Physical buttons outperform touchscreens in new cars, test finds

Physical buttons are increasingly rare in modern cars. Most manufacturers are switching to touchscreens – which perform far worse in a test carried out by Swedish car magazine Vi Bilägare. The driver in the worst-performing car needs four times longer to perform simple tasks than in the best-performing car.

The easiest car to understand and operate, by a large margin, is the 2005 Volvo V70.

Some more context by Jesus Diaz in Fast Company:

Even if screens appear flashier to consumers, or are less expensive for manufacturers to implement than physical buttons, they come at another cost. The time it takes to perform tasks in a car is not only a nuisance but also, as Amber Case—design expert, research fellow at Mozilla Foundation, and author of Calm Technologypoints out, can be distracting and dangerous.

“Because buttons are not fixed to specific locations, screens inhibit muscle memory and findability,” Case says. “Touchscreens compete for attention with the driving process, adding to the dangers of distracted driving.”