Reported by Benjamin Zhang

Automotive technology has improved by leaps and bounds in recent years. 

Radios have been replaced with infotainment systems while the trusty park brake lever has been replaced by an electric switch.

Many of these new fangled features are really helpful and provide consumers greater levels of safety, comfort, and connectivity.

Features like adaptive cruise control, blind spot warning, and 360-degree camera systems have all made driving safer and a bit less stressful. 

However, there are some features that are less helpful. Some of these features are well-intentioned but unsuccessful attempts to integrate new technology into the cars while others can be chalked up to poorly designed interior layouts.

Here is a closer look at 10 of the most useless features in cars today:

10. Rear-seat entertainment systems

Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

Rear seat entertainment systems were all the rage back in the 1990s and the 2000s. However, with the advent of tablets; smartphones; and Wi-Fi hotspots, the value of these expensive systems have diminished.

9. Paddle shifters

Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

Paddle shifters are great on a performance machine. They allow the driver to make quick gear shifts without taking their hands off the steering. It's incredibly useful if you're carving up a racetrack in your McLaren 720S or Ferrari 488. They are decidedly less useful in your Toyota Camry family sedan or crossover SUV.

8. Third-row seats in compact crossover SUVs


The market for compact crossover SUVs is booming. The segment now accounts for roughly one out of every five vehicles sold in the US. As a result, a few brands have added a third row to differentiate themselves from the competition. However, these third-row seats, like the ones found on the second generation Volkswagen Tiguan, are pretty much useless. They tend to be so cramped that only small children can fit. Even then, it may require you to shift the second row forward, thereby compromising the comfort of those passengers as well.

7. Social media integration

Hollis Johnson

Our society has grown to be social media-centric in recent years. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have become central to how we communicate. Naturally, car companies wanted to use social media integration as a selling point for its infotainment system. But to be honest, do we really need to tweet while driving down the highway? No.

6. Voice control

Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

Voice recognition has been available on mainstream automobiles for the better part of two decades. For the most part, voice recognition systems have been useless. They are bulky to use and aren't good at understanding what you are saying. To be fair, they've gotten substantially better in recent years, but are still not all that great.

5. Head-up display


Head-up displays (HUD) are growing in popularity. We've seen them on everything from luxury cars from Audi to entry-level subcompact crossover from Hyundai. HUD systems look cool, but I have rarely found them to be all that useful, especially considering how clear modern digital gauge clusters have become.

4. Digital shifter

Matthew DeBord/BI

Automakers across the board have begun to adopt new electronic gearshifts instead of the traditional PRND tree design. Unfortunately, many of these shifters are finicky and imprecise to use.

3. Touchpad controllers

Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

Car makers have resorted to a number of different ways to control their infotainment systems ranging from touchscreens to rotary dials. However, the touchpad controller is by far the one I despise the most. Even with capacitive feedback, the touchpads I've used are still too imprecise to use safely and effectively while driving.

2. Touchscreen air vent controls

Hollis Johnson

The Porsche Panamera is one of our favorite sports/luxury sedans on the market. However, the Panamera's electronic air vent control while interesting as a concept is an annoyance in day-to-day operation. Having to into a submenu in the infotainment system to adjust the air vent adds an unnecessary step in what is traditionally a very simple task.

1. Gesture control


The idea of gesture control is really cool - swipe your arm to answer a call or twirl your finger to adjust the volume. In practice, it's not particularly useful. All of the functions controlled by gesture control are available at the press of a button on the steering wheel or the dash. Both options are demonstrably easier to use and won't have you gesticulating wildly in your car as you drive along.