10 New Car Trends From The 2000s That Look Incredibly Dated Now
Cars, car design and the technology of our cars are constantly evolving. Some features, like the steering wheel, haven’t changed much in 120 years because we haven’t found a better way to make a car change direction (whatever Tesla’s Full Self Driving marketing hype may claim). And some styling trends, like chrome trim or huge grilles, pass and go out of fashion from one generation to the next.
It’s easy to look at vehicles from the 1960s or 1970s and laugh at how much has changed, but even sticking to a much more recent time period, it’s clear that our cars have changed in some key ways, and generally for the better. Here are 10 new car trends from the 2000s and 2010s that seem as contemporary as loincloths and togas.
Ugly DRLs and LED lights
Daytime running lights have been around for decades, but recent advancements in LED lighting technology have helped designers make their cars recognizable from the front and rear, even in the dark when you can’t. see grille or badging. But today’s slick, ribbon-effect LEDs are, ahem, light years away from the horrible strip of bright spots that passed for DLRs on cars a decade ago.
Sawtooth automatic change gates
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Traditional fixed-position gearshift levers for park, reverse and drive have been replaced with electronic control levers that toggle backwards and forwards to select the same modes. But take one look at the console of something like a current Mitsubishi Mirage with its jagged shift gate and you’d swear you slipped through a portal back to 2003.
Satellite navigation with arrow only
With an incredibly sophisticated mapping system built into the phones we carry every day, it makes no sense to pay extra for a sat nav in our cars if one isn’t already fitted as standard. . But step back 15 years to a time when phones were still dumb, and some in-car navigation systems weren’t much better, and companies like VW and Audi would charge you close to $1000 for monochrome arrow-based navigation who didn’t even have a map.
Remember when anything with the most vague sporting pretensions seemed like it had to telegraph that with a set of front-to-back rally stripes? They look great on a ’65 Mustang GT 350 and a 2022 Ford GT, and we’re kind of partial to how they fired up the 2008 Ferrari 430 Scuderia and the 2016 Porsche 911 R. But Gemballa’s GTP 720 , the tuning house take on the Porsche Panamera and fake hot hatches like the Vauxhall/Opel Corsa Sting look like a big brown stripe to us.
The black wheel trend exploded in the 2000s and it hasn’t completely gone away although it is arguably absolute trash. Fans say it makes their car mean and moody. I say it makes people think your wheels got pinched last night and you’re rocking a set of winter steelies until you can save up for a new set. It makes wheel details and design hard to spot, photographs look really bad, and the tiniest sidewalk blowout shows up from miles away.
Safe and always popular colors like silver, white, gunmetal gray and black never go out of fashion, but that also means they are never trendy. And just over a decade ago, to appeal to car buyers who wanted to feel fashionable, even if it meant driving a car that looked like a 1980s hearing aid after six months in the sun, the automakers from Mini to Ferrari have started pumping out very beige cars.
When was the last time you listened to a CD in your car? For me, it must have been at least 10 years ago. But nearly every car up until the mid-2010s had one of those weird horizontal slots in the dash, despite MP3 players revolutionizing the way we listen to music a decade earlier. And let’s not forget that Lexus still installed tape recorders in its cars until 2010.
Electric vehicles with 100 mile range
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Mazda’s decision to equip its MX-30 crossover with a tiny 30kWh battery that translates to a pathetic 100-mile range has drawn widespread derision. But rewind a decade to when electric vehicles were a novelty and the most you could expect from an all-new 2011 Nissan Leaf was around 90 miles.
Jump into just about any brand new car and you’ll come across some kind of shiny console screen just begging to be pushed and prodded. I have serious reservations about the safety and bias of putting every command in a device that forces you to take your eyes off the road, but have you tried moving the cursor on a navigation map in a BMW or a Audi from the time before they added touch functionality to their rotary dial infotainment systems? It’s like trying to thread a needle while driving a shotgun in a Dakar Rally car.
Unfortunately for some recent BMW buyers, they got a taste of the 1990s with their new cars that were built without touchscreens due to semiconductor shortages.
Clunky automated manual transmissions
In the early 2000s it was normal for automatic transmissions to have five forward gears, but now we regularly see cars with nine or even 10 speeds. But there have been far greater advancements in the world of automated manual transmissions. Drive a dual-clutch Ferrari 458 past an F430 with the old single-clutch F1 transmission and you’ll swear there must be a whole generation of cars between them.
What other features from the past 20 years do you think look badly dated now? And what features of today’s cars will look outdated 20 years from now? Leave a comment and let us know.