“I’m not talking about acceleration, steering or cornering. I’m talking about the mental effort required to successfully interact with your carâ€™s secondary features, such as in-car entertainment or the trip computer. While controls like steering (the brilliant simplicity of a wheel), throttle (foot pedal farthest to the right) and braking (second-to-right pedal) are standardized for most vehicles certified for use on a public road, the majority of other controls are confusing enough to plunge an automotive reviewer (or a Hertz Platinum Club member) into RTFM rage.
Sometimes itâ€™s a simple matter of old habits dying hard: in many ways the best interface is one you don’t have to re-learn. If you’re used to having to jab at a button several times to adjust the temperature several degrees while surveying the change on a display thatâ€™s located on the opposite hemisphere of the dash, that may be the best user interfaceâ€”for you.
But thatâ€™s not the whole story when something as basic as starting the car has now taken on innumerous forms. Do you A) insert the key in a slot (to the right or left of the steering wheel or in the center console) and turn it or B) insert the key in a hole and push it or C) insert the key into a slot and push a start button or D) ignore the key altogether as long as it’s on your person and then either push a button or twist a piece of plastic adjacent to the steering wheel? Each of these methods are used by at least one current production carâ€”and Iâ€™m sure Iâ€™ve missed at least one type of ignition sequence.
Changing gears is a similar issue.”
How easy is your car to use, asks Josh Brannon in an interesting but somewhat older editorial on the automobile blog “The Truth About Cars”.