Genrational Gap or a Serious Problem?

Consumer Reports (Feb issue) was highly critical of the new MyFord Touch system (available on the Ford Edge and other Ford and Lincoln Models). Calling the system"…much-hyped but over complicated…".

I went to my local Ford dealer and checked it out.

I thought CR was over reacting. The new system is definitely a change from what I’m used to (my vehicles don’t even have a touch screen). But after spending a few minutes with the salesman, I was comfortable with the system. I didn’t think it was any more of a distraction than cell phones, gps systems or anything else drivers do to distract themselves.

Any else see the article? Check out the MyFord Touch system? CR Over reaction or not?

I do see a practical problem that some folks are intimidated my technology and will simply avoid the system.

I didn’t think it was any more of a distraction than cell phones, gps systems or anything else drivers do to distract themselves.
I think you said it all…it only has to be nearly as much to put you at risk. Check the comments on cell phone use and imagine that they were equally distracting.

In a world, there are lots of different situations. If three people drive the same car, two of them are not going to like touch screen systems that they have no time to train on. Resale value is bound to suffer if the owner of such a system should want to sell to a private party.

Sometimes, the car of the future is a thing of the past. At least this one happened instead of being a prototype and nothing else. I too have found that Consumer Reports is sometimes nearly useless.

My experience has been that most women can do all this technology stuff IF THEY WANT TO. I worked with some brilliant women electronic technicians before retiring. But, many women, and women do make most car buying decisions today, simply don’t want to be bothered.

So, my personal guess is CR is correct for most car buyers. You, as a very competent person, can use the system, but many will not even try and will find it overly complicated.

And, I certainly agree with the distracted driving viewpoint.

I’m not technologically challenged, but I won’t get a cell phone until I find one with a rotary dial.

I did see the article in Consumer Reports. I am 69, but I do adapt to technology that I find has a purpose. I haven’t driven a Ford product with the MyFord touch system, so I can’t comment about it. Cars for years have had featurs that cause distraction. For example, my 1947 Pontiac had the heater controls in the center of the dashboard, almost on the floor. One had to take one’s eyes off the road to adjust the heat. My 1965 Rambler had the headlight switch and the wiper switch next to each other and one pulled out or pushed in both controls–easy to confuse in bad weather. I didn’t see any advantage to the push button controls for the automatic transmisison introduced by Chrysler in 1956. I suppose if this MyFord Touch system gets a number of complaints, it will disappear just as the pushbutton automatic transmissions disappeared.
Also, what is “user friendly” to one driver may not be so to another. The automatic transmission is a good example. Everyone told me that the automatic transmisson was user friendly. The first time I drove an automatic, I didn’t think it was very user friendly. A hot rodder pulled up next to me at a stoplight and was revving his engine. I put the automatic in “D” for drag. The hot rodder started gaining on me, so I shifted to “L” for lunge. I was keeping up for a while, but he started to pull ahead. I shifted to “R” for race and found the automatic to be very user unfriendly.

I’m basically a no-frills person. The Studebaker Scotsman would have suited me just fine. I bought a minivan off the lot that has power sliding doors. I thought this feature was rather useless, except that I regularly transport a handicapped person. The power sliding doors are a godsend. On the other hand, there is a button on the rear view mirror that I programmed to open the garage door. This isn’t as convenient as the opener that clipped to the sunvisor–if I have my work gloves on, it is difficult to press the button.

Just because a technology exists does not mean…

A massive distraction !

“But officer, it came with the car.”

I loved reading your post. One can learn and deal with what they need to. The system in the op may not be geared to a blue hair peering out between the steering wheel and dash, like my grandmother did. I am a computer and networking wizard but don’t even bother worrying or caring to learn about call waiting, texting or how to work my wife’s iphone. I did love my 68 Cougar with a left foot pedal to do a wind shield wash, No need to take any hands off the wheel to be able to see again.

Manufacturers are continually adding features to vehicles many of which cause the driver to have to take his/her focus off of his/her driving. I personally see this as a problem. In my own car, the controls for the blemd doors, the fan, and even the radio volume require taing my eyes off the road and squinting down at an LCD readout while pushing the sequential button until I get it where I want it. This, IMHO, is poor design.

If you ever have an opportunity to sit in an aircraft cockpit you’ll notive that all the critical switches are shaped differently and such that a pilot wearing a glove can tell by feel exactly what switch is is AND what position it’s in. I wish they’d design cars that way.

I’m a Consumer Reports subscriber, although I used to hate their automotive reviews.

I changed my mind after reading about how they conduct their tests. I don’t always agree with them, but they are usually fair and unbiased, and I’ve come to trust their reviews.

I read the article you’re talking about. It made me leery of the system you’re talking about.

Perhaps you didn’t find it confusing. Good for you. That doesn’t mean other people won’t find it confusing.

Generation gap? Perhaps. I’m nearing sixty and I find all this “connectivity” nothing but a distraction from driving, and just one more danger behind the wheel.

I’d like to be able to buy a car without all this extra “stuff.” Call me old if you want, but I don’t see the need for it.

I am almost 30. I like to shift my own gears, crank my own windows, and I will never own a car with a power seat.

Ditto on anything touch screen in my car. It is very new to me and a big deal that I have a touchscreen phone, my girlfriend is into computers and more technology stuff than I could even name. My phone annoys me because if I have gloves on I have to use my nose to unlock it and read my texts.

But it is considerably more convenient than a laptop for checking emails, a necessary part of work sometimes.

So, no generation gap, just differing viewpoints and opinions. Not my cup of tea.

I don’t care for CR very much but in my opinion anything that causes the driver’s vision and/or focus to go from the roadway elsewhere is a dangerous distraction.

My guess is the system is going to be a distraction in many cases. Likely getting it set up properly will take time, it always takes awhile to load and program electronic devices. In addition all things electronic (computers, cell phones, etc.) become outdated quickly as new better technology comes on line. This happens to cars too, but at a slower pace.

If you buy a Ford with all the electronic wonders of today, it will be outdated and passe’ in about 2 years. Then there will be the extra service visits to fix it, reprogram it, or what if the screen goes dead? Then you’ve got no heat until you get it fixed.

My new cars will not have the high tech stuff if I can avoid it.

I am old, 68, and I am still a geek, and proud of it. I started on microprocessors in 1974. I worked over 30 years on complex systems which had ‘self-test’ systems of the same sort as OBDII, so I know what they are doing. I took an ICS course in COBOL after I retired, not because I had any need, but I had always heard about it and wanted to know what it was like. I have used Linux on my computers since 1999. I taught an engineering student here in Mexico, Linux so she could do her thesis and get her diploma, when I was in my 60’s.

But, I have problems at times. I go to someone’s house and they have satellite and I have no idea how to turn that sucker on, and get the channel I want. Because I am old and it is too complicated? No, because I have no idea how it is connected. If I wired it up, I’d know forever how to run it.

When people get a short course in a system or device, any device or system, and use it regularly, they become quite expert on it. To walk into a system which is different from any you have ever used it, then three days later, never see it again, does not make for expert use.

If I bought a Ford with that system, I’d learn how to use it. If I rent a car with that system, it will be a nuisance because it will be a one-shot use, not worth learning for a short rental.

Unfortunately I wasn’t very clear in my orginal post.

Here’s what I’m really after (I wasn’t looking for a discussion on driving distractions or general technological change - a lot of these comments relate to any touch screen or change in general): Ford isn’t the first manufacturer to use touch screen technology (as an aside a friend of mine purchased a 2008 Honda CRV and when she was test driving the vehicle she couldn’t figure out how to turn on and adjust the air conditioning. Her son in law (a computer guy) figured it out and showed her how. Eight months later she’s very happy with her purchase).

Why does CR single out Ford for their system? Why not criticize Honda for their touch screen (or any other manufacturer that uses touch screens)? Or did CR issue a general “touch screen” concern and I just missed it?

It seems to me that CR was critical of something called the I-Drive system (or something like that). I don’t remember if it was on the Audi, BMW, or Mercedes Benz. This isn’t a “touch screen” as I understand it, but it seemed to be a distraction for the driver.

Ah yes…The infamous i-drive system that was in BMWs for awhile. It was lambasted in the auto press, particularly when it was new, because it made the simplest things needlessly complicated, and distracting. After a year or so BMW put the day to day things back on the dash and left the i-drive to the seldom-used adjustments (I think). I can’t imagine why any sane person would want to go through a distractive computer interface to adjust the HVAC and radio settings in a car!

Great post on the dangers of texting while driving. Former American Idol champion Jordin Sparks and the Jonas Brothers are working together in a campaign called “X the TXT” aimed at curbing distracted teen driving deaths. For more information on the program visit Allstate Insurance Digital Newsroom.

I am older (over 50)…but also very technical (Software engineering Manager).

I too have a problem with TOO much technology to distract the driver from what they are suppose to be doing (i.e. driving the car in a safe manor).

“I’m a Consumer Reports subscriber, although I used to hate their automotive reviews.
I changed my mind after reading about how they conduct their tests. I don’t always agree with them, but they are usually fair and unbiased, and I’ve come to trust their reviews.”

That’s a good point. A visit to their facility is worth while too if you live in the area.