The Fast and the Featureless

Features I like and don’t like in vehicles.

Vanellope is in the shop for a recall and I’ve been driving a loaner vehicle. My latest contract has sent me on hour-long commutes to rural areas and I’ve had plenty of time to think about features I like and don’t like in vehicles.

For context, the vehicles I’ve had during my short adult life are two VW Jettas and a Ford Transit Connect, the latter of which is my favorite by far and continues to hold the top spot even as I drive newer loaners and company vehicles. Now the secret’s out and the wagon version has become pricey as former Ford Flex fans flock, but if everything aligns when my current TC bites the dust I will buy another one.

I wish public transit was more of an option, but until then here’s what I look for in a vehicle. The list is heavy on details because implementations vary by manufacturer, and things that might fall into the common sense category are often missing. For example, the loaner vehicle I’m driving has a one-touch lower feature for the driver’s window, and I expect it to work for raising the window. It does not.

Standard features

These are features I expect at a minimum. Not all are strictly required, but they’re difficult to live without. Driving is a chore and many of these make it less of a grueling experience.

If you read all that, I’m so sorry. Unless you’re a car salesperson I emailed this to—then I hope you read it all and took notes.

Optional features

These are nice to have and many carry a significant cost as they’re often restricted to higher trim levels. Auto-dimming side mirrors are almost a requirement with the excessive height of today’s trucks but are difficult to find. CarPlay is great and should be a requirement but can be hard to find in combination with the above features at a sane price. It’s either you get below base model specs plus CarPlay for the price of an arm, or you get reasonable specs plus CarPlay for the price of an arm, two legs, and six organs. Ridiculous! Back in my day we paid in fingers and we liked it.

Features I do not want

These are dealbreakers. If I can’t turn them off I will not buy a vehicle with them.