Print 34 comment(s) - last by mosu.. on Jun 25 at 8:50 AM

MyFord Touch climate control screen
Ford and Lincoln take a steep drive in initial quality rankings due to MyFord Touch

Ford has been basking in the limelight of excellent product reviews from critics and reinvigorated interest from consumers (it didn't file for bankruptcy in tough times like domestic competitors General Motors and Chrysler). However, Ford’s penchant for high-tech gadgetry in its latest crop of vehicles has knocked the company back down on its rear-end according to the latest quality rankings from J.D. Power. 

Ford went from a fifth place ranking in the 2011 J.D. Power Initial Quality Study to a mediocre 23rd place showing this year. Sister-brand Lincoln took a similar nosedive, falling from eighth place all the way down to 17th place this year. Both Ford and Lincoln are now rated below the industry average.

The J.D. Power Initial Quality Study is described as follows:

The Initial Quality Study (IQS) serves as the industry benchmark for new-vehicle quality measured at 90 days of ownership. The study is used extensively by manufacturers worldwide to help them design and build better vehicles and by consumers to help them in their vehicle purchase decisions. Initial quality has been shown over the years to be an excellent predictor of long-term durability, which can significantly impact consumer purchase decisions. The study captures problems experienced by owners in two distinct categories—design-related problems and defects and malfunctions.

Not surprisingly, MyFord Touch was the biggest contributor to Ford's fall from grace. Customers complained about the complexity of the system and nagging problems with functionality according to the Chicago Tribune. “People were finding several problems with the system in that it would crash, freeze, black out," said David Sargent, J.D. Power's VP of Global Vehicle Research. “Beyond that, people complained that it was more complex to use than they would like."

“There is an understandable desire to bring these technologies to market quickly," Sargent added. “But automakers must be careful to walk before they run." 

Sargent continued, stating, “Consumers are looking for these touch technologies in vehicles and Ford took the, let’s say, brave decision to be a leader in this area.” 

The problem is that while touch-based interface are fine for smartphones and tablets that get your undivided attention, shifting a vast majority of vehicular secondary controls to a touch screen (which doesn't provide tactile feedback) is a disaster waiting to happen. 

The drop in Ford’s J.D. Power Initial Quality Study ranking was foreshadowed by Consumer Reports earlier this year. The organization roasted MyFord Touch calling it more of a hindrance than a benefit to the redesigned 2012 Ford Explorer and Lincoln MKX. 

Consumer Reports said this in January about the "dueling" dual LCD screens on the new crossovers:

Those screens are controlled by two steering-wheel-mounted five-way switches not unlike those found on a television remote or cell phone.  

If that sounds confusing, it gets worse: The system also recognizes and responds to voice commands. It all adds up to three or four ways to make what should be simple adjustments. None of the options works as well or is as easy to use as old-fashioned knobs and switches, and they can be more time-consuming and distracting to operate. First-time users might find it impossible to comprehend.  

We hope Ford returns to using tactile buttons and knobs again. Improving the touch-screen interface would also help.

MyFord Touch is also used on higher trim models of the Ford Focus.

Ford took Consumer Reports' criticism to heart and made an effort to provide dealership courses to prospective buyers on how to navigate through the MyFord Touch maze. Apparently, those courses weren't enough to stop the complaints about the infotainment system from pouring in.

Sargent concluded his thoughts on the latest study results, stating, "Automakers must not lose their focus on the importance of these models also achieving exceptional quality levels. Expected reliability continues to be the single-most-important reason why new-vehicle buyers choose one model over another."

Comments     Threshold

This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

A little confused
By amanojaku on 6/23/2011 3:31:43 PM , Rating: 5
MyFord Touch is not a required component for these vehicles; it's a $1,000 add on. Evaluating the driving experience based on an optional feature doesn't sound fair to me. It's like saying the car is bad because the radio sucks. I would agree that the car is bad if it stalls, or doesn't brake correctly, or handles like butter on ice, or had faulty seat belts, etc... Is an ENTERTAINMENT SYSTEM that important? Did MyFord Touch contribute to accidents? MY priorities must be off.

RE: A little confused
By spamreader1 on 6/23/2011 4:00:37 PM , Rating: 1
It probably does contribute to more accidents. It is after all one more distraction in the vehicle. Even if it is not any worse that talking on the phone while driving.

RE: A little confused
By ebakke on 6/23/2011 4:11:33 PM , Rating: 2
I don't know... Having just purchased a new vehicle, and having test driven a vehicle with My Touch, I think it's fair to judge every aspect. Just because it's an add-on doesn't mean it should be of any lesser quality than the base features. If I'm paying for something, I expect it not to suck. That's probably even more true when I'm paying extra for it.

RE: A little confused
By omnicronx on 6/23/2011 4:24:54 PM , Rating: 4
The fact remains this is a global ranking based on a component that will not be in a good percentage of Ford vehicles sold (not to mention its one of three ways to access content), especially the lower end such as the Focus and Fiesta where they are not even available on the lower models that will most likely have higher sales volume.

Otherwise As a consumer, do you really think you should pass up say.. a New Ford Focus SE that has received numerous high marks around the world and does not even come equipped with MyFord touch?

RE: A little confused
By ebakke on 6/23/2011 4:31:12 PM , Rating: 2
Otherwise As a consumer, do you really think you should pass up say.. a New Ford Focus SE that has received numerous high marks around the world and does not even come equipped with MyFord touch?
No. Just because other people rated down Fords with MyFord Touch doesn't mean I would necessarily pass up a Ford vehicle without out. I'm claiming it's fine to include that feature in rankings. What consumers choose to do with those rankings (and whether or not they choose to read them in detail) is up to them.

RE: A little confused
By omnicronx on 6/23/2011 7:21:25 PM , Rating: 4
Of course they should include it, but its clearly weighted far too high.

A quick look at their press release clearly shows there was a lot of emphasis on new technology.

As mentioned above, who chose the weightings of the study? Consumers? or JD Power? It makes a big difference as if it was consumers this is a great indications of what consumers want, otherwise its seems to me this is nothing more than an indication of what JD Power would like to see from manufacturers. (And don't get me wrong I would tend to agree with their problem of manufacturers releasing technology not ready for primetime, but its not really their place to define this in a consumer study)

RE: A little confused
By ebakke on 6/23/2011 9:32:23 PM , Rating: 2
All excellent points.

"So if you want to save the planet, feel free to drive your Hummer. Just avoid the drive thru line at McDonalds." -- Michael Asher

Most Popular ArticlesSmartphone Screen Protectors – What To Look For
September 21, 2016, 9:33 AM
UN Meeting to Tackle Antimicrobial Resistance
September 21, 2016, 9:52 AM
Walmart may get "Robot Shopping Carts?"
September 17, 2016, 6:01 AM
5 Cases for iPhone 7 and 7 iPhone Plus
September 18, 2016, 10:08 AM
Update: Problem-Free Galaxy Note7s CPSC Approved
September 22, 2016, 5:30 AM

Copyright 2016 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki