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Ask HN: Best cars without too much digitalization?
175 points by gautamcgoel 11 hours ago | hide | past | favorite | 284 comments
As we all know, there is a trend in the automotive industry towards ever more digital "features" in cars. Many of these software systems pose privacy risks; many others simply don't work as intended, leading to frustration and trips to the dealership. For those of us who are "old-school" and prefer their cars without fancy digital gimmicks, which cars would you recommend?





They don't sell them in the US anymore, but I drive a 2019 Honda Fit and it's great. Very versatile (holds four adults, 8ft lumber, 36" doors, etc). The base trim is very tech-lite: bluetooth radio but nothing fancier than that, physically controlled hvac and chair controls, traditional key, basic LTMS (no dedicated chips in the tires, just a calculation based on different angular velocity across the wheels), etc. It's about as tech-lite as a modern car can be.

If you want a new car, instead of a used one, I'd try that same pattern: low end, low trim. Honda almost certainly sells a Civic without too many digital gimmicks, other automakers probably have the same.

It's a dying breed though, complicated "driver assist" systems are becoming standard or even mandated :(.


> It's a dying breed though, complicated "driver assist" systems are becoming standard or even mandated :(.

I'm on the opposite side of this. All the new safety & driver assist features are the best part about getting a new car. I wouldn't buy a new daily driver that doesn't have blind spot monitoring, collision avoidance, lane keep assist, etc. Once you have these features and you are accustomed to how they work, you can't go back.

I drive a 2019 XC40 and these safety features are my favorite part about it. Being able to turn on Pilot Assist on the highway makes driving so much more comfortable, it's like having two people driving at the same time! I don't let my guard down completely of course, but it definitely takes the edge off. I don't find these features getting in my way.


I drive a 2019 Volvo as well (bought in 2020), and the "safety" features have activated for me maybe a hundred times! Out of those, safety system was helpful once (arguably) in that it reacted and activated the brakes the same time I pressed them (so it still wasn't really needed, but I can see how it would have helped when I was less attentive due to eg planning to switch lanes and looking at side mirrors).

All the other times, it's causing me frustration and pain. It signals a collision as I am avoiding potholes in a tight one-way street and cars parked on both sides of the road (yep, I am going to slam into that parked car for sure — at least it did not forcibly brake which would definitely cause cars behind me to slam into me).

It brakes when I am backing out of a parking spot into a street and vehicles appear from the other direction (a lane I was not getting into) — this happens so frequently that I am tempted to turn it off.

Pilot Assist on the highway seems to wait too long to slow down as I approach a car in front of me and then it abruptly slows down, yet it requires me to use the turn signal way too early if I want to overtake someone I caught up with: my drive was much more fluid with a simple stay-at-this-speed cruise control of my previous car.

I keep all of the "helpers" on (those that can be turned off) just in case I lose focus and because crashing once might be once too many, but I worry how much unpredictable behaviour is going to mess with other drivers causing them to make mistakes instead and crash into me.

Perhaps it works well for US roads, but European old-town driving is way too complex for safety features to keep up (esp as Volvo is considered to be among the best manufacturers for safety features, including these new-fangled ones).

Edit: and blind spot monitoring — the sales guy was so high on it, yet I don't see the purpose: it's right there flashing on your side mirrors so you have to look at them, yet side mirrors are large enough and concave (like on all modern cars) that if you set them up properly, there's really no blind spot a car or bike can fit in. And I still prefer to look over my shoulder to top it off.


> yet side mirrors are large enough and concave (like on all modern cars) that if you set them up properly, there's really no blind spot a car or bike can fit in.

Not in the US unfortunately. All my European cars had almost no blind spot. Then I moved to the US and was really surprised.


> All the other times, it's causing me frustration and pain. It signals a collision as I am avoiding potholes in a tight one-way street and cars parked on both sides of the road (yep, I am going to slam into that parked car for sure — at least it did not forcibly brake which would definitely cause cars behind me to slam into me).

The only time I've gotten false positives on the collision avoidance was when I was going too fast for the situation. Now it's gotten me to drive slower on these narrow lane situations, which is a good thing!

> It brakes when I am backing out of a parking spot into a street and vehicles appear from the other direction (a lane I was not getting into) — this happens so frequently that I am tempted to turn it off.

I haven't experienced this personally, but a false positive here doesn't really have any downsides. Ideally every driver would be skilled enough to not back up so far and go into the other lane, but I do see drivers that back out further than necessary and get a corner of the car across the divide of the road. The cross traffic avoidance when backing up is one of my favorites, it's saved me plenty of times when somebody is going way too fast in a parking lot and I'm backing up slowly.

> Pilot Assist on the highway seems to wait too long to slow down as I approach a car in front of me and then it abruptly slows down, yet it requires me to use the turn signal way too early if I want to overtake someone I caught up with: my drive was much more fluid with a simple stay-at-this-speed cruise control of my previous car.

This situation sounds like you may be driving faster than the flow of traffic, or the follow distance is not set far enough. You can also do the simple stay-at-this-speed cruise control, or adaptive cruise control without the automatic steering capabilities.

I am on the west coast of the US so the roads here are well planned and well marked, so maybe that helps.

> Edit: and blind spot monitoring — the sales guy was so high on it, yet I don't see the purpose: it's right there flashing on your side mirrors so you have to look at them, yet side mirrors are large enough and concave (like on all modern cars) that if you set them up properly, there's really no blind spot a car or bike can fit in. And I still prefer to look over my shoulder to top it off.

Depending on the car, the driver, and how seating position and mirrors are setup, there can still be blind spots despite your best efforts, or have a driver in the next lane in a dark car at night with their lights off accidentally. Nothing wrong with looking at your mirror and still checking over your shoulder, but the blind spot monitoring is still very helpful. That's why the indicator is on the mirror anyways, because they know we are already going to look there before changing lanes.

From my experience the safety features are all supplemental to also having good driving habits, they don't replace the need for good habits entirely.


> I wouldn't buy a new daily driver that doesn't have blind spot monitoring, collision avoidance, lane keep assist, etc. Once you have these features and you are accustomed to how they work, you can't go back.

And I don't like them. But only one of us has the government taking away our choice by making them mandatory.

I wouldn't mind them if it wasn't for the fact that they universally seem to be points of failure that shorten the lifespan of the car.


They're not there for you to like them. They're there so you don't kill someone and someone else doesn't kill you. Society collectively fails to give a single ass of a rat about how people feel about their ubiquitous 2-ton death machine.

As I explained in my another comment on this thread, sometimes they can behave unpredictably — eg. car brakes without a need — causing someone else to crash into you (these are most common crashes I see in the city streets). Perhaps they are not useful for me because I am a very attentive driver (eg. I prefer not to talk on the phone even with the BT hands-free system while driving because it takes my attention away from the road), but they are far away from being all positives.

And how many more cars are going to be produced and bought because of "planned obsolescence" when electronic systems in modern cars start to give up (eg. electric cars and their engines should be able to last for a really long time)? Are they going to keep getting security updates for 20, 30 years? Or will we start seeing people doing something to fool their sensors so they crash?

While I like all the technology, it's short-sighted to think that the alternative is desired simply because people don't care about potentially hurting someone with their cars. Like everything else in life, this issue is multifaceted too.


> I am a very attentive driver

Everyone thinks they're a great driver.


Related, every car company will think it’s software is perfect. In fact they’ll insist on it, because otherwise they’d be treated as responsible should something go wrong.

I did not say I am a great driver, but an attentive one. That means that when I drive, I focus on driving. I am sure there are people who can notice the same things I do while paying less attention on the road: that would make them "better" drivers.

The most attentive driver in the world cannot prevent an inattentive driver from T-boning them. Automatic braking can.

There is nothing automatic braking will do to help you from getting T-boned. In fact only an attentive driver can prevent that one.

Automatic braking will prevent you from rear-ending the car in front, yes. Although an attentive driver should also be doing that.


Yes, it will. If someone isn't paying attention then they will T-bone you when they drive a car without automatic braking and will not when they drive a car with automatic braking.

> Although an attentive driver should also be doing that.

Society doesn't allow people to say that they're good enough to opt out of safety mechanisms designed to protect us all.

This is why 'I don't wear a seat-belt I can brace myself' also doesn't cut it.


I am guessing you mean automatic braking in inattentive driver's car, because automatic braking in attentive driver's car works with mostly the same data as the driver themselves (it needs to predict collision, and to predict it, it needs to see the approaching car, estimate the speed, likelihood it will stop...).

Automated system would have advantage there only where it can better "see" things (eg. LIDAR in pitch dark conditions, or maybe positioned at the roof of a vehicle and seeing over other vehicles that a driver can't).

My point was that for attentive drivers, "safety features" are more a nuisance than help in their own car (the worst you can do is have frustrated drivers behind the wheel). If that results in drivers disabling them, we are not better off at all: technology does not get developed and never matures enough not to be a nuisance. I keep them enabled, but I can understand that not everybody wants to go through these rough edges.


I recommend watching TeslaCam on YouTube - there are a few videos where the AI reacts faster than any human could, even a very attentive one.

It's by no means perfect (and the city beta is kind of a mess), but the highway safety bits are very functional and useful.


This assumes that these systems have no drawbacks, which is highly optimistic.

The automatic braking seems to be the most dangerous one so far, at least on Teslas. Countless incidents of the car slamming on the brakes at highway speeds for no reason whatsover. Brake checking people at highway speeds is highly dangerous road rager action, now cars are automating behaving like this.

Things like auto lane control seem more benign, but they do suffer the same dangers as the so-called autopilots, in that they lull the driver into paying less attention which will always be more dangerous until true AI level 5 self-driving exists.


I mean, I think Tesla's autobraking is dangerous and should be made illegal. I think it likely causes more accidents than it avoids.

I don't trust the features to work well enough to rely on them. And I think other people having them is dangerous.

Meanwhile, they all can be toggled off, so I still won't be using the feature. It's just another point of failure shortening the lifespan of a five-figure environmentally costly purchase.


> And I don't like them.

They're not there for you to like - they're there for the people you might kill with your car.

> the government taking away our choice...

...to plough into people with your car.


I don't think those devices reduce the number of accidents, so I disagree with your premise. I think they serve to help slowly roll out self-driving capabilities.

> I don't think those devices reduce the number of accidents

Good for you. But society disagrees and requires them.


How does a defeat-able non-essential feature shorten a vehicle’s lifespan?

Here is a thing that happens: many countries have more or less comprehensive regular vehicle inspections. If your car is showing a warning light or reports an error on the standardized interface, that can cause you to fail the inspection. What a warning light is shown for is at the discretion of the manufacturer though.

One example is Anti-lock braking (ABS), which they made mandatory in 2004. If you bought a car without it in 2003 and have it inspected in 2013, no problem. If you bought a car with ABS in 2004 and the controller for it breaks in 2008, you will fail the inspection - even though your braking is no worse than the 2003 car (ABS was wisely designed to fail safe..).


The point of abs isn’t to improve your braking system. It’s to stop you from panicking in an accident situation, locking up the front wheels and losing the ability to steer.

Abs actually very slightly reduces the stopping potential of your brake system. But being able to steer and control your car is a bigger benefit under these circumstances.


Now think it through. What happens if a wheel locks up? Right, it loses all stopping power.

I certainly agree that you want ABS, it's just to illustrate the pitfalls it creates when you have these additional systems. You can tell much the same story around emissions controls; newer cars pass stricter emissions standards and require extra parts and technology to achieve them.


> Now think it through. What happens if a wheel locks up? Right, it loses all stopping power.

That‘s not true. Going in a straight line, blocking wheels will stop you in less distance than with active ABS.

However ABS allows you to brake and go around an obstacle without losing control of your vehicle.


> That‘s not true. Going in a straight line, blocking wheels will stop you in less distance than with active ABS.

Most certainly not. The sliding coefficient of friction of a tire is quite a bit less than the static coefficient of friction. Shortest stopping distance is achieved by keeping the tire rolling, just on the very edge of lockup, for the entire braking distance.

Early ABS systems had slow pulse cycles and couldn't control wheels individually, so a good driver could outbrake them but the ones from the last 20 years are quite good.

ABS is one rare example of a safety technology that doesn't have much drawbacks. Very much unlike newer technologies like lane assist and self braking, which have benefits but also clear drawbacks.

Even for ABS though, there are edge case dangers that a non-ABS car wouldn't have (like ice mode disabling brakes when not on ice).

There's no magic answer with tehcnologies. Every time a system increases complexity, it increases failure mode potential as well.


I think the friction of wheels is lower when the wheels lock up vs when they go with the speed of the road.

From Wikipedia[1]:

> Kinetic friction, also known as dynamic friction or sliding friction, occurs when two objects are moving relative to each other and rub together (like a sled on the ground). The coefficient of kinetic friction is typically denoted as μk, and is usually less than the coefficient of static friction for the same materials.[40][41]

[1]: https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Friction&oldid=10...


Fair enough, but that’s not what was brought up and I don’t know why you would want a vehicle without ABS.

Since most people don’t know how to panic stop without ABS I think it’s reasonable that it cause an inspection failure.

I’m not aware of a jurisdiction where you would fail an inspection because your rear park assist or lane departure warning didn’t work.


If it's a feature required by the government to be road legal, it's likely not run and/or pass emissions testing if it's not working. And it's a point of failure written by people who are bad at software.

Alternatively, computer control of real world systems (e.g. acceleration and braking) can lead to actual accidents, totaling the vehicle. There was that lady who claims her Tesla's software caused a crash, and, without commenting on if that is true, it's plausible.


They made seatbelts mandatory too. Yuck!

JK!

These system do save lives though. Driving is a privilege, not a right. So I’m fine with these mandates as they don’t really get in my way.


> Driving is a privilege, not a right

Why is that?


I agree that is all good (blind spot monitoring, collision avoidance, lane keep assist, etc).

The collection of driver behaviour, and GPS, data is not


Do these driver assist systems stop working without an internet connection or something? Seems like you should be able to disable any radios that bother you, unless they intentionally nerfed it.

Do you mean "you can physically destroy the radios if that bothers you"? Because it's not a toggle in a UI.

I’m trying to figure out what the connection is between the driver assist features and the phoning home behavior. Are they just two systems that new cars are likely to have, or are they actually integrated?

In Teslas, my understanding is that the driver assist features also judge your driving quality in real time and send them back to Tesla as a score. And, of course, they use the same sensors and processing hardware. So they are related in that it tends to be the same cars using the same hardware powering both.

Some driver assist features probably need to have map data that has to stay up to date, but probably don't need to send any data back to the manufacturer in order to function.

these base model cars, your hubcap clad toyota yaris et al, do not have gps much less a data connection

> I wouldn't buy a new daily driver that doesn't have blind spot monitoring, collision avoidance, lane keep assist, etc.

And here I am puttering along in my 2003 VW Golf with a manual transmission. :)


Yeah, I'm feeling the same. I have an older car (2004 Honda Accord), and I'm looking for a new one. I like the new safety features, but I want to avoid the privacy-invasive data collection garbage.

The blind spot monitoring on my car is useless. I call it "the thing that beeps every time I turn on my signal"

Unfortunately the rear-cross-traffic is very useful and I can't turn off one without the other.


In Texas all these are must have features given how terrible we drive!

> It's a dying breed though, complicated "driver assist" systems are becoming standard or even mandated :(.

It saves lives, even if the systems are not 100% effective.


I don't disagree, but it makes the car much more complicated and expensive which are valid negatives.

Small cars with low hoods and good visibility don't need those systems nearly as much as large SUV's with dangerous hood designs and poor side/rear visibility. I think we should focus on the total safety of the vehicle instead of pushing everything to be bigger and more expensive which makes car ownership hard for poorer people.


New features always show up in higher end cars first. Economies of scale eventually work out and it trickles down to even the lowest trim. I don't have the numbers but it seems like more cars than not nowadays have things like backup cameras, blind spot indicators, etc - and those basically didn't exist from the factory 15 years ago.

edit: talking about non-highline models. hondas, fords, hyundais, dodge, etc.


What a pile. Blind spot detection system malfunction a lot to the point of being useless. Front collision detection is just annoying. I have driven for 40 years and have never rear-ended anyone or run over a pedestrian. These 'safety' 'features' are only useful to terrible drivers. Decent drivers are just annoyed by the car fighting you. I guess they need to have some way to keep adding features so the price points never drop. You are being sold things based on the deliberate cultivation of irrational fears in your own mind (as usual).

What a pile. Your anecdata are not in and of themselves data.

Regardless of your skill, or the skill/expertise/attentiveness of any individual driver, drivers as a collective remain dangerous to themselves and pedestrians. How did I come to this conclusion? I reviewed data, here's a couple of sources:

https://www.nhtsa.gov/press-releases/2020-fatality-data-show...

https://www-fars.nhtsa.dot.gov/Main/index.aspx

By all means, if you have data that shows people are inherently becoming better drivers, or that there's a method to improve _all_ drivers systemically -- let's talk about it.


The only really useful numbers are in the table of fatalities per million miles travelled. We see a big win as airbags were rolled out, but no big win since driver assistance technologies were introduced.

I’m not sure what conclusion you’re deriving from that, but the data seems to support the counter argument that these technologies are of dubious value.

Am I misunderstanding something?


Generally requests in comments to cite sources or provide data are in fact simply disingenuous attempts to confuse the issue.

Regardless, your datas mean nothing -- They are only guaranteed to be incorrect for each individual case.

You say collectively drivers are dangerous, but the implication is that we would apply the same rule to all in the interest of 'fairness' or some other such subjective nonsense.

So it's 'Drag everyone down to the same low level?' Is that the solution?

NO.

You are allowed to make mistakes in a free country and pay the price. Saying you are not free to hurt others implies you would do so -- even in the face of a lifetime of safe driving and non-criminal behavior.

Those bodies compiling the statistic you quote exist for the sole purpose of bureaucratic enrichment through the creation of rules -- whether they are ever really needed is irrelevant to them.

I'll end with a quote from a man much wiser than any of us on this board.

“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth. This very kindness stings with intolerable insult. To be "cured" against one's will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level of those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals.”

― C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock: Essays on Theology (Making of Modern Theology)


If my attempt to cite a source is a veiled attempt to confuse the issue, then what is your citation of anecdata? And what is your context of this very argument, if not a meta-argument?

Regardless, it seems like you prefer the idea of anarchy to order on the roads. Especially since order can only come from groups which exist for enrichment through creation and enforcement of rules. I'm sure your decades of experience have proved to you that a road without laws and bureaucracy is best for all. After all, tyranny is super bad, so less tyranny is always more good!

I'll sign off with my own C.S. Lewis quote.

"One of the most cowardly things ordinary people do is to shut their eyes to facts."

-- C. S. Lewis (2010). “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader”


I believe in people wanting to not die generally.

Well at least you used a CS Lewis quote. That made me smile.


> You are allowed to make mistakes in a free country and pay the price.

Like, "let's get rid of all the checks and punish people after they cause damage"?


As an aside I think you might enjoy this book

http://www.matthewbcrawford.com/why-we-drive


>What a pile. Blind spot detection system malfunction a lot to the point of being useless. Front collision detection is just annoying.

Been driving cars with blind spot detection and front collision for years. Never had a "malfunction". I live in Canada. When it's snowy, the system turns off (and the driving experience is worse).

Seems downright crazy to not want these features. If you think "real drivers" don't want these things you don't spend enough time on the road. Commuting is not about "the driving experience". Most accidents are caused by people not paying attention, which is what these features solve.


> I live in Canada

So do I -- and I drove all the worst highways for years in winter without these useless intrusions. Often in the middle of the night to get to a ski hill in some part of BC for the next day.


Given that cars are by far the most common cause of violent injury and death, I think it's kind of silly to call it an irrational fear.

You are not exceptional. You are maaaaybe in the top quintile of driver competence. Very likely not if you've been driving for forty years- your reaction times are trash compared to a twenty year old. These driver assist features would help you be a safer driver.


> Given that cars are by far the most common cause of violent injury and death

Actually that is Governments. Most in the 20th century at least for sure. Probably all time.


Fair point.

You know, actually paying attention to driving saves lives too. But apparently that is not an option.

Driving is just too big of a distraction from playing with instagram...


You do realize, you can be distracted unintentionally, right?

Child crying in the backseat, car malfunctioning, animal crossing the road, object hitting your windshield, a car accident occurring next to you, being fired from your job and your wife divorcing you when you find out you have cancer, a meteor hitting the earth, a big sneeze, I could keep going.


Instagram is one distraction, so is navigating through a bunch of touch screen menus to turn up the heat or turn down volume.

Honda Fit owner here as well, the car is great, but unfortunately it's being discontinued in a lot of places. I think only Japan will still have them, and they even have an EV option.

My Fit has been absolutely great.

I’ve learned a lot by working on it, but I do have the say that the plastic engine protector is a travesty. Clips were originally broken during a commercial oil change. Ever since, I’ve just been using self tapping screws to reattach it.


Wow, you shouldn't have self tapping screws anywhere near an engine bay. But since you know what they are, I guess their danger is minimized.

It is quite OK to run w/o an engine cover, it is a worthless piece of plastic.


They can actually be worse, trapping heat in.

But yea, completely non-functional. Remove it if the clips are broken. You aren't missing anything.


I assume they are talking about the splash guard / aeroplate underneath the engine which helps with MPGs to some extent. The plastic engine cover doesn't even need to be touched during an oil change.

Correct. Only talking about splash guard.

Look up the plastic clip part numbers on a Honda parts site, then cross-reference them via eBay or Amazon to get a significantly cheaper knock-off. I've been able to get a bag of 20 for the price of 1 bought from the dealer parts counter. If they don't last, well you have plenty of spares now.

They're not "non-functional" at all.

They reduce wind noise, increase mileage particularly in colder weather (and speed up engine warmup time), protect the engine from road debris/road salt/water, and reduce lift generated at highway speeds.

"Trapping heat in" isn't a problem in almost any modern vehicle.


There's an engine cover, and a cowl cover - the one on the bottom is good, the fake plastic trim on the top is worthless.

https://www.forgemotorsport.com/Hyundai_i30NVeloster_N_Carbo...

this is worthless, and better to keep it off.


I got hit in an accident this summer and my 2009 Fit got totaled. I'm ok but I miss that car. If they brought it back I would ditch the car I bought in a heartbeat for one.

I would recommend Mazda vehicles.

Their entire lineup offers a small set of effective and minimally intrusive digital/smart features. But, outside of that, they keep it simple.

The no-touchscreen is a much safer way to interact with the vehicle, and afaik they have stuck to the traditional 'car' formula. Most of their cars can be purchased in manual and have pretty good driving mechanics for a honda/toyota competitor.

The Mazda 3 Hatch, is IMO the best deal in cars right now.


Owner of a more recent Mazda3 hatchback here. For the last few years I've driven many different makes and models either for work or as rentals on vacation and would agree that they're one of the best if you're looking for a new car.

Looks great, feels great, and all of the tech seems carefully considered and balanced. The closest thing to a complaint would be that I do prefer an analogue gauge cluster, but the digital display is tasteful and after driving I rarely even notice that it's on a screen.

Before purchasing, I was really looking for a hybrid or PHEV but nothing came close to feeling right in the same way. If Mazda offered exactly the same car that wasn't ICE, I would probably sell and buy again in an instant.


Having driven some of the older models ('10-'12 sedans), I found their transmission/gear shifting not as refined as Hondas from the same period. They do strike a decent balance between digital and physical, though.

I’m getting bi-weekly letters from the dealership asking to buy my 2017 Mazda 3 hatch for only $3,000 less than what I paid for it back in 2018.

It’s crazy out there right now.


I love my Mazda 3 hatch. Only thing I wish I could do is turn off blind-spot alerts without turning off rear-cross-traffic.

There's enough traffic where I live that former beeps every time I put my signal on before 11pm, while the latter is extremely useful.


Happy owner of 21 Mazda CX-5. Agreed completely that they keep it simple. And hide a lot of tech under the hood. I also own an X5 and my CX-5 actually has more tech, but it’s more accessible.

+1 for Mazda.


it is also an extremely nice looking car. and mazda reliability seems to be going upward.

Annoyingly, I want an electric car without "digitilization". No distracting central touch screen, no "autopilot" nonsense, proper gauges and indicators, tactile feel. A focus on the driving and safety and ergonomics, not on "we don't need an instrument cluster because iPads are cool, people like their phones and buttons are expensive and break"...

A Saab 900 with an electric motor. Please make it.


Not quite a Saab 900, but perhaps the Bollinger B-1? https://bollingermotors.com/bollinger-b1/

that's very cool. expensive, but cool.

If only the Bollinger offerings weren't 100k+ MSRP :(

The newly announced (today) Genesis GV70 Electrified seems to fit the bill. Genesis is Hyundai's somewhat new luxury brand - Hyundai really screwed up the launch so almost nobody knows about it, but they make some pretty decent luxury cars at good prices and haven't deleted all the buttons like in current Mercedes/Audis and BMW's new products. Infotainment system has a knob; the screens are touchscreen but they're placed pretty far back in the dash and so the knob is the primary control method. Physical buttons for media controls and on the steering wheel. The new gen products have moved a few of the climate controls to a small touchscreen, but the commonly used function are still physical. Overall, way better than all of the competitors at keeping the car usable.

Genesis announced earlier this year that they plan to be all electric by 2025. And unlike most of these statements from most manufacturers, this one is actually believable. Hyundai/Kia have been pretty successful at selling electric cars in Europe; they have the engineering resources built up for EVs and Genesis should be able to take advantage of that.

The GV70 is expected to have around 250 miles of range. In addition to that I think they're also going to be releasing the electrified G80 (midsize luxury sedan) pretty soon.



I believe Citroen makes one, but I'm not sure it can be bought... Initially they said they'd sell it in supermarkets https://electrek.co/2021/05/04/citroen-ami-small-electric-ca...

And they do! You can buy it at FNAC stores in malls.

DIY conversions are quite possible. Go find an old car, rip out the old engine, put in the electric engine. It clearly is more complex than that, as there is wiring involved and you need to match it up to the transmission, but if you really want an old car with an electric motor, it is an achievable goal.

Saab 900 with a Mach E crate motor swap.

Wouldn't work well, that crate motor is made for transverse mounting, the 900 is famous for its longitudinal & backwards motor (and perfectly balanced to avoid torque steer).

A good candidate for a Tesla drive unit transplant, probably. Too bad I don't have the mechanical skills to do it myself (I have a non-running 1984 900 SPG in my garage)


It's an integrated drive unit, just like the Tesla drive unit (with the exception that the Tesla includes an inverter in the IDU; the Eluminator, sadly, does not.)

The only thing you'd need is a cradle and custom half-shafts.


Isn't the Tesla drive unit also mounted transverse? Or do you mean that there are more aftermarket solutions to resolve this for Tesla drive units?

It is mounted transverse it's kind of set out in a way I can see it fitting in the 900 chassis ok. I haven't physically measured it, but I think it could drop in from eyeballing it.

But the big reason is that the Tesla units include the gear reduction to directly attach to the short axles. The 900 has a funny arrangement where the engine is part of a whole transaxle unit which sits on top of the transmission and oil pan, drives the transmission by a chain, and then the axles hang out the side of the unit. I think the Tesla units could drop right in there, just need new axles.

There's a couple Model S rear drive units hanging around in local classifieds. I've been tempted but I don't think I can justify spending $$ on yet another project I'd never finish.


The Tesla unit is offset transverse whereas the Eluminator is coaxial. Both are integrated drive units - electric motor and gearbox.

Telsa includes the inverter in the drive module; the Eluminator requires an external inverter, unfortunately.

Quite the missed opportunity, because it would be nearly drop-in if it included an inverter. That's what is so great about the Tesla module. You feed it power and CAN bus commands and boom, you've got torque.


The MG ZS EV. It has analog gauges and tactile buttons. It does have a touch screen, but that is just for the radio. Everything else has a physical button or switch

I drive an VW e-up! which has none of the fancy digital gimmics you mentioned. It is a perfect distraction free city car that doesn't spy on you.

The infotainment is usually a separate system, rip it out, and/or provide your own ECU. Not what you want, I know, but more immediately viable.

I believe Wuling MiniEV is exactly that.

Current MiniEV ships with a display for instrument cluster, earlier ones had dials.


The Nissan Leaf has some of that but has physical buttons and such and drives much like a classical car. The 62kwh version has 200+ miles of range. Price is very competitive too.

> For those of us who are "old-school" and prefer their cars without fancy digital gimmicks, which cars would you recommend?

Old cars. The problem is the lack of modern safety features which really makes me do a double take before considering them. I wish cannibalizing a new car and ripping out all of the useless electronics was common enough for there to be tutorials for some brands


That's certainly true, but I do feel like there's a sweet spot in the 2005-2010 area where most "critical" safety features (improved airbags, traction control, ABS brakes) are almost certainly present, but none of the modern safety features that fall more into the "augmented sensory" category (merge/blindspot detection, early braking), which I'm happy to compromise on. I drive a 2007 SUV which does everything I need it to do and I'll probably continue to drive similar vintage vehicles until I finally switch to an EV when the charging infrastructure in my area has finally gotten off the ground.

Biggest concern is that many cars of this era spectacularly fail on the front overlap and small front overlap tests, resulting in trapping, pinning, or worse. Older cars don't do any better, mind you, but the switch to unibody construction without the structural rigidity of the latest models can result in you becoming part of the crumple zones.

This.

I drive a 2007 base model Porsche 911. No GPS, manual transmission, built to crash with ABS, traction, airbags, cage.


I drive a 2007 SUV too for just this reason, and plan to move to an EV for the same reason. And there's another commenter in this thread who also has a 2007. Coincidence? I think not!

My wife drives a 2007 Ford Escape, still going strong at 194k miles, and I'm just praying it doesn't fall apart on us.

Right on. My gf is on her second 2008 Lexus and feels exactly the same way. It's a luxury ride but it doesn't try to take over for you.

2004 GX470 here. Horrendous gas mileage, but comes with ABS, stability control, full-time 4WD, and airbags. Of the modern safety systems, the one I'd really like to have is the blind-spot monitor. I have had rentals/loaners with collision detection systems (radar/camera) and they have all false-alerted on me and applied max brakes. I'm lucky I wasn't rear-ended as a result.

Airbags since 2004? What's the working age for such things?

Some automakers used to recommend replacement at 10 or 15 years old (my 1999 Mercedes had that on a door-jamb sticker). But from what I've seen, none of them are saying that anymore. Perhaps there was additional operational-life testing done. Or (more cynically) perhaps the automakers decided that replacing the 8+ airbags a modern car has after it's 15 years old, was something that no one was going to do because the cost would exceed the value of the vehicle by that point.

Love my 2005 IS300

Panther platform, extremely safe still is a very solid choice. Though most people don't particularly enjoy driving land yachts - a grand marquee is a fantastic choice.

Late 90's saab 9000's have TCS, ABS, Dual Air Bag, so your standard set of 2000's features, and are also very safe.

Unfortunately there seems to be a lack of good crash test data publically on older (older than 2004) cars.


If I didn't need a performance oriented car there would be a Lincoln Town Car in my driveway for sure. The mercury and lincoln are the sweet spots since many are available from older, responsible owners.

This, too. Those big Mercurys are just lovely to tool around in. I wish I had space for one.

Problem is, up here in the north, cars start rusting away before they are otherwise unusable.

I would honestly pay 5k for a one-time rust prevention fix if it were a long term solution. I have a wonderful Toyota 4Runner in great condition - except for the terrible rust. It will definitely die a rusty death.

If you are into DIY (it's easier with a truck than a car, as you can get under without lifting it) look into the treatments people use for Land Rovers and other 4x4s that they regularly drive off road. It's not just a one-off thing though, you should reapply it every few years - this is why cars still rust that have the undercoating the dealer upsells you.

Yep, I absolutely feel that. I have a very nice and boring '06 Toyota in great shape, except for a big rust spot on top of the windshield, I give it only a winter or two before it starts leaking. At that point it's not worth fixing a 16-17 year old car anymore. Which is a shame, because it's got a great drivetrain, rides smooth, and doesn't have a thousand little computers one bitflip away from driving you into a concrete pillar.

Getting the undercarriage sprayed with a lanolin-based spray before winter can do wonders for cutting back the damage from road salt.

Otherwise the rocker panels just rot out so quickly, and they are wicked expensive to get replaced. I was quoted almost $4000 to fix mine on my last vehicle (only 100k miles, otherwise near perfect condition), so I could get an inspection sticker. So I traded it and put that money down on a new one instead...


I currently drive a 2021 Nissan NV200 Compact Cargovan. It's about as basic of a vehicle you can get. I'm slowly turning it into a miniRV because I like to go camping at times. Works great as a place to sleep when I visit friends and when conventions get back into full swing and I don't want to spend $300+ on a weekend hotel room. Bonus points for the van being actually smaller than my previous 2015 VW Passat when it comes to finding parking spaces. I do miss getting 46mpg, but the van has been averaging 31-33mpg on long interstate trips.

There are some downsides. Like the creepiness factor of owning a panel van as a large bearded guy, but most people warm up to it once I explain things. Also the commercial 7% interest on my financing plan. I'm used to financing around 1-3% interest on any car I've bought new, but at least in my state commercial vehicles carry a locked in interest rate.

Commercial trucks/vans also have shit for sound insulation so be prepared to do that yourself or pay a local stereo shop to quiet things down.

Other than that its hard to even find consumer cars with a manual transmission in my area, let alone a lack of electronic non-sense.


Hard to beat a Chevy Express Van when it comes to low tech.

In general, look for vehicles that have a really old platform or really old 'redesign'. Eg: Look at model history here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chevrolet_Express

I'm not sure of any way to look this up across brands and models? Perhaps a good opportunity for a microsite?

In general companies boast about how new their tech is, not how old.

Disclosure: I work for GM, this is solely my own opinion.

If you don't want OnStar or Satellite Radio, there are ways to disable it pretty easily.


> If you don't want OnStar or Satellite Radio, there are ways to disable it pretty easily.

How? Any pointers?


If you want your car's modules to work, you DEFINITELY should not remove fuses. You can look up which fuses you should not remove.

What kind of digital gimmicks are you looking to avoid? Touch screens and fancy UI (e.g. vs physical buttons and dials), lane-keeping and dynamic cruise control, automatic emergency braking, drive-by-wire, backup cameras, tire pressure monitors, parking proximity sensors, voice-activated AAA roadside assistance with automatic last-30-second built-in-dashcam upload, etc? Or is it critical that it has a completely physical carburetor and physical connection between wheels and steering or something?

Personally I like physical UI controls (touch screens are hard to hit precisely, and don't give feedback when you're not looking) and definitely not baked-in AAA junk, but the rest I'm fine with. Lane-keeping often sucks so I disable it, but... it's disable-able, so meh. I almost never use the main UI for anything (my phone is infinitely more capable), so I don't particularly care how many features it has as long as I don't have to use it at all for most trips. My phone auto-connects, I hit play on Spotify and maybe start a navigation app, and I'm good. I'd probably deeply hate something that required button taps to start the car or shift out of park or something.


Base model sporty cars I think would be a great fit here if you're looking for new. The manufacturer understands that those looking for performance typically shy away from expensive gadgets. For example my 2018 brand new ford focus st had a 4" display for the backup cam and that was literally it. Manual transmission, full suite of buttons for controls etc etc

Base model mustang ecoboost is similar, you have to pay more to get the larger infotainment option but otherwise everything is manual including the hvac: https://www.ford.com/cars/mustang/models/ecoboost-fastback/ I assume the same would be true for the Camaro and Challenger

I would stay away from anything luxury. Family Haulers and Base model trucks are typically low-tech as well.


Lada Niva 4x4. Old school soviet, but modernized car. With airconditioning and some modern gimmicks. Very easy to fix and maintain. Good fuel economy, some versions even pass Euro 5 emission limits.

I liked WW2 jeeps and their simplicity, this seems like modern equivalent.


+1 for Lada Niva but not sure where OP is. Hard to get one outside Russia and Europe.

Dashboard is still the same analog as in the 80s https://static.lada.ru/images/press-releases/vaz_catalogue_n...

https://www.lada.ru/en/cars/niva-legend

There seems to be a UK dealer https://lada4x4.co.uk/


For the US and Canada:

It would be impossible new without buying them for crash tests and I think maybe modifying the engine, and it gets very expensive (I'm not 100% sure but it's a tedious and very difficult and expensive process from what I remember). That's unless they're 25 years old in the US or 15 years old in Canada (eg. buy a really old model).


I would kill to be able to purchase a brand new 4x4 manual transmission light SUV in the US. Sadly it no longer exists.

Ah, my dad owned one of these. Rudimentary reliable car that can go anywhere. He used it mainly in back roads with no tarmac whatsoever. The damn thing worked like a clock. You can find parts everywhere and they're cheap, any mechanic can work on the car, and it's build like a tank. It's not fast, or particularly comfortable, but it's the epitome of reliability and dependency.

Or the base model Dacia Duster.

Lada? O_o

Isn't that the brand of car I usually see shatter like glass in a crash in dashcam videos from Russia?


They are cheap for a reason. Incredibly unreliable, if you are a mechanic it's OK because you can fix it with a clip and duck tape. But if you can't DIY, be ready to have the car for repair five times more often than a "normal" car.

They are simple, yes. So simple they don't care if the simplicity cost you your life, and maybe your family if you are brave enough to put them in that. But hey, you saved a couple of thousands when you bought it, so maybe it's worth it.

And the saddest part is that the new models have electric mirrors, rear cam, parking radar, a 7" display, electric windows front and rear... The whole package you specifically didn't want in your Lada.


In Lada, you are the crumple zone.

I am discovering so many neat cars in this thread.

Buy a Toyota from 2000-2010. They run practically forever, they're low maintenance, and they achieve everything you're asking for here regarding modern electronics. My daily driver is a 2000 4Runner, and I love everything about it.

But don't buy one right now, because the market is nuts.

1-2 year old cars with 5-8k miles are selling for the same price or even more than brand new models because of a confluence of the chip shortage and CPO warranties extending the total warranty length.


I have an 19 year old one, and my mechanic offered to buy it yesterday (after fixing a suspension torn up by essentially offroading in it, third repair it's ever needed in 180k miles), because he needed a car with good gas mileage.

What you want is a "driver's car". They typically have fewer bells and whistles and provide a more connected driving experience. You're expected to expend effort to pilot the car.

There are actually quite a few these days, but I'm partial to Japanese cars, myself.

1) Mazda MX-5 Miata I own one. It's awesome to drive. Has few features and a simple dash. It's quite economical to operate (inexpensive to insure, gets over 35 mpg, very popular so lots of parts availability and lots of aftermarket parts, Mazda reliability and maintenance costs).

2) Subaru BRZ / Toyota 86 Also awesome to drive. This car is a bit more practical than the Miata because of its roof and trunk space. Less economical to operate: it's less fuel efficient and people speed in them so insurance is more expensive. The boxer engine gives it inherently better handling than most vehicles.

3) Honda Civic Type R This is my dream car.

4) Subaru WRX If you need all-wheel drive, this is pretty much it.

5) Nissan 370Z Nissans aren't my cup of tea but they go fast.

As for trucks, the only truck that interests me is the Toyota Tacoma, since it still comes with a manual transmission. I wish I could purchase a Toyota Hilux in the US. I also wish I could purchase a Suzuki Jimny here, alas. I'm not at all interested in SUVs, so I can't help you there.


I vouched for this comment. Perhaps it's not exactly what the question is asking for but is well-formulated (if a bit subjective), and comes from a newly-registered user (welcome to HN!), so I don't think it deserves to be "dead."

Just as the guidelines ask us "If you flag, please don't also comment that you did", just vouch: don't also mention you did.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html

If you think a commenter's comments are dead in error, you can email the mods via the Contact link in the footer so they can take appropriate action.


The guidelines only say so about flagging, clearly to discourage low-quality comments from getting attention and obscuring more interesting discussion.

For this reason, I don't think there is any obvious parallel to vouching that you're trying to draw here. However, perhaps I am wrong. Can you point to a comment by @dang that would substantiate your opinion?


Comments about voting, flagging, and other moderation actions detract from actual conversation: that's clear from the guidelines (e.g., Please don't comment about the voting on comments. It never does any good, and it makes boring reading.) and 'dang's moderation activity. As does enumerating every rule, as it encourages just this type of rule lawyering that I've now played a part in exacerbating, so I'll stop now.

They don't make them for the US anymore.

The best you can do is buy a "fleet model" truck or something, but its still going to have a host of electronics and probably a GPS and cellular radio inside. Fleet models are designed to last, as not to anger large-scale fleet customers.

Yeah, you can find cars with more knobs and less touch screens, but in most cases, those analog-appearing knobs are just digital input devices to an (eg for Honda since at least 2018) low-end, cheaply-made Android device.

If you're sincere, your best bet is to buy a year and model with something that still has plenty of spare parts available (eg. 2000 era Honda, Toyota trucks, etc)


I'm pretty sure my 2019 Honda's HVAC knobs are physically connected to the flaps they control. You can feel/hear the dampers moving with the knobs.

The dampers might be, but the system is still controlled by Android running on a puny OMAP processor in the 2019 Fit.

I'd paste the link to the technician's manual, but it's not public, though you can find it on less than ethical places.

A fun practice is to pull the fuse on the Android unit and try using your car. It will work, but it's... unpleasant.


Interesting. I wonder why - it seems like more trouble than it’s worth. The controls aren’t complicated: a button to turn A/C compressor on and off, one for the rear defogger, a mixing valve for temp and a four notch thing for fan speed.

Right on. I have a 2019 work truck. It has electric locks/windows/mirrors, Bluetooth, and cellular modem/onstar.

It's definitely not bare bones, but I like that the screen isn't really needed for anything, and has knobs for every control.


Buy any sort of car built before 1996 (the year OBDII became required) that you like, and spend some money fixing it up. You'll spend way less than on a new or recently made used car, and it will have virtually no electronics in it. At best, it will have a controller for fuel injectors.

Between 1996 and ~mid 00s, you had some of that stuff but really not that much. If you're willing to tolerate an ECM and some jankiness with factory radios controlling the security alarm and nonsense like that then you can avoid all the modern garbage.

Unfortunately governments are beginning to mandate some of those gimmicks. Even if a car company wanted to make a car that is just a car, without a rear camera or stop assist it likely wouldn't be able to be imported to anywhere in Europe or anglophone north america.


I guess it depends on what you mean by "digital" features.

I purchased a 2021 vehicle, its a GM vehicle. Its my first GM product, my last was a Toyota but very basic model, no tech. This has everything and while I enjoyed it at first, a few things started to happen in the vehicle that made me realize that I don't want this vehicle anymore. Primarily the OnStar "feature", I get an ad like chime every so often, asking if I would like to sign up or that this vehicle has OnStar and I should activate it.

I get the world we live in and I get that everything has a subscription service attached to it but when that OnStar kicks in while I am talking to someone in the car it creeps me out. Its like when Siri asks how can I help you when you didn't ask for help yet its feels a bit more awkward. Can't explain why except I will be selling the vehicle very soon, just not sure what I will be getting next. Older, like 2000's, low miles and base model.

Its why I have not purchased an EV, while they don't all have subscriptions its started to feel like they are all going in that direction. I love tech but it has become a bit overwhelming in vehicles. If I paid for the car I really don't want to have ads while driving the vehicle (old school thinking I guess).


This matches my impressions of an older GMC (except it didn’t nag about OnStar activation).

That truck had software bugs that’d sometimes run the battery down over night or cause the entire dashboard and onstar voice response system to freak out.

Alarmingly, a powertrain software bug caused it to behave unpredictability in parking lots. The Bolt had the same bug, but it manifested in a more severe way. Search “bolt unexpected acceleration while parking”.

Mine was a base model (only knobs; no touchscreens or even medium resolution displays), though it had rudimentary voice control and internet of some sort.

I don’t plan to buy a GM again, unless they can make one with zero computers for me, or maybe outsource their software development to a competent firm. The fact that they have a self-driving car division terrifies me.


I'll break this into two components:

1. Is there a button for the thing I'm trying to do?

2. Does the button in (1) do what I expect it to do?

(2) drives me crazy. And I'm sure it's both a blessing and a curse as cars continue to pack tech under their hoods/into their dashes.

The climate system "Auto" function is my favorite nuisance. It used to be that you had temperate and fan speed and they operated rather intuitively. Now "Auto" does something. I'm not quite sure what. Is it reading my body temperature? Interior temperature? Exterior temperature? How does it determine fan speed? Passengers?

Even in a car with tech, I revert to barbaric adjustments: open windows when it's nice out (NYC metro area), seat heaters when it's cold (Northeast standards), and the Max A/C when the humidity is unbearable.

You know what's awesome? All of those things have, in my cars at least, buttons! I know what they do!

/End Rant


On my Honda auto seems perfect for me. It looks like it keeps internal temperature and only turns on fan to ventilate, heat, or cool.

Mazda seems to be heading the right direction:

  https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20200335

The right direction, true. Touch screens are cheaper to design and build for, compared to physical controls, but do they benefit the safety or convenience of the driver? I don't think so.

However, apart from the touch screen being optional, I think Mazda has a fairly driver-hostile user experience with their controls.

I have a 2020 CX-5, and it's still very opinionated about how I should be driving. For example, it will grumble at you if you touch a white or yellow line, or if it thinks you're too close to the car in front of you and not braking hard enough. I'm generally a fairly safe driver: close to thirty years with a license, all but two years of that being city driving, and never had an accident. You wouldn't know it from the way my car yells at me every time I drive it though.

Oh, and it asks me to agree to a legal disclaimer every time I start it up! Love being treated like that.


You just ignore those disclaimers and they go away. Blame the sue happy society we live in for that… it is pure CYA.

Sure, you don't have to press it, but it blocks the UI until it goes away. The worst part of it is that it doesn't matter how many times you say "I agree", it will continue asking you every time you start the car.

You're also right that it's pure CYA. However, since you don't actually have to agree with it to use the vehicle, I wonder whether it actually covers anything, or if it's just a meaningless hurdle you have to jump through. In any case, it's not for my benefit as the owner.


They make a very shitty EV though.

Do you mean the range? If that's the case then I agree, I don't know what they were thinking.

If not then I guess it's a lot different from the 2019 Mazda 6 I own. It's been great. Not what the parent is looking for probably but it has no gimmicks - I find every convenience usable. The adaptive lights, the active cruise, lane assist, automatic transmission, keyless system, seat memory, HUD, 360 cam. Yes, I know these are kind of basics now but still, I come from Mitsubishi Lancer 2010 land - all the gimmicks that car had was ABS ;)

Only knit pick I have is you can't turn off the radio, you can only mute it. Had the same feeling when I bought my first iPod and discovered that sleep was it's natural state... Got used to it somehow ;)


The whole electric part is shit. The range is low but it would be manageable if the charging speed wasn't so slow. The consumption is very high, the performances very poor. It's a front wheel drive, a lot of space is not available for storage because of the design. And it's expensive.

I'm driving my 2011 Nissan Versa until I die. When my kids reach driving age, they'll get the trashy new car and I'll keep the old one.

Got a 2016 Kia Rio QB hatchback with a 1.6L G4FC engine this spring as my first car. It had a bit more than 30k km on it, very slightly dinged (I already had bonked it twice though).

Reliable as a brick. Drives like one too. But boy is it stupidly simple — no bluetooth even, chucked in a USB receiver and called it a day. No touchscreens, no fancy driver assist, no cameras, no nothing. Just an AC and motorized windows.

Paid around $10k for it. Worth every rouble.

Korean cars are very popular here in Moscow. Basically every taxi is either Kia or Hyundai, Toyotas are less common. Outside of major cities Renault (Dacia) and Ladas are prevalent because they're even cheaper.

Want a dumb car? Come to Russia. We have some.


Good question. A follow-up: What's the best low(er)-digitalization EV (ideally BEV, but alternatively PHEV)? Something with more tactile/analog UI and a minimum of "entertainment" accessories?

PHEV means "Plug-in-hybrid Electric Vehicle" if anyone else was similarly confused.

I'm not sure what your use case is but I think the Electra Meccanica Solo could be a good option if you don't need to carry passengers or much stuff. It does have a back-up camera, digital instruments, and keyless entry but no driver assist features.

I'm intrigued by this because I think it would be pretty fun to drive a single seat car on the road, but maybe thats just me.

https://www.electrameccanica.com/solo/


Volkswagen e-Up(or its equivalent Skoda Citigo/Seat Mii) - it's a full EV that still has a fully analog dash, minimal radio and instead of "infotainment" provides a holder for your phone. That's as minimum as it gets.

Volkswagen e-UP/Skoda Citigo

Basically the same cars, analog dashboard with knobs, just simple radio w/bluetooth and optional phone connection

https://www.autocar.co.uk/sites/autocar.co.uk/files/8-vw-e-u...

https://villanyautosok.hu/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/2019-11...


Another option would be the base model VW e-Golf, has traditional gauges but does have a bit more infotainment things. A lot of the controls still remain separate from the touchscreen, climate control for example does not require touchscreen.

The problem with VW's lower market EVs will be the range though, not even half the range of a model 3. The ID.4/3 has better range but they ruin it IMO with screens for everything.


My 2017 Chevy Bolt still has some knobs and dials for things. There's also a big touchscreen with a bunch of A/C system controls on it, which is annoying. They're also persistent in that space on the screen, which makes me wonder why even bother having it be on the screen...

i think they'll come. flew on a brand new airliner recently, all electronics were removed from the seatback. now it's just a tray and clip for your own phone or tablet, a usb charging port and a 110v ac plug at each seat (along with a media server accessible by wifi)

a nice future for all heavy equipment (cars included) would be an open standard for interfacing the heavy equipment with your own control technology, so you can replace and choose the tech yourself, and if the manufacturer stops supporting the software, the hardware remains usable for the remainder of its usually much longer life. i suspect though that this would have to be done via legislation, both to make the carmakers do it and to absolve them of liability in the event that a connected device causes an accident. (the future of machines will involve blameless teams and blameful software with trusted attribution of blame, methinks)


I recently bought Volkswagen e-up! which meets my criteria for a city car:

- Zero* pollution.

- Big rebate from the government (6k + 3k)

- No fancy digital gimmics like touchscreen or digital distractions. I have to plug in my phone to listen to music and the knobs and physical buttons are much more ergonomic to me.

- Small and compact build for grocey runs and dropping kids to school

- 1/3 cost of charging compared to gasoline.

- Free parkings all over the city with chargers.

- Simple but superior technology. Driving an ICE is a chore for me now with so much vibrations and noise.

- Low maintenance, no engine oils to change and spark plugs/carburetors to tweak.

* I am aware that we offset the pollution to power plants, but I still feel this is better compared to ICE pollution.

P.S. I live in Berlin, Germany and we have top notch public transport here.


Subaru Crosstrek: If you get it with the (quite nice) 6 speed manual, all the annoying driver aid stuff is deleted. Does come with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, so if you like fancy radio, you can have that. But the drivetrain is pleasantly stick-and-rudder.

Agreed and even if you get the one with Eyesight, Subaru's driver assist platform, it is easy to turn it off. My girlfriend has one and we turn off lane keep assistance on long trips because it is annoying on some roads.

This might be a good option if you want to improve potential resale value.


> stick-and-rudder

Right? What would Wolfgang Langewiesche drive? Saab 9-5 Aero would be my guess.


To combat some of the anti-curious stances in this thread are there any new cars with too much digitization?

I would love something like a Tesla with a repl that I can program to do donuts; dynamically adjust the ride height from my Apple Watch, or just make the headlights flash in time to my music. Booting Urbit on the infotainment device is a bonus.

Basically a modern car for a hacker that still loves technology. Absolutely loved the Rally Motors concept as a kid. The Grenadier looks promising too. But I’m not aware of anything that’s computers + Hoonigan. The more digitization the better.


Teslas have way too much digitalization.

Anything where you can't flip a lever somewhere on the car to turn on your windshield wipers is a bad taste, to me.

(edit: added this sentence) Another area, and I have no idea if Tesla, or any car company, does this:

Anything that constantly phones home my speed or braking dynamics or gps or any other telemetry to *anywhere* - or even stores it for more than like an hour - is too much digitalization, to me.

I probably lean more toward the "less digitalization" crowd, but I think those are things that can be seen as "too much" by most people.


Between privacy risks and road safety, I made my choice very easily. I can understand the nostalgia of old cars with very little electronics, a carburator, a starter with a battery, a mechanical dashboard,... But on a daily basis they are dangerous, smelly, expensive, and not that reliable.

Well, I believe there's something in-between what the author asks for, and what you describe. I certainly don't want to have a "move fast and break things", "post privacy" kind of car. I prefer solid engineering and quality control, as well as simplicity (over convenience / flashiness). I don't have anything against electronics and algorithms running in my car at all.

I don't think he's talking about going to a carbureted car though. Just something with a simple EFI system, and not a bunch of proprietary, in-car electronics. Definitely like a post above mentioned, the late 90's to 2000's cars have most modern safety features, good reliable fuel injection, but no integrated LTE modems, or crappy infotainment systems that are horribly out of date like newer cars.

Whats the newest car you can buy with a carburator?

Probably something built in the 1980's, if not the 1970's. Fuel-injection was pretty near ubiquitous by around the mid 80's as best as I can remember. I doubt very many, if any, cars were built new with carburetors anytime from 1990 on...

Edit: the above refers to the US specifically. As other commentators have pointed out, the situation is different in other regions.


Mid 90’s GMC Sierra trucks had carburetors with comparable fuel efficiency to current models. (Not sure about emissions though.)

It wouldn’t surprise me if some of the newer “Sierra Classic” line (same body style; overlapped the new platform model years) had airbags and carburetors.

Unfortunately, the interiors of those trucks were made of plastics that started shattering a decade ago. Good luck finding one with a working seat and door controls, let alone radio, etc!

As long as you kept them below 80mph, they handled great. Above that, the speedometer was pinned, and tapping the brakes caused them to pull hard to one side. I miss that truck.


Depends on where you live. In the US, there are definitely no more carbureted cars. But overseas is a whole different story. I wanna say like 2017 there was Proton or something like that with a carb on it.

From some quick Googling... The Ford Ka in Europe was carbureted (and pushrod!) up until 2000.

I believe the VW CitiGolf was carb'd until 2008.

Lada's maybe had carbs up until 2014.

I think Proton even had one until the mid 2010's also.

Interestingly. I thought that here in the US, we got rid of all carb'd motorcycles as well. But Honda is releasing the 2022 Navi, and it's carbureted! Especially weird since they have other 110cc engines that have fuel injection.


My 88 Chevy beater truck was the last year of carburetors, as it had an old small block v8 in it.

We have no plans to ever sell the two cars we have. I highly recommend copies if you can find them. My wife has a 2007 4Runner. 150K on the odo and all I've ever needed to change was an alternator and brakes. If you do your own work, nothing on the planet is better for a mechanic than a Toyota. Ours is also the V8 (unicorn-ish) but I don't recommend that unless you need to tow something significant. Mine is a 2014 Subaru BRZ with three pedals. IMHO, it's the best car ever made. Like a shifter kart with airbags.

The BRZ/86 is definitely a good fit for right level of tech without a lot of digitization, but not exactly a practical all-rounder for a lot of families. Dollars per unit fun is insanely high though.

Alfa Romeo Giulietta. They stopped making it in 2000 and it was not sold in US for much longer.

But there are lots of them in perfect state in Europe.


They stopped making the Giulietta last December. It's being replaced by a small SUV.

Typo, yep. Last produced in 2020.

I bought a 2018 Ford Focus RS (comes with a manual transmission). Love it. I have Apple CarPlay, but no other gimmicks.

I didn’t know how to drive a stick before I purchased this car; but had a strong desire to vote with my wallet stemming from the same emotions. I wanted less “technology” in my car.


You basically can't buy a new car in the US like this. They will all have a backup camera and an infotainment screen with controls for the car integrated, and they use the same parts from the rest of the cars in their lineup and collect all the data they can.

You could buy an older car like a crown victoria or similar models that were used as fleet vehicles from the same time period. The police models don't have TPMS, cruise control is disabled by default, no LCD screens, no bluetooth, no cellular connectivity, no voice controls, no ignition interlock, no cameras for lane keeping or early crash warning. HVAC is has dedicated controls. It still has an engine computer that controls the timing and fuel air mixture, cooling, turn signals, throttle by wire(after 04), and ABS. To really avoid anything digital you would need a car from the mid 80s or older for one with a solenoid for the turn signals, carburetor for fuel/air. And going back to the 50s to avoid an electronic fuel pump and ignition coils. An air cooled vw beetle for instance.

For new cars, a mazda 3 can be a good option. It doesn't use a touch screen and has a wheel/knob instead. The controls are more simplified, few to none of those electronic driving aids on the base models. Volvos stand out as having great physical controls as well, but they will come with all of the electronics. An f150, dodge challenger, grand caravan can be pretty light on the electronics for the lowest trim levels compared to the competition. And all of these are used as fleet vehicles by rental car cos and similar, so there are lots of parts out there


I bought a 2018 Acura RDX instead of a new one. Way fewer electronic gadgets and touch screens, and it cost $26K w/33K miles vs $46K new. Even with a 2018, I only made it halfway through the HUGE manual and still don't understand why the doors sometimes lock themselves and other times don't.

I agree: cars have way too many features. I loved my 2003 Honda Accord, but some dumbass totaled it when she rear-ended me at an intersection because she wasn't paying attention - probably on her phone. Most people I talk to don't know how to use their car's features.


VW Up and its Skoda/Seat equivalents. It literally doesn't have a digital dash at all, instead it provides a place to mount your phone if you wish and a very basic radio.

I love my 2017 Ford Focus RS! It has a touch screen but besides for that there's no lane assist, automatic breaking, or any other driver assists. I also love that it is a manual, however some people may not like that. Also they only made it from 2016 - 2018 and used ones are expensive. But check it out if you want a modern, fast, manual car with minimal digital none sense.

What would you use them for, and how much are you willing to spend? Classic cars and italian sport cars don't have digital gimmicks, as well as american muscle. If you really want something without digital gimmicks get a motorcycle. People who really don't want to be tracked have a motorcycle.

To answer your question, it depends on what you plan to do with the car and how much you want to spend. Toyota, Honda, Jeep, Porsche, Ford, Ferrari, Chevy.

I think you will always need a trip to the dealership and it won't even always be an issue with your infotainment. The exception is if you know how a lot about cars.

Also, people don't need your car technology to track you. I know people who lost 10k of camera equipment in their car because they were targeted using other attack vectors.

I have tesla at the moment and it has a lot of digital gimmicks. I am thinking of going into porsche or c8 in the next few months.

You brought up a really good question about privacy. I'm seeking some wisdom about that too. I know that my location, supercharging, and trips are tracked. Prob even sentry might be watched by a content moderator at tesla.

Now, let's say i switch to a porsche or a c8. Wouldn't i still have privacy risks? The risks are, my cellphone, wifi, bluetooth, credit cards, data brokers, cookies, in-store purchases, transactions, or even more sophisticated attack like using people i know as another vector.

You can even track people on the blockchain. I think the exception would be something like monero.

So, I guess can someone more knowledgable share info about the issues privacy issues with tech gadgets in cars. How big of an issue is it if you are already completely integrated in modern tech society?


Good luck getting a C8. The wait list is long.

Thanks man, yeah I spoke with a dealer. It seems somewhat easier now since people are waiting for the z06. But, still the dealership charging way over the msrp is still a big issue

I have been looking at the Ineos Grenedier that is coming out early next year. The owner of Ineos wanted a better version of the LandRover Defender before their redesign. No digital features, all buttons. I think they are pricing it around 40-50k.

Check out the interior here. https://youtu.be/3wrPT9buKkc?t=575


Wish there were analog-esque(input only) electric 2 & 4 wheelers, which would be repair friendly. As opposed to S/N paired components and digital touch points like screens, which act as single points of failure.

Porsche's whole lineup before the latest set of refreshes was nicely physical and traditional.

For example the 718 Cayman/Boxster supports Carplay so you get all the good aspects of digital, but climate control, drive modes, and everything else is physical. There are plenty of cars that are/were in this in between state like Mazda's lineup.


Build yourself a Caterham. I did this at one point, you'll learn a few things and the thing is totally analogue.

please tell us more about this? which one did you build, how much did it cost? what did you use it for? how was your experience? maintenance?

Can't quite remember the cost of it, maybe $25k at the time? It was the classic Caterham 7 that is maybe the most common kit car, green with a yellow stripe down the middle.

Reasonably easy build, but you need a bunch of torque wrenches and a dolly (Is that what they call is? Thing that can lift an engine?). The tools aren't hard to get, but you want to rent the dolly for a day. Nobody can lift the engine block.

It's not really that hard to do, just quite time consuming. There's a heck of a lot of parts to put together. Of course you will need a locked garage to put it in, it can't just be thrown together over the course of a weekend. Took maybe a few weekends for three busy people with jobs.

Use it for? My colleague bought it and drove around in it. It's quite a basic car by modern standards. Feels like you are touching the road when you're driving it. Also the clutch is unforgiving. Tiny bit too fast and the thing dies, and you're sitting in a busy junction with people laughing at you. Also it's really a fairweather car. There's leather panels that will stop it being flooded but in rain it's quite uncomfortable.

It's also not a car that a lot went wrong with. What is there to break on such a thing? But to be fair it also wasn't driven much.


I bought a car from the early to mid 2000s and retrofit the the head unit and speakers. You can find everything from simple bluetooth/aux cable units with segmented lcd displays to full modern android auto/apple carplay touchscreens.

I would recommend a Toyota, Honda or Lincoln Town Car from that era. They're reliable, cheap to maintain/repair/modify, lots of parts availability. Crutchfield.com has excellent guides on retrofitting modern audio systems into these vehicles.

The major caveat is safety. While you do get ABS brakes, airbags and seatbelts in this era the crash protection is dismal compared to a modern SUV. You must always drive attentively and defensively- I _never_ text or call using my car audio while driving for this reason.



I'm surprised by the tone of the responses here so far. As much as we might or might not like the new digital user interfaces in modern cars, the value of the safety features like automatic braking and collision avoidance is pretty much beyond contest at this point[0]. Before you buy a car without these features, consider that you are probably not as good of a driver as you think you are.

[0] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7037779/


It's not about what it does but how it does it.

It does it frustratingly annoyingly intrusively and so on.


Most drivers today in the West don't realise just how much they are reliant on non-disableable electronic stability control on most FWD cars, which quietly entered cars along with ABS.

The problem is that a lot of safety features came into the market along with a lot of really terrible cabin UI choices and wiz-bang display electronics that I do not want.

Nothing new. Buy something a decade and a half old or even two, have it rebuilt to spec and enjoy a computer free and reliable ride that if you pick the right car will likely appreciate in value for a while.

My 'daily driver' (or at least, before I got my e-bike it was my daily driver) is 24, drives like it was made last week and will probably outlast me. It is not the most fuel economic car but it gets me where I need to go and is quite reliable.


Pre-2015 Tacoma. Doesn't even have climate control. Has the Entune touchscreen stereo, but you can ignore that if you don't listen to music. Everything else is knobs and buttons. But also, keep in mind this is generational. A 2003 Honda Accord has an astonishing amount of digitization relative to a 1980s car. It used to be common for fathers and sons to work on their cars at home for repairs. Not just maintenance, actually fixing things that went wrong.

I think behind most nostalgia is a longing for youth.


I wish they still made the Tacomas with that body style

A Volvo 240 DL, model years 2000 to about 2010. Completely reliable daily driver, safe, comfortable sedan that can goo 500,000 miles with reasonable care. I had three of them over the years. Today, my daily driver is a 2017 Toyota 4Runner after I put 250,000k miles on a 2008 Toyota Highlander. These can go 500,000 miles with reasonable maintenance. I also buy used so others take the depreciation hit.

Have at look at Subaru's from like ~2014 or older. IIRC, the safety and reliability are quite good, and I believe they're pretty barebones as far as digitalization goes.

Like many industries, the automobile industry is going through production shortages. So it is a terrible time to buy a car and certainly a terrible time to buy a lower end car because, from what I've heard, automobile makers are dealing with the shortage by only making their more expensive models because there is more profit in them.

It depends on what you want. Cars in a lot of countries are required to have some digital features, such as a backup camera.

Since you're in the states, you could consider something basic, like a Mazda 2 series or an MX-5. I also imagine that some lower trim Ford, Kia, Hyundai, Toyota, or Chevy models (Chevy Spark?) could be a good option.

It get's easier outside of the US. The VW Up is about as analog as you can get - the digital infotainment system is a smart phone app.


https://bollingermotors.com/ If you have some serious money to burn...

First tell us your beef with the status-quo. How do you determine what is a digital feature and what is a digital gimmick? What are you trying to avoid exactly?

Are remote diagnostics a gimmick? Is the 20 year old CAN bus a gimmick? Automatic headlights? TPMS? ABS? All of this technology contains properties that identify your vehicle from similar vehicles WHILE making the roads safer.


> All of this technology contains properties that identify your vehicle from similar vehicles WHILE making the roads safer.

This is simply not true. Things like touchscreens are cheap gimmicks and the roads do not get any safer by using them in a car [1]. Mazda recently announced its decision [2,3] to replace touchscreens with analog controls as they provide more tactile feedback and I hope more manufacturers follow.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=26277965

[2] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20200335

[3] https://www.autoblog.com/2020/08/25/2021-mazda-cx-5-updates/


Parent didn't say anything about touchscreens adding to safety, though. I think you're attacking something unsaid.

And OP wasn't complaining about the things the parent said.

Excuse the rant, but this comment tickled a sore spot for me.

If I want to sing or shout the entire way home without it being stored in 'the cloud' that is my right. If I want to change my own oil or tires, nothing should stop me. So much of this crap is jacking up the price of a basic conveyance and it just adds more headache, more proprietary parts, and more stuff to go wrong. God dammit I just want to ride to the store and back, stop pestering me like I'm some kind of incompetent child asking for unrealistic things. I swear to fucking christ almighty if I have to make a ticket for the Ford Genius Bar to get some basic shit fixed, I might just snap on the nearest nerd.

OnStar was a mistake, it all went downhill from there. Fuel Injection bros, you can come get some too.


I'm driving a 2017 Jeep Wrangler (JK) with a manual transmission. I don't drive much (less than 4k miles/yr).

I can't drive automatic transmissions without losing my mind. My guess is if you can find a car with a standard transmission, you can get it without "smart" features. If you can't drive stick, that's fine. I couldn't drive stick when I bought my first manual transmission. If I can learn, you can learn.


Toyota Land Cruiser (the older ones.) Look for one that has airbags and ABS and nothing else computer-controlled.

For a reliable pickup truck in the US, Nissan Frontiers have been very trustworthy. Up until this past year, they were known for having a very "old" looking dashboard because the interior had not been updated since the early 2010s. Despite that, it continues to be one of Nissan's most popular vehicles and some would consider it to be the best in their lineup.

I have a similar question for ebikes. I'm looking for a 45 km/h ebike for use in the EU. That means type certification required. I also need a comfortable real life 140km range at high speeds.

What I would love to see is:

- throttle

- battery status indicator leds (or similar low tech battery status feedback)

- pedal sensor

- battery management system

- charger

- reliable motor

What I would not like to see is:

- gps

- led display

- smart lock

- builtin cameras

- ...

Suggestions welcome!


The only tech in our 2016 base model Jetta is CarPlay, which can be useful for maps. All the other controls are physical. It does have electric assisted steering, which I'm hoping will be more reliable than the traditional hydraulic power steering which usually requires a replacement at some point. It also gets really good mileage.

Suzuki Jimny or Toyota Tacoma/Hilux Work Trim

My algorithm is like this:

Pick the body style you like/can afford.

Remove the engine and all electronics and sell them.

Install crate engine and aftermarket electronics to taste.


Woosh - this is for pros only. But great for those who can do it.

I have a third-generation Mazda 3 and their tech is solid. It's the basics (Music, Radio, Calls, Messages and a modest GPS). It's solid because it's not buggy, responsive and quite simple. I'm yet to have any issues with Bluetooth (which was a hassle on Renault/Fiesta cars). It also has no other privacy invading crap.

Probably the best option is any car with a manual transmission. These generally don't have any cruise control beyond the basic speed-keeping, no lane-keep assist, and generally are base models with less infotainment tech.

The fun factor should not be discounted, either.


As someone who's driven a manual for the last 15 years (agree they are super fun), there are definitely cons to it:

* If you live in a place with hills, it will be annoying to drive. (Initially it might feel like it'd be a fun challenge to deal with the hills, but it gets old pretty quickly.)

* If you live in a place where you have to deal with frequent stops due to heavy traffic or multiple nearby stop signs, it will be annoying to drive. (No fun challenge here; this is just flat-out annoying.)

* If you want or need a friend to drive your car in a pinch (say you've had too much to drink, or you sprained your ankle on a hike), they likely will not know how (depends on where you live; I'm in the US, where most people don't know how). On the flip side, "oh, sorry, it has a manual transmission" is a great no-blame, no-awkward excuse if you don't want to let someone drive your car.

* Related, but your significant other, if you have one, might not know how to drive it, and might not be interested in learning (before anyone says anything: no, there's nothing wrong with this attitude; being able to drive stick doesn't give you some sort of moral superiority), and that could create some annoying logistical problems at times.

* Less of an issue if you're buying used, but in many markets (again, I mainly know about the US market), manufacturers are dropping the manual transmission options, or are only allowing them on the more expensive trim levels. Even if you're buying used, your available options may be many fewer than if you were looking for an automatic car. Then again, the used car market is nuts right now, and I don't know, but maybe that's making it easier to find a manual car, since they're not usually in high demand.

I'm tiptoeing into the market for a new car now, and as much as it will sadden me, I'm almost certainly going to go for an automatic transmission. Finding a manual is requiring more compromises on other features than I want to make, and some of the cons I've listed above have, over time, hit me kinda hard.


Zastava 101 - Stojadin

This reminds me some years ago looking for a good high resolution TV without these "embedded OS and smart apps". My plan was to use my Apple TV and regular tv cables. I could not find it, it does not exist.

The answer is buy any tv and never connect it to the internet. I have a "smart" tv. it functions exactly the same as my old dumb tv. The only buttons I use on the remote are power, input, left and right to select the xbox or computer, and volume. Same story as it was in the dumb tv era. the smart tv experience is entirely optional.

This Porsche 962C isn't new, but it probably doesn't have too many privacy invasive features: https://vimeo.com/50473835

How about a 10 year old Acura or Lexus? Cheap-ish by now (although the used market is inflated currently), comfy and fun to drive, reliable and most of all no huge iPad in the dashboard.

I have an entry level 2019 Skoda Citigo. It is just a car, zero driver assist / digital gimmicks. The only digital features are a Bluetooth stereo and a CarPlay screen — but even they have physical buttons.

People seem to always want to buy my 90s Miata for these reasons. Parts are still affordable and it's reliable...

Late 90s Camrys, Corollas, Accords and similar. The most advanced electronics are the entertainment system, anti-lock brakes and ignition system. Not a CAN bus in sight.

Toyota 4runner might interest you. They have a old-school SUV philosophy with the standard modern safety features.

Mercedes EQS! Just kidding ;)

Nowadays you won't find anything new that isn't full of electronics unless they sell Lada Niva in the US (might be a bit too bare for you though).


Ask the dealer if Internet connection is an option, if so, can it be added later, can it be turned on remotely? In many cars today, the answer to all three is yes.

Just out of curiosity: how can Internet connection be turned on remotely, if the car is, well, not connected to the Internet in the first place?

Because it actually _is_ connected through an OnStar or similar system. You just don’t get the benefit unless you start paying the subscription cost.

I am going to guess that you know the answer to this already.

2019 and below Nissan Frontier. Outstanding trucks. They changed it in 2020 and 2021 I would give it another 15 years to iron out the bugs.

I got a 2011 Toyota Camry for just this reason. It was the last year before touch screens were introduced. (edit: still has a ton of air bags)

I have a 2004 buick park ave and i couldn't be happier with it.

3.8 series II. That thing will live forever!!

For grad school, I got a cousin of it, a 2002 olds. These w body, V6 GMs are so smooth!! So pleasant on the highway! And get 30 mpg? I can’t bring myself to get rid of the thing. In fact I’m a bit obsessive about keeping it nice. It’s so inexpensive to mantón and run, and it is a good, spacious, smooth car.

Not luxurious, but still quiet and smooth. Not sporty, yet it passes anything on the highway with ease. Not flashy, but neither am I. Not new, yet still, somehow, reliable. Not techie, yet wit a cellphone mount and a Bluetooth (wired) adapter, I can do just about every thing I want.

Like you, I couldn’t be happier with my old boat.


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