Does MyFord Touch 'Stink' as Badly as Consumer Reports Says?
The system may be complicated, but it also has redeeming features -- and may be the future of automotive infotainment.
“We've never liked MyFord Touch, Ford's high-tech control design that is spreading to more models across the company's lineup,” wrote Consumer Reports in an article titled, “Why the MyFord Touch control system stinks,” which was published last week. The publication goes on to “detail how the system works and why it's so distracting.”
It’s not the first time Consumer Reports has targeted MyFord Touch. It called the system distracting when it tested the Ford Edge in 2010, saying it's "frustrating on a lot of different levels." And it points out that even with recent updates, MyFord Touch “still frustrates us like few other control systems in any other brand's automobiles,” and that “worse, it is influencing competitors, such as GM, with its Cadillac Cue system.”
So is the MyFord Touch system really that bad? Is CR’s scorn warranted? Yes. And, of course, no.
MyFord Touch has been a black eye for the Blue Oval, especially coming off the success of its game-changing Sync system. MyFord Touch was buggy and complicated from the start, with issues ranging from problems connecting to Bluetooth phones to being slow to respond. Depending on your tolerance for technology, it’s either overly complex or Ford simply overshot on what most consumers are willing to put up with as far as a learning curve -- and the automaker is now simply paying the price for trying to work on the cutting edge.
In the way that MyFord Touch is influencing infotainment systems from other automakers by being a pioneer, it’s like we’re seeing a repeat of what BMW went through when it introduced the iDrive controller more than a decade ago. The interface was justifiably derided by automotive journalists and generated massive consumer complaint by being overly complicated. Over the years, BMW refined iDrive, and now a similar interface is used by rivals Mercedes-Benz and Audi, as well as Infiniti and Hyundai.
The 4.2-inch LCD screens that flank the analog speedometer in the instrument cluster of MyFord Touch systems is also being copied by Cadillac Cue, and I disagree with Consumer Reports’ assessment of this aspect of the system. The screens can be configured to show a variety of information, such as audio settings and navigation directions on one side and climate settings and fuel economy on the other. Consumer Reports says the menus “are really involved and distracting to use while you're driving,” and says that “some screens seem like overkill.”
While the screens could rightly be accused of supplying too much information, I’ve always thought of them as the saving grace of MyFord Touch, and personally find them easy to use. Cadillac Cue copies the concept, except it goes even further by allowing the driver to configure the entire instrument panel display, which is entirely an LCD screen.
Despite being beaten up by Consumer Reports -- which went as far to say, “We wouldn't recommend dealing with the frustrations of MyFord Touch on a daily basis even to an adversary” -- Ford is pushing ahead with making the system available on all new 2013 models. In the same way that BMW didn’t back down with iDrive, MyFord Touch could, in retrospect, be pointed to as the first system of its kind and -- as often happens with technology -- we may realize later that Ford was just paying the price for being ahead of its time.
Doug Newcomb has been covering car technology for more than 20 years for outlets ranging from Rolling Stone to Edmunds.com. In 2008, he published his first book, "Car Audio for Dummies" (Wiley). He lives and drives in Hood River, Ore., with his wife and two kids, who share his passion for cars and car technology, especially driving and listening to music.
MFT wouldn't be half bad if Ford would simply fix the various significant software bugs. Just go to outofmytouch.com if you want to see how MFT is capable of misbehaving on any given day. The last major update in March resolved some problems, but added numerous others.
So Ford, when do we get another bug-fix update for MFT (and MLT)? Please? Somebody? Anybody?
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