I never understood why anyone would think that the red triangle warning flasher button would make a great focal point in the middle of the dash. I think it's a foreign car thing to put that thing there. Guess the rest of the world uses it more often than the US audience. Kind of like the horn. Some rebuilders have intresting jokes about that button. lol. Maybe one day it will have what is suppose to go there. Like a dial faced clock or is that too retro and not hip enough.
Rick, you may want to figure out how to turn off those automatic lights. I remember one Christmas we were all in our Lumina which also has the "feature" of the headlights turning on automatically. We were in a very long car line driving through a Christmas lights village about 9:00pm. When it was our turn to enter the village there was a huge sign that said "Please turn off your headlights so they won't distract from the enjoyment of others driving through." We had no idea how to do it and much to our chagrin we had to complete the drive through with our headlights on...
Interesting point, Jim_E. Sounds like a mix of good positions (the radio on the steering wheel) or the other controls. I've always held the view that Japanese cars are designed for relatively small people. I'm 5'8", and the Japanese cars all seem to have everything in the right place. If I were 6'3", I would imagine the controls would not seem to be in the right place.
Toyota, oh hallowed vehicle designers, why must you torment me! :)
We have a Toyota Sienna minivan and my wife loves it. At 6'3", I'm a good foot taller than her, and that makes some problems for me. I'm sure that my wife is the target audience, and can accept that, but....
- With seat and steering wheel properly adjusted, I cannot see the top of the speedometer! I have learned at 55mph is with the needle straight up and down, so that helps me a bit, since I can see the lower part of the needle.
- The windshield wiper switch is on a stalk on the right side of the wheel, rather low and close to the wheel. About every other time that I drive the van, I accidentally hit the stupid thing with my hand, causing the wipers to smear stuff on the dry windshield....
- The interior lights do not feature automatic shutoff. In a van. Made to carry around young kids. With push button lights in the back.... So, sometimes the kids push on the light over their seats, and we leave the van. Since all of the lights are on when we open a door, I don't see it. Luckily, I usally see the lights on when I'm out walking the dog later, but it had caused a dead battery before.
My 2000 Chevy Silverado has a nice feature which will automatically shut off the interior light after about twenty minutes, preventing a dead battery. But, my Silverado also featured brake lines which completely rusted out this year! One of the worse driveway repair jobs that I've ever done, since GM installed the brake lines before putting the body on! Yes, I put new stainless steel lines on this time.
As for steering wheel radio controls, they are great! My 1995 Pontiac Trans-Am has them, as well as our minivan. They even make third party interfaces which will let the buttons work with aftermarket head units (stereos).
Rob, I'm particularly attuned to car design including the interior controls since I just finished car shopping and purchased a new car. It was my first new car purchase, so I made sure to take my time and enjoy the process of evaluation and decisions.
The steering wheel mounted controls for the radio are fantastic. The push buttons control the radio volume, source (FM, AM, XM, CD or aux input), and channel (including music CD track). I don't have to remove my hand from the steering wheel while driving for typical radio adjustments. It's a feature I wanted on my new car, since I grew to enjoy this feature on my wife's '07 Acura TSX.
About the "hot-seat emergency", I noticed the switches for the heated seats on my new Honda Civic are also directly in front of the gear shifter. Since the car has an automatic transmission, there's not much risk of accidently turning on the heated seats. My wife's Acura heated seat switches are on the center console, and the heated seats have been accidently turned-on a few times...I've learned not to do that.
Radio controls on the steering column are a new one on me, Rickz28. The last two cars I've owned had windshield wipers on the turn signal. That's very convenient, but it also means I inadvertently turn on the wipers when I use the turn signals.
I also realized the same thing in rental cars years ago...figure out where the lights and windshield wiper switches are located upon getting in the car. At the time, I had 1970's era cars where the lights and windshield wiper controls were all on the dash board...not on stalks connected to the steering column.
With my new Honda Civic, I occasionally hit the windshield wiper switch on the steering column stalk when reaching for the navigation/radio system...which turns on the wipers. I'm training myself to avoid inadvertently turning on the windshield wipers. I do enjoy the automatic lights so I don't have to remember. I also like the steering wheel controls for the radio/car computer/navigation/phone and cruise control.
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Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.