I can't believe I am finding threads as far back as 2009 complaining about this issue. It is absurd that there is no way to turn the display off while keeping functions on. I just bought a 2019 Alltrack and it is sweet in every way, but the infotainment is a nightmare! The only option to actually black out the screen (backlight still on) is to use the 10s off option, but now they restrict changing these settings while you're driving which is horrible if you want to have carplay nav up while in the city but change it when you get on the highway. This option is annoying anyway because you should be able to just manually black out the display!
I don't even know if an aftermarket head unit is an option because of all the integrated features... but I'd consider it just to get a damn button to turn the display on and off while keeping the stereo on, etc. It is driving me crazy I've been looking for some hope with VCDS to lower brightness more or something but coming up empty. I have it on Very Low and it is still wayyy too bright. My old Pioneer I put in my Mazda I was able to lower the contrast and brightness on a slider until it was perfect as well as press one button to totally turn off and on the display. Oh and hadn't even noticed the lack of a mute/attenuate button before that was pointed out on another thread. They want to restrict settings while driving.... how about the most obvious distraction, the huge bright display itself!!
It seems the reason this isn't an option for my car at least and some other recent models is there is a proximity sensor, which I suppose would interfere with turning off the display, but I haven't found any actual other use for this yet. If anyone has any suggestions or what features I could possibly keep with an aftermarket unit, I would greatly appreciate it. Having buyers remorse for this reason alone