Test Driving MyFord Touch

Mari Silbey —  December 6, 2010

Let me preface this post by saying I’ve never been big into cars. Give me something that’s reliable, preferably with a stick shift, and I’m good to go. However, the advent of GPS, mobile broadband, and digital radio systems have had an effect. I may never care a great deal about horsepower, but I am now paying closer attention to add-on car tech features.

Last month, I indulged in a demo “ride” with the MyFord Touch system at a New York Pepcom event. The system was introduced at CES last January, but Ford only started shipping product with the 2011 models of the Ford Edge, and the Ford Lincoln MKX. The demo is stunning. Three beautiful displays grace the dashboard, two on each side of the speedometer in front of the steering wheel, and one larger one in between the driver and passenger seats. There are four main functions supported: entertainment, navigation, phone, and climate. The functions are color-coded for easy identification, and accessible via the touch screens or by voice command.

In case you’re wondering, yes, the screens look like they could be quite distracting while driving, but as Consumer Reports pointed out, the ability to control functions just by talking to your car could mitigate the problem. In the test I saw, a voice command to find nearby shoe stores did bring up a good list of options, though the response time was a little slow. I have to admit I’m also not convinced that voice control solves everything given how temptingly attractive the screens are, but since most people are already playing with smartphones and GPS units, I supposed this isn’t any different.

The big plus in my mind with the MyFord Touch is the ability to plug in a USB mobile broadband stick and create a traveling Wi-Fi hotspot. If you’re already paying for mobile broadband, why not give the wireless benefit to everyone in the car? Not to mention all your own connected devices? Sure, you could buy your own mobile hotspot device, but MyFord Touch bundles it in, and it’s a great option for anyone who spends a lot of time in the car with Wi-Fi-hungry family, friends, or colleagues.

I’m not buying a new car any time soon, but when I do get around to it again, I hope there are more connected cars available. The number of gadgets piling up in my front seat – music player, GPS, smartphone – is starting to get a little unwieldy.

8 responses to Test Driving MyFord Touch

  1. Hm, is this the Microsoft stuff?

  2. MS? Yes, but that’s a bit like saying TiVo is Linux. The MS software is the underlying system, which the two Ford systems are built on top of.

    The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree I suppose, they’ve just released their first “service pack” (TSB) for MyFordTouch.

  3. Ah, I thought they provided more of the platform and skin and that Ford has just licensed and branded it. I’ve seen ‘Ford Sync’ at a few events, but like Mari don’t usually pay too close attention. I think I read Kia was doing something with MS, too.

  4. Marge Geneverra December 6, 2010 at 9:06 pm

    I’ve always thought that putting a screen like this in a car within view and reach of the driver was a safety hazard. I’m surprised that it’s legal. We’ll see after it gets used a while.

    A simple GPS is one thing, however Internet access and all the distractions that comes with it is entirely another.

    It’s bad enough to deal with drivers texting and talking on cell phones, now we’ll have to avoid people web browsing, updating Facebook, watching video & whatever else!

  5. My dad has the LCD-screen version of the Sync (the one Ford came out with just before this MyFord Touch. I have the more simple, Sync version and LOVE it. It’s not without it’s negatives, but overall Ford (and Microsoft) have done a great job with their Sync and now MyFord Touch technology.

  6. @Marge

    Actually, tech like this is a lot safer because most of it is voice-activated and specifically designed to minimize distraction. By incorporating controls for radio, navigation, and phone into the steering wheel, the driver doesn’t have to take their eyes off the road or rummage around for their phone.

    All that said though, until we have fully automated self-driving cars people will always find a way to use them improperly and all the tech in the world won’t make a bad driver good.

  7. I actually do care about cars, but honestly the tech in them is more important to me these days that a lot of the other stuff. Any car maker that isn’t keeping their tech as up to date as possible these days is losing customers. Even my wife who isn’t exactly a tech geek notices this stuff. She has an older Toyota Rav4 and probably won’t update to the new one because the tech package is so anemic.

    Ford is doing some good stuff here.