TTAC asked its readership what the worst “details” on contemporary cars might be, and got a ton of responses. And yes, alas, I have some of them, starting with this rather attractive feature:
A common feature of many cars — especially Japanese models — is illuminated gauges. These gauges are always backlit, regardless of the time of day or the lighting conditions.
The problem is that most cars with this feature don’t use automatic headlights. And with the growing number of vehicles that have daytime running lights, well … you get a lot of people driving around with their dimly-lit daytime running lights on, their gauge cluster illuminated, and their taillights completely dark.
Nissan once addressed this matter by installing a second panel-dim switch, which would control the brightness of the gauges when the lights weren’t on and presumably make it easier to tell when you’d forgotten to turn your lights on. They’d deleted it by the time they built my car, but it’s still mentioned in the manual.
Then there’s this:
Blank switches, to me, are the single biggest determinant of whether an interior is high quality. No blank switches? High quality. Lots of blank switches? It doesn’t matter if the interior is made of the same material as the Crown Jewels … this interior is awful!
I have one under the gauge panel, where the traction control doesn’t live, and a hollowed-out spot on the console which I can’t explain, below the seat heater buttons and the gizmo that works the sunshade.
Speaking of the console, a commenter added this:
I’d have nominated console mounted shifters for automatics, a pointless affectation of sportiness as the most hateful automotive detail. They rob you of storage space, possibly an extra seat and make the cockpit seem much less spacious. And for what? So we can pretend we’re rowing our own? So our ultra-manly, transmission-shaming neighbors might be momentarily confused? No thanks. Put it on the column where it belongs.
Still, when approaching a stop, I grab the top of the shifter, even though I’m not going to do anything with it. Twenty years of driving a stick will do that to you.