Same case as the Air Conditioner controls in my old 1991 Dodge Spirit R/T versus the 2002 Dodge Stratus R/T... The older one allowed me to direct cool air towards the floor, which was very useful when returning on hot summer days from the supermarket with delicate food.
But the geniuses at Chrysler that designed the newer models decided to use a single large knob that lacks the option to direct the cool air towards the floor. (Fortunately, they still allowed the use of the heater to warm feet!).
For me, the (Ab)use of single multiple function knobs in autos is a result of the wrong and stupid culture of designers that try to cram as many "functions" as they can. Another bad design practice or tendency is using overly long "Menus" to perform a given task... Just try to find the stupid function buried deep inside a sub-menu of the sub-menu inside the main Menu!!!
I also still use real keys. Especially for vehicles I don't drive every day (my wife's van). I used to get copies of keys made (cheap ones without plastic) and use them. Then it got to where I couldn't find non-plastic overlay key blanks. I figured out I could get those keys made up then break off the offending plasti blobs. I have 10 keys on my keychain right now and a RFID fob. They all lay flat together. I'm dreading the day I'll need to upgrade again and not be able to do this any longer. I didn't notice the trend of leaving off the key on the passeneger side. That will definietly be a problem for me too.
My wife's Honda Odessy still has buttons, but the same problem. They are all in a row blended in with trim pieces with very fine breaks between them. You can't even tell if you are on a button by feel, not to mention which button. Each botton serves several purposes depending on what mode you are in. Terrible design. I can't turn the fan speed without looking down to find the button, then over to the LCD to see if the bars change to verrify that I'm moving the right thing. Touch screen would be worse.
This all boils down to cost and someone's idea of aesthetic design. fewer mechanical switches (or a touch screen) and use software to tie them to motiple options reduces cost. One knob for everything is hazerdous and marketed as a feature.
Don't even get me started on the touch screen selectable soda pop dispensers that are showing up all over. Stand behind some jr high kids going through menues to select their pop and dispense when you used to just shove the cup against the apropriate lever......
After driving the new van a lot on family vacation last week, here are some more things that I noticed:
- The old van (2005) had a little fold down hook on the passenger's side of the dash, near the person's left knee. I belive it was there to hang a purse or trash bag. We used it for a car trash bag. The new van has no hook, so the trash bag slides around.
- The old van had spacious compartments inside both front doors, under a padded armrest that lifted up. The new van has no compartments at all in the doors, besides the open space on the bottom, like the old van had. We used to keep change and sunglasses in there, now they have to be stashed elsewhere.
- I agree with my wife that the long slots in the floor to accomodate the sliding second row seats are going to get filled with junk that falls in there. But, if you cover the slots the seats can't slide. I put in aftermarket floor mats from clearmats dot com and they have nice coverage, leaving the slots open. Their front floor mats are smaller than I'd like though.
- On the positive side, the new van's speed limiter is somewhere above 100mph, unlike the old van. :)
- The engine and transmission on the new van work quite well and we were getting over 24mpg on the highway at above legal speeds.
- I really like the dual sliding doors, electric rear hatch and power sunroof. It was nice cruising at the beach with the sunroof open.
- The HVAC controls still suck, but it was really nice to adjust my wife and my temperatures separately, especially when the sun was shining on my side only when I was driving.
I think the idea that Toyota cannot allow you to change certain features while the vehicle is in motion is purely for safety purposes. Aside from the additional buttons, the small color display is a plus and what's more is that it is near the windscreen. This will make it easier for drivers to make use of it without necessarily taking their eyes off the road for long
To be fair, I haven't tried voice-type since my failed attempt of 13 years ago. Maybe it has improved a lot since then; I don't know. But the mistakes those systems made in the '90s were incredible -- you couldn't make them up.
Chuck, thanks for that link--your description was hilarious. What's really sad, though, is I can find equally funny descriptions of such garbled sentences from VR systems back in the early 90s and before. I've been waiting a really, really long time for these things to get workable and they just don't, at least, not without excruciatingly long "training" sessions (where users train the VRS). If someone has more recent and more positive news about this, I'd like to hear it.
AnandY, even though I (and others) complained about too many features and not enough knobs, I can imagine that it must be quite a design challenge to make controls whose functions are easily graspable when there are so many features crowded into one space. So maybe it's at least as much a marketing problem.
I agree with Ann that Toyota might have had the space factor in their development of the new minivan 2013. However it would have been essential for the engineers to have the ease of use of the few knobs to the users. The engineers, while trying to make use of the limited space, should develop user friendly knobs that ensure a smooth driving experience.
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