Manufacturers like pushing the envelope of what goodies we get as standard in our cars, but after a while, certain features become so ubiquitous across the industry that they don’t deserve to be advertised as features anymore. This is a list of the features that should be relegated to the standard equipment that no longer needs an introduction along with the steering wheel, horn, and seatbelts. Ultimately, ads that highlight these shared bits of standard equipment feel lazy and give the impression that the vehicle doesn’t offer much worth bragging about.
A/C and Heater
There was a time when keeping fresh in the summer and warm in the winter was a luxury you had to pay extra money for your car or live with winding down the windows. Those days have come and gone, however, since heat and air conditioning are standard features on pretty well every vehicle these days. Unless you’re buying a race car, few people would even consider a car without this “feature.” The public decided that being able to control how hot or cold the passenger compartment is an essential element back in the 1950s. Updates to the system include multiple zones of climate control and changing the sliding temp arm to a digitized thermostat, pretty much the equivalent of sticking a digital clock on it and calling it new. Still though, for all the updates done over the decades we expect our cars to have heat and air, just tell us what flourish you’ve added if it’s significant.
Dear car manufacturers, stop trying to sell us on cup holders. We know they’re there. Every car has them. Some have more, some have less, but they all have them. The newest ridiculous scheme to pitch drink holders to us comes from Nissan, pushing the ‘dog-bone’ style cup holder, as if taking the divider from between the holes in my console is some great innovation, instead of another awkward cavity to get clean. Someone better call Nissan though and let them know my Rio beat them to the punch by five years. Every daily driver needs a place to set their coffee on the way to work, and consumers have come to expect that vehicles will be equipped with little recesses to stick our stuff in, including our cups.
Having a place to set my coffee inside my vehicle is just as important as being able to see outside my vehicle, but manufacturers can stop telling me about this next one.
Pretty much every vehicle with a rear window that sits at more than 60° has a rear wiper. This has been the standard now since about the mid-90s, and with the rise of hatchbacks and crossovers, rear wipers aren’t just for SUVs and vans anymore. Which is why the back wiper needs to stop being advertised - like opinions and orifices, everyone has one. And I’m not wholly convinced that they’re an excellent invention since every time I clean my rear window, streaks of washer fluid run down the hatch, necessitating a spray down to keep the liquid from eating at the clearcoat.
In most places, vehicles are required by law to have airbags, which is why it’s frustrating when I see them listed as a feature. The Government requires they be there; the consumer is fully aware that cars have airbags - so why do manufacturers act like it’s 1951 and this is some new invention? While I realize different configurations range from simple driver and front passenger forward bags to full side curtains that turn the inside of your vehicle into a momentary marshmallow. Safety is an important factor, especially for car buyers with kids, but telling me about a feature I already expect in my vehicle comes off as condescending towards the consumer. But hey, if car makers didn’t treat their customers as if they were a bunch of bumbling idiots who don’t know a Fiero from a Fiesta, we wouldn’t have this list.
Just be careful you don't get locked in with our next non-feature.
Power Windows And Door Locks
Kids today just don’t understand the phrase “roll down the window” since power windows have come to almost wholly replace the old window crank. This tech has been around since before the US got involved in the second World War, though it took more than some time to infiltrate the entire market. Hearing an announcer list through features on a commercial only to say ‘and standard power windows and door locks’ is as redundant as telling me my car has tires at this point. While there are vehicles with manual crankable windows available, they are rare enough that they should be the ones advertising their ancient technology to the retro crowd and not the other way around.
AM/FM/CD Audio System
We’re closing in on ninety years since the first in-car radio and manufacturers do a lot to remind us that they’ve been working hard to make our music and podcasts sound good while we’re on the move. After nine decades of the same sales pitch, however, it’s getting a little old. While FM follows the AM radio band to its grave, the future of vehicular music seems to be in space-based satellite radio and personal tastes aired from the phone in your pocket. On top of that, while CDs haven’t completely died out, the rise of streaming services and the ability to keep a music library that would rival the available music of most radio stations in your pocket spell a slow death for the compact disc slot. Releasing any car to market without a radio is obviously not an option and would only raise an awkward silence, we just wish manufacturers would stop announcing the radio like it’s some new-fangled invention.
When you buy a road rated performance car, you want to take your friends out and show them how much fun unreasonable amounts of torque and horsepower can be. Unfortunately, you’ll have to shell out a couple of extra dollars to bring your friends if you opt for the Challenger SRT Demon since the base model only comes with a driver seat. The just barely road-legal Dodge Challenger SRT Demon pushes out a massive 840 hp and can push the driver to 62 mph in 2.3 seconds. Luckily, Dodge is only charging a dollar per seat so you can tip your salesman with the savings.
While marketing requires informing us of vehicle features, car commercials can start to feel like being talked at by the guy who peaked on the football team in high school and never accomplished much since then. Hopefully, with the technology coming out, manufacturers can woo us by focussing on cool new toys instead of repackaging the same old.