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FACING EXTINCTION: A DOZEN NEW CAR FEATURES NOT LONG FOR THIS WORLD


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FACING EXTINCTION: A DOZEN NEW CAR FEATURES NOT LONG FOR THIS WORLD

By Andrew Ganz

Once upon a time, new cars came with whizz-bang features like high-fidelity eight-track players, chrome bumpers ready to impale innocent children, elegantly etched non-safety glass and splinter-prone wooden wheels wrapped in solid rubber.

Times have changed, of course, and most modern drivers have probably forgotten that these features ever existed. How about hinged A-pillar windows ready to bring in a draft of fresh air? And plaid rubber trunk floor covers? Long gone.

Leftlane’s editors came up with a list of a dozen features you’ll find on some, but not many, new cars in the United States. These features are falling out of favor, replaced out of consumer disinterest, victims of indifference, subjected to federal mandates, the result of cost cutting and traded out for technological innovation.

This list is by no means comprehensive. Share with us your favorite features still found on some brand new cars that the next generation of drivers will probably never know.

12. Spare tires Advanced tires are less likely to be punctured, while runflat technology and simple cost and weight cutting have spelled the end of the line for spare tires. They’re optional on some less expensive cars, like the Chevrolet Cruze, while sportier cars can rely on stiffer-riding runflats without irking buyers too much.

11. Accessory gauges Attacking both the upper and lower end of the new car spectrum, electronics are eating away at traditional needle-style fuel, oil pressure, voltage and coolant temperature gauges. Cheap cars come with limited information lights to save money, while pricier models feature multi-function screens akin to iPads.

10. Cigarette lighters You can still light up a smoke in some new cars, but lighters are mostly relegated to high-end European imports and a smattering of domestic and Japanese offerings. We recently sampled a 2011 Ford F-150 that still came with a lighter, but no ashtray was in sight, for example.

9. Hubcaps Once a staple of mid-level trim – one step above steel wheels and one step below lightweight alloys – hubcaps are fading quickly. You’ll still find them as standard on most cars listing below $20,000, but you’d better act fast. Some automakers – namely domestic brands – have started using chromed plastic hubcaps placed over alloy wheels for an inexpensive and durable cosmetic upgrade.

8. Separate CD Changers We’ll argue that even single CD players are on their way out as Bluetooth streaming audio becomes more popular, but until just a few years ago, five, six and ten-disc changers were ready to dispense tunes. Mounted seemingly everywhere – in consoles, glove boxes, trunks and under seats – CD changers are a rare sight today. We recently found one in the center console of a 2011 Honda CR-V, but their presence is increasingly rare.

7. Keys and remote fobs Nearly every new model introduced in the last couple of years has offered keyless access and push-button start, both of which allow the driver to keep a plastic key fob in his or her pocket or purse. Ignition keys – especially those with separate remote fobs – your days are numbered.

6. Roll-up windows and manual locks We used to roll windows up slowly in order to do a poor job of convincing other motorists that we had “fancy” power windows. Virtually every car today has standard power windows aside from the cheapest cars on the market. The base trim level of the 2012 Ford Focus offers a a return to an interesting compromise: Power rear windows are an option. Still fairly common in Europe, only a handful of cars – the Dodge Neon, for instance – have been equipped like this in the U.S.

5. Headlights you have to turn on yourself It still amazes us that drivers can’t remember to turn their lights on, but we know they do. Go for a drive tonight and you’ll see what we mean, even if that moron in the Accord coming your way doesn’t. Almost every new car today features automatic headlamps triggered by a darkness sensor and the most advanced automatically dim or engage high beams.

4. Cassette players It looks like this longstanding favorite of ’80s and ’90s youths (mix tapes anyone?) finally bit the dust for 2011. Appropriately, the Mercury Grand Marquis and the Lexus SC430 helped extinguish the flame by riding out 2010 as the last new cars with available cassette players.

3. Day/night mirrors Pioneered by luxury cars in the late 1980s, automatic dimming mirrors are becoming standard or at least optional equipment in almost every new car today. Gone soon will be the practice of flipping a toggle switch at the bottom of the rearview mirror. Years ago, simply having the toggle was a luxury!

2. Dipsticks Much to the chagrin of BMW drivers everywhere, the German automaker started removing dipsticks from its North American-specification models several years ago. The explanation was that oil level sensors are smarter than Americans. Well, that wasn’t quite it, but it was close. Other automakers quickly followed suit.

1. Gasoline engines With the mass-market Nissan Leaf hitting streets nationwide next year, we can finally add gasoline internal combustion engines to the list. We’re not exactly sure what will be the propulsion of choice in 50 years, but we wouldn’t put your long-term investment plans in gasoline stations.

Leftlane’s bottom line

We won’t miss most of these features since they’re giving up the ghost in the name of progress. But we sure can’t wait to show our grandkids a “vintage” Pontiac G8 GT at the 2040 Orphan Car Show in Ypsilanti, Michigan (check out the 2011 next fall if you’re in the neighborhood).

LINK:

http://www.leftlanenews.com/facing-extinction-a-dozen-new-car-features-not-long-for-this-world.html

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12 - I have mixed feelings about this. Do not replace my spare with fix-a-flat, which is evil.

11 - I prefer to have gauges. Integrate them into an LCD if you want, but I prefer more than just an idiot light.

10 - Couldn't care less since I don't smoke, and am not interested in having anyone smoke in my car.

9 - I prefer alloys, so good bye steelies & hubcaps is fine with me

8 - CD players are here to stay for quite a while, but a changer in the trunk seems silly anymore - spend the money on a good MP3 player and lossless format music instead. Or at least just have an in-dash changer.

7 - While I like remotes and such, I prefer to continue to have the ability to use a key to get into, start, and drive my car in case of battery failure, etc.

6 - I won't miss manual windows or locks. Power windows are generally no heavier, and not much more prone to failure than manual windows. I would not be happy if the locks were purely power, and could not be operated manually though.

5 - Auto turn off lamps I'm fine with. Auto dimming brights often don't seem intelligent enough in my experience, though I haven't been able to observe their operation on newer models.

4 - Cassette players, goodbye, you won't be missed.

3 - The auto dimming mirrors I've used I have not liked as much as the flip-switch mirrors. They don't seem to get dark enough IMO, and are too slow to react, so you're left squinting for a little while as you wait for the mirror to clue in. I prefer to just flip the switch once and be done with it.

2 - Give me an oil level gauge inside the car, that's fine, but don't take away the dipstick.

1 - The gasoline engine isn't going anywhere anytime soon.

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12. I'll admit that I like the piece of mind of having a spare tire (in my case a full size tire) in my trunk, the last few times we had flats we just used Fix-a-Flat and it worked great. No one wants to try and jack their car up using the pathetic jack it came with, especially on a busy road.

11. I don't mind if the information is an electronic readout ot a giage, I just want the information, not just an idiot light.

10. Doesn't bother me.

9. Good. Cheap and tacky things that have no place on anything but a base modele conomy car.

8. Doesn't really bother me. If my car had an AUX jack I would be using my mp3 player instead of carrying around bulky CDs

7. This one I actually don't care for. I love keyless entry, but I like having a real key to start the car with and unlock the driver's door and trunk. I'm not really sold on push button start.

6. Never liked roll up windows. They are just as likely to break as they get older, and I hate how the crank bangs up against my leg.

5. While I'm smart enough to know when to turn my lights on and off, I do enjoy my auto headlights, so I leave them on auto. So whatever.

4. I'm happy I have one in my car simply because I don't have an aux jack. Otherwise I wouldn't care.

3. Good. Auto dimming mirrors are so much better. Anyone who has used them will agree. I plan to get auto dimming side mirrors someday.

2. I don't see why we can't have both sensors and a dipstick.

1. Gasoline engines will be around for some time yet.

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3. Good. Auto dimming mirrors are so much better. Anyone who has used them will agree. I plan to get auto dimming side mirrors someday.

I have used them and disagree, but most of my experience is with my '98 suburban, so I'll concede that there's a chance I'd like a newer one better. My '98 doesn't go dark enough or react fast enough, and I'd rather just flip a switch and be done with it.

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One of the only "modern tech" things I miss on my Toronado is it's lack of an auto dimming mirror. I've grown so used to them in the GM's I've owned, I've actually contemplated trying to figure out how to retro fit one into an '81 Oldsmobile.

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One of the only "modern tech" things I miss on my Toronado is it's lack of an auto dimming mirror. I've grown so used to them in the GM's I've owned, I've actually contemplated trying to figure out how to retro fit one into an '81 Oldsmobile.

Pretty much just needs power for most of them. A number of people have swapped Vue mirrors into their S-Series. The mirror has auto dim, compass, and outside temp. Probably the same mirror I have in my suburban, it's a very common GM mirror. The only feature that requires something other than power is the exterior temp, which has a sensor that's usually mounted near the grill.

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12. I couldn't imagine not having a full size spare, esp. on an SUV.

11. Got to have gauges. With needles. No lame-o electronic readouts. I'm used to having speedo, tach, fuel level, voltage, oil pressure, water temp. But more would be better--I'd like transmission temp, oil level, trans fluid level, oil temp, air pressure, altitude, etc..:)

10. Don't need a lighter, more power outlets, the better.

9. I do like black steel wheels on some cars (Crown Vics) but alloys are nicer. Don't like chrome wheels. No plastic hubcaps.

8. I've had single disc CD players in cars for 15+ years, but would like a six disc in dash CD and AUX jack in my next car.

7. I don't see the point of push button start. I like keyless entry w/ the fob, but have had to use the key to open the driver's door (the only external lock on my Jeep) when the battery dies in the fob.

6. I haven't a car w/ roll up windows, manual locks or seats, for a daily driver for 16 years. I'm used to power everything.

5. Auto headlights are a nice feature to have..been using them over 10 years now.

4. I have a cassette deck, listened to maybe 2 cassettes in 10+ years, but it is handy for the Mp3 adapter since I don't have an aux jack.

3. Fine..I like having auto dimming rear view mirror. Never heard of auto dimming side mirrors.

2. Why not both?

1. Not going away in my lifetime.

Edited by Cubical-aka-Moltar
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can I get one without temp? or with compass if it doesn't require an external sensor?

If all I have to do it run a 12 volt wire, I'll definitely do it.

I'm not sure if one is out there, but I'm pretty sure you could just not use the temp part, hook it up, use the dim & compass (compass may require calibration, which is some combination of driving around IIRC.) You could search on sixthsphere.com to see if you can find where people have done this, and the details of the install. I haven't, so it's probably a good idea to double check, but I want to say the mirror itself just needed switched 12v (to turn it off when the car is off).

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I have used them and disagree, but most of my experience is with my '98 suburban, so I'll concede that there's a chance I'd like a newer one better. My '98 doesn't go dark enough or react fast enough, and I'd rather just flip a switch and be done with it.

Mine is out of a 2002 Intrepid. It reacts very quickly and dims enough so even highbeams don't bother me. I had never used one before I installed this, I never want to go back. :P

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can I get one without temp? or with compass if it doesn't require an external sensor?

If all I have to do it run a 12 volt wire, I'll definitely do it.

Don't know if it would work in a GM, but the one in my Jeep doesn't have temp or compass (those are in overhead console).

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I'm never automatically in favor of a move that increases both cost & complexity, and notably... especially when done in order to cater to laziness.

For example: I haven't dimmed a RRVW mirror in 15+ years (2 trucks), but I don't want a manually- tinted mirror replaced with an electronic one. "I like to be in control". :smilewide:

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I have had 2 different manually-dimming mirrors I haven't touched in 15 years (2 trucks, both with tinted backlights). I almost miss the scenario.

I don't 'fear' complexity, I just do not automatically value increased complexity to accomplish the exact same function.

IMO, both manual & electronic mirrors (as discussed here) do the exact same thing, and I have zero issue with dimming the mirror myself.

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I have had 2 different manually-dimming mirrors I haven't touched in 15 years (2 trucks, both with tinted backlights). I almost miss the scenario.

I don't flip my manual-dimming mirrors, either... I don't like the light-dark-light-dark thing. I prefer keeping my eyes adjusted to bright...

Now that I've learned that the auto-dimming mirrors have a corrosive, carcinogenic, staining liquid in them... and that they occasionally explode... I'm really not into it.

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