The 2012 Tesla Model S has few knobs and buttons. Photo courtesy of Tesla

If it has knobs or buttons, your car may be trapped in the past

The technology in cars is advancing so rapidly the old knobs and buttons on the dash and console are going the way of the Dodo bird – anyone who hasn’t bought a new car in a decade may actually need to read the manual just to get around the block.

From smart keys to touchscreens, the cars we drive are changing so fast, a modern Rip Van Winkle would be lost in the driver’s seat of one the more advanced new cars. What would a 20-year sleeper think of the switchblade keys you get with an Audi, Volvo or Fiat these days and how long would it take him to figure out how to unlock it using the buttons on the key fob? Whatever happened to the keyhole?

Even in the $26K Fiat 500c, you can download the contacts in your smartphone and make phone calls safely while driving via simple voice commands. Some cars even allow you to hear and respond by way of voice recognition to text messages. Standard replies, such as “Driving can’t text” and “on my way,” are provided by Nissan Connect, using a hands-free Text Messaging Assistant.

The new generation of Mercedes vehicles, the 2013 GLK for example, have an iPad docking station mounted on the backs of the front seats, capable of tilting up to 90 degrees and recharging while you surf, according to an article by Larry Printz of The Virginia Pilot.

Indeed, parking sensors and rearview cameras are virtually standard equipment on cars costing over $30K. Knobs and buttons keep getting harder to find in today’s cars.


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Isn't it marvelous how each of these great integrations is designed to make the car more expensive to purchase, more expensive to repair if it breaks, and as close to impossible for anyone outside of the dealer network to repair? Consumers are being carefully trained to be totally dependent on the manufacturer’s network and soon the computers will even drive the cars. Of course, when these electronic wonders break, consumers are conveniently there to provide ongoing profits to the shareholders. That is the objective of why we purchase our vehicles, isn't it?
This is SO true. Daily driver is a 2000 and had to make certain it had window cranks and stuff like that there. This new stuff has such a large learning curve I'm too set in my ways. Has the phrase "Roll the window down" lost it's meaning?