Honda and Mazda Ditch Touchscreen Controls For Knobs: Finally!

Wow! We can now assume that both Honda and Mazda engineers actually use their Hondas and Mazdas. That’s because with how bad touchscreen controls are it seems nobody ever tested them in typical driving situations. Besides being unintuitive, annoying, and slow; you also need to take your eyes off the road. Though it seems to have gotten past the testers that are not a good thing. Honda is saying the Honda Jazz touch controls have been replaced by knobs because they’re not intuitive. No kidding!

Both Mazda and Honda have done the unthinkable

Big Tesla Model X touchscreen | Getty

But before this revelation Mazda did the unthinkable; it didn’t offer a touchscreen on its new Mazda 3. We offer a toast to Mazda for figuring this out. Why no one but actual drivers has noticed how touchscreen controls lead to distracted driving, we still see them year after year. It is truly amazing how long it takes to fiddle around with the controls on a touchscreen you’re familiar with. We’re surprised they haven’t been outlawed by the feds.

Honda started this with the 2019 Honda Civic. The volume for the audio was controlled by a knob. Even Ford has this feature with its terrible Ford iTouch. But while the volume was controlled by a knob, the rest had to be controlled from the touchscreen. It was crap. I know because I’ve lived with it in a 2013 Taurus for many years. 

“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated”

Mercedes touchscreen | Getty

Confucius said, “Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” The Honda Jazz is the latest to go back to the future. The Jazz is called Fit in the US. We won’t be seeing this latest edition. But Jazz project leader Takeki Tanaka recently told Autocar why its air conditioning controls reverted back to knobs, “The reason is quite simple; we wanted to minimize driver disruption for operation, in particular, for the heater and air conditioning.

“We changed it from touchscreen to dial operation as we received customer feedback that it was difficult to operate intuitively. You had to look at the screen to change the heater seating. Therefore, we changed it so one can operate it without looking, giving more confidence while driving.”

Most customer feedback has complained about touchscreens for over a decade

Tesla Model 3 big touchscreen | Getty

What’s crazy is that we know “customer feedback” has been negative for touchscreen controls for at least a decade. It’s an easy deduction. With touchscreens, you need both touch and sight. With knobs, you only need sight one or two times. Then, it’s locked into your memory and only touch is necessary. That means you can keep your eyes on the road. It has taken over a decade for that to bubble up to the surface.

Here’s one from Isaac Newton, “Nature is pleased with simplicity, and nature is no dummy.” So in 2020, we’re finally entering a future worth living because we will slowly be crawling back to one of the basic tenets of driving, which is to keep your eyes on the road.