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40 Useless Car Features Automakers Got Away With

Cameron EittreimFebruary 18, 2020

Car interior
via: Audi

23. Massage Seats

As cars grow with the times, automakers are adding more comfort features. Back comfort is an important aspect, especially for drivers who have a long commute. Massaging seats in modern cars nowadays have tried various features. However, they just didn’t catch on with luxury car buyers.

Infiniti M35 Interior
via: Infiniti

The current crop of massage seats is a useless feature except for those consumers who commute a long distance. In future cars, there will probably be new massage features geared toward a certain part of the back.

Rear seat entertainement center
via: Gear Patrol

22. Rear Seat Entertainment System

At the dawn of the new millennium, there were a lot of cars that featured a rear-seat entertainment center. The problem with most rear-seat entertainment centers is that they become obsolete in a few short years. Cars that were utilizing a VHS or DVD systems are now obsolete, which means they are useless until you upgrade them. The rear-seat entertainment system was a great idea for long trips, but how many long trips do people take where they require a system like this?

Lexus RX Rear Entertainment
via: Lexus

The current crop of rear-seat entertainment centers can stream media, which will help longevity. But for the most part, the systems still will eventually become outdated. This is a useless feature car manufacturers will continue to include in future crossovers just to increase price.

S500 Interior
via: Mercedes

21. Folding Tables

As vans have evolved over the past few decades from conversion vehicles into minivans, tables were a normal feature. Some tables roll down from the rear seating. A built-in table is a great feature to have if you are driving an RV. But, for the average driver of a minivan, the built-in table feature is probably something you’ll never use.

Car interior tables
via: The Hog Ring

The application just doesn’t make any sense in the long run. While a table can be a great feature for the traveling family, for most drivers, it’s just another thing that will get broken after years of constant use. There’s just no real use for interior tables in the long run.

Gesture control
via: BMW Blog

20. Gesture Control

With the popularity of digital entertainment centers, there has been a rise in gesture controls. They are various ways you can move your fingers on the screen like you would with a touch screen device. The gesture control is something that automakers have been toying with for years. However, gesture control units are probably one of the most unused pieces of new car technology.

Gesture control
via: BMW

Because most display units are so small, it can be a problem to train your hands to use gesture control. The overall design of the current units still need a lot of work to make them a feasible option.

Touchpad Cadillac
via: Cadillac

19. Touchpad Controller

Another interesting feature that has made its way into most new vehicles is the touchpad controller. Rather than having a touch screen interface, the touchpad controller is an option some automakers have begun to use. Touchpad controls are nothing new in cars, but recently they have started to perfect the technology. With the rise in luxury features, it’s not uncommon to see some sort of a touchpad.

Touchpad Control
via: GM

But with touchscreen technology advancing with every product cycle, the touchpad is useless technology. It’s something that will just have to be replaced later on. There are no usable features that a touchpad controller can offer in today’s day and age.

Cadillac Escalade
via: GM

18. Concierge Lighting

Interior lighting has come a long way in recent years. Nowadays, many cars are now rolling out the red carpet. What this means is that concierge lighting is a feature you could see on higher-end luxury cars and it’s quite simple to install. The problem with concierge lighting is that it can be expensive to replace.

Cadillac Concierge
via: GM

This is a feature that most drivers don’t need because most cars have other forms of interior lighting. For that reason, the concierge lighting feature is something people will barely use as time goes on.

Dodge Journey Cooler
via: Dodge

17. Drink Cooler

Different automakers have toyed with the idea of adding drink coolers for years, but the ones in recent models have been incredibly useless. The modern car drink cooler is something you might never use once it is in your vehicle. The Pontiac Aztek, for instance, had a small removable cooler. This was something most owners never used although Pontiac intended it to be part of its recreational aspect.

Dodge Caliber Cooler
via: Dodge

The drink cooler function is a cool aspect of new cars, but it’s just not something the everyday driver is going to use. The modern drink cooler is just another useless feature most automakers got away with.

Social Media Center
via: Car Advisor

16. Social Media Suite

Do you want to post your car to your social media account? Some automakers are putting this feature into their vehicles. While social media is a big piece of modern life, it’s not something that you intrinsically need in your vehicle. Most modern vehicles have some type of social media suite built-in now. This feature can cause a distraction and you probably won’t end up using it in the long run.

Social Media Center
via: Dodge

The rise of social media is going to cause automakers to keep adding this feature to their cars. But if you don’t want to be always connected, it’s not something that you’ll use. Social media accounts and suites inside new vehicles are just ploys to make consumers pay.

Rav4 Rear Seat
via: Edmunds

15. Third-Row Seating in Compact SUVs

Perhaps one of the most unusable features to come at the dawn of the decade was third-row seating in crossovers. It all started with the 2006 Toyota Rav4 and has spread across various crossovers for some time now. The problem with third-row seating in these small vehicles is that there is just no room. The odds of finding feasible seating in such a small area is limited. The only people who end up being able to use the third row in these vehicles are children. Third-row seating also means you lose cargo space.

Rav4 Third Row
via: Edmunds

Automakers have been trying to find ways to increase the amount of space in crossovers. But the third-row option is going to go the way of most useless automotive features that have come and gone over the past decade.

1992 Honda Accord
via: Car Domain

14. Automatic Seat Belts

During the ’80s and ’90s, there were a lot of interesting features that made their way into cars. Perhaps one of the most unique was the addition of automatic seatbelts. These seatbelts would wrap around you once the car started. While this feature did increase the safety of cars in the long run, it was still a cumbersome addition to most cars.

1992 Honda Accord
via: Car Domain

Automakers eventually ended up getting rid of this feature because it just didn’t add to the safety of the car. Automated seat belts have not made their way back for some time, partly because of their clunky design.

Honda Civic Interior
via: Edmunds

13. Manual Windows

One of the features you’ll find on cars that are as old as time is manual windows. Towards the end of the new millennium, this was a useless feature most automakers eliminated. When you pay triple digits for a new car, the last thing you want to deal with is manual windows. The design of the crank window has come a long way, but you now seldom see a car that still has this feature. Manual windows were the only way to open a window when cars were a novelty.

Manual Car Window
via: Car info

But as time went on, the advent of power windows created a much better experience. Most of us don’t even think about using a manual window anymore except in classic cars.

Car Navigation
via: Edmunds

12. Built-In GPS

When cars first started getting more technologically advanced, GPS, or global positioning system, was one of the first additions. But the early adaptation of GPS was incredibly hard to use and navigate. As a result, most drivers opted for some type of external system, such as a TomTom or Garmin. The built-in GPS systems were also costly to update. Without updating, the directions didn’t include new locations.

GPS system
via: Edmunds

Cars such as BMW would support built-in GPS for some time, but other brands such as Acura didn’t. Nowadays, there are a bunch of useless GPS systems in vehicles that drivers on the used market can’t use.

Toyota Prius CD Player
via: Toyota

11. CD Player

The audio system has come a long way in vehicles since the days of the eight-track player. But once streaming came along, the need for a CD player was over. While there’s an abundance of compact discs on the market, the odds of you owning one is slim. There are few cars that still feature a CD player. If you manage to find one, you’ll probably only use it a few times, which is why there are so few anymore.

Chevrolet HHR Media Center
via: GM

The CD player was a great part of the evolution of media you could play anywhere. For in-car entertainment, the CD player was a welcome addition to the car radio. But as digital media and streaming have evolved, the number of people who still use the CD player is going away.

VW Beetle Wing Window
via: Car Domain

10. Wing Windows

Most cars during the ’70s and ’80s had this unique feature. Wing windows are usually the third window on the front or rear of the car. This was a feature that was useless because the windows were hard to operate. You couldn’t get a lot of air through them, which was the point.

The most common wing windows were on the original Volkswagen Beetle. But this feature made its way on lots of other cars as well during this period.

VW Beetle Wing Windows
via: Car Domain

Automakers eventually moved away from wing windows because they were not conducive to the design of the cars. Wing windows don’t do anything to benefit the driver or the vehicle. They were just another useless feature that automakers tried to incorporate over time.

Car Antenna
via: Car Domain

9. Power Antennas

Most drivers remember having a broken antenna on their first car. Chances are, you probably had a power antenna that would cause issues. The power antennas on most modern vehicles nowadays are part of the reason that carmakers stopped utilizing this feature. The first problem was that it could become costly to replace the antenna if it malfunctioned. In addition to that repair, an electric antenna was just as time-consuming as dealing with other aspects of the electric system. You’d need an audio specialist to fix power antennas, so most consumers didn’t want to deal with them.

Car Antenna
via: Car ID

Power antennas didn’t do anything to benefit the vehicle. Instead, they just became a cumbersome part of car ownership. The power antenna will go down as another one of those memorable car features that drivers never used.

RX7 Pop up headlights
via: Car Domain

8. Pop-Up Headlights

No one is sure what the idea was behind pop-up headlights since they didn’t benefit cars in any way. They were expensive to replace and when they got stuck, you either had lights or you didn’t. Even so, there have been various renditions of pop-up headlights over the years. The last two modern cars that had pop-up headlights were the C5 Corvette and the Acura NSX. Most carmakers moved on from these after the ’80s.

BMW 8-Series
via: Car Domain

However, there are still pop-up diehards who swear by these headlights. But for the most part, pop-up headlights are just another feature that people equate with bad ’80s engineering.

Car ashtray
via: Bing

7. Ashtrays

Although not a common feature nowadays, there was a time when smoking was acceptable. All the top-tier cars had an ashtray. This was in addition to the built-in cigarette lighters in cars as recently as the early 2000s. Smoking used to be the norm in most parts of the world, so you’d be hard-pressed to find a car without an ashtray. This was a semi-useless feature because most drivers and passengers would just flick their ashes out of the window.

Car ashtray
via: Edmunds

This became such a fire hazard, that in many states it became illegal to just discard your ashes out a car window. But automakers still managed to incorporate this feature into their vehicles, which in the long run was something drivers didn’t need.

Hand brake in car
via: Edmunds

6. Hand Brakes

For a long time, if you had any type of sedan or coupe, there was probably a hand brake in-between the seats. What happened to this feature? Hand brakes were never anything most drivers would use. Unless you lived in an area with a large number of hills, the hand brake was just a useless feature. You just wouldn’t use them unless you were trying to do something stupid or reckless. During the next decade, teenagers would get a hold of their parent’s cars and yank on the hand brake like there was no tomorrow.

Hand brake in car
via: Edmunds

The hand brake was only useful in certain instances like with a manual transmission. Other than that, this was just a useless feature. In the long run, automakers ended up adapting different technologies, making the handbrake a useless feature.

Silverado Bench seat
via: Auto Bytel

5. Front Row Bench Seats

At one point in time, all cars could seat six passengers. The sedan was known as the family sedan, long before the minivan or crossovers were even a thought. Because of this, most sedans had what’s called a bench seat, a feature that you just don’t see anymore. The last modern cars to have a bench seat was the Lincoln Towncar and the Chevrolet Impala. Otherwise, this feature is been all but gone. Consumers don’t want to pack the whole family into a sedan anymore so you don’t see the bench seat.

Ram bench seat
via: Auto Bytel

It’s a cool feature to have in a retro car, but you’ll never see a bench seat in a modern vehicle. It was just an outdated feature that people never tended to use.

sealed beam headlights
via: Hot Rod

4. Sealed-Beam Headlights

Early in the evolution of the automobile, there were various aspects of the car that most people find familiar. Old-school rounded headlights were a feature most automobile owners would come across. This was because the headlights were easy to replace. But as time went on, most automakers wanted to find different ways to make the exterior look a lot smoother. Soon, sealed beam headlights were born, becoming a feature on most cars.

Sealed beam headlights
via: Auto Bytel

It’s not that sealed beam headlights were bad, but it was a useless feature that didn’t benefit the car. Automakers have since moved onto different ways of designing headlights. Today, early sealed beam headlights are a thing of the past.

Digital Gauges
via: Youtube

3. Digital Gauges

During the ’80s and the early ’90s, most automakers were trying to make vehicles that were more advanced due to the rise in technology. However, digital gauges on vehicles like the Chevrolet Corvette and Chrysler Lebaron were far too complicated. There was a lot of information on the dashboard drivers just wouldn’t use.

Even though the automakers knew that they continued to use these dashboards. Eventually, the analog dashboard was the norm on most vehicles until the next generation of cars hit.

Digital gauges
via: Youtube

Nowadays, most of your vehicle’s information is digital, which is a far cry from the lackluster digital dashes of the past. This was just a feature that most drivers never ended up using that was expensive to repair.

GM DRLS
via: GM

2. Automatic Lighting

Perhaps one of the most useless and sometimes dangerous features on automobiles was automatic lighting. This was something that you can find on cars toward the end of the ’90s and into the new millennium. The problem with automatic lighting was that most drivers would end up not paying attention to their cars.

Many drivers would assume that the headlights were on when they weren’t. This made it dangerous to drive at night and the visibility of the vehicles much lower.

Silverado DRLS
via: Car Domain

Automated lighting has changed a lot in the past few decades, but it’s still a useless feature. The more that cars are automated, the less attention drivers pay to the road.

Cadillac Eldorado
via: Car Domain

1. Cylinder Cut-Off

During the ’80s when the gas crisis was happening, many automakers including GM decided to start experimenting with cylinder deactivation. This was still a new technology, so most computers were not advanced enough, which caused a lot of frustration. The technology was especially bad for Cadillac because the Fleetwood in the repair shop more than it was on the road. The same thing happened during the 2000s when GM and Chrysler begin to experiment with the technology again. However, the fuel economy was not better. Cylinder cut-off caused was a lot of headaches for those mechanics who were unfamiliar with the technology.

Cadillac Eldorado
via: Car Domain

The cylinder deactivation of the past couple of decades was a useless attempt to increase fuel economy. It’s just not something that works on a vehicle that weighs quite a few tons and has a powerful V8 motor.

These are 25 useless car features automakers got away with for decades. If you’ve ever had to deal with any of them, you’re probably glad they are long gone. Some were useful at the time, but became obsolete with emerging technologies, while others were just plain bad from the get-go.

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