People Ask Me . . .

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For those who may wonder why I talk-up manual windows – and am unhappy about the fact that it’s not easy to find a new car (or truck) that even offers them anymore:

First of all, I don’t mind rolling down the windows by hand. It never seemed like a major (or minor) chore. But I prefer manual windows chiefly because I have more control over them this way. I can roll the window up (or down) exactly as much as I want. With power windows (in many vehicles) you have to fight the system, which tries to roll the window all the way up – or all the way down. Getting the glass to stop just where you want it can be a hassle. Sometimes – in some new cars I’ve test driven – it is almost impossible.

Now, I readily acknowledge that power windows have their selling points, too. And I don’t object to them, per se. I just object to the marketing-PR riptide that’s convinced most people they simply must have power windows (manual windows now being taken as a sign of poverty rather than a nod to practicality) and so most – virtually all – new vehicles come standard with power windows. That means the additional cost has been folded into the sticker price – and it means you’ll have to eat the cost of new electric motors when they fail (which they eventually will) not to mention the cost of the higher-amp alternator and battery – both of which are necessary when a car is fitted with lots of electric-assist gadgets. There’s a cost-multiplication effect that goes hand-in-hand with increased complexity. I do my own internal cost-benefit analysis – and for me, the cost is not worth the benefit.

Same goes for another item I could do without – but won’t be able to, if I ever buy a new truck: automatic four-wheel-drive.

I just finished reviewing the 2014 Toyota Tacoma (available here). It’s a nice truck. But like most (and probably soon, all) new trucks and SUVs, the four-wheel-drive system is controlled remotely and automatically by a knob on the dashboard. Convenient? Certainly. Easy? Surely.

No doubt, these systems came into being at least in part to make trucks more female-friendly. But, I am a man – and it does not bother me – or even inconvenience me – to engage four-wheel-drive the old-fashioned way. That is, manually. By pulling back on a mechanical lever – as in my older model Nissan Frontier.

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