I rode in a colleague’s new Volvo the other day and I love the environmental controls. The button lights up when active, showing where the airflow is going. Notice how the fan speed control is integrated into air direction display so they each add information to the other.
Compare to the older Volvo buttons, which had a similar theme but not quite as pleasing. It also lacks the integration of the fan speed.
Last, the controls I just had on a rented Toyota Corolla in Las Vegas:
In this Toyota, you press the “mode” button and it cycles through an LCD to show you where the air will flow. I found it hard to see and I had to infer that “mode” was the right button. I was never able to figure out these controls while driving and had to ask my passenger to work them for me.*
In sum, I like that the Volvo buttons allow for all combination (feet/torso, feet/defroster, torso/defroster). This is something I always wanted in my previous cars. I also rate it high on the “emotional” side of design.. it looks great!
*As a side note, the entire frame for this interface glows light blue, thus ruining my night vision and was tiring to have in the periphery while driving. I prefer the all red dashboard of my 2003.