Just recently I started comparing technology in cars that we own. A couple of months ago I purchased a 07 Corvette that has a lot more technology then the 84 Corvette I owned and a lot more than my 70 Mustang. We have also owned two newer vehicles a 2008 Lexus GS350 and now a 2011 Lexus RX 350. I’m not going to compare the technology between the two Corvettes nor would there be any reason to compare the Corvettes to the Mustang.
But what I have compared is the level of technology between U.S. cars and the two Lexus (Toyota) vehicles we’ve owned.
First up is the 2008 Lexus GS350. We purchase the car in late 2007, which, as far as a technology time line would be concerned, is smack in the middle of digital music, video and touch technology era. To better frame the time line 3 years ago while attending the Fords on 4th Ave Car Show, here in Tucson, I meet up with a couple of Microsoft guys (one of them I knew from a previous contract I worked) doing the first demo of Sync in a Lincoln. They gave me quick demo and it was excellent technology which is now about 3 years old. Yet this luxury Toyota only managed to have a horribly located, headphone port to headphone port connection for your IPOD or MP3 player. Compare this with the technology in my 2007 Corvette, it at least plays MP3 formatted CDs as well as standard CDs.
Next is the 2011 Lexus RX350, three years further into the mobile data revolution and it still seems lacking in technology. The GS350 had a touch screen information center, the RX350 does not. What replaced that is a joy stick/mouse type device.
It seems a like a step backward. It’s much easier for you to touch the screen while driving. The RX’s device requires the moving around of a cursor, centering it on an icon and clicking the mouse-like buttons. ( Don’t get me started on distracted driving, phone calls vs. eating McDonald’s fries.) The RX is limited to a USB connection for music and that is it. Sure it has options for satellite and blue tooth (as did the GS) , but techno-backtracking from a touch screen is a bit odd and no music storage is nearly pre-historic.
Just comparing technologies for music availability the U.S. cars are ahead. Take the 2011 Buick Lucerne, it has a 60 Gig hard drive for storing music. This particular car can even record radio station you are on for playback. Ford has a host of technology to store music and using Microsoft’s Sync technology, their Fords and Lincolns brands (the dash of the new Lincoln MKX will blow you away) are far superior to the what I’ve found in the Japanese cars. Even a tone-downed Chevy Cobalt has tire air pressure sensors.
While we were test driving the RX a week ago, I asked the salesman about the missing technology and he agreed that Lexus does in fact lag behind in offering this type of technology.
Don’t you think that’s odd? Are American car manufacturers that advanced? Are our car companies just toss in everything, even the kitchen sink to sell cars? Hey..neither of those are a bad thing!!! I’m sold! Besides it a lot easier to eat fries while driving if you have a touch screen to change your music!!!
Thanks for reading and drop me a comment.
Comment from Bill
This reminds me of a co-worker who bought a new Chrysler minivan recently. He was excited to tell me about how big the harddrive was, the DVD system, the ‘info-tainment’ bus, the ability of the ‘my gig’ to link to the satiellite,and on and on. I asked what engine he had-he paused- gave me a dazed look-and said he didn’t really know?
I think Lexus does what US car manufacturers used to do; they build a car that will travel 100K miles with just a few oil changes and one set of tires, and a resale value that is 65% of the orignal sales price 10 years later. The lag of technology does not errode the MSRP sticker prices Lexus still demands for their products while Government Motors still discounts their Buicks $5,000 off MSRP to gain a sale. Then five years later that Buick has a market value of $2,200, and the poor upside down owner is looking for his own ‘bail out’.
Me personally, I’d like to see any car manufacturer ‘de-content’ their cars a bit. It not only reduces the sales price, the weight of the car (some cars have six miles of wire in them now days), but actually increases reliability (less to fail) and performance. That original formula of the Boss 302, or Plymouth Roadrunner where you got roll down windows, a bench seat, and for a few dollars you could get a tach, AC, or tinted glass as the only options is my dream come true. Don’t forget a LARGE V8 powering the rear wheels STANDARD! I’d buy a new 2011 car tomorrow if I could get a taxi cab interior with a 300HP V8 for under $25,000. I looked at the 2011 Boss 302, but it still is techno-overloaded for me to call it a true muscle car.
Can you tell now why I replaced our grocery-getter-always-repair-proned Impala with a Grand Marquis? It is (or was-Ford stopped production in September) the closest car out there that meets my formula: no navigation-no harddrive-no MP3-no Sirius-no 8 speed automatic. Bench seat-4.6l police V8-4 speed automatic-RWD; thanks, thats all I need! I’m used to the blue hair jokes and still happy with my taxi cab, hopefully for the next 20 years and 200K miles.
I have often wondered if Dodge introduced a Challenger with Hemi V8, roll up windows, AM FM radio, and the minimum government mandated equipment for around $25,000 if they would sell, or does our generation require several thousand microprocessors to be interested in their cars?
Thanks for letting me sound off! Take care, Bill