New cars are like playgrounds for adults. There are many exciting places to explore and crawl around, but like a hot slide in July, not all of them are great.

No matter the price, some cars just don't come standard with common sense.

Here's a short list of things we could do without in our new cars.

1. The only time we want a spare tire

Spare tires now are the exceptions—not the rule. Once upon a time, we could at least count on a donut miniature spare back there. Now we're lucky to get even that.

Many automakers use emergency repair kits instead of spare tires to save weight and to cut costs. In fact, some now have made the emergency inflation kits optional. Cadillac asks $210 for a rescue kit in the new CT6.

Is it bad enough we never get a flat tire on a sunny day? Now we have to pay more to fix it?



2. For the record, vinyl sucks

In our estimation, if it isn't rich or Corinthian, it has no business being on our seating surface in luxury cars.

Yet some luxury automakers still don't make standard quality seating surfaces in cars that cost more than $30,000. Mercedes-Benz calls it MB-Tex in their cars, BMW calls it SensaTec in their cars. We just call it nonsense for the money they're asking.

2016 Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class - First Drive, July 2015

2016 Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class - First Drive, July 2015

3. Power to the (front) people

There are still a few holdouts that don't offer power-adjustable seats to front passengers in family sedans.

Volkswagen's Passat, for example, makes a power adjustable driver's seat available one trim level up from base—and even then, it's still an option. Power adjustable driver and passenger seats are only available on the $31,000 SEL, which is a far cry from the sedan's base price of around $23,000.

2017 Buick Encore, 2016 New York Auto Show

2017 Buick Encore, 2016 New York Auto Show

4. Can you see me now?

Rear visibility may qualify as a premium feature in many cars today.

On sports cars like the Chevrolet Camaro, it's borderline acceptable—rockets don't have rearview mirrors either. But on many other cars including family crossovers, thick rear pillars make it nearly impossible to check a blind spot in traffic. Buick Encore, I'm looking at you—or at least trying to.

Ford Gen 2 Ecoboost 3.5-liter V-6

Ford Gen 2 Ecoboost 3.5-liter V-6

5. Fuel economy, or something like it

The EPA's fuel economy test isn't a surprise. Automakers know the program, and in many cases "build to the test" in order to eke out a passing grade. We're pretty sure that's the only way we finished college, too. 

What is new is the way drivers are struggling to adjust to smaller-displacement, turbocharged engines that can swing wildly whether you're on- or off-boost.

New Ford F-150 truck buyers are some of the most vocal critics, but they aren't alone in their struggles. Volvo's XC60 can be notoriously finicky about its mileage returns too and we're even having problems meeting EPA figures with our Honda Pilot, which isn't a turbo.

Cadillac's Rear Vision Camera with Dynamic Guidelines - image: GM Corp

Cadillac's Rear Vision Camera with Dynamic Guidelines - image: GM Corp

6. And now our feature presentation

We used to call it the "Honda rule," but they've shaped up over the past few years: Automakers have a habit of burying popular (and sometimes necessary) features within packages that can add thousands more to the cost of a new car.

For example, the 2017 Mini Cooper links its $500 rearview camera with a $500 proximity parking assistant, which we're not sure the latter is strictly necessary for such a small car. But Mini isn't the only offender. Mercedes-Benz can be ruthless with their options packaging, and any GM ordering sheet can be an exercise in futility.

Just let us pay for a rearview camera and Apple CarPlay please.

Apple CarPlay

Apple CarPlay

7. Phoning it in

Speaking of CarPlay—or Android Auto, if you prefer—universal adoption of the smartphone systems have taken far longer than we expected. Even the world's largest automaker (Toyota) won't commit.

We understand the hesitation, but the people have spoken: Automakers can't make better operating systems than the ones already in our pockets.

New car infotainment is a no-brainer for automakers if they just ask Apple and Google to handle it for them.

MyLincoln Touch - 2011 Lincoln MKX

MyLincoln Touch - 2011 Lincoln MKX

8. Way too touchy

Touch-sensitive controls were exciting in the 1940s when futurists also predicted we'd be controlling microwaves with our minds.

Since then, we've learned that not everything needs to be controlled via touchscreen. We just wonder why some automakers haven't got the memo.

Lincoln's touch-sensitive sliders for volume and temperature controls were Public Enemy No. 1 for a while, but now it appears Infiniti's eager to take the crown with its dual-screen setup. A word of warning: Try before you buy and envision a cold morning grocery store run. We're guessing those touch controls won't be so "gee whiz" anymore when you have to take your gloves off in bitter cold. 

Visteon HD Radio

Visteon HD Radio

9. Scratch that CD player

The days of swapping CDs in our car stereos were numbered when we could store thousands of songs on thumb-sized disks and lose those every two weeks. That was 15 years ago.

Many automakers still insist on putting CD players in car stereos and one study shows that by 2020, at least one-third of new cars will have a physical media player. That's despite the fact that three out of four new cars today have a USB reader or AUX port as standard equipment.

Can't we just have a nicer screen instead, please?

Gooseneck hinge

Gooseneck hinge

10. Fringe hinge

Like anyone who's crushed a loaf of bread before or struggled to wonder why the trunk won't close, the type of hinge can be one of those "quality of life" things that makes us more frustrated than long division.

Some automakers have adopted piano hinges that don't eat as much into overall cargo space, but the odd gooseneck hinge can still be found nowadays, and we'd rather just walk into oncoming traffic at that point.

Thanks a lot, Volkswagen.


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