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Touchscreen controls in vehicles :/

Old 12-08-19, 11:23 AM
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Touchscreen controls in vehicles :/

Specifically, I test drove a 2020 Subaru Outback yesterday. I have a '14, and there are many differences...mostly positive IMHO. This is the first year for a massive touch screen (11.6") that controls a ton of stuff. The salesperson said it'd be $5k to replace it. Not good, but at least he was front about it. I watched a handful of utub vids on this vehicle. Apparently, the controls' user-friendliness is in question. No surprise, given its complexity. First concerns that came to mind were how the controls would perform in extreme cold, and how they'd perform with users' fingers that may be lacking the moisture a touchscreen needs to register & respond. I'm in no hurry for a new vehicle, but I am more than a little apprehensive about the likely/eventual replacement for my current car.

Anybody have good/bad to say about vehicle touchscreens for controlling everything from AC to music to traction control to map apps bluetoothed from one's phone? I wonder if these things could undergo a comprehensive re-do with an update to address major shortcomings based on customer feedback. (Yes, there is an update feature)
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Old 12-08-19, 11:43 AM
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I do not know if it is a universal feature but the ability to watch videos while the car is moving may self-disable.
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Old 12-08-19, 11:56 AM
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I have a big centered touch screen in my most recent purchase ('18) and I hate it. It does not de-activate in the slightest while driving, should be used by passenger only. Back up camera is only usable on overcast days or night. In sunshine it is totally bleached out. I can deal with all the talking car Bluetooth type stuff though.
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Old 12-08-19, 12:12 PM
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I have a 2017 VW Golf Sportwagen. There are touchscreen controls AND steering wheel controls that are mutually redundant for the most part; at least for the phone and audio. No problems navigating either. I love this car. Of course it's no longer being offered in the US. They want to sell SUVs rather than a fun to drive sports car that just happens to have the room I need for my work/play stuff and a roof rack a short guy can reach without a freakin' ladder. Those basterds...
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Old 12-08-19, 12:16 PM
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Touch screens in vehicles are usually bad design and reduce safety, but they lower the cost of the product and allow for software upgrades to add/change functionality.

The US Navy is reducing functionality via touch screens after a very costly accident.

https://www.theverge.com/2019/8/11/2...nical-controls

As a programmer specialising in user interfaces, I've seen this disaster coming for quite some time.
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Old 12-08-19, 12:34 PM
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Originally Posted by tyrion View Post
Touch screens in vehicles are usually bad design and reduce safety, but they lower the cost of the product and allow for software upgrades to add/change functionality.

The US Navy is reducing functionality via touch screens after a very costly accident.

https://www.theverge.com/2019/8/11/2...nical-controls

As a programmer specialising in user interfaces, I've seen this disaster coming for quite some time.
As a cyclist, I thought anything that required a driver to divert their attention away from the road was a bad thing... I have thought that for quite some time. You have to see it to touch it... and yes, some cars do have function buttons on the steering wheel for some features. Not all.
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Old 12-08-19, 12:54 PM
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I think the lack of tactile response is less safe with touch screen devices which one ends up looking at to hit the right buttons, as well as looking at to see if something happened.

Mom's Prius locks out a bunch of features from the touch screen. So, as a passenger, I can't program a destination into the GPS while the car is moving.

Nonetheless, to enable/disable voice prompts, it takes me though a dozen cryptic menu steps (which can be done while driving).
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Old 12-08-19, 02:18 PM
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Originally Posted by TakingMyTime View Post
I do not know if it is a universal feature but the ability to watch videos while the car is moving may self-disable.
I would be shocked if it were possible to watch videos on it at all. That'd be damned irresponsible of Subaru.
Originally Posted by FBOATSB View Post
I have a big centered touch screen in my most recent purchase ('18) and I hate it. It does not de-activate in the slightest while driving, should be used by passenger only. Back up camera is only usable on overcast days or night. In sunshine it is totally bleached out. I can deal with all the talking car Bluetooth type stuff though.
Thanks for the feedback. Glare was another concern I had. Though I hadn't thought about the bright sunshine factor.
Originally Posted by ahsposo View Post
I have a 2017 VW Golf Sportwagen. There are touchscreen controls AND steering wheel controls that are mutually redundant for the most part; at least for the phone and audio. No problems navigating either. I love this car. Of course it's no longer being offered in the US. They want to sell SUVs rather than a fun to drive sports car that just happens to have the room I need for my work/play stuff and a roof rack a short guy can reach without a freakin' ladder. Those basterds...
Glad to hear your Vdub has reasonable touchscreen controls. As for the loading of a roof rack, I usually just step up on the rear tire to access bikes and whatnot that's up top.
Originally Posted by tyrion View Post
Touch screens in vehicles are usually bad design and reduce safety, but they lower the cost of the product and allow for software upgrades to add/change functionality.

The US Navy is reducing functionality via touch screens after a very costly accident.

https://www.theverge.com/2019/8/11/2...nical-controls

As a programmer specialising in user interfaces, I've seen this disaster coming for quite some time.
Regarding cost, the same trim level Outback for 2020 is $2000 more than that of my '14. Not too bad.
Originally Posted by genec View Post
As a cyclist, I thought anything that required a driver to divert their attention away from the road was a bad thing... I have thought that for quite some time. You have to see it to touch it... and yes, some cars do have function buttons on the steering wheel for some features. Not all.
Yeah, for the tactile aspect alone, I'll likely hang onto my current Outback for another year or two. I'll wait and see how this plays out.
I was looking at the new Outbacks initially to see if their CVTs had changed/improved. Mine has a noticeable lag. Probably very minimal time lag in actuality. It just seems long.
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Old 12-08-19, 02:25 PM
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Mechanical knobs, sliders and buttons can last decades. No wonder manufacturers dislike them.
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Old 12-08-19, 02:32 PM
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Originally Posted by tyrion View Post
Touch screens in vehicles are usually bad design and reduce safety, but they lower the cost of the product and allow for software upgrades to add/change functionality.

The US Navy is reducing functionality via touch screens after a very costly accident.

https://www.theverge.com/2019/8/11/2...nical-controls

As a programmer specialising in user interfaces, I've seen this disaster coming for quite some time.
That's one helluva costly design blunder. And anyone who knows gas turbines knows their power and response in comparison to other means of propulsion.
Hopefully Subaru can get this right. My '14 Outback is the most "American made" vehicle I've owned (Made in Indiana). So far, it's had a tolerable amount hiccups (passenger airbag, engine oil usage, CVT all had recall stuff...and accompanying extension of warranty on those aspects).
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Old 12-08-19, 04:02 PM
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Originally Posted by ahsposo View Post
I have a 2017 VW Golf Sportwagen. There are touchscreen controls AND steering wheel controls that are mutually redundant for the most part; at least for the phone and audio. No problems navigating either. I love this car. Of course it's no longer being offered in the US. They want to sell SUVs rather than a fun to drive sports car that just happens to have the room I need for my work/play stuff and a roof rack a short guy can reach without a freakin' ladder. Those basterds...
come on, we all know you drive a white van that says free candy on the side
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Old 12-08-19, 04:04 PM
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Originally Posted by no motor? View Post
come on, we all know you drive a white van that says free candy on the side
That one is for my hobby. The Sportwagen is for work.
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Old 12-08-19, 04:06 PM
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Originally Posted by ahsposo View Post
That one is for my hobby. The Sportwagen is for work.
sure it's not reversed?
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Old 12-08-19, 04:52 PM
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I’d be spending a LOT of time looking at what features a manufacturer decides to control on the touch screen. I think the Ford Ranger I glanced at had its climate controls on screen. I think that’s a terrible idea, I’m OK with my ‘17 Outback just being the infotainment system. I’m also aware that the ‘18 Outbacks had huge issues with crashing and dumb design on its screen/system, that Subaru was and is awful at getting fixed.

My wife’s ‘19 Mazda 3 has all the infotainment functions on a bunch of knobs and buttons just rear of the shift lever. The screen is display only, which gave Mazda some leeway in placing the screen as it doesn’t have to be within reach. This system, once you figure out the Mazda logic, is a terrific system and well thought out as well as easy to reach and use. As the screen is placed higher in the dash, your eyes are not looking down center at the center of the instrument cluster. Subaru and Ford should hire some Mazda engineers.

Last edited by Steve B.; 12-08-19 at 10:00 PM.
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Old 12-08-19, 06:58 PM
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Originally Posted by no motor? View Post
sure it's not reversed?
What difference would that make? I make a killing at both of them...
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Old 12-08-19, 11:14 PM
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FWIW: One customer I go into regularly is a combo VW-Subaru dealership. When you go through the repair shop its probably 2/3 Subarus on the lifts, 1/3 VWs. I'd take it as coincidence if it was a one-time visit, but I go in there a few times a year and its always 2/3 - 1/3 split.
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Old 12-09-19, 03:23 AM
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i can voice or steering wheel control everything i need while driving including air conditioning. Instead of a touch screen i prefer Audiís digital instrument cluster that can be used, again with voice or steering wheel input, for navigation, phone, media and radio info and input and just takes a quick downward glance to see. Itís situated so it doesnít get any glare either. I also never have to use the infotainment screen for those features and my use of it is rare once i have the other car settings where i want them. I always have the heads up display set to speed/speed limit and alerts.
It didnít take long to understand the entire system and get it to recognize my voice.
The excellent google earth imagery on the infotainment screen is also good to zoom in and see where to go to get a photo i want .
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Old 12-09-19, 04:09 AM
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Originally Posted by clemsongirl View Post
i can voice or steering wheel control everything i need while driving including air conditioning. Instead of a touch screen i prefer Audiís digital instrument cluster that can be used, again with voice or steering wheel input, for navigation, phone, media and radio info and input and just takes a quick downward glance to see. Itís situated so it doesnít get any glare either. I also never have to use the infotainment screen for those features and my use of it is rare once i have the other car settings where i want them. I always have the heads up display set to speed/speed limit and alerts.
It didnít take long to understand the entire system and get it to recognize my voice.
The excellent google earth imagery on the infotainment screen is also good to zoom in and see where to go to get a photo i want .

Did you read the entire ~450 page user manual in one sitting? I'm willing to bet the drivers that didn't go to Clemson aren't having that same success.

Nice ad for Audi... "Suitable for any Clemson girl." I
​​bet you really enjoyed "training it.

My wife's Mazda 3 isn't that smart... it doesn't understand a lot of words.
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Old 12-09-19, 05:51 AM
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Do not like them in vehicles (or on ships).
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Old 12-09-19, 08:02 AM
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I have a 2017 Subaru Forester. The touch screen is smaller than what you describe. I think it mostly/exclusively controls the audio. It's not the greatest. Sometimes it requires multiple touches. And the "Source" button, which allows to switch from CDs to radio, etc., if finicky. You have to touch it in just the right spot. I am glad I don't need to use it to control things like the AC.
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Old 12-09-19, 10:12 AM
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Old 12-09-19, 12:53 PM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
I have a 2017 Subaru Forester. The touch screen is smaller than what you describe. I think it mostly/exclusively controls the audio. It's not the greatest. Sometimes it requires multiple touches. And the "Source" button, which allows to switch from CDs to radio, etc., if finicky. You have to touch it in just the right spot. I am glad I don't need to use it to control things like the AC.
I was unaware of Subaru's Starlink...some of its features have a monthly fee. This large screen version is only in the 2020 Outback and [IIRC] Legacy so far. And only ~half of that huge screen is utilized for certain applications, like the map. No surprise that the touchscreen has occasional problems registering, just like with a phone or tablet.
I'll wait to hear what Sub does in response to the inevitable onslaught of criticism. Maybe a 2021 or '22 if they refine it well enough. I'd have to spend a lot more time playing with those touch controls before passing judgement. At least the base Outback doesn't have this monstrosity. So some Outback skeptics/loyalists will have that alternative.
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Old 12-09-19, 01:01 PM
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Originally Posted by clemsongirl View Post
i can voice or steering wheel control everything i need while driving including air conditioning. Instead of a touch screen i prefer Audiís digital instrument cluster that can be used, again with voice or steering wheel input, for navigation, phone, media and radio info and input and just takes a quick downward glance to see. Itís situated so it doesnít get any glare either. I also never have to use the infotainment screen for those features and my use of it is rare once i have the other car settings where i want them. I always have the heads up display set to speed/speed limit and alerts.
It didnít take long to understand the entire system and get it to recognize my voice.
The excellent google earth imagery on the infotainment screen is also good to zoom in and see where to go to get a photo i want .
Thanks for the input. Unfortunately, an Audi level (price) vehicle is not in the cards for me. Hopefully, the auto manufacturers are learning from each others' mistakes with regards to these gee-whiz controls. I only learned about adaptive cruise over Thanksgiving. My brother's diesel Touareg has an issue where it likes to brake when the car in front takes the exit ramp (and presumably is decelerating).
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Old 12-09-19, 01:05 PM
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I have a 2003 Honda Element. Even for its time it was pretty low tech. Lots of big knobs for controls, which was one of the reasons I chose it. I replaced the stereo a while ago and went with the same philosophy of knobs over touchscreens. I work in the tech industry so I'm not adverse to progress, but there is some places tech does not belong.
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Old 12-09-19, 01:19 PM
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Aren't these touch screens to make driving safer? Get the driver's hand off the wheel and eyes off the road. Mind off the driving. I'm sure there is a study or two pointing to accidents caused by manipulating the steering wheel, visual misconceptions and mental errors. (Yes, there is a little sarcasm here.)

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