The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

July 5, 2013

Three different paths to infotainment taken by Detroit Three

(Continued)

The sleek system debuted on the XTS a year ago and continues to roll out across the lineup, including the new ATS and the SRX.

CUE, like MyFord Touch, drew criticism from Consumer Reports, which found its touch screen hard to use while driving.

Hichme anticipated criticism for not having traditional buttons. But that is different from early knocks against MyFord Touch when “50 percent of issues were bugs, not dissatisfaction with the system,” Hichme said. “None of us are immune to that (software issues).”

Aaron Bragman of Cars.com said configuring CUE like an iPod should catch on, but GM still has to fix some bugs and the lack of buttons is generating complaints.

Dave Sullivan, analyst with AutoPacific, has encountered problems with CUE. “When something doesn’t work you get frustrated and then distracted, which is not OK in a car.”

FORD: Ford’s MyFord Touch system has had the roughest go of the three technologies.

Instead of embedded computer chips in the car, Ford’s original Sync system, developed with Microsoft, made the car an extension of the driver’s smartphone. Constant software updates would make it possible to keep up with ever-advancing mobile technology that every Ford vehicle could operate.

Sync was a mammoth success and made Ford an instant technology leader.

But the next-generation MyFord Touch — which centered on a new touch-screen technology made popular by Apple products — was glitchy and hard to operate. Drivers said the loss of dials and knobs made it dangerous to operate while driving. The complaints caused Ford’s overall quality scores to plummet and it could be a couple years before they rebound, said Dave Sargent of J.D. Power and Associates, which measures vehicle quality based on consumer surveys.

Ford has extended warranties and offered several rounds of software patches with another coming this summer. And two years ago Ford started restoring buttons and this will continue as each model is redesigned in the years ahead. Similar moves are underway with MyLincoln Touch, which is the most sophisticated version of the system for the luxury brand.

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