In my last car, which pre-dated the smartphone, I could understand why no place to put the phone - we all clipped them to our belts back then as they were primarily useful for making or taking phone calls. But now they tend to also act and both entertainment and navigational devices when driving, so it would seem natural to have a place to stick one where it could be easily viewed - a universal attachment point with different heads to accommodate different sizes and styles of phones that charged it while it sat in its cradle. But I haven't seen anything like that from the car manufacturers yet.
In my last car, I had a gadget that slipped into the CD player, and anchored itself there, making the phone display very accessible -- worked great, although it blocked the volume control to a degree, but not the end of the world. I liked it so much I bought one for each of my sons, and after much initial ridicule, they now seem to use them fairly frequently (one of my son's girlfriend refers to it as a "dad-gadget" -- so I got one for her, too -- and she seems to use it all of the time now as well). It does preclude you from using the CD player, but as that's nearly an extinct technology, it's not a big deal. Over time, it does mess up the rubber dust seal in the CD player, but my car was old, so it didn't bother me.
In my new car, the "dad-gadget" would block the volume control entirely, and I didn't want to damage the CD slot, so I'm trying the type that attaches to the heating/AC vents. I've always been worried that the small plastic vanes would easily break, but this one seems to be doing the trick. It uses a magnetic attachment point (vs mechanically gripping the phone like my old model) so not much stress on the vent when detaching the phone. It's great for navigation (much better/easier/more convenient than the onboard navigation in the new car) and makes hands-free calling much easier.
If you don't already have a "dad-gadget" for your car, I would highly recommend it! I purchased all of mine (for me and as gifts) on Amazon.com