Features We Don't Need: Purse Hooks

The purse hook: much debated, much discussed. For a while, it seemed automakers were really proud of their purse hooks. They've been highlighted with glee in brochures for family-haulers like the Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna. My very own 2005 Sienna features a purse hook on the front passenger side.

The purse hook came of age during a time when auto manufacturers mistakenly thought we women had nothing better to think about than where our purse would go; never mind our children, jobs outside the home or managing a household — where in the heck was a girl supposed to hang her purse?

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Now, automakers are savvier about what women want. We want seats that massage us, integrated multimedia systems, cupholders that keep our drinks hot or cold, and rear entertainment systems that silence our noisy progeny.

If I were going to use a purse hook, it would need to be both convenient and practical. Purse hooks are neither. They're put in places that aren't easy to reach, and they can't do the heavy lifting a mom-bag requires.

The purse hook often appears in family-haulers on the front passenger side, just below the reach of a passenger's left hand. As I'm typically the one driving, this is not a convenient location for me. Modern women are leaning in and out and backward and forward as we navigate the world these days, but leaning across the car to dig in our purse for a snack, our cellphone or anything else is not something we want to do. I'm as flexible as the next girl, but these things are near impossible to get to while driving. The expansive and typically empty front passenger seat is a handier location. Center consoles are also getting larger and becoming an option on the purse-storage front. No leaning required.

As for practicality, the purse hook is great for the small clutch I take with me on date night — so it's too bad my husband and I never reach for the minivan keys when we're heading out sans kids. During the week, when my purse needs to hold food, drinks, lip gloss, my cellphone and my laptop, only a large handbag will do. The purse hook limply grabs the big bag's straps and barely keeps it from slumping over on the floor. Not helpful.

It's time to bid adieu to the purse hook. In its place on the features list, let's hope automakers find more innovations that make our commutes truly easier, not just a token nod to their perception of our needs.

Cars.com photos by Courtney Messenbaugh

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