Just when I thought the passenger screen was a unique idea.
Recently, I tested out a Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk and thought the passenger screen was a novel idea. You can control the music, set a waypoint in the navigation, and even connect an Xbox to an HDMI port and play a video game — all from the passenger side.
Surprisingly, almost the very next review car I tested also has a passenger screen.
The Mercedes-Benz AMG EQE X4 is an all electric marvel, but the screen caught my eye because I still remember seeing this in a Mercedes test from quite a few years ago now. I haven’t noticed any vehicles that offer this for years, and then suddenly there are two within the same month.
The screen is bright and easy to use for the passenger, affording some easy control over the car settings, entertainment, nav, and other options as the driver stays focused and less distracted.
My son-in-law was the passenger in one test and enjoyed flipping through all of the settings. Then he discovered he could also interact with the car by voice. He asked the My Mercedes bot to play some music and to find a waypoint. Between the passenger screen and the voice bot control, he felt like he was more than just along for the ride.
Passenger screens for the second row seats have been common for quite a few years. One difference between the Trailhawk screen and the one in the EQE is that I was still able to glance over and see the screen. On the Trailhawk, the screen uses technology to hide the display from the driver so you can’t see it while the passenger can still see everything just fine.
This must be a technical decision by Mercedes to still allow the driver to see the passenger screen, perhaps in situations where you are parked or need to glance over. The ability to control so many settings — navigation and music primarily — means the driver doesn’t have to do that, which could have a dramatic impact ooni distracted driving.
Think of how this might work in the future. I’m not saying the passenger will have any control over the car, but he or she could adjust everything else.
And, it’s all right there in front of the passenger, not in the center console screen which could just be another distraction for the driver. We know more screens are coming in cars — I’ve seen more of them recently in the rear seats for climate settings and music, and with the costs coming down for these displays and passengers wanting more control over settings (as though they each have their own iPad), it’s just a matter of time before we see even more screens in the third row seats, possibly on the doors, and even outside of the car.
For now, the Mercedes-Benz AMG EQE X4 is a highlight of the year for me because of the screen — and everything else about this wonderful electric.