Standards are important. Not only for interoperability, but also for sanity.

Take, for example, our two family cars, a Mazda3 hatchback and an Acura TSX sedan. Both are great, peppy cars, and both have five-speed automatic transmissions with a manual shift override feature.

There are odd differences between the cars. For example, on the Mazda3, the controls for the sunroof are above the windshield. On the TSX, they’re on the left side of the cockpit. I think that Mazda’s design is more intuitive, but both are reasonable.

Another difference is in the naming for the stability/traction control feature. Mazda calls it DSC, for Dynamic Stability Control. Acura calls it VSA, for Vehicle Stability Assist. Same feature, though.

Of course, the Mazda3’s gas cap is on the right, and the TSX’s is on the left.

The real annoying difference, though, is in the gate for the manual shift override (which Mazda calls Manual Shift Mode, and Acura calls Sequential Sport Shift). I use this mode on the highway to keep the engine in a high RPM range for decent torque.

With both cars, with the gear selector in “D,” you shove the gearshift over to the left to activate the manual mode.

On the Mazda, to downshift to a lower gear, you push the gearshift FORWARD. To upshift to a higher gear, you pull the gearshift BACKWARD.

On the Acura, to downshift to a lower gear, you pull the gearshift BACKWARD. To upshift to a higher gear, you push the gearshift FORWARD.

This, as you can imagine, drives me nuts. Where are standards when you need them?

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick
2 replies
  1. Ted Bahr
    Ted Bahr says:

    I have no problem with the gas cap being on either side AS LONG AS they indicate which side it is on with a little arrow on the gas gauge – very handy, most cars I rent have that feature.

  2. belteshazzar
    belteshazzar says:

    the gas cap needs to be on different sides so that cars are evenly distributed on either side of the fuel pumps, in australia we have the two highest selling cars (traditionally) commodores (GM) and falcons (Ford) that have the gas cap on either side which makes a lot of sense, but i wonder who decided that.

    As for the seqential gear shift this really annoys me. ergonomically a down shift should be forward (as you brake its easier to push forward) and should be standardised. good post.

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