Friday, August 23, 2019

My Car of the Future

My car has gizmos.

Last year, when I bought it, I didn’t know. I didn’t realize I’d traded my Flintstones’ car for George Jetson’s. I specifically chose the “non-loaded” version of a car for simplicity. My friend Sharon’s brand-new Subaru beeped and chimed constantly, warning us about things approaching us, us approaching things, flies flying too close to the windshield, who knows what else.

I’m not a gizmo person.

So I ended up with a key fob that beeps and a reverse camera. That’s it. I had to check the manual to learn how to program the radio. (The things in red are things I still haven’t figured out.)

Then I got a letter in the mail from Subaru. My Distance-to-Empty logic software needed updating. I thought they’d made a mistake: I don’t have features like that. I don’t have Blue Tooth or satellites or whatevers.

Nevertheless, Subaru made an appointment with my car. They didn’t say, “Oh, no, your car isn’t eligible.” This would be kind of useful, finding out how many more miles I have left in my gas tank. Today was my appointment.

Very-helpful-Eric told me he’d show me how to find my gizmo, but first, he said, check YouTube.

Oh, WOW! There’s a little lever on the steering wheel – with up and down arrows – to switch my dashboard screen to show Distance-to-Empty. It can also tell me how long I’ve been sitting in the car.

It’s just that there are SO MANY little levers and buttons all over the steering wheel, I just ignored them. I thought they all had something to do with cruise control (which used to be the only thing sticking out of the steering wheel). With all those levers, I decided even cruise control was now too complicated. (Distance-to-Empty is the little red arrow.)

Eric showed me I could change the volume on my radio, switch stations, do lots of things from my steering wheel. Aiiieee! I thought the only problems with technologically-distracted driving were cell phones and texting. This is an airplane cockpit (and remember, this is the non-loaded version). I use my steering wheel to steer. It was even hard to find the horn when I first looked for it.

So all this reminds me of the women who have been honored by the Anchorage Athena Society for their valuable contributions to our community. They each received a Saturn car for a year. I overheard one of them commenting to the others after her year was up, “I just loved those heated seats! I’ll miss them.” Looking baffled, the others said, “Heated seats?” After she explained, one groaned, “I can’t believe it; I always thought I had terrible hot flashes in that car.”

And then there was the man who had no idea he had a CD player because the disk loader was in the trunk. He could load five CDs.

But just this past weekend, I rode in Frank’s car. Frank could readjust the height of the shoulder harness so it wouldn’t cut into his neck. He could slide the harness anchor up or down. I wish I had that feature.

I looked again: I have that feature! My shoulder harness moves, too! My car is “loaded” after all.

Just go ahead, ask me how many more miles I can travel on my tank of gas.


  1. Uh oh. This all reminds me that when we go to rent a car in the US we'll have to deal with 'read the manual moments' to put the key into the (where is it?)ignition switch!

    Many of these upgrades are fine (if you own and use the vehicle regularly) but for just a few days??? And complexity for maintenance & repairs? Yup.

    Shall see how it all looks.

    1. You're right! I first discovered Distance-to-Empty in a rental car, but it disappeared from the screen one day, and we had no idea how to get it back.

  2. Oh boy, I need to see if my Subaru has all of this.

    1. I bet it does! But you'd never find it in the manual. It's not like it's under "buttons on your steering wheel."

  3. Wow. I didn't know shoulder harnesses were adjustable. Thanks!


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