I have a new car (new for me, that is; June 2000 was its birthday).
As you can see the rego is "554 JTH", which I've decided stands for "Just Tell HAL": the car has a few very stupid gimmicks.
Here's a pic of HAL de-brained, which is actually part of the major disassembly job that is required to install a car radio. HAL lives in that innocuously looking top box with the LED blinkenlight panel.
The radio install was...painful. First I couldn't get a matching wiring harness and had to solder up my own (cursing the idiots at VDO for mislabelling the ISO connector pins in their excuse for a manual), then I needed to make an antenna extension (the previous radio, a clarion with cd but no mp3 capability used an odd diversity antenna setup: there's two coax cables in the car, no idea if both are active - anyway, the antenna is in-glass, performs ok and one of the coaxes worked). Then of course the dismantling and reassembly job times two (because I ripped it apart yesterday but couldn't finish and put it back together then), plus trying to figure out where to put the UHF radio later on. Anyway, we have sound. And I'm in control of it.
The next gimmick I could do easily without, thank you very much, is the hill-holder. No, stupid car, I want you not to keep applying the brakes after I lift my foot and until I let the clutch go, I want you to roll. Roll, goddammit! ROLL! Do I have to push? ROLL! I can hill-start on my own (and without handbrake), and if I wanted such gadgetry I would have bought a bloody automatic! I don't and so I didn't.
Most of the other features are quite ok. What wasn't ok was that some idiot mechanic, wannabe or detailer had disconnected the fuel pressure regulator vacuum hose from the inlet manifold and left it to dangle in the wind: idle a tad high and slow to return on stopping, lousy starting behaviour. I found and fixed the dangling hose when hunting for the fuel filter (which this oz model apparently didn't get? Silly, as if this place wasn't dusty and dirty... And I had bought a replacement filter already, well maybe I'll retrofit it) in order to figure out the odd starting behaviour.
The 2652 pages of factory service manual that I sucked earlier came already very handy for figuring out where the hose should go. The result was immediately improved starting and lower/better idling. Very good.
As to HAL, well, at least there is the "Lobotomy, Now!" button. BTW, this is how the system is supposed to work; a fairly rotten setup if you ask me. Consequentially, this is how it actually works out for most Outback/Legacy/Liberty/Forester owners:
The Outer Limits Control Voice... "There is nothing wrong with your ACC. Do not attempt to adjust the settings. We are controlling operation. If we wish to make it warmer, we will bring up the heat. If we wish to make it colder, we will set it to 65. We can reduce the fan to a soft breeze, or sharpen it to full blast. We will control the vents. We will control the AC. For the next hour, sit quietly and we will control all that you feel and hear. You are about to experience the awe and mystery which reaches from the inner mind of the Legacy Automatic Climate Control to... your rarely comfortable body."