Fewer things grind my gears more than the absence of a little feature that ought to be standard in cars by now.
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Here's the enormity of my quibbling faultfinding, though: I'm not here right now to go on about utterly crucial systems like lane-keep assistance and autonomous emergency braking. Those should absolutely be standard by now, but that's not where I'm at today.

It's auto up-and-down windows at all corners. It's automatic headlights. It's one-touch three-blink indicators. It's digital radio. It's infotainment interfaces designed by somebody other than the CEO's 12-year-old nephew. In 1997.

This story was first published in January 2018.

These omissions drive me utterly bananas.

I can appreciate that developing and tooling up for a new global model costs hundreds of millions, even billions, and budgets are often tight. But if you can't throw in a quartet of one-tap automatic windows because the accountants demanded you shave eight cents off the production of each car – just to keep the shareholders in first class – you're a company led by a group of certified prats.

It may be a legitimate cost issue, but that car is the second- or even most-expensive thing many motorists will buy.

Give the people their automatic windows! Give them their one-touch three-blink indicators! Stop giving your infotainment work to the family dog and hire a user-interface expert! The iPhone has been around more than 10 years now, folks. It can't be that hard.

Alright, fine. I'm being petty. But, remember when air-conditioning of any sort was either not available, or a $cost option? Many years later, you now won't find a car without it. Likewise, power windows.

It's not as though the absence of all these little tricks would ever be an outright dealbreaker on a new purchase. But, the thing is… the brands know this. They know you're not going to cancel that order just because the passenger window doesn't go up without holding your finger on the switch. The joke's on us.

I'm sure you'll tell me all about the inconsequence of these gripes in the comments. But, hey, I canvassed the CarAdvice team - from the journos right through to our admin and production and sales teams - and it's clear I'm not alone.

Safety aside (which we've talked about a lot in the past), here are all the neat little features we reckon should be standard by now, years after they first surfaced.

  • Rear air vents
  • Rear-view camera, no sensors at the front (particularly on large cars)
  • Dipping side mirrors when reversing (particularly on top-spec or premium cars)
  • Automatic folding mirrors
  • Keyless entry or start (although I'm told some people prefer traditional ignition, considering it a safer approach)
  • A cassette deck (How did this one get in...)
  • Automatic lights or wipers
  • Radar cruise control
  • CarPlay/Android, and not as a $cost option (particularly in premium cars)
  • A spot dedicated to phone and keys (okay, so there's your pockets and the glove box, but still…)
  • Head-up display

Alright, I'm done.

What are the 'little things' that bug you most in their absence from today's cars? What have we forgotten? Would any of them stop you buying? Tell us in the comments below.


Listen to Mike Stevens discuss this below, and catch more like this at caradvice.com/podcast.