Where Should the Clock Be Located On a Car’s Dashboard?

Those of you who own cars are undoubtedly familiar with your own. But because I’m a ZipCar member, I’m used to getting into a different vehicle each time I need a set of wheels. At the mercy of what’s available, I rarely get the same vehicle twice.

I’m a very smart person with a degree in Industrial Design, so when getting into an unfamiliar car I can usually locate the steering wheel right away. But I often have to cast about for the clock. The clock is important for ZipCar drivers because you have to return the car at a pre-arranged time or you get charged a penalty.

The last car I owned was a 2001 Volkswagen Golf, for several years. That conditioned me to look for the clock here:

In contrast, more modern designs for car interiors have the clock towards the center of the dashboard. That makes better sense as both driver and passenger can see it. Here are the interiors for the last seven vehicles I’ve borrowed and where the clocks were:

Nissan Sentra

Honda Odyssey

Ford Escape

Honda Civic

Chevrolet Cruze

Honda Insight

Ford E-150 Cargo Van

As much as I like them at the center of the dash, I still cannot get my eyes to quickly land on them. The digital readouts often share real estate with other bits of information, and when glancing from the road to the dash, I often have to visually fumble to register “Ah, clock.

Kristen Lee, an editor at Jalopnik, made an interesting observation at the New York Auto Show: “Nearly all of [the cars I looked at] had big screens in their center consoles, which, fine. But the few that featured analog clocks stood out.”

Among the handful of brands that did was Lexus, who has their analog clocks visually framed and placed dead-center in the dash:

Now that’s a clock I can get behind.

Car owners among you: Where is the clock on your dashboard? (If you’re willing to post a pic in the comments so we can compare, that’d be great.) Where would you like it to be? And do you prefer analog or digital for time-telling?


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