By on June 25, 2011

In a nod to the aging population, Ford will make the font thicker and bolder in the interiors of its Ford Edge and Ford Explorer with the 2012 model year. “The company has plans to expand (literally) this effort into other models in the coming years,” reports the Wall Street Journal.

“Today, aging consumers are of great interest to companies including Ford. For the first time, people age 65 and over will outnumber children under the age of 5. It’s a transformation that’s changing the world, along with all kinds of products in it,” Ford writes in a statement.

Therefore, the blue oval wants to make it “easier for people of all ages, particularly aging baby boomers, to read display fonts.”

Now, let’s see what they do to the fine print.

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33 Comments on “If You Can Read This, Buy One...”


  • avatar
    supremebrougham

    That’s funny, but not the first time an automaker has tried this. I recently acquired a rather mint 1995 Buick LeSabre Limited. This was a year that Buick brought out a new sound system design, and one of the features of it was the extra-large display on it, made to help people, especially it’s older clientele, see it!

    I have to say, it is easy to read at a glance :)

  • avatar
    aircooledTOM

    It’s aging, not ageing… Damn Germans. I’m 30 and I prefer easy to read displays– having to concentrate and focus (and take your attention off of driving) to read the time on the radio is dangerous.

  • avatar
    Philosophil

    “Now, let’s see what they do to the fine print.”

    That little comment conjured up so many images, Bertel. Well done.

    In all seriousness though, while this may seem like a trivial thing, companies that ignore the real physical limitations and needs of aging Boomers, at least some of their designs (and not just with premium choices like Honda and Toyota have done with the Crossover and Venza), will likely miss a very large boat.

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    some other suggestions:

    Variable volume interior warning sounds. If the turn signal clicker was as loud as the seat belt warning alarm –

    Simple, easy to use entertainment systems. Not all of us need to micromanage everything everywhere constantly.

    Dash light dimmers that dim ALL the dash lights. Having the hi beam indicator shining like a spotlight on a dark background sucks!!!!

    More visability. Meaning more glass, not less.

    Thank You. (takes a small bow)

    • 0 avatar
      jimmyy

      some other suggestions:

      Lexus.

      Acura.

      Toyota.

      Honda.

      Thank You. (takes a small bow)

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      jerseydevil: I couldn’t agree more with your comment about the dimming lights. Maybe the check engine light and brake malfunction light can stay full bright but all other indicator lights should dim with the cluster lighting. And unless I didn’t notice, no Toyota I’ve ever been in (or any other car) had dimming highbeam or warning lights…

    • 0 avatar
      M 1

      All dash indicators dim on my Suburban, my wife’s Solstice, and most of the other American and German products I’ve owned in the past few years.

      My Suburban lets you alter the chime volume (or mute it). I’m pretty sure I saw it on the menu in my wife’s Solstice.

      If you want a simple “entertainment system” buy the base model stereo. I personally want mine to do a whole bunch of shit, given what they charge me. And this is 2011, I want decent graphics. My god, the touch-screen in my Suburban looks like it was designed by a laid-off mainframe programmer from the 80s.

  • avatar
    jimmyy

    Ford’s only hope is that JD Powers quality report is small print, else the old folks will not buy Ford.

    Ford, you quality appears to be another smear Detroit. No suprise. That is what happens when you waste your money on union packages. No money left to build a good product. Better brace yourself when Consumer Reports releases it’s results. It will not be pretty.

    So many unfortunate people got sucked into buying a new Ford recently. Many of these sales were the result of the Ford marketing machine telling us Ford quality is Toyota and Honda like. JD Powers shows that was not true. I can smell the lawyers getting the class action suits ready. Ford, you had better fix those transmissions and car computers before the lawyers push you into bankruptcy.

    • 0 avatar
      windswords

      jimmyy,jimmyy, jimmyy. Although I’m not a big time Ford fan (I have only owned two in life) I would not take your position. Ford’s major problem is a buggy computer interface, which they are addressing. You wave the JDP results like they are a survey about reliability or something (they are not, they are about customers perceptions of their purchase). Since this survey dings you for a radio that’s hard to figure out how to operate I don’t think Ford is in any kind of trouble. They will address this issue. If you think that Ford has to brace itself for CR’s next review then I guess you have to say that CR was wrong about Ford in the first place since they recommended so many Fords.

  • avatar
    PenguinBoy

    I think this has been going on for a while – not just with Fords, and not just with lettering.

    I suspect that big chunky door handles are meant to be easier for aging hands to grasp.

    I also suspect that the trend towards higher vehicles is driven at least in part by a desire to make ingress and egress easier for older folks. Yesterday I parked my Subaru wagon between an early ’80s Imperial (“big” RWD model: http://www.allpar.com/cars/imperial/1981.html) and a brand new Yaris hatch. It was interesting that the Subaru towered over the Imperial, and the subcompact Yaris towered over them both!

    I wonder to what extent the aging population accounts for the popularity of Crossovers? My late mother in law liked her minivan back in the day as it was easy for her to get in and out of. I wouldn’t be surprised if aging baby boomers like minivans for the same reason – but don’t want to be seen in one…

    • 0 avatar
      jimmyy

      I like the crossover. It does not handle as well as station wagons I had in the past. But, it has a huge advantage in the heavy traffic on the coasts. You can see ahead and spot problems ahead. Just recently, I was in the fast lane, and saw a problem and got out the way. The result is I avoided an accident. Secondly, the crossover has a lower death rate in accidents than the station wagon.

  • avatar
    Z71_Silvy

    Wait a minute. Ford said there was not going to be any more elderly people and that was why the Panthers went away.

    Putting Ford’s never ending short-sightedness aside (no pun intended), the best thing they can do is scrap the MyFord Touchy system that is the most complicated, buggy, dangerous pile of electronic garbage the industry has seen and bring back knobs and dials. There are people that want a loaded Edge or Explorer out there that DO NOT want that garbage.

    • 0 avatar
      PintoFan

      “”the most complicated, buggy, dangerous pile of electronic garbage the industry has seen
      Surely you must be referencing Tuned Port Injection? Ör maybe the voice-command system in the Toronado/Trofeo? Or the Reatta’s touch screen?

      I’ve seen enough of your posts to know that you will make a negative comment on any article remotely related to Ford, but it doesn’t make your own oversights any less amusing.

    • 0 avatar
      MikeAR

      Silvy, your second paragraph, I actually agree with it. You’re right there are lots of customers who don’t want stuff like that in any car they might buy.

      • 0 avatar
        NulloModo

        Sometimes people don’t want to be dragged into the future, or even present, and resist it kicking and screaming. To that end the 2012 Explorer and 2012 Edge have new packages that allow for leather, double sunroofs or vista roofs, power liftgates, and other premium features paired with the basic Sync setup instead of the full MyFord Touch.

      • 0 avatar
        jimmyy

        dragged into the future, or even the present with a 2012 Explorer or Edge? I think the Explorer ranked last place in Motor Trends crossover test, while Edge and Explorer tied for last place in Consumer Reports crossover testing. Ford will have a tough time dragging people into dealerships when customers become aware of last place awards from Motor Trend and Consumer Reports. Ford’s 23rd place showing in JD Powers really helps the Ford story. If I was the Ford board of directors, I would be looking for some new executive talant. Ford had better hope the fleet sales hold up.

      • 0 avatar
        NulloModo

        CR tends to reward conservative automotive design. Ford has taken a chance with MyFord Touch, and while it isn’t perfect yet, it does a lot of things better than any other system on the market.

        The Motortrend review was a hatchet job based on a preproduction unit, the actual Consumer Reports road test was fairly positive, and the lack of recommended rating was officially just because it’s too new. There have been no reliability concerns with the vehicle, and once the MyFord Touch is polished up there’s no reason it won’t be recommended.

        Also, both the Explorer and Edge sell extremely well, so, there goes that argument about people staying away from the dealerships.

        The first gen Prius has been subject to a number of recalls, yet no one would say that it wasn’t a landmark vehicle. It takes balls to push the technological envelope and to challenge the way people think of vehicles and how they operate. I’d rather see Detroit take these kinds of risks, even if the first iteration isn’t perfect, than just follow a step behind what the Japanese and Germans do. The first hybrids, automatic transmissions, in-car air conditioners, and even car radios were all technological oddities that not everyone was comfortable with at first, and now look at how far they have all come.

      • 0 avatar
        Z71_Silvy

        Sometimes people don’t want to be dragged into the future, or even present, and resist it kicking and screaming.

        Gotta love Ford’s “blame the customer” mentality.

        It’s the customers fault that MyFord Touchy was terribly designed.

        It’s the customers fault that the Mustang manual is garbage

        It’s the customers fault that the Powershift Transmission is garbage

        And on, and on, and on……

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Wait a minute…

    I’ve heard this tune/seen this movie before – does that mean Ford is moving forward to the nice, large radio buttons our 1984 Chrysler E-Class had? Yaaaay!

    The way cars are going, if you can’t see out the windows on so many new cars, I suppose you may as well be able to see inside the vehicle!

    That’s important for me, all kidding aside, as I only have one good eye – legally blind in my left.

    Any progress is welcome at this point, even if it means looking in the rearview mirror of what came before. ‘Bout time, too.

  • avatar
    panzerfaust

    Auto manufacturer’s are adding throwaway technology that is for the most part useless/unusable to give the impression of greater content in the vehicle. Most of it is obsolete before the owner learns how to use it all. I don’t think its a sign of old age that people are fed up with having to peck through software menus wherever they turn to accomplish what would otherwise be mundane tasks. My 92 year old mother gets around pretty well in her 2008 Cobalt, but the radio is absurd, not because its hard to see or complicated but that it makes the operation LESS intuitive, which is what I thought graphic interfaces were for.

  • avatar
    PintoFan

    This all goes back to what I said yesterday: That all of the “problems” with MyFordTouch aren’t really problems at all but just the foibles of people who can’t handle simple technology. Complaining about MyFordTouch is the equivalent of buying a stick shift, not knowing how to work a clutch, and then complaining bitterly that the manufacturer screwed you because the ïnterface”(the clutch) was too hard to use.

    • 0 avatar
      jimmyy

      What a ruse. Ford fanboys are screaming MyTouch is the problem. They are hoping that, if they scream MyTouch long enough, you might not look any deeper into Ford’s quality problems. You might think you avoid problems just by purchasing a new Ford without MyTouch.

      However, if you don’t fall for this trick, and you look a little deeper, you will find all kinds of Ford transmission problems. This is the real problem that is a deal killer. For example:

      Mustang manual transmission problems ( 2011 )
      Fusion 6 speed automatic transmission problems ( 2010 )
      Fiesta automatic transmission complaints ( 2011 )
      Focus automatic transmission complaints ( 2011 )

      In fact, I read NHTSA has complaints about the so called Fiesta transmission, and this is the same transmission in the new Focus.

      Be careful.

      • 0 avatar
        jimmyy

        Mistake in the above post. Focus complaints are on the 2012 with the auto transmission, not the 2011 as I stated above.

      • 0 avatar
        NulloModo

        The Fusion trans concerns were taken care of a long time ago. While there were a small number of Fiestas with actual transmission software problems, the vast majority of Fiesta transmission issues weren’t related to the transmission itself, but the ground wire contact, which has a quick, easy, and permanent fix. With the Focus a couple of the review units had problems working on the older software that the original Fiesta had, and I suppose it’s possible a couple made it into customers hands, but those are few and far between, overall the transmission in the 2012 Focus has been extremely reliable.

  • avatar
    James2

    @PintoFan

    It may be simple technology, but if the execution sucks… then it sucks, regardless of the intelligence of the people trying to operate it. Case in point, I have a Creative Zen MP3 player that tries to mimic the Apple iPod Touch. It does so… horribly. It’s a hastily designed touch technology overlayed on an interface not designed for touch interfaces.

    I have not tried MyFordTouch but I get the sense that Ford rushed it into service in order to stay ahead of the pack. They know they have a good cash cow in the form of Sync and they want to keep milking it.

  • avatar
    ajla

    More SmartGauge, less MyTouch.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      Part of the MyFord Touch system is actually incredibly similar to SmartGauge. The LCDs flanking the speedo in MyFord Touch are pretty much an evolution of SmartGauge, but designed for non-hybrids. The left LCD let’s the driver access configuration menus easily as well as decide how munch info (fuel level only, fuel + tach, or fuel + tach + temp) that they want to see, while the right gauge is very handy in that it shows what’s on the radio without having to look far off the road, the caller ID when a call comes in through Sync, or the next turn with distance and road name when a navigation route is active (sort of like what Porsche does with their gauge based nav system).

      The rest of the MyFord Touch system is easy to use via the voice commands if you take the time to learn (which really isn’t much if you block off an hour or so to just play with it, hardly any time at all when you consider how much time you’ll spend in your car over the ownership period).

      The big usability issue is the delay between screens when giving commands, and the occasional freezes, which are both already getting better, and should be fixed completely by the total rewrite.

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