Hooray for Mazda

Monday, June 17, 2019

Mazda has just announced that it will rid its cars of touch-screen control interfaces, something I was beginning to fear I'd be stuck with the next time I need to buy a new car:

Image by John Schnobrich, via Unsplash, license.
"Doing our research, when a driver would reach towards a touch-screen interface in any vehicle, they would unintentionally apply torque to the steering wheel, and the vehicle would drift out of its lane position," said Matthew Valbuena, Mazda North America's lead engineer for HMI and infotainment.

"And of course with a touchscreen you have to be looking at the screen while you're touching ... so for that reason we were comfortable removing the touch-screen functionality," he added. [format edits]
Touchscreens for everything has always struck me as a fad, and it's nice to see that we won't necessarily have to suffer with such an awful design decision. On car rentals, I have had to deal with touchscreens and found that they added an unnecessary level of difficulty to what had been and should be simple operations. On top of that and the two major safety issues noted above, I absolutely hate having a glowing rectangle in my field of view when driving at night. I may have to live with that, but at least there is now a good prospect that having to look directly at as I drive might be off the table.

I have been a Honda man for almost all of my driving life and, for a bit over a year now, a Subaru man. But I will definitely consider Mazda if they stick to their guns, and nobody else takes notice.

Technology is supposed to make our lives easier and better. Blindly applying new technology to already-solved problems does not necessarily lead to improvement and can actually do more harm than good. I am glad to see that at least one automaker has stepped back from what I would call, with apologies to Richard Feynman, cargo-cult technology.

-- CAV


Blair said...

Oddly enough, I'm leaning heavily toward the Mazda 6 as my next vehicle. I, too, can do without most of this 'touch-screen' gadgetry, though I know I'll have to wait to see it.
P.S. My wife likes the Subaru Legacy as her next car. We'll see.


Gus Van Horn said...


When I had to replace the Subaru that got rear-ended, one of my top two choices was a deluxe edition of my car's model year which, I was sad to see, had a plasma screen. (I liked other aspects of the car enough that I was willing to tolerate it.) But then I looked at the regular version of the next model year. No screen, and it felt just like driving the other car. The fact that it had about 20,000 fewer miles on it was the deciding factor, but I am glad not to have a screen.


Snedcat said...

Yo, Gus, for the three months I lived in California recently, I practiced driving a car with a touch screen. I quickly decided the touch screen was strictly for the benefit of passengers, because it was of no benefit to me as a driver. And since I firmly adhere to the belief that the driver chooses the music, letting the passenger (likely to be my wife, who recognizes no such rule) have access to such power is strictly unacceptable.

Background grumbles about that: My old driver's license had expired a couple of months before. Many states would allow new residents with expired licenses from other states to get a license without too much trouble, I gather. Not California. I had to get a vision test and take a whole new driver's test...which had to be by appointment, and the earliest appointment at any branch in the state was 5 weeks after the written test. Oddly enough, that was not too much more trouble than my foreign license, for which I had to have a US license that would not expire during the time the new license would be valid--and as my license expired four months after the new license would have started, they said no. My wife had to make use of her connections with a government minister (!) to get this bit of ridiculousness waived...and we had to make a substantial voluntary donation to the police fund. Then, for the cherry of surrealness atop the crap sundae of the law being an ass, when I went to get my new license, I had to wait three hours because it was the day of the big police memorial day, so all the staff was out and about practicing for the big show that night. For about ten minutes I got to enjoy the scene of several police women being shepherded back and forth in Vegas showgirl outfits in navy blue and silver, then relaxed for a couple of hours listening to the police band practice. (I decided I might get violently evicted if I tried to peek in the auditorium where the Vegas police girls were dancing...and besides, the band was darned good.) Finally, one of the Vegas police girls was told to get me my license, which was in a box inside an office. It took all of one minute. Yeesh. It was a cute outfit though...

Gus Van Horn said...


That is an amusing take on the problem and an amusing story, if somewhat frustrating to you at the time.