2007 Mercedes-Benz GL450Enlarge Photo
Leather upholstery. The new Lexus ES is more luxurious than ever, but inside its cozy cabin of base models you won't find leather upholstery, unless it's ordered off the options list. The same is true for the Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class, ML-Class, and GL-Class SUVs, and many entry-level German sport sedans. The Volkswagen Passat doesn't even offer leather on five-cylinder or diesel models, though prices can pass $30,000. What's at work? Better quality synthetic materials that look as good as leather but wear better, according to manufacturers. It's less expensive to manufacture, too, which means the "leatherette" that works better than the real thing saves you money--while the real thing is now, more than ever, bundled and packaged along with thousands of dollars' worth of other options you may not want or need. If after all that, you're still only interested in real hides, consider having it done post-dealer, where it can be considerably less pricey.
MyFord Touch made simpler for 2013
MyFord Touch made simpler for 2013Enlarge Photo
Voice command systems--unless you're patient. A plethora of voice-command systems have flooded the market, led by Ford's SYNC and MyFord and MyLincoln Touch, followed by Kia's UVO and to some degree, GM's Intellilink system and the voice controls offered by German automakers. You could spend hours understanding the voice command chain that allows you to access music playlists, program navigation destinations, or set climate controls--or you could simply opt for a trim level of a vehicle that omits those complex, bleeding-edge systems. Of these, Ford's are the most advanced and have the steepest learning curve, and as such, have encountered the most criticism. If you're planning on buying a vehicle equipped with any of these, make sure to spend time before you buy, and after, re-learning how to accomplish basic tasks like choosing radio station presets--a former one-button affair that now can take three or four swipes and strokes and commands, depending on the brand.