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Four Wheeler of the Year 2018: Driver's Knob Shootout! #FWOTY18

Posted in Features on December 6, 2017
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Photographers: Ken Brubaker

Every year our testing vehicles get more and more refined, which means more and more complicated. It used to be a key switch and a light switch were all that was needed, but now every acronym known to man is now mandatory on new vehicles whether we want them or not. Some are great, such as power seat controls (even though that equates to 37 positions available- none of which are comfortable). But do we really need infinitely adjustable adaptive cruise control? Why give up control of your speed to the car in front of you? But then again, we love locker buttons and ABS and traction control delete switches to make driving and wheeling a whole lot more fun.

To that end we counted every knob and switch available to the driver in each of our 2018 Four Wheeler of the Year testing vehicles- both the trucks and the SUVs. Each knob or switch was counted, not on the amount of functions it controlled, but simply movement. For instance, the mirror adjustment switch makes the mirror move five ways, but is counted as one switch. Likewise, a heater control knob is counted twice if it rotates for a function, and is depressed for another as that is two separate movements. But a single rocker switch for up and down such as a window is only counted once.

Here’s how the rigs stacked up:

SUV of the Year Competitors

Jeep Compass

Left door 9

Seat 6

Wheel 15

Dash 5

Stalk 6

Stack 21

Console 9

Overhead/mirror 9

Total: 80

Land Rover Discovery (diesel and gas) Left door 14

Seat 4

Wheel 12

Dash 4

Stalk 8

Stack 17

Console 10

Overhead/mirror 11

Total: 80

Pickup Truck of the Year Competitors

Ram 3500

Left door 11

Seat 3

Wheel 14

Dash 5

Stalk 5

Stack 31

Console 0

Overhead/mirror 8

Total: 77

Chevrolet ZR2

Left door 9

Seat 2

Wheel 16

Dash 9

Stalk 3

Stack 33

Console 3

Overhead/mirror 8

Total: 83

Ram 1500 Harvest

Left door 10

Seat 3

Wheel 16

Dash 5

Stalk 3

Stack 26

Console 0

Overhead/mirror 8

Total: 71

RECAP- All SUVs had 80, while the trucks had 71, 77, and the winner (?) at 83 for the Chevy diesel-powered ZR2. In our 2017 Pickup Truck of the Year the Ford F-250 tipped the scales at an obnoxious 100+ controls, which would take the vehicles lifetime to learn and memorize. We applaud this year’s entries for scaling back to a somewhat reasonable amount. And a final note, we didn’t even attempt to delve into the massive amounts of controls available on the now mandatory touch-screen plastered on the center dash of any new vehicle. We wouldn’t ever be able to count that high, or for that long. Let us know if you ever do it for us!

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