Now more than ever, manufacturers are including features in their cars to make a driver’s life a little easier. However, some of these new additions evoke more fright than delight. Cars.com’s editors hit the road in a lot of new cars this past year, and in keeping with the Halloween spirit, they’ve compiled a list of the 10 scariest car features.
“In the past few years, manufacturers have been a lot more creative with the features they offer to consumers,” says Patrick Olsen, editor in chief at Cars.com. “Some of them, like the Infiniti EX35’s Lane Departure Prevention, really do improve the quality of the vehicle. The features on our list can be confusing to use and downright scary if you don’t know how they work."
Cars.com’s 10 Scariest Car Features include:
10. Rain-Sensing Wipers: Rain-sensing windshield wipers generally use infrared sensors to monitor a certain section of the windshield for moisture or dirt, then trigger the wipers to respond according to a threshold the driver sets. When one editor's Volkswagen Jetta tester had its rain-sensing wipers suddenly spring to action one cloudless night, it was mildly frightening, to say the least.
9. Soda Can Cool Zone: Various automakers offer air-conditioned compartments to keep sodas and other sundries cool. Problem is, those cool zones get hot in the summer when the car is off; Cars.com’s editors had a couple sodas explode in a certain Dodge after a 90-degree weekend.
8. Smart Transmission: The Smart ForTwo deserves its own category. The minicar's automated-manual transmission shifts gears with its own electronic clutch while the driver sees a traditional automatic setup. Drive the thing, and you feel like you're on a bucking bronco.
7. Power-Sliding Doors: Parents, rest assured the power-sliding doors on upscale minivans employ all sorts of electronic cutoffs to ensure they won't eat your Brownie troop. But we'll admit the prospect of power doors that can do their thing by remote 20 or 30 feet away can be a bit dicey.
6. Multi-Manual Owner's Booklets: The thought of wading through an owner's manual to figure out how something works is daunting enough. Try wading through 10 or more of them; that's the number of pamphlets, manuals and quick-start guides included in some cars' libraries. With online directories only a click away, do you really need a state-by-state list of dealerships?
5. Self–Parking Cars: Lexus' self-parking feature is optional on the LS sedan. Line up the superimposed square in the backup camera with your intended parking spot, gently let off the brakes and the LS will slowly steer around adjacent cars as it backs into the spot. You have to press the brakes to bring the car to a stop at the end. We didn't know Big Brother had a valet job, either.
4. iDrive: Even among the trio of similar dashboard interfaces from Audi and Mercedes, BMW's iDrive is utter knobsense. Directional inputs send you to various submenus, but in most models there are no shortcut or previous-screen buttons around the knob. If you get the hang of it, you'll be ready for "Survivor" tryouts.
3. Voice Turn-by-Turn Navigation: Navigation systems have been barking out orders for years. Some systems try gamely to pronounce street names, but the result is usually anything but clear: You're cruising along, and she suddenly directs you to turn left on ... what was that?
2. Heart-Rate Monitor: You read correctly. Volvo's Personal Car Communicator monitors the cabin and pulses a light on your keyfob if your car has an unexpected visitor inside. The thought of having this feature is scary in and of itself — not for fear of being carjacked, but because we wonder what sort of paranoia would drive you to want it.
1. Overly Aggressive Seats: Driver's seats run the gamut, from flat benches to the sort of hip-huggers you'd get in an F-15, and some of the more extravagant ones don't sit so well with us. The BMW 7 Series offers a massaging driver's seat, but its throbbing motions feel downright Frankensteinian compared to a real massage. In some of Mercedes-Benz's pricier models, active side bolsters automatically inflate to hold you in as you take a corner. They're convenient on highway offramps and winding roads, but 90-degree city turns can result in sudden rib pinching as the seats go hog-wild to keep up.
Cars.com is the leading destination for online car shoppers, offering credible, easy-to-understand information from consumers and experts to help buyers formulate opinions on what to buy, where to buy and how much to pay for a car. With comprehensive pricing information, side-by-side comparison tools, photo galleries, videos, unbiased editorial content and a large selection of new- and used-car inventory, Cars.com puts millions of car buyers in control of their shopping process with the information they need to make confident buying decisions.
Launched in June 1998, Cars.com is a division of Classified Ventures, LLC, which is owned by leading media companies, including Belo (NYSE: BLC), Gannett Co., Inc. (NYSE: GCI), The McClatchy Company (NYSE: MNI), Tribune Company and The Washington Post Company (NYSE: WPO).
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