Print 68 comment(s) - last by Azethoth.. on Aug 27 at 6:33 PM

Leave the large touch screens to tablets

It's no secret that Consumer Reports has shown no love for the MyFord Touch infotainment/secondary control system in the latest crop of Ford vehicles. Ford's move to a touchscreen- and touch sensitive button-based system for nearly all secondary controls in the vehicle flies in the face of conventional wisdom where your eyes are supposed to be on the road, so Consumer Reports' concerns are mostly valid.
Consumer Reports writes, "MyFord Touch still frustrates us like few other control systems in any other brand's automobiles. And worse, it is influencing competitors, such as GM, with its Cadillac CUE system." The complaints are numerous, ranging from hard to discern flush capacitive switches, to poor steering wheel controls, to poorly designed center consoles that make using the touch screen difficult. In addition, the touch sensitive buttons can sometimes be too sensitive, registering multiple button presses.

Consumer Reports complains that the recessed screen in the 2013 Ford Escape makes reaching climate/radio controls (which are located at the corners of the screen) difficult to reach [Image Source: Ford]
But "What about the voice commands?” defenders might argue. Well, Consumer Reports states that while voice commands should help alleviate some of the troubles of using the touch screen system, they are just an troublesome crutch in practice for commonly used controls:
The voice commands are helpful for complicated inputs, like entering a destination in the navigation system or choosing a playlist from a phone or an iPod. But using them for basic commands, such as temperature or radio tuning, is time consuming and cumbersome. It feels like a Band-Aid for the car's poorly designed physical controls.
And Consumer Reports even goes so far as to reach out to the gaming audience by invoking the use of physical controls on gaming systems like the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Vita, etc.:
Ever consider why video games still use separate controllers with physical buttons, knobs, and joysticks? You never have to take your eyes off the screen, where the bad guys could appear suddenly and shoot you. The same should be true for the view of the road out the windshield while driving. Studies have shown that crashes escalate dramatically the longer drivers take their eyes off the road. We think MyFord Touch and MyLincoln Touch require far too many glances away from traffic to operate even common functions. And the voice command system is awkward enough that for simple adjustments, most of our drivers don't use it instead.
Consumer Reports goes on to say that simply calling them "newbs" at MyFord Touch isn't a proper defense for the systems. The publication has tested six vehicles with MyFord Touch (and the MyLincoln Touch) and has logged over 20,000 miles using it, so their drivers are quite familiar with all aspects of the system.

Ford's handsome new 2013 Fusion also comes with MyFord Touch. The Fusion is a volume seller for Ford, so the automaker can't afford big missteps. [Image Source: Ford]
We should also point out that Consumer Reports isn't the only publication to give MyFord Touch two thumbs down. Ford was hammered in the latest 2012 J.D. Power Initial Quality study mostly because of drivers' disdain for MyFord Touch. For tumbled from seventh place in the 2011 study to a 23rd place in the 2012 study.
A representative for Ford reached out to Consumer Reports following the publication of the article with the following statement:
We listen closely and value all feedback on our vehicles - whether it's from customers or third parties. That feedback is used to continuously improve our products and we're seeing results from that commitment. According to a survey of MyFord and MyLincoln Touch owners conducted earlier this year, those who installed the recent software upgrade report a 25 percentage point increase in satisfaction. Also, 71 percent of owners with the new upgrade say they would recommend MyFord or MyLincoln Touch to others.
Ford has issued software updates to address some complaints of MyFord Touch, but they don't address the underlying problem with replacing traditional buttons and knobs that can be easily sought out by feel with an outstretched hand versus a touch screen that requires constant eye contact.

Source: Consumer Reports

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By tayb on 8/23/2012 1:23:49 PM , Rating: 2
I know several people with these system and they sing the praises. Outside of the blowhards at CR I don't hear anyone complaining about it. I've been inside these models (but never driven one) and the infotainment center was incredible. Satisfaction among Ford owners is key. People like the system, even if the technology illiterate hacks at CR don't.

Further, these are optional upgrades on most models. The 2013 Ford Fusion, for example, can be purchased with or without Sync. No one is going to force you to buy it.

And I'm not a Ford homer. If anything, I'm a Toyota homer as I only own or have ever purchased Toyota vehicles.

By theapparition on 8/23/2012 2:33:48 PM , Rating: 2
CR certainly deserves it's criticism when it comes to their automobile reviews, but in this case, they are basing their conclusion not on just their own testing, but on consumer feedback.

Note also that JD Power, which bases ALL of its rating from consumer feedback, similarly criticized the MyFord Touch system.

So while your close circle of friends may like it, the majority don't. But just common sense, anything that takes peoples eyes off the road or distracts them is a bad thing, you can't deny that. I think it would be a technological marvel if everything was a touchscreen that also doubled as a big screen TV, there was an automatic minibar, and I could get a rub and tug at the same time while driving. Doesn't mean that it would be a good thing.

By Targon on 8/23/2012 4:47:50 PM , Rating: 2
Consumer feedback complaints due to early software and feedback after software updates WILL cause people to have very different experiences. If people don't bother getting the updates that are available and still complain after the new updates are available, they will still complain because they just don't KNOW about the updates.

All of this is aimed at the whole JD Power initial quality feedback, and should not apply to newer vehicles with the updates already installed. Consumer Reports also couldn't tell the difference between a tight and loose suspension in a car due to incompetence in the area, and are just as clueless as they are about what makes a given computer better or worse than others in the same price range.

By Trisped on 8/23/2012 5:46:16 PM , Rating: 2
Reading their excuses it becomes quite clear that these people are not tech literate. Sure, they might know a lot about cars, but obviously they have never had to use a touch screen without looking at it. I have been doing it for years, it is not that hard.

As for keeping your eyes on the road, I have all physical controls. I have to look down every time I want to change the radio or claimant controls because I have not memorized what buttons do what.

By MichaelR on 8/23/2012 10:33:53 PM , Rating: 2
Satisfaction among Ford owners is key

Yeah, they are perfectly satisfied, right up until impact.

"Let's face it, we're not changing the world. We're building a product that helps people buy more crap - and watch porn." -- Seagate CEO Bill Watkins

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