(Re)Learn and Know your Knobs - 2008 Mazda CX-9 Long-Term Road Test

2008 Mazda CX-9 Long-Term Road Test

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2008 Mazda CX-9: (Re)Learn and Know your Knobs

March 03, 2008

The traditional design and placement of automotive audio knobs has been under assault for quite some time. We've now got everything from iDrive, that tries to perform every function with one knob, to various Scion faceplates with no knobs.

I'm a fuddy-duddy when it comes to faceplate knobs: give me power (push) and volume (twist) on the left side, bass/treble/balance control (push, then twist) along with manual frequency tuning or CD track advance (just twist) on the right side. The ultimate in "KISS" design -- meaning some engineering brainiac can't resist trying to improve on it.

Our long-term 2008 Mazda CX-9 is a perfect example. In this vehicle you have one large central knob for power (push) and volume (twist), plus a left-side knob for manual tuning/track advance (twist) and display change (push). You also have a right-side knob for bass/treble/balance control (push, then twist). I first saw this "big, central knob" design on our long-term Honda Pilot, and I eventually got used to it. I'm sure owners of the CX-9 will do the same, but I still find myself reaching for the left knob to adjust volume and the right knob to manually tune the radio. Don't get me started on the new Accord's center stack controls...

Obviously modern audio systems are more complex than they used to be, but adding knobs -- and putting them in strange locations, doesn't seem like the best solution. Certainly Toyota doesn't think so. Even with all the modern gadgetry packed into the Lexus line those models continue to use the old, fuddy-duddy knob placement.

Karl Brauer, Editor in Chief, Edmunds.com @ 8858 miles

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