New cars today are available with lots of cool features. And some of the most useful ones are also great at making us feel guilty.
That’s the topic of conversation around the office this week: our automotive guilty pleasures. It’s that one feature that you know you shouldn’t like, but you just love it.
Keep in mind, all of our editors consider themselves automotive enthusiasts. We’re the kind of people that prefer manual transmissions, quirky beaters and drive basic, pure and innocent forms of fun transportation.
Here’s a few features in new cars that we’ve changed our minds about.
Mike Schlee, Road Test Editor: “Free the CVTs”
“What’s my guilty pleasure? Well, it’s not so much my guilty pleasure, but my guilty it-makes-total-sense-so-it-should-be-embraced. What I’m getting at are continuously variable transmissions. Now I know the mere mention of a CVT has automotive enthusiasts worldwide up in arms, ready to angrily attack their keyboards in utter distaste for these gearless transmissions.
But no automatic transmission is sporty. Repeat after me, no automatic transmission is sporty. Yes, some are decent when driven in anger, like the eight-speeds in the F-Type, Corvette and various BMWs. And these ever increasing 8-, 9- and 10-speed automatics do make sense in luxury cars and work trucks
But for everyday driving appliances like family sedans, crossovers and three-row SUVs, CVTs make sense. Transmissions in everyday cars are designed to be smooth, seamless and fuel efficient. On these three fronts, a conventional automatic can’t match the performance of a CVT.
Dual-clutch or salt-of-the-earth manual transmissions are what’s needed for proper driving enjoyment. Otherwise, if it’s going to be an automatic, the CVT makes a lot of sense.”
Jodi Lai, Managing Editor: “Forget Moving Mountains. Just Hold This Hill”
“The feature I feel kind of guilty liking is when manual cars have a hill holder. I wish every single manual car came with this feature that holds the brakes for a second while you move your foot from the brake to the gas pedal so the car doesn’t roll back.
My daily driver is manual and driving stick is second nature to me. But I’d by lying if I said it didn’t make me nervous when I’m on a steep ramp or hill and there’s a car right behind me. I never got over that fear and I still feel slightly guilty about it, but the hill holder makes it a non-issue.”
Craig Cole, Associate Editor: “Perforated Seats and Chill”
“What modern-day vehicular feature am I ashamed to admit I can’t live without? Well, surprisingly that’s a simple query to answer. Ventilated seats (often erroneously called “air conditioned,” though they have no compressor, evaporator, condenser or associated plumbing) are a Godsend in tropical conditions.
While these sound about as frivolous as blowing your nose on one-time-use silken handkerchiefs, ventilated buckets are indeed a luxury item worth seeking out. They feature electric fans that gently pull air through a perforated seating surface, which draws away undesirable heat and moisture, keeping your nether regions as parched as the Kalahari during the dry season, which is admittedly most of the year, but whatever. In hot temperatures these seats rock; don’t judge me!”
Stephen Elmer, News Editor: “Inspired by the Track”
“Chevy has spoiled every novice race car driver with its new automatic rev-matching gearboxes. It makes sure that every downshift on the race track is completely smooth, with no throttle blip required from your right foot. For an amateur track driver, like myself, it makes you feel incredibly accomplished as you wind your way through corners, never once having to worry about heel-toe shifting. The feature works so well and is so fun to see in action, that I would go out of my way to downshift while driving the car on public roads. And on every perfectly matched downshift, I would feel guilty.
It’s that inflated confidence that will be the downfall of anyone out on the racetrack. I love computer driving aids, mainly because they think faster than you can. But, before you use them, I think it’s important to feel and understand how a car reacts with no computers thinking for you. This will help you be a better driver overall.
So go ahead, buy a C7 and appreciate the brilliantly planned downshifts (and its sweet 6.2L V8). But next time you’re at the racetrack, work on your heel-toe.”
Jason Siu, News Editor: “Attention for Extremities”
“I’m a bit ashamed to admit that I really miss having ventilated front seats that are often found in Lexus models. Sure heated seats are an awesome feature to have, but sometimes when it’s disgustingly hot outside you just want cold air covering your posterior. It’s a real shame that most luxury cars besides Lexus only offers heated seats… it has been brought to my attention that Craig Cole also enjoys having a nicely cooled bum!
So with Mr. Cole taking my first choice away, my second choice would have to be heated steering wheels. Yeah, it doesn’t get to freezing temperatures in Southern California, which is why it seems so ridiculous someone would want a heated steering wheel here. But hey, from time to time it does get to a chilly 40-degrees Fahrenheit so it’s a luxury item that might not get used very often, but it’s certainly nice to have!”
Sami Haj-Assaad, Features Editor: “Drive Thru Aficionado”
“Saying that you hate holding your foot on the brake pedal is like admitting you have the muscle strength of a newborn baby. But lets be real: in bad traffic your leg can get tired! After 90 minutes of commuting and still stuck in gridlock, don’t you just want to bend your knee a little bit? I know I do, though I’m still ashamed to admit that I love the “Brake Hold” feature on many luxury vehicles.
Aside from sitting in traffic on my daily commute, I find this feature really helpful, at the drive-thru of my favorite McDonalds or Starbucks. With the brake hold button, I’m no longer fumbling with the handbrake or putting the car in park; I just press the “Brake Hold” button and can focus all your attention on the yummy goodness being stuffed through your window. “