By on June 20, 2011

On Thursday, the J.D. Power and Associates’ initial quality study will be published. If you pay the hefty fees J.D. Power charges, you get an advance copy, along with much more data than just the list J.D. Power releases to the public.  Last year, Ford ranked highest among all non-luxury brands. It looks like someone is softening the blow that could come from a big drop down the rankings.

According to a report in the Freep, customers have voiced their frustrations with  Ford’s MyTouch in-car technology system. Some call it distracting and complicated. A new PowerShift transmission, available on the Fiesta and Focus, is sometimes called “jerky and unpredictable,” especially at low speeds. Some customers have voiced their frustration with NTHSA.

“I have taken my 2011 Fiesta in at least six times,” one Fiesta owner complained to NHTSA. “On the freeway, the car will shift up and down randomly, to the point that it sounds like the engine will explode.”

Ford spokesman Richard Truett admitted “a few minor teething problems that affected shift quality. But those have long been rectified.”

Major revisions are also under development for Ford MyTouch.

What could help Ford maintain its lofty ranking: “All automakers are struggling with rising consumer expectations as all the connectivity consumers use at home or in offices now migrates into the car,” says the Freep.  “Solving their problems with in-vehicle wireless service requires working with phone makers, software companies and social network businesses whose products have quality challenges of their own.”

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

46 Comments on “MyTouch Could Sink Ford – On The J.D. Power Ranking...”


  • avatar
    Tortoiseme

    Its also sinking their Consumers Reports rankings too, to the point that certain models fall below the ‘recommended’ score level.

    All they need now is a government nanny agency to voice their concern over technology in cars and Ford will rue the day ….. wait, oh. Nevermind.

    • 0 avatar
      sss92806

      Ford has clearly lost FOCUS on quality. With MyTouch review to rash of recalls for engine fire, customer is running like MUSTANG to other makes. The FUSION of technologies rushed to market is making EXPLORERs out of customer. No wonder Ford is losing its EDGE to other competitors. Qality is definitely not job 1. I’d give it a F 150 times. Ford = Frying Or Roasting Deathtrap.

      Regards,

      TAURUS

  • avatar
    ExPatBrit

    It seems like every electronic product I own seems to want to update itself on almost a weekly basis.

    I thought it was a convenience, but these little 5-10 minute downloads for my phone,MP3 player, computer, blue-ray player, GPS etc get a little annoying after a while.

    One reason to stay away from this type of electronics in a car, or airplane.

  • avatar

    I was looking for a new car for some time now, waiting for the 2012 Focus to be available.
    A month ago I took a test drive of the new Focus, I had the car for myself for a half hour, I really liked it but the A/T was driving me nuts and I said to myself, if this is how it goes after half an hour, this car is not for me.
    Back in 2006 I bought a new Mazda3 hatch, I put 66k miles on it and loved every minute, I said to myself, why mess with success? and took a 2011 Mazda 3 hatch, also in Black Mica, 2.5 liter engine and an A/T that is a blast to use, I put 600 miles on it and it’s a real joy.

    • 0 avatar
      sitting@home

      My wife test drove the Fiesta when she was looking for a new car this year. She normally doesn’t care about anything mechanical with cars, the color and looks are way more important to her, but ten minutes with the herky-jerky transmission killed any prospect of a sale no matter how cute she thought the car looked.

      • 0 avatar
        ciddyguy

        I don’t know if the car I drove was a fluke or what but last summer I drove the Fiesta shortly after it came out with the transmission and didn’t notice any problems with shifting, but then again, I came from driving a stick shift truck so that may explain it.

        I liked the automatic in the Fiesta over the Fit however.

      • 0 avatar
        NulloModo

        Ciddy –

        It wasn’t a fluke, most are fine. The only real common (and even common shouldn’t be interpreted as effecting the majority of the cars) Fiesta transmission bug is the ground wire issue.

        The Powershift does feel a bit different than a traditional torque-converter automatic, but I notice the difference mainly as the presence of engine braking when downshifting, not as hard shifts.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      All of Ford’s 6 speed transmissions have adaptive learning software. As you drive the vehicle learns your patterns and adjusts the shift points and behavior to anticipate what you want, and give you a smoother experience. The later Fiestas also come with better software out of the factory, and are smoother from the get-go.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        IMO, it would have been a better call to just incorporate a +/- shift gate or a “Sport” mode over the adaptive learning system.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        Yup, It seems to me they need to make sure they need to develop a trans learning drive cycle that can be done in say 5 miles. then make sure it is done on every vehicle, either they do it themselves or make sure the dealer does it before a vehicle is used for a test drive or delivered.

      • 0 avatar
        NulloModo

        Ajla –

        I agree that the rocker-switch on the side of the shifter isn’t the best means of using the manual shift modes. On the other hand, the Taurus comes standard with paddle shifters on most trims, and the most common question I get from customers about the car is ‘what are those?’ and when I explain the function the most common response is ‘why the hell would I ever use that?’. The last three cars I’ve owned have had the a separate +/- shift gate off to the side of the regular PRNDL, and aside from playing with it a bit the first week I’ve had each car, I’ve never used it again. Ford offers the feature because they have to as a bullet point to be competitive, but in my experience hardly anyone ever actually uses that feature in any car. The 2012 Focus does have a Sport Mode with the right packages.

        Scoutdude-

        That would defeat the purpose of the learning transmission. My driving style might be very different from yours, which might be very different from the tech who takes the car on it’s shake-down drive. Five miles also might be a bit slim, as with test drives, dealer trades, etc, the average new car can have anywhere from around 10 to 200 miles on the odometer when it’s sold.

        I do think that the initial program could be a bit more even handed, and the rough shifts can mostly be attributed to poorly developed firmware in the first built cars (mainly on the Fiesta, the transmission setup was pretty much set for the Focus release). As far as the press cars go and the complaints that the shifting didn’t go the way they expected, I have a feeling that has a lot to do with the erratic life led by most press cars. With long term loaners, and press cars that get used for long distance real world loops next to hard driven track tests, I’m sure the car thinks the driver is pretty schizophrenic in the demands being made of the transmission.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        Developing a proper learning drive and doing it doesn’t not defeat the purpose. While it is influenced the driving style it’s primary purpose is to learn how those particular components as installed in that car interact and wear together. So developing a quick learning drive that fill in a few of the cells in the table and a good algorithm to interpolate until the data counts fill in in the other cells.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        @Nullo:

        I must be way outside the norm then. I use the +/- gate or paddle shifters with decent regularity. On the Regal and Outlander Sport I pretty much used “manual mode” 100% of the time.

      • 0 avatar
        Felis Concolor

        This is the primary reason Apple’s Newton failed in the big box retail market: hundreds (on weekends: thousands) of customers scribbling on the touch screen every single day, each with a unique form of handwritten input, drove the adaptive software nuts. Even with a morning reset (whenever I was on duty) from the secretive diagnostics menu, the demonstrator units ended up on a 3-month replacement cycle as their recognition software would eventually stop responding. And an unresponsive proto-PDA is not going to sell, especially at Apple’s traditional high price point.

        It was that experience which left me unsurprised when the first reports of “schizophrenic” Ford transmissions surfaced: I’ve been there before. The underlying concept is sound, but I’m certain it wasn’t ready to simultaneously adapt to every single driver.

  • avatar
    OldandSlow

    MyTouch is perfect for folks who’d rather do something else than concentrate on their driving, such as yak on the phone.

    I haven’t sampled the Fiesta – but I got a taste of My Ford Touch on an Edge. Integrating multiple controls and info readouts via what used to be the entertainment system is a way busier approach than reaching over towards the center stack to make adjustment via a rotary knobs or push buttons.

    I know there are bragging rights with regards to having a central control interface that resembles those on a cell phone – but trust me I don’t need to be cursoring up and down through menu options – while I am driving in heavy traffic, period. It isn’t as bad as texting while driving, but it is close.

    The need to bring your vehicle in to the Ford dealer in order to reflash the ECU has been with us for a while – mainly due to Ford’s practice of Beta testing of their auto transmission shift points after the sale.

  • avatar
    Sinistermisterman

    No mention of the 2011 manual 6-speed ‘Stang transmission regularly grenading itself… from all accounts it’s still an ongoing issue with little help from Ford.

  • avatar
    Z71_Silvy

    With the vast amount of mis-steps Ford has had recently, the MyFord Touchy thingy is the worst. It’s very buggy, laggy and not -at all- intuitive to use. You could just call it the MyFord iDrive.

    That kind of complication/aggravation has no place in an automobile.

    Hell, even Chrysler gets a MUCH more positive rating with their infotainment system than Ford does.

    This is what happens when you get extremely arrogant and think you can do no wrong. Ford’s quality numbers belong at the bottom of the barrel…and hopefully it will be enough to wake Ford up and actually do something about it…rather than do their usual…which is nothing.

  • avatar
    fendertweed

    as long as mfrs. continue to make their cars/vehicles like video games/toys and not like driving machines, they will lose my business and interest.

    the Focus just went from near the top of my interest list for next purchase to not-even-in-the-running, it sounds like….

    cut the video game crap already …. the last thing we need are more distractions for the largely incompetent drivers on American roads!

    take the time & $$ you spend on the video garbage and put it into making a good transmission.

  • avatar
    umterp85

    The one thing that is left unsaid is that if you don’t want My Ford Touch—-don’t get it. Most Ford models can be had without the system as it is an higher trim option—-even on the Explorer.

    • 0 avatar
      srogers

      You’re being far too rational.

      What you want to do is to moan and bitch about the technology, then gasp in horror at what the fully loaded model costs – even though it includes options that you would never choose for yourself.

      The final step to making a proper post is to refer to the “perfect” car that you drove back in your prime and how it will never be equalled by today’s appliances.

      • 0 avatar
        BuzzDog

        Seriously. I mean, everyone should drive a car as perfect as my first one, a 1974 Ford Maverick. None of that “MyTouch” crap to dilute the pure driving experience, and the non-power steering and drum brakes saved me tons of money, as I was able to forgo a gym membership.

        Come to think of it, the non-power steering and drum brakes saved me tons of money that I would have normally spent in theme parks, as well. With thrills like that, who needs a tilt-a-whirl?

    • 0 avatar
      Z71_Silvy

      Go build me an Edge/Explorer Limited or a Focus Titanium (why they didn’t call it Limited is another bone head marketing move) WITHOUT the Ford iDrive system…it can’t be done.

  • avatar
    whisperquiet

    I am a 56 year old Luddite who prefers simple and uncomplicated (KISS–keep it simple stupid) to the now preferred method of operation—-make it as complicated as possible. My ’07 Honda CRV is as simple as it gets and I like it that way.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      All these electronic interfaces may be the wave of the future but I, too, prefer a method of transportation without unnecessary complications. While traveling with my young nephew driving his new 2011 Focus I noticed that all he did for more than 90 miles on US54 was dick around with the electronics in the car to try to get it to do what he wanted it to do (play music, call home, etc). That’s just not conducive to safer operation of your vehicle if you are preoccupied with screwing around with an electronic interface. Had this not been a four-lane highway we would have run off the road whenever he took his eyes off the road to dick around with the electronics.

  • avatar
    SV

    Personally I’m very interested in the new Focus, but will be holding off on buying one for two years or so – I’ve only had my Mazda3 for 3 years now and can’t justify a new car. But when I do start seriously looking at one, I’m going for an SE manual – thus avoiding the Powershift and MyFord Touch issues. Although I’m also confident that both features will have the bugs ironed out of them in a year or two.

  • avatar
    Forty2

    This is an easy-enough thing to avoid, especially on the lower-end models.

    I rented a new Edge last month and found the MyTouch to be completely confounding. After five days I finally figured out how to select a specific playlist on my ipod. But I wouldn’t expect less from a Microsoft product. Even the $100 Kenwood head unit in both my cars has a better ipod control system UI than this bloated, slow, buggy POS.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      If you were finding it difficult you were probably skipping the easiest way to do it. The voice commands are the best way to use the iPod control – just say ‘USB’ then ‘Play Playlist *name of the playlist*’.

      Here is a video demonstrating the same feature by song name:

      http://www.ford.com/technology/sync//features/#page=Feature11

      This is just Sync, but Sync is a subset of MyFord Touch. Any voice command that works with Sync, also works with MyFord Touch.

      • 0 avatar
        BuzzDog

        +1. I rarely get Fords as a rental car, but when I do I’m amazed at how easy it is to use Sync or MyTouch with my iPhone and/or iPod. And when traveling in California, having hands-free is a definite plus.

      • 0 avatar
        Dynasty

        Maybe the buying public at large is not ready for a car that you talk to.

        I’m not sure about everybody else, but cars you can talk to need to be relegated to 1980s TV shows like Knight Rider.

        Until technology evolves to the point of looking humanoid, people are going to prefer buttons and knobs to voice commands.

    • 0 avatar
      MrKiwi

      The MyTouch doesn’t worry me so much – as you say, leave it out. I’m more concerned about the A/T and the possibility of that having problems down the line. Unfortunately, due to a significant other who can’t drive a manual tranny, this isn’t an option. More unfortunately, I may have to purchase a car much sooner than I’d thought, as my old Camry seems to have suddenly decided it’s going to give up after a mere 181k miles and 11 years.

      The 2012 Focus was high on my list for a test drive, but now I may be looking for a lightly used Fusion (which I’ve had as a rental and liked more than the Sonata / Accord / Altima). I’d really rather wait another year or two until the Focus has its bugs ironed out / the new Fusion comes out, but the Camry may make that an impossible option.

      • 0 avatar
        WRohrl

        The ONE thing that bugs me about Fords such as the Fusion and most American cars is the simple fact that to do a quick windshield wipe you have to REMOVE your hand from the wheel to twist the wiper stalk. All Japanese cars that I am aware of (and the one I drive) let you just tap the stalk up a little bit with a finger to get it to wipe. Really annoying in a very light drizzle such as we sometimes get here in CO.

      • 0 avatar
        bizzarodave

        I own a 2012 5 Door SE with the 6AT, and I see in your story my exact situation. I previously owned a 2003 3 door manual, but when it came time for the new car my Wife absolutely needed it to be an auto like the care we were trading in.

        Having now owned my car for 8 weeks, I can report that while it is *very* occasionally the slightest bit rough at idle, the transmission shifts smoothly, precisely, and in no way detracts from the vehicle’s excellent driving dynamics. I have noticed that when my wife is driving and doesn’t apply linear throttle, it does jump for a moment while deciding what gear she wants, as any auto would.

        As to the adaptive period, when we went to test drive the car it had 17 miles on it, so it only had its post-factory shakedown and testing and no previous drivers. Even then the transmission was excellent, despite having no data to draw on other than atypical break-in testing.

        I absolutely love my focus, and can wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone considering it. It’s a joy to drive, and very practical to live with.

  • avatar

    Uconnect touch is better. Ford really screwed up changing the interface.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      The Uconnect system has a simpler interface, but it doesn’t do as much, and the voice commands aren’t nearly as robust. The biggest problems with MyFord Touch are the lags between screens (which are getting better with each release, but still a bit much) and the name – having Touch in the name makes everyone think it should be used primarily through the touch interface.

      The Touch system is there to set deep settings and preferences when you aren’t moving. 90% of the functions are easier and quicker to access via voice command, which is where the system (like Sync) is better than anything else on the market.

      Is it distracting to try to hit small icons while driving? Of course, that’s why you shouldn’t do it. Take the time to run the tutorial or read the manual and learn the basic voice commands and you won’t ever have to worry about it. Voice recognition is excellent ‘out of the box’ and gets better with time thanks to the learning feature that adapts to you the more you use it.

  • avatar
    jj99

    I warned all about the Ford story. I have a 08 Ford in my driveway that continues to need repairs, constantly. My Toyota and Honda are perfect. Finally, everyone else is beginning to feel the same Ford pain as I.

    Then, another Ford product had a problem that put my daughter at risk. And, I found complaints all over the web. Simple windshield wiper relay. My daugher got stuck in a thunderstorm on a fast freeway when that went out. Almost crash at a high speed. If Ford would have come clean on that one, I would have paid to have it fixed myself. That was a mid 2000s Taurus.

  • avatar
    Joss

    Just test drove a 2012 Focus this past Saturday. I didn’t notice any unusual shifting. I did find My Ford a bit daunting – seemed too many menus to press through. Later I followed the same circuit (mixed highway/industrial park) in a 2011 Sentra SER. The Sentra is not as attractive as the 2012 Focus. On the highway I noticed SER’s 2.5 was turning at lower RPM’s @70 than with Ford’s dual clutch. The sport tuned suspension on Sentra felt smoother and less busy than the sport Focus package.

    I’ve heard from the APA Nissan’s quality has been slipping. With a spike past 2-3 years in oxygen sensor and a/c failures.

  • avatar
    MadHungarian

    The moment I saw that MyTouch screen, I immediately flashed back to the 1980′s Buick Graphic Control Center — which was abandoned after a couple years in favor of the traditional buttons and knobs. I also remember being in GM dealership service departments in the late 80′s when owners brought in cars that had sustained a complete failure of the GCC module. When that screen goes dead you lose everything it controls. Lovely in the winter when you just want a little heat. Maybe the new ones are more reliable, but some of them will fail, and 15 years from now cars will be junked just because of the cost of replacing the doggone thing– if you can get the parts that is.

  • avatar
    fendertweed

    think I’ll be keeping my ’09 Subaru Outback a long time, lol …

  • avatar
    ciddyguy

    I think the biggest problem here is BRANDING and an emphasis on TOUCH at least through marketing, rather than emphasizing the VOICE recognition system and so many people think you HAVE to dink around with the touch screen when a simple voice command will do.

    That said, it seems some haven’t RTFM BEFORE getting in and driving and thus are DINKING around with it while driving.

    But in the end, I think electronics HAVE gotten too complex for most people not tech savvy as some of us are (I’m generally pretty good with mechanical/electronic stuff like this) as the engineers don’t think about the average Joe or Jane who tries tries to use such things as the My Touch or whatever as just because it’s easy for an engineer, it’s easy for everyone else, um, no.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    I enjoy the irony that Mercedes marketing is targeting people who know they’re incompetent and distracted drivers while Ford is trying to make unhappy customers feel that they’re to blame for Ford’s interfaces requiring a higher technical aptitude than a meaningful percentage of their customers possess. If you don’t like your new Ford it is because you’re a dummy!

  • avatar
    HoldenSSVSE

    I’ve had a few rentals with My Ford Touch in it. Until recently Ford products were my vehicle of choice at the rental counter because of driving dynamics (compared to other typical rental fare available) and Sync – which I adore.

    My Ford Touch visual interface is way over complicated. The text and graphics on the touch interface are too small to provide a micro second of a glance to get information; I shouldn’t have to study a screen to get the information I need. There is an intuitive level on the way the categories are broken into four sections, but latency in the system makes taking a quick glance impossible. Things like having a delay measured in seconds, not fractions of a second to change Sirius radio stations is just unacceptable. On longer term rentals I’ve experienced complete system crashes. The screen goes black, I get a message on the screen about doing “maintenance and updates” or something of the sort and about 90 seconds later I’m back in business – sort of. Driving on an interstate; annoying. Using the navigation system in urban corridors – out right frustrating. On one model it tried over and over and over and over again to Sync with a Microsoft based MP3 player; come on, the underlying technology is from Microsoft and all the goodness that was Sync is buried under an overly complicated and overly taxed system.

    I’m under the impression that Sync can be updated via a number of input sources; if that is the case there certainly is hope.

    I have not had a career in developing automotive human interfaces. But I have had a career in developing human interfaces for PCs, laptops, and mobile devices. Small print, excessive buttons, unclear information boundaries, deep navigational menus, and worst of all latency are all the kiss of death to a usable interface. Ford has committed all of these sins. Worst, the redundant manual controls on the upper end vehicles are an equal abomination.

    If the cars I had were my own I would likely be more familiar with the voice commands; but I found that not even those were very intuitive.

  • avatar
    PennSt8

    I finally had the opportunity to test drive a Focus Titanium with the handling package a few days ago, and before I took it out on the road I had a chance to play with MyTouch for at least 15 minutes……

    …..the version I laid my hands on worked flawlessly. I paired my iPhone with it, streamed bluetooth music with it, called up commands that the vehicle actually understood and was able to find items that weren’t buried in some god awfully confusing menu. All of that without lag or delay! This was the first time I actually had the opportunity to play around with the system and I was impressed.

    If you want something that is downright infuriating I strongly suggest some of you take a trip over to your local Audi dealer and behold the latest iteration of MMI. It’s awful! I-Drive is no better. Our ’11 535 has run into several issues where we’ve had a glowing orange screen that displays absolutely nothing, a navigation system that doesn’t like to be rushed to figure out which way it wants to go, it freezes, voice commands are a joke and important things are buried deep in an abyss that only someone with OCD would care to locate.

    Ford’s system may not be perfect, but I can’t think of any system from any other automaker that’s any better.

    Back to the Focus……my only complaint was the seating position, but even that wasn’t all that bad. Powershift seemed to work just fine IMO. This really struck me as a no compromise vehicle for the masses, with feature content and build quality that is basically unrivaled.

  • avatar
    sss92806

    Ford has clearly lost FOCUS on quality. With MyTouch review to rash of recalls for engine fire, customer is running like MUSTANG to other makes. The FUSION of technologies rushed to market is making EXPLORERs out of customer. No wonder Ford is losing its EDGE to other competitors. Qality is definitely not job 1. I’d give it a F 150 times. Ford = Frying Or Roasting Deathtrap.

    Regards,

    TAURUS


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Subscribe without commenting

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Authors

  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Faisal Ali Khan, India