Products & Services
We've never liked MyFord Touch, Ford's high-tech control design that is spreading to more models across the company's lineup. Our recent experiences have convinced us it's high time to detail how the system works and why it's so distracting.
Despite some recent updates, MyFord Touch still frustrates us like few other control systems in any other brand's automobiles. (Although our Fisker Karma has even worse controls.) And worse, it is influencing competitors, such as GM, with its Cadillac CUE system.
MyFord Touch leaves the interiors of fitted models almost completely absent any conventional knobs or buttons. Instead, it offers a variety of different ways to enter commands: flush capacitive switches on the center stack, a big center touchscreen, steering-wheel controls, and voice commands. But none are well designed, and combined they make the cars feel really complicated—especially when trying to perform the most common audio and climate adjustments.
There are various versions of the system, and they get worse as they get more advanced and expensive. All systems come with the touchscreen. The base version at least offers two knobs: one for volume and one for fan speed, along with separate climate controls in some models.
The upgrade in Ford models is MyFord Touch with the Sony radio, which incorporates tuning and seek buttons within the volume knob and does away with the separate climate controls. Other buttons and knobs are replaced by flush buttons on a shiny piano-black background.
MyLincoln Touch does away with all knobs. Instead, it uses touch-capacitive bars that look like sliders for volume and fan speed.
But the differences are mostly trivial; it's the fundamental design of the system that's flawed.
Ford has recently made improvements to the system to address earlier complaints about it crashing and being slow to register. At least the updated MyFord Touch was more reliable and quicker in 2013 models we have tested. But several of our drivers still found it was slow to start up and accept commands.
Keep in mind that we drive cars with every different control system available. In fact, we've tested six cars with MyFord Touch or MyLincoln Touch and have driven well over 20,000 miles in them. By now we're very familiar with the system, so it's not that our drivers haven't acclimated to it. And we've found other touchscreen control systems, such as Chrysler's, that are much less complex and work better.
Like a computer, MyFord (and MyLincoln) Touch crams a lot of function into a small space. The problem is that it's too much like a computer: It works OK statically, but when you're driving it diverts too much attention away from the road.
Ever consider why video games still use separate controllers with physical buttons, knobs, and joysticks? You never have to take your eyes off the screen, where the bad guys could appear suddenly and shoot you. The same should be true for the view of the road out the windshield while driving. Studies have shown that crashes escalate dramatically the longer drivers take their eyes off the road. We think MyFord Touch and MyLincoln Touch require far too many glances away from traffic to operate even common functions. And the voice command system is awkward enough that for simple adjustments, most of our drivers don't use it instead.
In the end, our frustration with MyFord Touch has hammered many Ford models' test scores to a level below our threshold to recommend a model. In any case, we wouldn't recommend dealing with the frustrations of MyFord Touch on a daily basis even to an adversary.
Ford's Eastern Region Communications Director Bill Collins sent us this corporate response, regarding MyFord Touch:
"We listen closely and value all feedback on our vehicles - whether it's from customers or third parties. That feedback is used to continuously improve our products and we're seeing results from that commitment. According to a survey of MyFord and MyLincoln Touch owners conducted earlier this year, those who installed the recent software upgrade report a 25 percentage point increase in satisfaction. Also, 71 percent of owners with the new upgrade say they would recommend MyFord or MyLincoln Touch to others."