Surprise! J.D. Power reports consumers frustrated with navigation systems

For those of us testing dozens of in-car navigation and infotainment systems each year, J.D. Power's 2011 U.S. Navigation Usage and Satisfaction Study comes as no surprise.

According to owners surveyed in the study, simplicity and ease-of-use are lacking in the majority of systems on the market, with "Address/street/city not found" topping the list, followed by difficulty inputting a destination, poor routing, ineffectual voice controls, a lack of street names and missing points of interest. Not to mention the most obvious issue: the inability to find the proper function in the menu system.

Additionally, with a growing number of automakers combining climate controls into the touchscreen, these systems are adding another layer of complexity with few tangible benefits.

Interestingly though, the Garmin-supplied system fitted to the Dodge Charger and Chrysler 300 – placing first and third, respectively, in consumer satisfaction – do combine many of the vehicle's climate control functions in a separate menu on the screen. So the issue isn't about incorporation, it's about execution.

Lining the bottom of the pack were a few Mercedes-Benz models (no surprise considering how long in the tooth COMAND is), the Jaguar XJ, Volvo XC90, Lincoln MKX and Toyota RAV4. And while the Clarion-equipped system (in the process of being phased out) in the Ford Flex, Fusion and Lincoln MKS all made it into the top 10, the TeleNav versions of the Ford Explorer and Edge – yes, the MyFord Touch equipped models – landed near the bottom. However, many of those issues should be rectified with the 2013 update, which includes faster response, better voice recognition and a mild UI overhaul. Hit the jump for the details and the complete rankings list.
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J.D. Power and Associates Reports: High Incidence of Reported Problems Indicates Continued Owner Frustrations with Vehicle Navigation Systems

The Garmin Navigation System Supplied to the Dodge Charger Ranks Highest in Satisfaction Among Factory-Installed Navigation Systems

WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif., Nov. 22, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Vehicle owners are continuing to experience a high number of problems with factory-installed navigation systems, primarily with routing quality and system usability, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2011 U.S. Navigation Usage and Satisfaction Study(SM) released today.

Now in its 13th year, the study identifies six factors that contribute to overall satisfaction with factory-installed navigation systems. In order of importance, they are: ease of use; routing; navigation display screen; speed of system; voice directions; and voice recognition. The study also measures quality by examining problems per 100 (PP100) navigation systems, in which a lower score reflects higher quality.

On average, owners of factory-installed navigation systems experienced 351 PP100 in 2011. The eight most-frequently reported issues, which account for more than 50 percent of problems reported overall, are:

Address/street/city not found (33 PP100)
Difficulty inputting destination (32 PP100)
Route provided was not direct (24 PP100)
Difficulty using voice recognition controls (23 PP100)
Map doesn't show enough street names (21 PP100)
Couldn't find desired menu/screen (19 PP100)
Map or point of interest search was missing points of interest (16 PP100)
Inability to view screen due to glare (14 PP100)

"Routing-the primary function of a navigation system-is obviously an issue and will continue to be," said Andy Bernhard, director at J.D. Power and Associates. "However, for nearly 10 years, the importance of ease of use has been emphasized by owners, and the continued high level of problems in this area begs the question: is the industry listening to how owners want to interact with their system?"

The study finds that system usability is one of the biggest contributors to problem incidence, with nearly one-third of reported problems related to ease of use of the navigation system. Furthermore, the trend toward integrating the controls of different systems in the vehicle, including audio, climate control and phone, only adds to the ease-of-use issues that owners experience with their navigation system. For instance, among those owners who consider their multimedia system's menu structure overall to be "not at all complex," the number of navigation system problems experienced is 243 PP100. However, among those who say the multimedia system interface is "very complex," the average number of problems is three times as high, at 735 PP100.

"There is a necessity in the industry to better understand how the complexity of interfaces and the implementation of navigation within the overall system impact the owner experience," said Bernhard. "Owners continue to demand a high level of technology, but it is through the integration of this technology into their day-to-day lives that both adoption and satisfaction will be influenced-and the industry continually appears to be missing the mark."

The Garmin system fitted to the Dodge Charger ranks highest in owner satisfaction with factory-installed navigation systems and performs particularly well in the navigation display screen, ease of use and speed of system factors. The Hyundai-Mobis navigation system supplied to the Hyundai Genesis Coupe follows in the rankings, and the Garmin system supplied to the Chrysler 300 series ranks third.

The 2011 U.S. Navigation Usage and Satisfaction Study is based on responses from 18,303 owners who recently purchased or leased new 2011 model-year vehicles with factory-installed navigation systems. The study was fielded in October 2011.

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