipers on, headlights on. it’s difficult to count in one mile the number of drivers not using their headlights when it is raining. stupid

    • I totally agree that manual transmissions are better but unfortunately there’s a whole generation of drivers that have no idea of how to operate a 3 pedal vehicle. Try to buy a “hot rod” today. They all have slush boxes because not many people can now drive a manual transmission and the number gets smaller every year. Yes, Vern, we’re a dying breed!

      • The reason that there are so few manual transmission cars available today, it’s not because people can’t drive them. It’s because people don’t buy them! The auto makers are smart enough to know that if people want to buy manual transmission cars, they better make manual transmission cars! Manual transmission is the same thing as no air-conditioning, no power windows, no power door locks, no hi fidelity stereo system… If you want raw and rugged, buy a tractor…

    • Manumatics smoke sticks if the ecu has a sport mode and let you override with paddle shifters (quicker than a stick) if you must. don’t be a retrogrouch.

  3. I think car alarms are the most annoying thing ever installed on cars, totally useless, no one ever pays any attention. Also gas fill on the wrong side, all should be on the drivers side, I get the safety thing if you have to fill from a gas can on the side of the road, but really how often does that happen

  4. That’s why I won’t drive one. Currently have ’04 Siverado 2500HD. When my ’68 K30 is finished, ’04 will be sold. ’68 will be my newest vehicle.
    ’68 K30
    ’68 Camaro (indoor show level)
    ’65 El Camino (indoor show level)
    ’62 Chevy II Sedan (weekly driver)
    ’92 Dakota (318) – Work Truck

  5. Air conditioning defaulting to outside air on startup and timed to go from inside air to outside air while driving. This is a terrible idea when driving in traffic, as is always the case in Houston, TX. The smell of exhaust that comes into the vehicle is hard to get out of the vehicle once it is in.

    Having to turn on the Cruise every time the vehicle is started to use it. Should be defaulted to on.

  6. I like to have balance in my life. While I enjoy some of the modern amenities in my newer cars, I also like total simplicity, and older style. For this reason the work truck that I drive is a 1946 Chevrolet. I would like to some day have an old Ford as well.

  7. My newest is a 2010, and I agree that I want the car to do what I tell it, not what some engineer decides. But my biggest gripe that has been around for a while is the “Check Engine” light. That means, take me back to the dealer and bring $500.

  8. I say the number one is the engine shutting off at idle. Probably save a gallon or two of fuel over the life of the vehicle but ruin a couple of starters in that same time span. 🙁

  9. Love my lane change assist in my GMC canyon and in my Cadillac XT4..they also can both be disabled.
    The only feature that I ever hated in a car was my Ford sync it never worked and frustrated me to death, hence I no longer have the car and don’t see my self buying anymore Ford products for awhile. Or at least until I get over my Ford sync issues. The sad part is other then the sync issues that drove me to insanity and caused me to become anti Ford I liked the Ford Edge.

  10. I hate the fact that you can’t order a car with the options you want. Everything is a trim level now.
    Also hate anything electric. Almost got run down by one in a parking lot because you can’t hear them. The engineers today are the kids that played video games all their life and try to make every car look SciFi. Styling of cars starting with the corporate design move in the 70’s have sucked royally. I’ll keep my 65 Skylark and 70 Gran Sport till I die.

  11. All things Tesla doesn’t do:
    -Brand engineering
    -Trendy, silly graphics that date a vehicle soon after (chev trucks)
    -2 speedometers…I mean wtf?
    -saying “all new” when it isn’t (old trick)
    – nowhere to put a smartphone
    -charge ports that only work when key is on

  12. During the Summer, I try to drive my ’57 Morris Minor exclusively. It has nothing on it I don’t want, and it has rather nicely opening vent windows. I wonder how many of the other cars on road will be here – 65 years from now – and will any of their technology be repairable?

    • Not many. They don’t care. They are considered throw away now like a lot of other things. If you haven’t been to a salvage yard lately (esp LKQ), you should go. Thousands upon thousands of vehicles with very little damage – other than air bags.

  13. Buy the base model and you can eliminate 90% of all that useless garbage. All these idiot gadgets make for poor drivers who arn’t in control of their cars.

  14. Doors that lock themselves. I have been locked out of my 06 truck when the doors locked after I got out to fill with Diesel. Also, it your doors are locked, then it may take additional time to extract you from the vehicle after an accident.

    • Hate, HATE auto locks! Bought a used Grand Marquis and the first thing I did was grab the manual and disable that S@&*. Also hate the voice controls that don’t even come close to fecognizing what you’re saying. Comical! How complcated is “CALL HOME”?

  15. How about this one: You want to reverse with the driver’s side door open so you can see better and the car (paddle shift or automatic gearbox) won’t let you go backwards because it keeps going into neutral, thereby overriding the driver’s command. WTF? I AM THE DRIVER and I do not want the car making driving decisions.

  16. Tire inflation idiot light
    Proximity sensing cruise control decelerating automatically (almost caused me to wreck)
    Owners manuals in 5 or 6 books- longer than “War and Peace”! Do they really expect people read through all this sh..?
    All these bells and whistles intended to make our lives better just mean more stuff that can break meaning more cost to fix … the Nanny State strikes again!

  17. I started driving in 1963. Fathers bought 6 cyl. cars family cars so sons didn’t have to much power when first driving. My best friends father bought a Pontiac 367V8?. My friend lost it on a wet cobble stone road and daddy bought a 4cly? 6cly/ lemans. I drove a 53 Chevy until 65′. Then my dad bought a Chrysler and my friends parents moved up to V8 cars as well. We didn’t have accidents and learned to drive. My first car was a 67’Ply.GTX 440 COM 12.2-1 com. 4sp. The motor was 2 sp. with sock carb. Motor needed 1500 CFM,I only went to 1000. No street legal car came close. Firestone 500 tires and load level shocks helped. Highway trips had 30″ dia. rear tires for high speed driving trips late night. Love new car handling and economy plus power. Anti-lock brakes GREAT! Rear camera good. ALL driver assist is garbage. Just adds DOLLARS>>for repairs and price. Appeals to those who are insecure drivers.

  18. Push buttton shifters vs a physical shift knob and shift gates. Having to use a touch screen for radio and climate controls vs knobs which are mch faster and fewer steps. Multple (like 3) screens in a vehicle which are in 3 different places to look at them. I could go on…..

  19. If it wasn’t for the rust belt I live in, I’d only be driving Studebakers. My 1956 President Classic had front and rear vent windows and was the most comfortable car we ever had. I would like some upgrades to it: dual master cylinders, and nothing else comes to mind.

  20. Bought a new G- wagon a few months ago. Big mistake. This is my 4th G- and the worst model ever! It has so much stuff on it that would take a rocket scientist to figure out! The worst is the attention lane assist. The car doesn’t beep, or buzz, or vibrate. It violently turns the wheel and over corrects you back into the lane! It scares the heck out of every time it does it. One day it just may give me a heart attack. Not only is this feature not helpful, it is actually detrimental. Then a little cup of coffee pops up just to rub salt in the wound. Oh well, just bought a 1965 FJ land cruiser. Maybe I’ll get rid of the G altogether…

  21. I dislike and find annoying, distracting and cumbersome when all the climate control including fan speed and temperature setting adjustment are only on the touch screen. Also having the defrost to clear the windshield only on the touchscreen is outright dangerous, because many times it’s raining hard or suddenly rains hard and you need to get the defroster on immediately without the burden of going thru the touchscreen and being distracted from the road!

  22. Hi I hate auto stop start
    My Lexus 2021 RX350 F Sport doesn’t have it
    My Jaguar F Type has a plug in the trunk I pulled and it disable the auto stop start permanently
    Also we should be asking for easy maintenance on vehicles
    Starters alternators fan belts oil changes etc
    Like the old cars

  23. The On Star system in my 2003 Saturn and 2019 Corvette-totally useless and obsolete. Rather have a decent radar detector and cameras to capture and monitor real-time situations such as unnecessary traffic stops by law enforcement, road rage, vandalism – etc.

  24. What about that annoying double blast from the horn on my 2019 Nautilus when I leave the car running to help my wife out of the passenger side? I realize it’s trying to remind me that I left it running as if the key was left inside, but I’d love to disable that feature. Anyone know how?

  25. Cylinder deactivation. Have 2 GM cars with this 2016 Cadi & 2012 Avalanche) and it drives me nuts. If I wanted to drive a 4 cylinder, I would have bought one.

  26. I do like a feature that is seldom installed anymore, i.e. heads up display. The display puts the vital operating information on the driver’s windshield and in his/her field of view. Without it, the driver must look down and through the steering wheel, risking an ‘eyes off the road accident’. And, it is not distracting, but provides a constant reminder of your speed. My 03 Corvette has it; my Lexus ES350 does not. I hate the lane change monitor and have turned it off. I love the blind spot monitor.

  27. Infotainment systems that cannot be intuitively operated! Give me a radio with two knobs (on-off/volume and tuning) and clearly labeled buttons, and NO buttons on the steering wheel!

  28. I hate the backup cameras in the newer vehicles. Almost weekly get someone back out in front of me in a parking lot, with their eyes glued to the dash, no looking right or left just at the dash. Yippee

  29. Any “driver assist” function that can’t be turned off. I know how to drive at the limit and sometimes I just want to on a safe road.
    Run flat tires and no spare. A special thanks to BMW for sticking me with this . Only solution if you care about selecting tire brands and sizes within the allowable range if sizes is to spend a fortune on new wheels to mount normal tires. And then u still don’t have a spare unless you buy a fifth wheel/ tire or can find a small “donut” spare that fits. Then you have to use most of your trunk space to put it in there.
    CVT transmission. Thanks go out to Nissan for dumping this garbage on my wife. She likes Nissans and , fortunately, I don’t have to drive it very often. If you want to have only the vaguest feel of how your power is getting to the tires and want to have no idea how the car will react when you have to accelerate suddenly to avoid a situation ,or try to merge into traffic on an on ramp or pull or to pass, then this is the tranny of your dreams. Just make sure it’s on a lease car because, apparently, many if them fail around 90,000 miles. I know Nissan will deny this. My wife’s is already acting up at 29,000 miles.

  30. Why do so many people hate auto start stop? it does not affect you at all. You are not going anywhere at the time don’t worry about it.

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