A lot has changed over the past few years and the next car you buy may be missing a few features you’re used to.
Tech moves very quickly these days and automakers are responding. Here are some features we’re slowly seeing disappear in modern vehicles. Anything you’d miss?
We used to have cars that could carry multiple CDs, but now cars are starting to hit customers without even a single tray. Thanks to Bluetooth, USB connectivity and auxiliary ports making it easier to play music from smartphones, automakers are ditching CD players. When was the last time you bought a CD any way?
That big chunky lever next to your shifter is also starting to disappear. More automakers are switching to an electric parking/emergency brake button or a foot-operated one. Although the function of a hand brake isn’t going anywhere, that tactile and satisfying feeling of yanking it is something that will certainly be missed.
Mirrors have been a safety feature in cars for a long time, with little modifications to help them be safer. We can now have edges of mirrors show more details with a convex pattern or a light tell us if there’s a car in our blind spot, but thanks to cameras, mirrors may be a thing of the past. Cadillac is changing your rear-view mirror into a camera-display system that provides a wider field of vision than the normal mirror, while Honda has been including a camera in the passenger side mirror that provides a better view of what’s happening in your car’s blind spot.
Will your next car have a traditional gauge cluster? Probably not, since so much information can be shown more effectively using a digital dashboard. More and more cars are including information-dense screens in front of the driver, which are so much more useful and versatile than a traditional gauge. They can change units easily, provide more information, and are typically customizable. Some cars, like those from Audi, have included large, dynamic maps on the screen in front of the driver, making navigation a breeze.
Speaking of Audi, when the brand announced it was changing the way its all-wheel drive system works, it signalled another loss of a true, permanent four-wheel drive system. Many other automakers have a “slip and grip” system, which sends power to only one axle (usually the front wheels) until additional grip is needed. This is due to the stringent fuel economy requirements set out by the EPA that ensures cars are more fuel efficient. By limiting how much power goes to wheels that don’t need it, cars are consume less fuel.
Keys have changed quite a bit in the past few years. Most new cars these days don’t require drivers to physically put a key into the ignition to start the car or use one to even open the door. Proximity key fobs, which also allow you to unlock and lock you car by touching the handle of the vehicle, are far more practical than taking a key out of your pocket or bag. But now cars are starting to have smartphone support for such features, and automakers like Volvo are seriously considering replacing keys altogether with smart devices.
While manual stick shifts are slowly being killed off, traditional gear selectors are going away too – they are increasingly being replaced by buttons or steering wheel columns to free up space on the center console.
Thanks to the large touchscreen infotainment systems included in newer cars, automakers have started removing knobs and buttons related to media or HVAC controls. In many cases, this has been a pretty significant loss – sliding your finger to adjust the volume just doesn’t feel as tactile or precise as using a knob. Cadillac’s CUE uses a fully touch-sensitive system, while gesture controls are also being rolled out in higher-end BMWs.