Ford may have heavily revised the software used by the MyFord Touch — and sibling brand’s MyLincoln Touch — infotainment systems, but the touch-screen interfaces are still drawing heavy criticism. Product testing publication Consumer Reports recently rekindled the controversy with a scathing blog post called, “Why the MyFord Touch control system stinks.”
Consumer Reports’ experiences largely mirror the opinions of our editors; the publication wrote that it “wouldn’t recommend dealing with the frustrations of MyFord Touch… even to an adversary.” That’s not a unique opinion, as we repeatedly found that early versions of the systemwere distracting, tricky to use, and unreliable.
Senior editor Jason Cammisa drove a 2012 Ford Focus in which the MyFord Touch interface repeatedly froze and rebooted itself. The navigation system wouldn’t accept his home address, and the Bluetooth connection would only occasionally work with his cell phone. In another instance, Cammisa had the system in a Ford Flex jam with the air conditioning set to a chilly 60 degrees and the radio blasting at full volume.
Senior editor Joe Lorio was likewise frustrated by the MyLincoln Touch system in a Lincoln MKX crossover. He found the touch-sensitive volume and climate controls didn’t always respond to his inputs, and using them required taking his eyes of the road for a long time. Lorio couldn’t use the buttons without looking at the touch screen, and the graphical buttons didn’t always respond immediately when he pushed them.
Auto critics weren’t the only ones to cry foul at the systems: customers also reported struggles with MyFord Touch and MyLincoln Touch. The problem was so bad that Ford took a huge hit in owner satisfaction ratings. In 2011, Ford fell from 10th to 20th place in Consumer Reports’ annual survey of 28 major automakers, a fall from grace caused in part by the infotainment system’s foibles.
That led the automaker to fast-track a software update for MyFord Touch. The company claimed version 2.0 of the software responded to user inputs twice as fast as before. On-screen buttons and text were enlarged, and extraneous information was removed. The new interface rolled out in all of Ford’s 2013 vehicles. Owners with older cars received a USB flash drive in the mail, which automatically updated the software when plugged into the MyFord Touch interface. (Less tech-savvy owners could have the upgrade performed for free at the dealership.)
In an emailed statement, Ford technology spokesman Alan Hall said that customers are pleased with the new version of MyFord Touch. “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,” he said.
We have been mostly impressed with the updated software in new Ford cars. Senior web editor Phil Floraday thought the system “worked just fine” in a 2012 Ford Focus, and managing editor Amy Skogstrom had no problem using her Bluetooth phone in a 2013 Flex. After spending a night with a 2013 Taurus SHO, however, senior editor Lorio declared that he, “would never buy a car with MyFord Touch,” owing to the difficulty of using the small on-screen controls while driving.
At a media lunch ahead of the New York auto show this spring, Ford president of the Americas Mark Fields told us that 60 percent of customers choose MyFord Touch or MyLincoln Touch in new vehicles. But he conceded the company could have done a better job of beta-testing the software before it was made available to consumers.
Sources: Consumer Reports, Automobile Magazine