A Love/Hate Relationship with TechnologyA big criticism of JD Power's Initial Quality Study has been the way it views technology – if something is difficult to use, it ends up becoming a knock against the IQS score. To solve this problem, JD Power is introducing its first-ever Tech Experience Index Study.
Focusing exclusively on the technology in seven separate segments, the TEI studies driver interactions with collision protection tech, comfort and convenience features, driving assistance systems, entertainment and connectivity content, navigation systems, and smartphone mirroring.
This year's findings found an interesting split between scores. Drivers loved systems that required little to no action on their part – safety systems, in this case – but were less fond of stuff they had to interact with regularly, like satellite navigation systems. While that makes a degree of sense, it doesn't reflect well on automakers that have been fighting to perfect the perfect nav systems for years.
While JD Power's inaugural TEI Study includes seven categories, they're very screwy. JD Power split the seven segments between mainstream and premium brands, which isn't surprising, but the decision to lump everything in based on size is – that's why Hyundai Tucson won the “Small” category over the Scion iA and how the Chevrolet Silverado pickup finished behind the Nissan Maxima sedan in the “Large” segment. We hope JD Power refines this strategy in the future. With that disclaimer out of the way, click on for the full list of winners.
Compact: Kia ForteCustomers loved safety systems in the TEI Study, and the Forte's tech suite is quite robust. Blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, and forward collision warning with autonomous emergency braking are optional on everything but the most basic Forte LX. Combine that with Kia's likable UVO infotainment system (standard on mid-range S and top-end EX), which includes both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, and the Kia's top-spot ranking makes sense.
Runners Up: Scion iM, Mitsubishi Outlander
Research the 2016 Kia Forte
Small: Hyundai TucsonWhile we know the latest Tucson is competent enough to drive, its ranking here is something of a surprise. While it offers a modern alphabet soup of safety features – everything we listed on the previous slide – many of the features are only available on the top-end Limited trim, including the autonomous emergency braking system. Still, pairing phones and working the navigation system are both easy feats in the Tucson, which could explain the first of Hyundai's two wins.
Runners Up: Scion iA, Fiat 500X
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Midsize: Chevrolet CamaroDoubtless Chevrolet's standard OnStar system and MyLink infotainment system paid dividends for the Camaro in the midsize segment. Both systems are dead simple to work with, which we suspect allows the Chevy's muscle car to buck the trend of disappointing navigation system results in this year's TEI.
Runners Up: Kia Sorento, Nissan Murano (tied)
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Large: Nissan MaximaFor its class, the Maxima has a lot of tech, especially on higher level trims. A simplified version of Nissan's traditionally tricky and button-filled infotainment system likely added a few points, while the full suite of safety tech is great, Nissan's presentation in the central instrument cluster allows drivers to know exactly what systems are functioning at a given time
Runners Up: Chevrolet Silverado, GMC Sierra
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Compact Premium: BMW 4 SeriesDespite terrible beginnings, BMW's knob/dial-controlled iDrive has transformed into one of the best, most intuitive infotainment systems on the market. Like the Camaro, while drivers in the TEI were quick to hate on navigation systems, we suspect iDrive raked in more points here than some competitors.
Runners Up: Lexus IS, Lincoln MKC
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Small Premium: BMW 2 SeriesYou can apply everything we said about the 4 Series to the 2er. iDrive is here and accounted for, likely helping BMW score its second win in this year's TEI. Pairing a smartphone with the system is a breeze, and the addition of Apple CarPlay for 2016 is great – we just wish it didn't carry a $300 price tag. Safety tech is also a cost extra, even though it functions just as well as the competition.
Runners Up: Audi A3, BMW X1
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Midsize Premium: Hyundai GenesisA lovely head-up display, loads of safety tech, including adaptive cruise control, makes the Genesis an easy car to live with. The infotainment system isn't as good as iDrive – the knob/dial setup just doesn't function the way you might think – but the overall package is still good enough for Hyundai to record a second victory in the 2016 TEI.
Runners Up: Cadillac CTS, Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class