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2012-08-23 07:47

TOUCH OF MAGIC - NOT: Ford's clever voice and touchscreen-controlled infotainment and navigation system has been blasted by an influential US consumer publication.

Deepa Seetharaman

An influential consumer magazine on Wednesday lambasted Ford's touchscreen entertainment and navigation system, saying it is distracting, clumsy and overly complex.

Consumer Reports said in a blog post: "MyFord Touch still frustrates us like few other control systems in any other brand's automobiles and, worse, it is influencing competitors."


Vehicles with the system have few traditional knobs and buttons. Instead, drivers can change the radio station or temperature by voice, tapping the touchscreen, using controls on the steering wheel or sensitive buttons on the dashboard.

In its blog post, titled "Why the MyFord Touch control system stinks", Consumer Reports called the touch-sensitive buttons "maddeningly fussy" and hard to find while driving.

It can be difficult and time consuming to change the radio by voice command, the magazine said. Some pages are cluttered with information, such as a feature that tracks fuel economy with multiple graphs every five, 10 and 30 minutes.


"This system needs an editor," Consumer Reports said.

System glitches cost Ford several spots in quality surveys in 2011. In March, the No. 2 US automaker upgraded its systems to repair those problems.

Ford said in a 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."

Ford said surveys showed owners who upgraded were more satisfied with their vehicles and 71% would recommend the systems to others.

In its blog post, Consumer Reports said the updates made MyFord Touch faster and more reliable. But those upgrades do not repair the fundamental flaws of the system's design.

The magazine said, in the model tested, the corners of the touch screen can be hard to reach and the font is too small. Using some features require a drivers' eyes to stray too long from the road.

"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," Consumer Reports said. "The same should be true for the view of the road out the windshield while driving."

In a previous version of this story, it was erroneously stated Ford's touchscreen system will be introduced in South Africa. Only Sync will be offered here in the Focus range by the end of 2012; MyFord Touch won't be introduced "anytime soon".


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