Ford deserves credit for being a front-runner in offering advanced infotainment technology with its Sync and MyFord Touch systems, but continued consumer complaints over its confusing touchscreen interface and capacitive controls has made the automaker relent. The Wall Street Journal reports that physical buttons and knobs for controlling tuning and volume will be coming back to Ford vehicles equipped with the controversial infotainment system.

The 2013 F-150 with MyFord Touch gives us a glimpse of what the new layout with buttons and knobs might look like, as Ford says a similar balance of touch screen capability and buttons/knobs are what's being planned for future models. And, while capacitive controls have no fans in the halls of Autoblog, many of Ford's models with MyFord Touch do have a large physical knob for adjusting volume with integrated buttons for tuning and advancing tracks, though most of those are models with the optional upgraded Sony Audio system. Lincoln models with MyLincoln Touch, however, feature only capacitive controls for all stereo and climate functions.

Despite receiving enough complaints to throw buttons and knobs back into the mix (a move that reminds us of BMW's iDrive trajectory, among others), Ford reports that Sync and MyFord Touch have still been sold on 79 percent of its 2013 model year vehicles, a number it claims is double the rate that Honda and Toyota are getting for their infotainment systems. Ford also states that owners who do opt for the duo of technologies are more satisfied with overall vehicle quality than those who don't have it.

While Ford's own numbers may show high rates of satisfaction, other surveys, specifically the J.D. Power & Associates Initial Quality Study, have taken a hit in recent years on account of new owners reacting to MyFord Touch and its buttonless capacitive controls. Ford's ranking in the IQS plummeted to below average in 2011 after the system's debut, which prompted a significant update for MyFord Touch the following year that fixed bugs, improved the user interface and improved the voice recognition. Nevertheless, Ford still ranked below average in the 2012 IQS survey, and today's news of physical buttons and knobs returning to the center stack comes just two days before the release of results for J.D. Power's 2013 IQS. Another system update will be released the summer, and Ford has increased warranties for all models equipped with the system.
Show full PR text
SYNC and MyFord Touch Sold on 79 Percent of New Ford Vehicles, New Technology Drives Quality Satisfaction

SYNC® and MyFord Touch® sold on nearly 80 percent of 2013 Ford vehicles, double the sales mix of infotainment systems sold with Toyota and Honda vehicles, and up from 68 percent in 2012; MyFord Touch mix of 55 percent increased from 12 percent in 2012

Customers with vehicles equipped with MyFord Touch have a higher rate of satisfaction with overall vehicle quality for most models compared to those that do not have the advanced infotainment system

Ford customers cite voice command and touch screen features as top purchase drivers much more often than competitors; Ford Escape owners prioritize them twice as much as the segment average

Ford improves MyFord Touch quality by more than 50 percent since launch, plans another upgrade in summer 2013


DEARBORN, Mich., June 17, 2013 – Ford SYNC® voice-controlled connectivity and MyFord Touch® touch screen technologies are attracting more customers and selling at a much higher rate than competitors, as MyFord Touch helps drive higher customer satisfaction with vehicle quality.

Combined, SYNC and MyFord Touch are sold on 79 percent of new 2013 Ford vehicles, double the rate of Toyota and Honda vehicle infotainment systems and up from 68 percent in 2012. This includes a MyFord Touch mix of 55 percent from 12 percent in 2012.

SYNC and MyFord Touch connectivity technologies – launched in 2007 and 2010, respectively – remain a competitive advantage as customers cite voice control and touch screens as top purchase drivers much more often than competitors. For example, 53 percent of 2013 Ford Escape owners say the touch screen is a top purchase reason compared to a 22 percent segment average.

"Ford has launched 60 new technologies the past few years and they are helping attract many new customers in important markets such as the coasts," says Raj Nair, group vice president, global product development. "SYNC and MyFord Touch are key parts of our innovation strategy, and not only bring more new customers to our brand, but help deliver higher satisfaction with overall vehicle quality."

Ford vehicles with MyFord Touch are helping improve perceptions as customers who own vehicles with the system are more satisfied with overall vehicle quality compared to those who don't have the technology. The Ford F-150 with MyFord Touch has the highest rate of quality satisfaction across the Ford lineup, at 86 percent.

F-150 blends touch screen capability with traditional buttons and knobs, a similar balance planned for future Ford vehicles.

Young buyer connections
The innovations also are attracting younger buyers. For example, the new 2014 Ford Fiesta will now offer MyFord Touch, adding to other features such as a navigation system, rear camera, leather seats and a sunroof not available in the segment.

Fiesta already is drawing a younger audience of 46 percent Gen Y and Gen X buyers, compared to Toyota and Scion's 36 percent subcompact average. Fiesta innovations are differentiating the car as SYNC is cited as an important purchase reason by 54 percent of buyers compared to a 37 percent average for Toyota's connectivity technology.

Quality progress
Ford continues to refine SYNC and MyFord Touch, including another downloadable upgrade planned for this summer. Previous upgrades already have helped improve quality responses by more than 50 percent.

"We are committed to listening to our customers and improving MyFord Touch to keep drawing in new customers and increasing satisfaction with even higher quality," says Nair.

Ford's dealership personnel and dedicated connectivity customer service line also have become competitive advantages in an era of new automotive technologies. Customers who seek dealership assistance with SYNC or MyFord Touch report a 91 percent satisfaction rate.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 88 Comments
      Robert Fahey
      • 1 Year Ago
      Focus groups try to be chic. They want to come across as youthful, active, trendy and tekkie. Carmakers apparently don't hear the straight dope from people who have no interest in booking movie tickets from the car, and don't want to swipe a screen just to turn on the A/C or go from AM to FM. What else can explain this superfluous garbage we're getting in our cars?
        cpmanx
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Robert Fahey
        It's not just focus groups--buyers like to be chic too. If Ford was losing huge numbers of sales because people hated MyFord Touch, don't you think the thing would have been gone the very next model year? But in fact the cars with the new system are selling well. For all the complaints, there is apparently a large mainstream segment that likes the technology, or that at least feels cool using it. THAT is what explains all the "superfluous garbage" in today's cars. Most buyers actually like it.
      anon
      • 1 Year Ago
      Again they didn\'t do any ergonomic studies and such......they never seem to learn........I remember the late 60\'s cars they put \'idiot lights\' up for the cooling and oil pressure and electrics on the dash and then a few years later reverted back to gauges same for the \'digital speedos\' they kinda flopped and remember the fixed windows on the rear doors of the Chrysler K Cars and the GM A body intermediates like all of that crap is no more seems to me the car makers aren\'t learning from their mistakes.
      Avinash Machado
      • 1 Year Ago
      Good.
      DC Mike
      • 1 Year Ago
      I never found the touchscreens in my car to be hard to use. I actually did things like read the manual or looked up functions that I wondered about. 90% of any given task can be done using steering controls. 100% of the tasks can be done using voice controls. Most of the people who cry about touchscreen head units are the kinds of people who never bothered to learn how to use it properly in the first place. Internet hyperbole wins again. Oh well.
        timber
        • 1 Year Ago
        @DC Mike
        Systems don't have to be hard to use to be bad. For example changing the temperature in a AC with buttons is worse than with a dial. And both systems are extremely easy to use.
          clquake
          • 1 Year Ago
          @timber
          It's not being lazy. Voice command requires several steps, and confirmation from the system, while the knob is a twist. When you're hurtling down the road @ 70 mph, the quicker and simpler the task is, the safer it is. Also, when I'm listening to the radio, knobs allow be to keep the radio on, while adjusting things, while voice command interrupts the radio. VC is one of those things that look great on paper, but can be dangerous and really a step backwards, e.g. the system doesn't recognize your command several times, and now you're concentrating on getting vc to work, and not driving.
          • 1 Year Ago
          @timber
          [blocked]
          Winnie Jenkems
          • 1 Year Ago
          @timber
          @smilez: think about it... I'm hot... I can simply turn this knob in one direction to make the air coming out colder. Oops, too cold... I'll just turn it a bit in the opposite direction. I don't care what the exact temperature is, as long as I'm comfortable. Plus I don't have to click a button multiple times and then look down to confirm that the temperature is exactly 67 degrees; I'm not that anal about temperature settings, nor do I care if the stereo volume is exactly at 11, my ears will dictate what's loud enough... Touchscreens? Forget about it; these are gimmicks; 'luxury' features where what I really desire is simplicity. Knobs are ideal for these situations, and I can do everything quickly and *without taking my eyes off the road*!
          Greg
          • 1 Year Ago
          @timber
          Smilez, no. It's press button, speak command, hear confirmation, respond, temperature changes. And that assumes no one is in the car talking because that will make you repeat the whole process. Compare that to: turn knob, done.
          • 1 Year Ago
          @timber
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          • 1 Year Ago
          @timber
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          • 1 Year Ago
          @timber
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          • 1 Year Ago
          @timber
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          • 1 Year Ago
          @timber
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        • 1 Year Ago
        @DC Mike
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          clquake
          • 1 Year Ago
          Manual should not needed for heat on/off. It's a stupid idea.
      • 1 Year Ago
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        foxtrot685
        • 1 Year Ago
        MFT and MLT have more issues than users not being familiar with how to use the systems, and adding knobs is just hte tip of the iceberg. Many of the complaints that have been filed have to do with the system freezing, crashing, rebooting in the middle of navigating routes, frequent system updates that take way too long, not turning off when the vehicle is turned off (like you get out of the car after shutting it off, and the radio is still playing away), the system not responding to touch, voice commands, or knob inputs, and more. The update fixed most but many still have the above issues even after the update. And spare me the \"well, if the screen is such an issue just use the voice commands!\" Again, its called MyFord TOUCH, emphasis on touch, not MyFord Speak-And-Say. Advising the work around of just using the voice commands already admits that there is a fault with the touch screen user interface.
          • 1 Year Ago
          @foxtrot685
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          • 1 Year Ago
          @foxtrot685
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          @foxtrot685
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          @foxtrot685
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        Gordon Chen
        • 1 Year Ago
        If smart phones and tablets don't need manuals, then neither should infotainment systems. In today's day and age, it should not be as complicated as programming a VCR
        SpikedLemon
        • 1 Year Ago
        True. But being good/bad doesn't have anything to do with whether or not I, subjectively, like it. I didn't like the MyTouch when I test drove Ford vehicles. It was one of the items that drove my wife and I away from the Ford. It wasn't the only item but it was one of them.
        clquake
        • 1 Year Ago
        With MFT/MLT, reading the manual doesn't matter when the system itself doesn't work. It's like typing on a keyboard where only the vowels work - no matter what you do, it's still broken.
      Johan
      • 1 Year Ago
      Any function that needs to be adjusted while the car is moving should be done via a physical button. You need to be able to use the controls without looking at them.
      ferps
      • 1 Year Ago
      I've said it before and I'll say it again: all these systems could be replaced by a $200 off-the-shelf Android tablet (or $250 if you want iOS). Manufacturers could pass the savings onto consumers and deal with far fewer headaches (like their reliability ranking dropping), and consumers would have a better product for less money.
        clquake
        • 1 Year Ago
        @ferps
        Tablet has no buttons, well at least the touch screen part.
      jason_golden
      • 1 Year Ago
      One major disappointment with my 2013 ATS ownership was the CUE interface. It was a lovely novelty while sitting still in a parking lot, showing off its pretty displays. But, driving down the road, trying to tap the \"right\" spot on a glowing screen was a joke.
      flammablewater
      • 1 Year Ago
      Automakers take note: WE WANT BUTTONS.
      kyle
      • 1 Year Ago
      Thank god! Ever notice something positively common amongst buttons and knobs? I have and it's that THEY ALWAYS WORK AND PERFORM THE NECESSARY FUNCTIONS WITH A SIMPLE PUSH OR TWIST! I'm sick of this touch crap that causes you to take your eyes off the road when you frustratedly have to keep pressing on it because it doesn't work. The only reason touch buttons are so popular is because "gadget freaks" (aka mindless zombie idiots) think they look cool. They serve no other purpose. I'm all for no frills buttons and knobs.
        • 1 Year Ago
        @kyle
        [blocked]
      timber
      • 1 Year Ago
      If Ford (and a bunch of other brands) had closely observed what BMW went through with iDrive they wouldn't be in this situation of having to restore some hardware controls. Still I would never pay anything for these systems. They are expensive, usually clumsy and nowadays easily surpassed any iPad, iPhone or Android equivalent. And they are impossible or extremely expensive to upgrade (particularly the GPS). And cars don't last 2 years like an electronics device.
      BrianMassie
      • 1 Year Ago
      As a former Ford salesperson, I have plenty of firsthand experience with the various systems, issues, and customer opinions of said systems. MySync is totally different from the MyFord Touch system and to lump the two together is misleading with respect to claims that the touch system is popular. Most of the vehicles our dealership stocked were equipped with MFT and that led to many lost sales. As well as I tried to demonstrate the system, problems syncing phones to the system, delayed response, poor voice recognition, and numerous parameters that were not interesting or useful to the customer encouraged them to buy a less expensive model or shop elsewhere. Even with claimed improvements, I wouldn't buy a vehicle equipped with MFT. It's kind of like when Microsoft came out with Vista, and then they produced Service Pack 1. It was still crap even if slightly better. If only Apple had done the work instead of Microsoft or Ford had just stayed away from trying to use tech that even names like BMW didn't perfect.
        • 1 Year Ago
        @BrianMassie
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        throwback
        • 1 Year Ago
        @BrianMassie
        Interesting observations. I have MFT on my 2012 Focus and I rarely use the touch screen. I have a knob for volume, knobs for temp settings, switches for radio presets and volume. I think adding in knobs will certainly improve the interaction with the system. As for technical issues, I have had several updates and the system has gotten better. More stable, no issues with phone syncing (iphone and android) since the last update. This is what happens when you get out on the leading edge of technology, as BMW and Mercedes found out. I also think the age of the average buyer is an issue. I learned to drive in the 70's and today's cars are better invirtually every way , except ease of use of secondary controls. Hard to improve on a button, switch or knob.
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