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Good automotive UI

Another day, another Getaround rental. This time, I wafted along in a 2015 Hyundai Genesis. The engine was powerful enough and the ride was cushy. But it’s a big car, and you feel it, especially if you try to carve any sort of corners.

On top of the couple tons of vehicle you receive, you also get a festival of buttons.

I actually like having a lot of buttons, so long as they’re placed logically. In this car, the engineers did a decent job: the only confusion I faced was finding the gas cap release button. Everything else is straightforward, and the screen in the middle can receive both controller and touch inputs. So far, so good, Hyundai.

Here’s where the engineers did a great job: the driver assist features. This particular example was furnished with adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, blind spot warnings, and parking sensors.

I’ll start with the easy stuff. The parking sensors work well in tandem with the backup camera, although they’re still easily fooled by downhill parking spaces with curbs. The blind spot warnings work well. Even though visibility is pretty good in this car, it’s a nice-to-have feature that I’ve come to know and love. Also, a bonus visibility feature: if the rear window shade is up when you put the car into reverse, it drops down automatically and puts itself back up once you’ve done the deed. Nice.

The lane keep assist system faces the same UI problem that many other cars face: unless you bought the car and are knowledgable about the features it has, it’s hard to distinguish whether you have a lane keep assist or lane departure warning system. All you see is a steering wheel icon. So, you have to old-school, trial-and-error the car on an unoccupied stretch of freeway to determine whether the car will guide you back into your lane, or just scream at you for a little while. In this case, the Genesis had lane keep assist, which helped me when I took the photos that appear later in this piece.

The best part of the car: the heads-up display (HUD). I’m a sucker for a good HUD, and the Genesis did a decent job pacifying me. My only gripe was the HUD was impossible to read while wearing polarized sunglasses: not a huge issue, but a minor inconvenience. Otherwise, the HUD is bright and clear.

When your adaptive cruise control is on, there are redundant HUD and instrument panel indicators showing you exactly what’s going on. More automakers should do this. Here’s what the instrument panel looks like:

Nice. And here’s what the HUD looks like:

Solid.

It’s easy to tell a) whether you have adaptive cruise control or just regular cruise control, and b) the following distance you set. Indicated clearly in the instrument panel, you see a depiction of the car in front of you as well as your car: the blue line indicates space in between. Props to the Hyundai engineers for clear markings and for including redundancies.

Now, I should note: the depictions of the cars are not related to whether the Genesis is tracking the car in front of you. Refining the display to show when a car enters and exits the frame (just like Tesla) would be best. When a loosely-piloted Camry cut into my lane, the Genesis didn’t brake or react, so it’s clear there’s work to be done on the hardware front. But it’s a start.

Ultimately, the Genesis contains one of the better driver-assist UIs I’ve seen. Now, let’s hope everyone else gets their shit together.

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