On Monday, Consumer Reports announced the automaker had plunged in its annual reliability survey. Ford ranked 27th out of 28 car brands surveyed. The company's Lincoln brand ranked only one spot better, at 26th overall. It wasn't faulty engines or problematic drivetrains that sunk Ford's reputation.
It was problems with MyFord Touch and MyLincoln Touch, the touchscreen multimedia systems that keep drivers connected on the road.
"Ford had a really bad year this year," said Jake Fisher, the director of automotive testing for Consumer Reports.
Only two years ago, annual survey hailed Ford as a "poster child" of reliability. But Fisher said there were widespread glitches with the infotainment systems, and they weren't minor. He said cars often needed to go back to dealerships and have their car computers rebooted.
More than 20 percent of Ford Explorer owners who filled out the survey reported problems with their vehicles. By comparison, 1 percent of Toyota Prius C owners reported problems. The Prius C was the top-ranked car in the survey.
Together, Ford and Lincoln accounted for 6 of the 10 least-reliable cars named in the survey. The V6 all-wheel drive Explorer was named the least-reliable car.
The survey largely covered cars purchased over the past three years. Because of that, Ford said there's some lag time in charting some of the company's recent improvements in connectivity. At the same time, it acknowledged the problem.
"Our internal data shows that we are improving in these areas, and we expect that will be reflected in next year's survey," Ford spokesperson Mark Schirmer said. "Consumer Reports is hugely important to Ford. You can't dismiss Consumer Reports in any way."