List: Ten Awesome Unnecessary Automotive Features

By John Beltz Snyder

April 05, 2011


SynchroRev Match: – Some of the purists may call it cheating, but the Sport Package in the manual-transmission-equipped Nissan 370Z has a feature that will blip the throttle and hold it for you as you downshift, always leaving you in the perfect rev spot for instant power. It feels mighty heroic, and we’re not ashamed to love it.


Party Mode: The Toyota 4Runner offers a funny little button next to the steering wheel that says “Party Mode.” We don’t know what it does, but we keep it on all the time. Kidding aside, it actually is an audio setting that increases the bass level, and shifts the fade toward the rear of the vehicle. Perfect for tailgating before the big game.


EcoGuide Leaves: Ford’s Fusion Hybrid includes a little game you can play to incentivize efficient driving. As your driving habits shift to consume less fuel, little leaves sprout up on the display next to the gauges. Drive too hard, and the leaves disappear. Even our heavy-footed editors found themselves trying to cultivate the biggest harvest.


Drive-Dynamic Seat: – Some of the Mercedes-Benz cars we’ve driven offer this as part of the Premium Package. Not only can you get a massage, but the bolsters will individually inflate in a corner to hold you firmly in place against g-forces. It works in tandem with the stability control to judge when you can use a little squeeze. Startling at first, but brilliant for those twisty back roads.


Mission Control: The Mini Cooper Camden Edition has several characters that talk to you while you’re driving. They comment cheekily on acceleration and turning. We’ve even heard that the system can be hacked in order to add your own sayings to Mission Control. A fun feature, but it can be mildly annoying after a while (yes, you can turn it off).


Purple Velvet Glovebox: Probably the least useful on this list. The Jaguar XJ Supersport has an eye-grabbing, electric purple velvet lining in the glove compartment and the center storage compartment. It glows almost as if under a black light, and it looks fantastic, if admittedly out of place.


Adjustable Ride Height: It can be found in many of the larger SUVs. Yeah, it’s useful for off-roading or for aerodynamics, but it’s most impressive when getting out of the car. When your date reaches for the door handle, ask her to wait, then lower the car for easy egress. Bonus points if you get out to open her door while she waits for the car to lower.


Launch Control: Not necessary, no, but really useful and exciting. That moment before takeoff is filled with such tension and suspense for both driver and passenger. Launch itself is one of the most visceral experiences offered in any automobile. Especially in a car like the Porsche 911 Turbo. Hold onto your lunch!


Speaker Lights: The Kia Soul offers red lights inside the speakers. They can remain on, or they can glow on and off in a soothing, repeating fashion. Most impressively, though, is setting them to light up along with whatever music is playing. New passengers always get a kick out of it.


Magic Sky Control: The 2012 Mercedes-Benz SLK roadster offers a new feature when the top is up (which can only mean precipitation of some sort, right?). Magic Sky Control lets the driver change the panoramic glass roof from light to dark with the touch of a button. It’s like Transitions lenses, but for your whole roof.

SynchroRev Party EcoGuide Drive-Dynamic Mission Purple Adjustable Launch Speaker Magic

A lot of carmakers like to create gimmicks that help set them apart from other brands and add a little uniqueness to their vehicles. Some of these features actually enhance the driving experience, while others are little more than clever party tricks to impress your passengers. Whether they are useful or not, we don’t really need them, but here is a list of ten that we want anyway.