In case you haven't purchased a car in a while, there are some features you may have been used to that are either vanishing or have already gone away.As car companies update their interiors and engines, some of the most familiar things we grew up with are giving way to features and controls that designers feel are slicker and more 21st century. Check out the extinct, or soon to be extinct:
The outgoing Chevrolet Impala is officially the last car to offer a front bench front seat, as the 2014 model will do away with the option for good.
Chevrolet made the decision to kill the bench seat in its cars mostly because of lack of demand. Consumers today, especially those under 70 year of age, tend to like bucket seats in their sedans. Bucket seats have a sportier feel. In addition, car buyers who need seating for six are simply just buying SUVs and crossovers.
Chevy will continue to offer bench seating in its SUVs and trucks, but the feature will be officially extinct in cars when Chevy sells the last of the 2013 Impalas.
Three-speed column shifters -- know as a "Three on a Tree" -- first appeared on cars in the 1930s and became a common feature on cars in the 1940s and 50s. Instead of being mounted on the floor next to the driver, the shifter was mounted on the steering column. Mechanically similar to floor-shifters, column-shifters allowed for more passenger room with front bench seat, which, as we just learned, are also officially a thing of the past.
The last manual-shift column shifter was turned out in 1987. Since then, automatic transmission column shifters have been fading away as well. And the 2013 Chevy Impala, with the last bench seat option, is also the last new car to be offered with a column shifter.
Not all the CD players are gone, but cars such as Chevrolet Sonic RS and Chevrolet Spark have eliminated them, and automaker executives say they will soon be as gone as the bench seat. Why? Not only do most people have their music on their smart phones or MP3 players, but we are seeing cars now--such as new BMWs and Hyundais--that allow drivers to stream music from services like Pandora and Stitcher right into the car's stereo system. Designers are packing so much electronics into cars today they say they need the space that once was taken up by the CD player.
Over the past few years, several automakers have removed spare tires from the trunk. Some car companies today are making the spare tire an option – costing as much as $350.
While some drivers might be shocked to open their trunk and find no spare tire hiding anywhere in the back, the industry says it isn't unsafe to go without. Mandatory tire pressure monitoring systems, which are on all cars since 2006, should alert drivers before their tires deflate. Blowouts are rare. And even if the tire is punctured on the side wall, most drivers have cellphones to call AAA, or access to emergency services like OnStar, through their car.
Photo Credit: HighTechDad, Flickr
Fuel economy is the name of the game these days and the V8 engine simply doesn't cut it anymore. With automakers ditching larger displacement engines for smaller, turbocharged ones, the V8 is disappearing in sedans, while it is still fairly available in the pickup and big SUV class, as well as muscle cars and exotics. There is no V8 in the new Cadillac flagship XTS sedan, nor in the biggest Lincoln today--the MKS sedan. While we do love getting some more MPGs, it's really a shame that we one day won't be able to experience the joy that comes with hearing the roar of 8-cylinders.
An 8-cylinder engine is still offered in big sedans like the Lexus LS460, Mercedes S Class, BMW 7 Series, Audi A8 and Jaguar XJ. But those automakers report that the take rate for the V8 is dwindling, with more buyers interested in the smaller V6, more fuel efficient, trim levels.
These have been disappearing for years as Americans have given up smoking in droves. What car companies do now is sell you an ash tray insert you can jam into a cupholder. Why have the old-fashioned kind of ashtray if all you are going to do is fill it with toll change?
Photo Credit: lindsayloveshermac, Flickr