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When touchscreens first came out in vehicles, everyone wanted one. Now most new cars offer one, even if it’s not a huge 38-inch curved OLED screen like the one found in the Cadillac Escalade. Some owners aren’t exactly pleased with touchscreens now that they have one, however, and prefer to go back to old-fashioned buttons. The outcry has been significant enough that some automakers are beginning to listen.

2023 Honda CR-V dashboard controls.
2023 Honda CR-V | American Honda Motor Co., Inc

Pros of touchscreens in new cars

There are many reasons why touchscreens are popular. For one, in spite of the fact that they’ve been on the market for 15 years, they’re still considered modern. Plus, many of our other devices, such as phones and tablets are touchscreen, so it only makes sense that our infotainment systems in cars would be as well. I

Another factor that is a pro is that touchscreens are cheaper to install, according to Slate. In fact, that fancy screen which increases the price by thousands of dollars in upgrades in some cases costs around $50 to install. Surprsiingly, buttons and knobs cost more.

Cons of touchscreens

Touchscreens are dangerous for many drivers because it requires them to take their eyes off the road to look at the screen. The more complex the touchscreen is, the more time it takes to navigate it. This is especially true for infotainment systems, which require users to flip through multiple screens to complete one task.

Even drivers who are determined not to look at the touchscreen may find themselves peeking anyway. Some tend to flicker and change. This can draw your attention to it, especially if many important messages like the check engine warning are located here.

Slate referred to a study by the AAA Foundation, which reported that some touchscreens can hold a driver’s attention for up to 40 seconds at a time. This is in spite of the fact that the NHTSA recommends drivers spend no more than two seconds glancing at the screen, and that it should take no more than 12 seconds max to navigate it. This is a very alarming trend and could easily result in a wreck.

Buttons in new cars are coming back

Many consumers want buttons to become the norm again because they are so much easier to use. If you want to increase the volume in the car, you simply turn the dial. In some cases, you didn’t even need to reach over because there were buttons conveniently placed on the steering wheel you could press. This meant you never had to take your eyes off the road.

Now consumers are beginning to rebel, and Porsche is listening. New 2024 Porsche Cayenne owners will most likely be delighted to find buttons are now back. Volkswagen, which owns Porsche, has made it clear that consumer feedback played a driving role in this. Whether more Porsche vehicles will make the switch to buttons remains to be seen.

If you hate touchscreens and want to keep your buttons, there are several automakers who never phased them out. Bugatti is one such manufacturer. Nissan and Hyundai also both continue to incorporate buttons and have spoken against automakers that were quick to ditch the buttons in favor of cheaper screens.

Unfortunately, this is probably not going to be a widespread trend. Many automakers are all about cutting costs, and they have no intention of going back to the more expensive physical buttons. 

The public has gotten through to Porsche and Volkswagen, however, so it’s possible that if enough people speak out, then they will change their tune. It will likely have to cost them money before this becomes the new trend.


The First Car With a Touchscreen Came Out in the ’80s