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Why Don’t All Cars Remember Your Last Personal Settings?

As a freelance automotive writer, there are certain perks of the job that are great. One of the best is press cars. A manufacturer drops a car off at my house with a full tank of gas and says "have at it." The full week of living with the car really expands one’s thoughts — and really allows the reviewer to pick up the little details you could otherwise miss. A good example is the VW volume knob I had an issue with a couple months ago. Well, I’m back with another minor detail complaint, but this time it spans multiple manufacturers.

Why is it that some car companies are dead-set on the car resetting your last personal settings?

Some people might not really notice this, as they’re used to it by now. I’ve found so far that Mazda, Kia and BMW are all the under impression that if you wanted items like heated or ventilated seat on your last drive, you no longer would like these personal settings selected. With more options, this problem is even more pronounced. In the Kia Optima Turbo SX and the Mazda6 Signature, the cars were fitted with both heated seats and a heated steering wheel. This means the process of turning on the car to leave my driveway in the winter is this: Depress the brake, push the start button, press the heated seat button, press the heated steering wheel button, then finally put the car into reverse. Every time.

Safety items such as traction control, lane-keeping assist and automatic braking make sense to not automatically turn off/reset. You could forget that these items were turned off — and if someone was injured, it could become a liability for these manufacturers. But why can’t the car remember simple comfort and personalization settings?

I discussed this with someone who works for the corporate arm of a manufacturer, and the first reason they came up with was most cars now have buttons rather than physical switches. My counter was that my current press car, a 2019 Toyota CH-R, has a button, but it still remembers my last personal setting. The only conclusion we could come up with is that’s just the way the companies decided to do it.

If you’ve made it this far down my rant … I thank you. If you think I am being petty (yet again), I agree — but my job is to find these small details you wouldn’t notice on a test drive. If you’re going to live with a car, you need to make sure that you don’t buy one that annoys you. This wouldn’t stop me from buying an otherwise perfect car, but it could be a make a difference in a tight race.

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