Let’s be honest, not every piece of new technology that arrives in the automotive world is strictly necessary (heated cupholders, anybody?). However, that is also not to say we should dismiss the arrival of all new gadgets with murmurings of how cars were so much better when there were fewer things to go wrong. Take the six features listed below as proof, each of which brings a tangible benefit to the driving or ownership experience, whether it’s related to safety, entertainment, or simply having warm hands.
I pulled up to the bank yesterday and parked nose to nose with a Mercedes-Benz.
It was kind of weird at first glance but I only looked for a moment and didn’t give it a second glance until I passed it again, on foot, on the way into the bank.
The car was an “Anniversary Edition,” at least according to the crudely applied stickers near the front fender. That’s when I paid more attention and realized the car wasn’t a Mercedes at all.
It was a Kia.
Modern car features are practical, convenient, irritating and outright absurd.
Heated seats are a gift direct from the heavens, while heated windshields are the kind of irritation that will slowly drive you to insanity.
The number of available car options has grown exponentially since the days of optional air conditioning and power windows. I’m certainly not alone in my loathing of some features, as our friend Jil McIntosh recently posted a rant about the features in cars that are more infuriating than helpful. I have to say that she nailed a lot of them, but there are more.
Not getting a ticket seems so simple.
All you have to do is follow the rules of the road, and you’re virtually guaranteed to live a life free of traffic tickets and, worse, traffic school.
Go the speed limit, stop at stop signs, use your blinker, yada yada yada. It’s not hard to follow the rules of the road.
Unless, of course, your car has other plans. Sometimes traffic rules just don’t jive with what your car has in mind. This became evident in two scenarios over the past week that should serve to remind us all of the importance of not getting pulled over and thus avoiding a weekend in traffic school.
I had a flip phone until about two years ago. You know the kind… the phone rang, I flipped it open to talk and slammed it shut when done. If I wanted to text, I pushed the individual number buttons until reaching the appropriate letter.
I held on to that phone through the introduction of the iPhone, then the second iPhone, then the iPhone 3G. I stayed true to my phone as the iPhone 4 came and went. Finally, when the 4S came out, I reluctantly caved in and committed to a new two-year relationship with the iPhone 4. It didn’t take long before I had to have 4S. Now I’ve got my eye on the 5.
I’ve fallen into the upgrade trap, which is now extending into the world of auto retailing.
There’s a blind curve on my way home that both thrills and frightens me. On adventurous days, I push my right foot down on the accelerator and take the uphill hard-right turn fast and tight while hoping there’s not a stalled car or deer or some other obstacle looming as I let my mind transport me to Laguna Seca.
On other days I approach the curve with caution, even slowing to a near crawl as intuition alone tells me to be wary.
I haven’t encountered a problem on this turn, but I know it’s quite possible that someday I will, because there are a few moments when all I can see are my hood and the sky.
Is this a curve that technology can outsmart, or will I forever be doomed to navigate those few seconds blindly?
I’ve outsourced my brain to my phone.
I can’t believe it’s happened, but it’s true. Last night’s conversation at home turned to the Dave Matthews Band, which led to trying to remember which movie Dave was in a few years ago. My first reaction was to reach for my phone, rather than pause, process and try to remember the title.
That’s just one example of relying on technology. There was no harm done, other than to my ego upon realizing my phone does most of my thinking.
Relying on technology, though, can quickly turn bad. Relying on car technology can be even worse, especially when it’s technology that’s not even there.
I had a terrifying experience in a brand-new car last night.
The story begins with yesterday’s blog about the demise of auto parts stores. The universe played a very cruel joke on me by causing my car to overheat last night and become undriveable at a seriously inopportune time. Think rainstorm, far from home, dead phone battery, groceries in the car… you get the idea.
I hope the problem is as simple as low coolant level or a faulty thermostat. Lucky for me there’s an auto parts store within a mile of my home, which will make for a very convenient morning walk. If parts stores are indeed on the decline, I’m happy that the one near me still has its doors open.
Without a car but still needing to go for a drive, I managed to talk my way into a 2013 Subaru Legacy for the evening. And that was enough to scare me into holding on to my car or buying used when the time for replacement comes.