Thoughts on digital clusters in modern cars

privateTDIjet

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 21, 2022
Location
Montreal, Canada
TDI
2009 Jetta 2.0 TDI and 2014 Passat 2.0 TDI / Ive got a MK5 bentley manual, message me for a free diagram
Is anyone a real fan of these? A touchscreen made a nice addition to my jetta but I cant imagine having another screen as my cluster, especially with all the night time driving I do. Even worse are those extended screens stretching from the cluster to the passenger side...
 

jmodge

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Jun 18, 2015
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Greenville, MI
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2001 alh Jetta, RC2 w/.205's 5speed daily summer commuter and 2000 alh Jetta 5spd swap, 2" lift, hitch, stage 3 TDtuning w/.216's winter cruiser, 1996 Tacoma ALh
There is still hope for humanity. I was at Home Depot the other day and I saw a GE washer and dryer set with analog controls
 

noob_tl

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Mar 30, 2012
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Central Indiana & Western Illinois
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None, sold my 2003 NB
I generally prefer old-fashioned analog gauge clusters, even if the gauges are actually stepper motors controlled by a microprocessor. We have a 2020 Honda Odyssey with a smallish screen (perhaps 5" x 6") for a cluster, and I have to say they did a very nice job with that. The resolution is very high so there's no pixellated look to the info, and the brightness always seems appropriate for the lighting conditions. I like that I can configure it with the info I want to see without it being too cluttered. The only thing it lacks is a dial-type display for the speedo, I'd prefer that to the numeric digits.

The center console infotainment system, however, is another story. Difficult to see in bright sunlight, no anti-glare, touch screen doesn't always respond to a light touch, and the audio will sometimes shut off for no reason and requires you to shut the car off and restart to get it working again. Really annoying on long trips. I'd give it a 5/10.
 

oilhammer

Certified Volkswagen Nut & Vendor
Joined
Dec 11, 2001
Location
outside St Louis, MO
TDI
There are just too many to list....
They suck. Period.

I'm in and out of a lot of cars, this barfing "infotainment" crap all over the dash of a lot of these cars leaves little doubt as to why cars also need nannyware just to keep people from crashing. Complete distracting nonsense. Some are worse than others. And some have such awful intrusive stuff happening that it makes you really wonder who signed off on it. The current Chevrolet Trax is an almost undriveable albatross because of it constantly wanting to try and drive the car for you. I just want to crash it purposely into a pole just to end the experience.
 

oilhammer

Certified Volkswagen Nut & Vendor
Joined
Dec 11, 2001
Location
outside St Louis, MO
TDI
There are just too many to list....
And to further extend the lunacy (and because I just did brakes on one such example, a 2019 Volvo XC40) these damn electro-moronic automatic transmission gear shifters. What is the problem with a normal lever/button mounted in one of the normal/expected places that you can move with your hand and not have to second-guess what actual gear it is in?

These stupid little knobs, buttons, or in the case of this Volvo, a little nub sticking out that barely moves. You HAVE to take your eyes off the road and your surroundings to look at the [overly busy, complicated, information overload] instrument cluster just to see what gear you've moved it into. And Park is this extra little button that lays strategically in a place where the driver can spill their morning Starbucks and render it useless. For a company that has championed "safety" for all these decades, I find this quite appalling. And if for some reason you do want an electric shifter, that's fine, you can still have that, and have it controlled with something that still works like a regular shifter... Volkswagen has been doing this with the DSGs since the DSGs came out! Feels like a perfectly normal shifter... but aside from the park pawl, it isn't shifting anything besides some electrons via the shift module contact strip.
 

jmodge

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2001 alh Jetta, RC2 w/.205's 5speed daily summer commuter and 2000 alh Jetta 5spd swap, 2" lift, hitch, stage 3 TDtuning w/.216's winter cruiser, 1996 Tacoma ALh
And it all adds to the insurance rates. I saved money for a new car for retirement. I figured I could be done working on cars unless I wanted to. I don’t see that happening unless something “regresses”. In this case regressing would be an improvement for me. Oh well, it’s not the first time things didn’t go as I expected.
 

privateTDIjet

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 21, 2022
Location
Montreal, Canada
TDI
2009 Jetta 2.0 TDI and 2014 Passat 2.0 TDI / Ive got a MK5 bentley manual, message me for a free diagram
They suck. Period.

I'm in and out of a lot of cars, this barfing "infotainment" crap all over the dash of a lot of these cars leaves little doubt as to why cars also need nannyware just to keep people from crashing. Complete distracting nonsense. Some are worse than others. And some have such awful intrusive stuff happening that it makes you really wonder who signed off on it. The current Chevrolet Trax is an almost undriveable albatross because of it constantly wanting to try and drive the car for you. I just want to crash it purposely into a pole just to end the experience.
I genuinely can't think of any sane person that would buy a Trax if it wasn't for the Costco rebate :LOL:
 

Bob S.

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Central MD.
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A B4V, some ALHs & BRMs
If i happen to run into a rust free 60s or 70s beetle, or even a Pinto, at a no brainer price, it would be my retirement car.
 

Zak99b5

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Apr 30, 2021
Location
Albany NY
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2003 Jetta TDI
I feel overall I lucked out with my 2020 Ford Expedition Max, at least relatively.

It does have a stupid dial for PRND, which I've gotten used to but still do not like. And of course there's a touch screen for nav/radio.

But the screen isn't terribly big, and living underneath it are dials and physical buttons for the HVAC and the radio. Some are small and require a glance, but at least they're there.

The dash has a small screen with trip odo, tranny temp, towing, etc. you can scroll through with steering wheel controls. But on either side of it are real live gauges for the speedo and the tach.

If only my '01 Suburban hadn't gone all rusty, though...
 

Tdijarhead

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Lawrenceville PA
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2003 TDI Jetta Daughters Car, 2001 TDI Beetle, Wife’s car, 2005 Golf TDI Mine, all 5 spds
I just recently purchased a used 2016 dodge caravan. I need to have access to a more or less regular sized van for business once or twice a month. When I went looking I found the van in a nearby town, it has no backup camera, no radio touchscreen of any kind, no backup or blind spot sensors, no forward sensors, it was apparently a “plain Jane” for that model year. I think the lady selling it was glad someone wanted it without all that ancillary crap.

I doubt I will find anything newer from now on with the same stripped down features.
 

oilhammer

Certified Volkswagen Nut & Vendor
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Dec 11, 2001
Location
outside St Louis, MO
TDI
There are just too many to list....
Well you won't find a much newer Dodge Caravan, LOL... they quit making those a couple years later. Too bad it has the Pentastar+62TE.

But if you don't use it much, that'll help. I'd replace the plastic oil filter housing with one of the upgraded aftermarket aluminum ones, though (but get the OEM seals). That will at least stop that from happening.
 

jmodge

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Location
Greenville, MI
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2001 alh Jetta, RC2 w/.205's 5speed daily summer commuter and 2000 alh Jetta 5spd swap, 2" lift, hitch, stage 3 TDtuning w/.216's winter cruiser, 1996 Tacoma ALh
Two places digital clusters do not belong, vehicles and underwear
 

Lightflyer1

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Round Rock, Texas
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2015 Beetle tdi dsg
I have my now hail dented Beetle for retirement. but I buy older cars and trucks to have on hand too. I just bought a one owner 2011 Ford F150 with the 5.0 coyote engine as a boat tow hauler for $7500 in very nice condition with 221k miles on it. Several other older cars as well now. Insurance is cheaper as is the cost to buy them. About $200 a year to just have liability as a second car. About 10 times as much to buy the truck new. I can have a ton of maintenance done for less than the new price. Good thing it doesn't need any right now.
 

2004LB7

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Jun 2, 2013
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California
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2006 Jetta
I absolutely despise touch screens for anything in the car. If it requires me to take my eyes off the road to be able to see the "button" then I don't want it. I want buttons I can feel before pushing them or a knob I can turn.

Touch screens are numb and you can't tell what you are doing unless you are actively looking at it. And while driving this is a stupid strategy
 

IndigoBlueWagon

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Aug 16, 2004
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South of Boston
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'97 Passat, '99.5 Golf, '02 Jetta Wagon, '15 GSW
I appreciate the appearance of a nicely manufactured analog cluster. Older Mercedes come to mind, and my BMW 335d has a nice looking cluster, too. VWs are OK: I still haven't tired of the indigo lighting on my MKIVs.

I have been tempted to get a 380s GTI as it's the last of the manuals VW will sell in North America, but honestly the digital cluster and infotainment, along with the haptic buttons, put me off. I can't help wondering that they'll be like in 15 or 20 years.
 

Nuje

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Island near Vancouver
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2015 Sportwagen; Golf GLS 2002 (swap from 2L gas); 2016 A3 e-tron
I will admit that, while I appreciate (given the age of my eyes) the larger 9.2" MIB display I put in the infotainment of my Mk7, the lack of tactile buttons for basics like volume and channel selection is a PITA.

And while I thought I'd get used to the touch/haptic buttons on the Mk8 steering wheel in that car....I finally gave up and went back to the tactile buttons. So yeah - touch screens suck. Instrument cluster screens that can show enhanced information (maps, route guidance, elevation, etc.) are awesome. :p
Before and after:

 

2004LB7

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Jun 2, 2013
Location
California
TDI
2006 Jetta
My 2008 Silverado is kinda half way between touch screens and old analog. The AC controls.are the worst. I've looked into swapping it out but the communication between the modules is different so it's no easy task.

They still use physical buttons but they don't do one thing. They scroll through modes or temperatures, fan speeds, etc. so you can fell the button and push it, you still can't tell what it's doing unless you look at the small screen and decipher the icons to see what it's did.

Radio is similar except it has one volume knob so it's not as bad.

I don't have any vehicles with digital clusters but as long as controlling them is analog I don't really see any issues with using them. It can give you many options for configuring the vehicle that you wouldn't normally use while driving.

Radio, AC and other items in the vehicle should be analog with good feedback on the buttons and knobs. Rotary encoders are fine if the detents are strong enough to be felt through the engine/road vibrations. But only if the knob does one thing.
 

lemoncurd

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May 24, 2019
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Eastern CT
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2013 CJAA GTB2266
I will admit that, while I appreciate (given the age of my eyes) the larger 9.2" MIB display I put in the infotainment of my Mk7, the lack of tactile buttons for basics like volume and channel selection is a PITA.

And while I thought I'd get used to the touch/haptic buttons on the Mk8 steering wheel in that car....I finally gave up and went back to the tactile buttons. So yeah - touch screens suck. Instrument cluster screens that can show enhanced information (maps, route guidance, elevation, etc.) are awesome. :p
Before and after:

meanwhile, i've got the touch mk8 wheel in my jetta sportwagen. i love it haha

i know im the odd man out, but i dont understand what everyone was upset about with these touch controls on the wheel. i have not once accidently done something, nor had to fumble about.... ive already done a couple road trips with it, i like it hehe

 

lemoncurd

Veteran Member
Joined
May 24, 2019
Location
Eastern CT
TDI
2013 CJAA GTB2266
my thoughts on digital displays?
i like them.

what i dont like is moving physical controls to on-screen. but a digital cluster? sure i like those
 
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