Ford Discovers Consumer Preference for Knobs

The Detroit Bureau

Ford Motor Co. plans to put knobs for volume and station tuning back on its radios, as part of its MyTouch system, as it redesigns models like the Ford Focus and Lincoln MKS.

Ford isn’t alone in trying to clear up dashboard confusion.

Ford, like several other automakers, has realized consumers prefer buttons and knobs for basic functions like tuning and temperature control.

After getting hammered in recent quality reports for the confusing and difficult set up of its MyFord Touch and My Lincoln Touch systems, Ford plans to put knobs for volume and station tuning back on its radios as it redesigns models like the Ford Focus and Lincoln MKS.

While Ford has been working to improve the functionality of MyFord Touch, it isn’t alone when it comes to dealing with convoluted infotainment systems. The recently introduced Acura RDX was panned for a lack of a tuning knob on its entertainment system.

Additionally Mercedes’ COMAND, BMW’s iDrive, Chrysler’s UConnect and other systems have all been criticized recently for confusion related to their user interfaces . In fact, the 2012 J.D. Power 2012 Initial Quality Study noted an overall drop in consumer satisfaction scores was due primarily to issues with infotainment systems.

A few years ago, BMW followed Ford’s lead with the introduction a new touchscreen-based system and was just as quickly criticized for problems with its user interface. BMW has been steadily making improvements to the system, including adding knobs and buttons to the system.

Consumer Reports noted issues with Cadillac’s CUE system as well as MyFord Touch in its April issue.

“We’ve found Cadillac’s CUE and the MyFord/MyLincoln Touch systems to be particularly frustrating,” the magazine noted. “Common gripes are complicated menus, touch screens that are slow to respond, touch-sensitive buttons that are fussy and imprecise, and small display fonts and buttons that are hard to quickly read and access.”

Among the most difficult systems out is the infotainment interface developed for the new Toyota RAV4-EV. It doesn’t even offer a volume knob on the radio, users instead having to decipher which tiny icon brings down a virtual volume slider bar. Worse, if a driver makes the mistake of turning their attention back to the road for even a moment, the slider vanishes.





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