Ford’s MyTouch Takes Fire From Consumer Reports

“Overly complicated and distracting,” magazine pulls recommendation from two Ford models.

by on Jan.04, 2011

Consumer Reports berates the MyFordTouch system as "overly complicated."

It has frequently been hailed as one of the most significant new technologies to show up inside an automobile, but Ford Motor Co.’s new touch-screen MyFordTouch and MyLincolnTouch systems are taking fire from the influential Consumer Reports magazine.

The non-profit publication – which has given kudos to Ford’s steady increase in quality – has declared the two touch-screen systems “overly complicated and distracting.”  In turn, Consumer Reports has decided not to give a much-coveted recommendation to two new Ford products, the Ford Edge and Lincoln MKX crossovers using the MyTouch technology.

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The Ford MyTouch technology is designed to control a wide range of infotainment systems, from onboard route guidance to handsfree phoning.  Ford has billed the system as an easy-to-use alternative, ironically, to some of the more complex controller-based infotainment systems, such as the BMW iDrive.

Ford’s system actually offers three different ways to control in-vehicle electronics, which the maker claims permits a motorist to use whichever they find the simplest and easiest: a large touch screen at the top of the center console, a pair of five-way controllers on the steering wheel – or voice-activated controls.

Consumer Reports declines to recommend the MyFordTouch-equipped 2011 Edge crossover.

That flexibility is one reason MyTouch has been hailed by a variety of reviewers and was declared best new automotive technology during the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show, an annual industry confab held in Las Vegas each January.

The MyTouch technology aside, Consumer Reports testers offered generally positive reviews of the new Ford Edge and Lincoln MKX.

How much of an impact the CR criticism will have is uncertain, but automakers usually covet a “Recommended Buy” rating from the magazine, which appeals to an affluent and educated body of American consumers.

Derrick Kuzak, Ford’s global product development chief, said he was “disappointed” in the results, but also a bit surprised considering the way the MyTouch system was designed to simplify, rather than complicate operation of the growing number of high-tech devices and features loaded into the modern automobile.

Ford is expected to announce even more infotainment features when CEO Alan Mulally makes his third appearance, on Friday, as the CES keynote speaker.

Ford plans to follow up to “try to understand Consumer Reports’ back,” says Kuzak, though he stressed that the maker has no plan to pull its basic Sync technology, nor the MyFordTouch and MyLincolnTouch systems out of its cars.

The magazine nonetheless joins a growing chorus of critics who feel there is too much technology in the newest automobiles and that even some systems intended to improve safety can actually serve to distract the driver.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has been a particularly vociferous critic of such devices and has been pressing for new restrictions on the use of in-car electronics.

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