Joe asks Jody Victor®: 10 Best Values In Used Cars, 2012 II

If the economy hasn’t affected you, maybe common sense has. I asked Jody Victor® to continue on with the best used car values.

Jody Victor®: Joe, it never hurts to look at all your options. If a used car makes more sense for your budget then do it! Here’s the rest of the list of best used car values, from an article by Jessica Anderson of Kipplinger and msn.com.

2008 Subaru Outback 2.5i

Price when new: $25,240 (automatic)
Dealer used price: $15,218
Private-party price: $14,068
Certified used price: $16,256
MPG (city/hwy): 20/26

The Outback offers the best of both worlds: car-like construction to aid in maneuverability and fuel economy, plus the utility of all-wheel drive, copious amounts of cargo room (34 cubic feet) and a higher stance that improves visibility. Six airbags are standard, and it was an IIHS Top Safety Pick, too.

2009 Ford Taurus Limited

Price when new: $31,495
Dealer used price: $16,634
Private-party price: $15,271
Certified used price: $17,653
MPG (city/hwy): 18/28

Just a year after Ford revived the Taurus nameplate, it added standard stability control and earned a Top Safety Pick designation from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The Limited trim comes with Ford’s voice-activated SYNC system, which allows you to connect music devices with USB and phones via Bluetooth, making them easier to use safely.

2008 Mazda CX-9 Sport

Price when new: $30,035
Dealer used price: $18,315
Private-party price: $16,689
Certified used price: $20,424
MPG (city/hwy): 16/22

It seats seven and has 17 cubic feet of cargo space behind its third-row seats (48 cubic feet with the third row folded down), which helped the CX-9 win Kiplinger’s Best in Class award for this model year. Safety bragging rights include an optional blind-spot monitoring system — which will alert you if there’s something in your blind spot when you attempt to change lanes — and standard stability control.

2009 Toyota Sienna LE

Price when new: $26,865 (7-passenger)
Dealer used price: $18,463
Private-party price: $16,692
Certified used price: $19,882
MPG (city/hwy): 17/23

Multiple seating configurations make this minivan family- and cargo-friendly. In the seven-passenger Sienna LE, the removable second row captain’s chairs can be spaced out to give your brood elbow room, or arranged as a bench for easier access to the third row. The third row is split 60/40, and the sections fold over or completely flat. Even the front passenger seat folds down, should you have serious cargo needs.

2009 Infiniti G37x AWD

Price when new: $36,615
Dealer used price: $23,889
Private-party price: $22,308
Certified used price: $26,174
MPG (city/hwy): 18/25

The Infiniti G gives German sedans like the BMW 3-Series and Audi A4 a run for their money, but it costs thousands less. The 2009 model got a larger, 3.7-liter V6 engine that puts out 328 horsepower, as well as a seven-speed automatic transmission — plus, it packs in essential safety features, such as head and side airbags and stability control.

Thanks, Jody! We’ll be sure to check these great vehicles out.

Joe Victor

 

Joe asks Jody Victor®: 10 Best Values In Used Cars, 2012

If you are in the market for a new car, you may want to consider a used car instead. In keeping with this idea, I asked Jody Victor®  to give us some used car suggestions.

Jody Victor®: Hey, Joe, you might have hit on something there. A good used car can save you money and you may be able to afford a fancier car than you would have new. Here’s a few suggestions from an article by Jessica Anderson of Kipplinger and msn.com  in 2 parts.

2008 Hyundai Sonata GLS

Price when new: $19,545 (automatic)
Dealer used price: $9,902
Private-party price: $8,731
Certified used price: $11,480
MPG (city/hwy): 21/30

Hyundai’s Sonata offers a thrifty 2.4-liter engine, standard stability control and six airbags. Plus, it keeps ownership costs low — the brand’s 5-year/60,000-miles new-car warranty and five-year no-charge roadside assistance transfer to new owners (they get the remainder of both). The famed 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty, however, doesn’t transfer.

2009 Subaru Impreza 2.5i sedan

Price when new: $18,190
Dealer used price: $12,191
Private-party price: $10,967
Certified used price: $12,859
MPG (city/hwy): 20/27

Engaging driving dynamics and Subaru’s always-standard all-wheel drive are only part of the Impreza’s appeal. It garnered a Top Safety Pick from the IIHS and has side and side-curtain airbags. If a collision causes the front airbags to deploy, smart technology protects the driver and front-seat passenger. Sensors measure the driver’s proximity to the steering wheel, as well as the passenger’s weight (to determine whether a child or an adult is occupying the seat), and adjust the airbags’ force accordingly.

2009 Chevrolet Malibu 1LT

Price when new: $23,225
Dealer used price: $13,114
Private-party price: $11,937
Certified used price: $14,141
MPG (city/hwy): 22/33

With its 2008 redesign, the Malibu garnered a lot of accolades: Kiplinger’s Best New Car and Best in Class awards were just a cherry topping to the industry’s prestigious North American Car of the Year award. But to play it safe, we recommend buying a redesigned vehicle in the second year of production — the first year’s examples often have kinks to work out. For 2009, stability control became standard across the trim lineup, along with side and side-curtain airbags.

2009 Nissan Rogue S

Price when new: $21,020
Dealer used price: $14,971
Private-party price: $13,435
Certified used price: $16,123
MPG (city/hwy): 22/27

After a 2008 redesign, when we named it Best New Small Crossover, the Rogue ascended to Kiplinger’s Best in Class award for 2009. Its stylish exterior complements the value it holds inside — including a peppy 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, stability and traction control, and six airbags. Plus, it was rated a Top Safety Pick by the IIHS.

2008 Honda CR-V LX

Price when new: $21,370
Dealer used price: $15,135
Private-party price: $14,089
Certified used price: $16,402
MPG (city/hwy): 20/27

A perennial Kiplinger’s Best New and Best Used pick, the Honda CR-V keeps its value throughout its lifespan. It boasts fuel economy on par with a midsize sedan, but it has more than twice the cargo capacity (36 cubic feet behind the rear seats). Its standard stability control and six airbags helped win it a Top Safety Pick from the IIHS.

Thanks, Jody! More next time.

Joe Victor

Joe asks Jody Victor®: Best Quality Cars, 2012 Part IV

The last group did include some of my favorites. Cant’ wait to see what Jody Victor® will include this time from an article by Clifford Atiyeh from MSN Autos and msn.com.

Jody Victor®: Yes Joe, we saved the best for last. Here is our last installment on the best of the best for 2012.

Top Large Crossover/SUV: Ford Expedition

This is a weird choice, considering that the Expedition has been long forgotten in the Ford lineup in favor of smaller, more fuel-efficient SUVs. For its sheer towing capacity, living-room size and brute strength, it’s hard to argue with an Expedition or its luxury cousin, the Lincoln Navigator. We’d like to think that better, more modern V8-powered 3-row SUVs are available.

Top Midsize Premium Crossover/SUV: Lexus RX

Lexus pretty much invented the luxury crossover segment with the first RX 15 years ago. It had a level of quality and style that other automakers couldn’t match for many years. Today, it’s still one of the best. The RX’s ride is quiet and smooth, and the interior is posh. The mouse controller on the infotainment system is almost impossible to use, though.

Top Large Premium Crossover/SUV: Cadillac Escalade

This old-school Cadillac is huge and dripping with chrome all the way down to its 22-inch rims. It’s not even as nice as it could be inside for its $80,000 price tag. But high-tech features such as magnetic suspension give this rig outstanding poise for its supersize weight. Choosing an Escalade means you have little concern for gas prices or getting your car stolen, which insurance companies agree is likely to happen.

Top Large Pickup: GMC Sierra 1500

Tough construction, good reliability and above-average resale value make full-size General Motors pickups easy choices. Plus, they come in many configurations and styles to fit any budget and occupation. Denali models are especially well-trimmed and chromed without being gaudy. Plus, a natural-gas option is now available for those who have access to the cheap fuel.

Top Midsize Pickup: Nissan Frontier

American manufacturers aren’t paying much attention to smaller pickups anymore, so it goes without saying that Nissan has a good — if extremely basic — truck for this segment. The Frontier is short on refinement, but it offers a spacious bed and enough torque for most jobs. It’s a prime example that keeping things simple can pay off in the long run

Top Minivan: Nissan Quest

If you can live with its funky, upright design, you’ll find the Nissan Quest perfectly capable for minivan duty. Folding seats, an under-floor cargo bin, available DVD entertainment systems, power doors, a dual glass moon-roof — it’s all here. That Nissan has beaten its more popular van rivals from Honda and Toyota is impressive, although we’re still partial to the Odyssey.

Thanks, Jody! We’ll be sure to check them all out!

Joe Victor

 

Joe asks Jody Victor®: Best Quality Cars, 2012 Part III

So far, we’ve seen about what you would expect in the choices for best vehicles. I asked Jody Victor® to continue with the third installment from an article by Clifford Atiyeh of MSN Autos and msn.com.

Jody Victor®: Hey Joe, this next segment will be a refreshing change-up. Some of our favorites are included. So here we go.

Top Premium Sport Car: Porsche 911

Somehow, Porsche ends up having fewer problems than Honda or Mercedes (we’ll chalk it up to lower production volume and fewer miles traveled). Whatever the reason, the 911 is a fantastic way to spend upwards of $80,000. It’s practical, conservative-looking, yet altogether badass when the time comes to push it on a favorite back road. Among sports cars, the 911 is an indisputable legend that’s been going strong for five decades.

Top Compact Crossover/SUV: Honda CR-V

In 1997, the CR-V was one of the few compact crossovers, and Honda got it right from the start. With its slim proportions, all-wheel drive and generous cargo room, the CR-V is about as utilitarian as anyone really needs. The 4-cylinder engines are snappy and good on fuel, and while the interiors need some improvement and the doors feel flimsy, there’s a lot of well-engineered car here.

Top Compact MPV: Kia Soul

While hip-hop hamsters drive it on TV, in real life the Kia Soul is driven by all sorts of people, much like how Scion has attracted buyers beyond its original “youth” demographic. The boxy Soul, with its pulsing speaker lights and oddball cloth textures, is fun to drive and invites stares. Generous cargo space, simple controls and Kia’s impressive powertrain warranty seal the deal.

Top Entry Premium Crossover/SUV: Infiniti EX

The EX crossover is essentially a G sedan with more headroom and a hatch. Therefore, it nearly matches the G’s aggressive attitude, with crisp handling and powerful acceleration that’s livelier than an Audi Q5. The interior is feeling a little old next to Infiniti’s other models, and the ride can be rough at times. But it’s nice to have a crossover exhibiting some old-fashioned soul.

Top Midsize Crossover/SUV: Buick Enclave

Among three-row SUVs, this Buick outsells them all. It’s a stylish, ultraquiet family hauler with all the trimmings — and unlike previous Buick SUVs, it’s not a carbon copy of a cheaper Chevrolet. For 2013, the Enclave gets a mild refresh with more soft-touch interior materials and other moderate improvements. If you can stand minivans, you won’t do much better for the price than this Buick.

Thanks, Jody! More next time!

Joe Victor

Joe asks Jody Victor®: Best Quality Cars, 2012 Part II

I was not too surpriesed at the vehicles in our first part. In our second part, we will continue to look at the best of the best vehicles for 2012. Jody Victor®  will give us the next installment from an article by Clifford Atiyeh of MSN Autos and msn.com.

Jody Victor®: Okay Joe, now we get to the best midsize vehicles. Remember these vehicles were chosen by the author and J.D. Power – not necessarily yours or my choices. They make great points though, on why they made these particular choices. Here we go.

Top Midsize Premium Car: Infiniti M

The M, redesigned for 2011, has some of the most dramatic, flashy styling in its segment, especially with the sport model’s 20-inch wheels and sparkled wood trim. Its adaptive cruise control can start and stop the vehicle in rush-hour traffic without fault. There’s also a hybrid and available all-wheel drive. Keep in mind it’s not cheap or good on gas.

Top Midsize Sporty Car: Ford Mustang

A perennial favorite, the Mustang continues its formula of big-engine, rear-wheel-drive fun for little money. Newer models have higher-quality interiors and more fuel-efficient V6 engines that make as much power as the old V8s. Whether coupe or convertible, GT or the 200-mph Shelby GT500, the Mustang is as much a generational symbol of American progress as it is a serious sports car.

Top Large Premium Car: Lexus LS

Like the Miata, the Lexus LS changed the preconceptions of its market segment when it was introduced in 1989. While the latest LS looks somewhat dated, it’s still a solid tank of a car that glides like it’s riding on glass, much like the Mercedes S-Class (which the LS now almost matches in price). The hybrid 600hL doesn’t save fuel, but boy, the sound system is incredible. Not much breaks on this big car, either.

Top Midsize Car: Chevrolet Malibu

Chevy’s 2008 redesign turned the Malibu from humdrum into something worth humming about. The fuel economy, styling and overall comfort were right up there with it Japanese peers, and while it’s taken some time to catch on, the people have spoken. For 2013, the Malibu adds an electric motor to the base 4-cylinder engine to save fuel and emissions, and promises more connectivity.

Top Large Car: Ford Taurus

Now being offered as a police car, the Taurus is everything the Crown Victoria wasn’t: fresh, refined and available with fuel-efficient turbocharged engines and all-wheel drive. The Taurus is a slick-looking car and it’s well-built, as it’s based on the Volvo S80 chassis. The small windows make visibility more difficult than in other large cars, however. The complicated MyFord Touch infotainment system was redesigned after poor J.D. Power ratings last year and works just fine.

Thanks, Jody! More next time!

Joe Victor

Joe asks Jody Victor®: Best Quality Cars, 2012

Believe it or not, we are halfway through 2012. Time to find out which 2012 vehicles are the best of show for the year. I asked Jody Victor®  to tell us the top vehicles in 21 categoreies from an article by Clifford Atiyeh of MSN Autos and msn.com.

Jody Victor®: Hey Joe, it is that time of year. We’ve had long enough to know the ins and outs of the new vehicles from all automakers. Don’t forget these may not be your favorites, but I’m sure you will agree with many of them.  And here they are the best picks from msn.com in 4 parts.

Top Subcompact Car: Toyota Yaris

The Yaris, with its old 4-speed automatic transmission and plebian interior, isn’t a stellar compact car compared with its more sophisticated competition. The redesigned, edgier 2012 model carries over much of the same equipment. But befitting a typical Toyota, the Yaris is cheap to maintain and simple to operate in either hatchback or sedan form. Toyota, at 88 problems per 100 vehicles, clearly has something right on its hands.

Top Compact Car: Toyota Corolla

Is it any wonder the world’s best-selling car winds up here? The Corolla name is nearly as old as Mustang, and when it comes to no-frills, dead-reliable transport, nothing is more renowned. Like the Yaris, the current Corolla is outclassed by its many rivals in technology, design and performance. That doesn’t seem to matter.

Top Compact Sporty Car: Mazda MX-5 Miata

When it was introduced 23 years ago, the Miata was meant to re-create the spirit of those iconic British roadsters — the lightweight and zippy MGs, Austin Healeys and Triumphs. What it left out were the atrocious electrical failures and other mechanical problems that plagued those old roadsters. A true enthusiast’s car, the Miata sets the standard for affordable sports cars that can go the long mile.

Top Compact Premium Sporty Car: Volvo C70

Refreshed for 2011, the Volvo C70 is an attractive alternative to the usual crop of $40,000 German convertibles. The folding hardtop, floating center control stack and understated interior blend well with the car’s turbocharged engines. But don’t get confused; the C70 is a cruiser, not a corner-dicing sports car. Safety, of course, is paramount; the C70 was the world’s first convertible with head curtain airbags.

Top Entry Premium Car: Lexus ES

Lexus once again leads the J.D. Power list as the most reliable automaker, with an average of 73 problems per 100 vehicles. The ES 350 is all new for 2013, with a more aggressive front end and sculpted interior, plus a hybrid trim. In any model year, the ES is smooth, steers with a finger and offers a lot of luxury for the money.

Thanks, Jody! More next time!

Joe Victor

Joe asks Jody Victor®: 6 Racing Tips to Make You a Better Road Driver II

Don’t get caught in the, “I don’t need anyone to tell me how to drive,” syndrome. There are experts out there who can give you some really great tips. I asked Jody Victor  to tell us the rest of them from an article by Clifford Atiyeh and msn.com.

Jody Victor: Okay, Joe, here goes the rest of the story. Here are some great driving tips from a racing expert. Even if they look obvious, follow them. You’ll become a better, more focused driver on public roads, where you should never pretend to be something you aren’t.

Trail brake when necessary

Trail braking is a fancy way of saying “braking around a curve.” However, this doesn’t refer to entering a corner too hot, realizing it midway through and stabbing the brakes. That’s a good recipe for disaster. Instead, trail braking means staying on the brakes before you enter the turn and slowly easing up on them during the turn. It’s a great way to transfer weight to the front of the car to prevent understeer, the handling term that describes how much a car pushes its front end to the outside of a curve. 

Your tires can only do so much

Have you ever jammed the brakes and yanked the wheel at the same time? Even with anti-lock brakes and stability control, a car’s maneuverability is determined by how much friction the tires can withstand on both the X and Y axis. Basically, if you brake at 100 percent, don’t expect to turn with 100 percent, or even 50 percent. Brake at 70 percent, and you’ll be able to turn at 30 percent, etc. Tires can only do so much, and if you can understand their limits, you’ll respect physics that much more. I do now.

Brake hard first and then back off

On the track, Pechnik says coasting isn’t helpful. If you’re not on the gas, you should be on the brakes, even if only a little bit. It’s tough for an average driver to get used to this, since coasting saves both fuel and brake pads. Pechnik doesn’t dispute that. But he did recommend that road drivers in an emergency brake as hard as possible to scrub off speed and then dial back brake pressure so it’s easier to steer the car. It’s also good to remember this, as leaning partially on the brakes at high speed can cause them to fade and lose pressure. This is not what you want when you suddenly decide you have to make a complete stop.

Thanks, Jody! We’ll be trying out these tips next time we drive.

Joe Victor

Joe asks Jody Victor®: 6 Racing Tips to Make You a Better Road Driver

 Racetracks have a way of removing all common sense and our understanding of physics. I asked Jody Victor  to tell us how to get it all back.

Jody Victor: Okay, here it comes, Joe, from an article by Clifford Atiyeh of msn.com  in two parts.

Pretending, as Eric Clapton once sang, means “you’re never who you used to think you are.” In college, I was quite good at it, whether I was “paying” for laundry with a quarter tied to a string of Scotch tape or talking to girls in a British accent. Behind the wheel, I’m about as fake as they come, with my out-of-state license plates and new test vehicles that match neither my age nor income.

Don’t clench the steering wheel

By keeping your thumbs upright on the wheel, you’ll be less likely to close them into a fist, where you’re then even more likely to become tense and make heavy-handed motions. Aside from staying calm, Pechnik says a lighter hand also lets you feel more of the road feedback in the steering, key to taking a tight turn with confidence.

Look far, far ahead

This one everyone tells you, but when you’re blitzing a straight at 120 mph and then have to brake hard to approach a corkscrew turn, your mind drifts to other things. Things such as holy-crap-I’m-going-so-fast-there’s-a-turn-oh-wow-I-almost-lost-it. Racing forces you to speed up your brain’s processing power. You can’t be looking a few dozen feet ahead or else you’ll be mesmerized by the blur. Look ahead where you want to go, and everything slows down so you can complete the turn and react without sweating bullets. On the road, with its billions of objects you could potentially hit, it’s critical.

Be patient in turns

Patience? In a car with 545 horsepower? It’s thin at best. That said, the key to driving fast is knowing where and how long to drive slow, Pechnik says. Go into a corner too fast or exit too early on the throttle and you’ll swing too wide or slide, which will detract from your rhythm and add time. That means not being a moron around entrance and exit ramps that are wide open.

Thanks, Jody! More next time!

Joe Victor

Joe asks Jody Victor®: 10 Most Useless Car Technologies II

Do we really need all those silly gadgets attached to our cars, now? I asked Jody Victor to tell us more about it from an article by the Editors of Popular Mechanics and msn.com.

Jody Victor: I’ve often wondered that myself. Some gadgets are helpful but others are just there and never get used. Here’s the second part.

Motorized Rearview Mirror

When Mercedes introduced this feature in the 1994 SL500, we found a great use for it: If a driver is following you with high beams at night, you can aim the mirror to reflect the light back into his eyes without reaching up. As Mercedes explains, the feature is meant to work with the memory system for seat positions, exterior mirrors, and other controls. We think, however, that it’s a good practice to adjust the mirror manually with your right hand after you get in any car, and this vital habit isn’t so inconvenient that you need the extra weight in a servo motor and wiring to allow you to unlearn it.

Motorized Seatbelts

Back in the 1980s, before airbags became common, automakers used motorized seatbelts to satisfy the passive-safety requirements (the rules for what a car needed to have to protect occupants during a crash). But for most, the only passive part was the shoulder belt and you still had to buckle a separate lap belt. Plus, the tracks were prone to getting gummed up slowing the belt to a crawl. Epic fail.

Proximity Warning Systems

In these systems, sensors detect an object close to a car and trigger alerts to warn a driver — sounds very handy. In practice, though, the alerts are not common between different cars (like vehicle horns), and they offer no easily viewed direction as to where the alerts are coming from: front, rear, or side. Often the alerts sound distractingly similar to other warning chimes, such as those intended to warn you about unbuckled seatbelts, open doors, and even low-fuel alerts.

Electronic Parking Brake

Junior Johnson of Nascar fame perfected the “bootleg” turn, a method of reversing the direction of a car at speed on a narrow road, sometimes with the help of a parking brake. Latter-day handbrake users employ the parking brake to slow down in speed traps without alerting the speed-trap operators by flashing brake lights, and still more mechanical-handbrake fans use the brake lever regularly to turn into sharp driveways covered in snow. Electronic parking brakes in Jaguars, Mercedes, BMWs, Audis, and Bentleys won’t allow any of this driver control.

Chevrolet Volt Capacitive Touch Controls

Now that we’ve all learned the ins and outs of touchscreens, we also know they’re nearly impossible to use accurately while we’re walking or jogging, riding a bike, or riding in a car. And even though we all balked at the first mass-produced touchscreen in a car, featured in the 1986 Buick Regal, those pressure-touch screens are much easier to use on the move than the Volt’s sensitive capacitive-touch screen. Plus, the Volt touchscreen, just like an iPhone screen, doesn’t work if you’re wearing gloves unless they’re made of specially designed conductive threads.

Thanks, Jody! We appreciate the info!

Joe Victor

Joe asks Jody Victor®: 10 Most Useless Car Technologies

Do you ever wonder, “What were they thinking!” when you use some of the gadgets in your car? I asked Jody Victor  to tell us about some of the more questionable ones. 

Jody Victor: These car technologies deserve to be called out for being underwhelming, frustrating, or just plain pointless. Here’s a list of ten from the Editors of Popular Mechanics and msn.com in two parts.

Paddle Shifters for Automatic Transmissions

In theory, the ability to manually shift an automatic with nice, prominent steering-wheel paddles makes some sense. Many of us don’t want the inconvenience of a manual transmission during the daily grind, but who doesn’t want to manually change gears once in a while? On some cars, like the AMG Mercedes with the seven-speed auto box, the paddles work fairly well. But we’ve often found that that the computer-controlled transmissions are far too reluctant to respond to driver inputs. As just one example, we’ve tried on multiple occasions to actuate the paddle shifters in the five-speed automatic in Acura’s nimble new TSX about eight times before one corresponding upshift occurs. Unless the paddle shifters are calibrated properly, they’re just another pointless feature.

Interlocked Seatbelts and Starter

This one’s a bit of a throwback, but it might be the most famous market failure here. Interlocked seatbelts and starters, which would prevent drivers from starting the car unless they were wearing their seatbelts, became law in 1973. But Minnesotans, for just one example, laughed it out of their market. No matter how well they were tuned, the carbureted cars of the period required owner finesse to start at minus 30 F. Why buckle up before you determine your car will start? So many Minnesotans would just buckle the belts in the fall and sit on them through the winter. Congress soon quickly rescinded this misguided rule.

Automatically Steering Headlights

For our money, we’ll take good headlights with broad beam spread and light output that covers the road evenly over these systems, which were designed to help drivers see around corners by turning the beams when the car’s steering wheel reached a preset angle. This feature is normally found only on luxury cars; we’ve tried them all and were never impressed.

Automatic Moisture-Sensing Wipers

This feature is just like the automatic spelling-correction that interferes when you type on a word processor or a smartphone: You spend more time defeating the system when it screws up than you’d spend using the system manually. We feel an easy-to-reach switch for wipers remains the best way to clear an intermittently misting windshield. Automatic rain-detecting wipers fall under the category of trying to read Mother Nature’s mind — hundreds of meteorologists say it can’t be done. The reason automatically adjusting wipers were invented in the first place is because customers complained of poorly designed and placed wiper switches. Carmakers should have adopted a slightly simpler solution: easier-to-reach switches.

Map Lights

What’s a map? Oh right, that stack of papers we used to carry around. The Mercury Capri of 1971 arrived standard with an articulating small spotlight (made by Hella for rally drivers) that would fold down from behind the rearview mirror and aim directly at the driver’s or passenger’s laps, illuminating a map without blinding the driver. It migrated to some Mustangs, but similar effective lighting wasn’t available in the U.S. until the early 1990s, though without the precise intensity of the Capri’s unit. By the late 1990s, map lights were finally common — just in time for the slow obsolescence of paper maps.

Thanks, Jody! More next time.

Joe Victor