By on October 28, 2014

Infiniti InTouch - Infiniti Q50

Consumer Reports released its Annual Reliability Survey for this year, focusing some of the attention on the woes experienced by a handful of infotainment systems.

According to the publication, the absolute worse of the pack in 2014 was Infiniti’s InTouch system in the new Q50, with over one in five owners wanting to take a crowbar to the whole thing. The brand itself took a beating, dropping 14 points to 20th out of 28 as a result of the Q50’s issues, as well as the overall reliability issues in the QX60. Other infotainment systems ironing out the bugs included Ford’s MyTouch, Honda’s HondaLink and Fiat Chrysler Automobile’s UConnect.

Concerning overall reliability, Lexus once again took the top of the podium, while Toyota and Mazda respectively brought home silver and bronze, and Honda finished in fourth. Buick, meanwhile, was the only brand among the Detroit Three to place in the top 10, jumping from 16th to sixth on the strength of its entire portfolio.

As for why the other Detroit brands failed to reach the top 10, Consumer Reports says domestic small and compact cars, along with full-size trucks, are holding everyone back. Tesla also didn’t make the list, but that was due to criteria than low quality: the publication only rates brands with a minimum of two models, a situation that will be remedied when the Model X rolls out next year.

Finally, Audi took fifth behind the Japanese makes, while Porsche took ninth ahead of Kia. BMW and Volvo remained within the top 20. Only Mercedes-Benz took a hit among the Europeans this year, falling 11 spots to 24th thanks to the new CLA and S classes.

The Consumer Reports 2014 reliability survey obtained its information from 1.1 million vehicles, the largest survey of its kind in the publication’s history.

consumer-reports-reliability-list-1

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

Recommended

91 Comments on “Consumer Reports: Infotainment System Woes Mark 2014 Reliability Survey...”


  • avatar
    petezeiss

    I’m a Luddite so I have to ask… are infotainment systems now so integrated with critical functions like heat/defrost that their malfunction can strand you?

    If not, why are they even mentioned in a survey about “reliability”?

    • 0 avatar
      insalted42

      I don’t think it’s so much about what would “strand you,” as it is about the general quality and reliability of all systems present in the car (not just the mechanical and oily bits). Most cars now, even most bargain-basement entry sub-compacts, have moderately complex entertainment and electrical systems whose malfunction would be a HUGE inconvenience, even if it didn’t physically restrict the car’s movement.

      For example, if the touch scree controls have a tendency to freeze when multitasking, that could mean that you have trouble adjusting the HVAC temperature whenever you’re listening to the radio. SO maybe you need to turn off the radio to change from Heat to Cool, or something. This could be endlessly annoying, especially considering most of these systems are options people are paying extra for.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      Some, yes. Ford’s system has all those controls going through the MFT system, so when it goes, it can take down everything else, even AC.

      “Reliability” quite simply means does the car (and the parts within the car) work the way they are supposed to. Just because something doesn’t strand you doesn’t mean it is reliable nor does it mean that its failure should not be counted against reliability.

      • 0 avatar
        petezeiss

        “Some, yes.”

        Crap, I was afraid of that.

        I guess I’ll just keep my own definition of reliability but remain cognizant that car jargon has morphed to include “needless fluff” when a younger person uses the same word.

        • 0 avatar
          kvndoom

          Acura TSX was a revelation for me. HVAC and radio were one piece. What a piece of junk.

          My rule after that was “if the radio isn’t awesome, then it HAS to be replaceable.” I’m not going to be stuck with a junk-ass radio ever again. It’s amazing how many cars got knocked off my list.

          I won’t buy a used car without a double DIN anymore, until the day comes there aren’t any decent ones to buy.

          It might not be important to some, but it’s damn important to ME.

          EDIT- my reply to Sporty got et by the machine.

          “I saw those (the MP3 kit, wasn’t it?), and briefly considered it. Then I thought too of how stupid it would look with a huge dead radio in my dash.

          As far as custom goes, if I have to spend a small fortune to do something that a $30 piece of plastic from Crutchfield can do in a different car, then I’m better off in a different car. Again, this is just what works for me. We all have our list of things that automatically disqualify a car.”

          • 0 avatar
            sportyaccordy

            There are TSX double din kits. You have to keep the crap stock radio up top and lose storage on the bottom but it’s doable, at least in the 1st gens.

            There are a lot of custom face radios too. Look up Eonon.

          • 0 avatar
            Fred

            Problem with the TSX Tech package is that if you want to replace the stereo you loose the hvac display. Of course if you get the base package then you don’t get options like backup camera and electric tailgate amongst other options.

          • 0 avatar
            JMII

            I agree with this logic but as mentioned its getting to be nearly impossible to find a car where HVAC is separate from the audio system. However my wife’s ’08 Volvo managed to integrate them to near perfection. Manly because it still uses BUTTONS instead of some silly touch screen. Heck the display looks like a Game Boy (black on grey) thus it even has better readability then these fancy colored screens.

      • 0 avatar
        Sgt Beavis

        I think they would serve people better splitting the ‘user experience’ off of reliability.

        For instance, the infotainment on those Infiniti cars simply doesn’t work in many cases. That is definitely a reliability issue. However, previous versions of the Ford myTouch system worked well but they were slow and cumbersome. That is a user experience.

        User experience can be a very measurable metric too. CR could time the response time of a system to each touch. It can measure how many touches are required to get to a certain function. They can tell how long the user must take their eyes off the road to use a function.. etc., etc.

        Both are VERY important to the customer but just generally labeling everything as ‘reliability’ can be misleading..

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    The whole “technological features” and electronics argument as a wholesale argument for poor showings in CR’s Reliability Ranking is a red herring that automakers faring poorly love to seize on as their excuse because it distracts from the very real, substantive, frequent issues with their transmissions, engines, and other core components.

    Lexus, Mazda, Toyota & Honda = Reliability Rock Stars.

    Lincoln is in Volkswagen territory.

    Ford at a dismal 23rd, especially given their constant talking about their quality.

    Hyundai & Kia are still middling, not being able to mount a serious challenge to Japanese reliability, despite the fact that they no longer hold any appreciable price advantage (in many cases having a price DISADVANTAGE now).

    Fiat dead last.

    Mercedes is sucking wind, as is Cadillac.

    • 0 avatar
      insalted42

      Upvote for saying what I was thinking.

    • 0 avatar
      petezeiss

      So CR’s leading with infotainment issues is colluding with the losers blowing smoke?

      If so I wouldn’t be surprised as I’ve found CR a tad suspect ever since their sudden infatuation with Subaru a couple years back.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        Pete, what is clear is that CR has written at length about the fact that as more technological components find their way into vehicle interiors, consumers are proportionately and increasingly voicing complaints with those systems (many of which didn’t even exist 5 or 8 years ago).

        What is also clear is that if you look at the actual detailed breakdown of the list of major components that CR tracks for short, intermediate & long term reliability (e.g. engine, transmission, suspension system, cooling system, electrical (not electronic) system, body hardware, etc.), there is a very consistent & proportional relationship between the rating manufacturers receive on these “core” components and their overall ranking (pull the CR dot chart out by manufacturer, make/model and see for yourself).

        What I am saying is that there is an analogy here whereby if a teacher at a parent-teacher conference states little Johnny is doing poorly because either (a) Johnny is not intelligent, or (b) Johnny is lazy, 99.9% of parents will choose option (b).

        Similarly, automakers who fare poorly overall on CR’s Reliability Index love to gravitate towards “technological/gadget” problems (even emphasizing this issue in seeming isolation) as the source of their poor showing, even when their engines, transmissions, suspensions, etc. are prone to breakage.

        • 0 avatar
          petezeiss

          So CR is still trustworthy when *they* rate the core components but, as expected, consumers themselves have tantrums about fluff features and this can’t help but contaminate surveys like this one?

          And like those parents of a dumb student, the manufacturers are only too happy to run with the misdirection?

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            I don’t think CR’s mention of increasing complaints/issues with gadgets “contaminates” CR’s large scale, data intense reliability survey, since it’s one area of (I think) nine or ten that CR isolates/breaks down and assigns a separate rating to, but it’s one factor.

            It’s akin to how doing poorly in chemistry will drag down one’s GPA, but if one’s GPA is 1.8, there are much bigger issues going on than a poor grade in chemistry.

          • 0 avatar
            petezeiss

            Heh.. great analogies. Thanks for your replies.

          • 0 avatar
            Luke42

            @petezeiss:

            If I pay for some sort of nifty whiz-bang option, I expect it to work.

            You may not be willing to pay for it. Hell, I might not be willing to pay for it (“my smartphone does that”) – but if it’s in the car, the manufacturer is on the hook to make sure it works as per the terms of the warranty.

            There’s no need for silly analogies. When a company sells me stuff with a warranty, I have every reason to expect that it will work or be repaired/replaced. It doesn’t matter if it’s a virtuous or superfluous component, the deal is that the $#!t I bought is supposed to work. The legally binding details are written in the warranty agreement.

          • 0 avatar
            petezeiss

            Wuuull… Okay, Luke!

    • 0 avatar
      Wheatridger

      And “”Volkswagen territory,” if you haven’t noticed, is about the middle of the pack. Just sayin’.

      • 0 avatar
        LeeK

        Despite automotive fora Conventional Wisdom, Volkswagen has been slowly but steadily improving reliability over the past ten years. As the older platforms are phased out (CC, New Beetle, Eos), it would not be unreasonable to expect the MQB and US vehicle platforms to continue the steady rise.

        VW’s infotainment systems are not particularly fancy or feature-rich, but they tend to be intuitive to operate (if somewhat laggy) and crashes are rare. Chrysler’s UConnect system is considered by many

        One point that keeps getting missed in these discussions: the worst of the worst on this 2015 list would be in the top 10 just a decade ago. Cars in general are getting more reliable overall, and will probably continue to do so. Michael Karesh often states that the difference between a car at the top is one trip to the dealer for repairs every two years.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      It’s easy to keep reliability at the top when an automaker keeps the essentially the same (“old tech”) powertrains around and CR even made a note of that.

      That’s how Buick remained at/near the top of reliability surveys during the 1990s.

      What also factors in is the newness of an automaker’s lineup.

      Hyundai has usually placed higher than Kia but with a newer lineup and more “new” tech (such as a DCT – which Kia will get later), Hyundai now lags behind, but should move back on top as Kia gets into the thick of its changeover.

      Automakers who have made the switch to turbo engines, DCTs, CVTs, etc. have been hurt initially, but have been improving as they have been working out the “kinks.’

      We’ll see how Toyota fares as they start to move on from 1990s tech and add turbos, DCTs, etc.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    I can’t wait for the day when all you need is your smart phone to plug in a cradle. It could operate the whole vehicle, even starting.

    It would have your music, GPS, buy apps to operate your vehicle form your climate control, pre adjust your seat to whatever phone is allowed to operate your vehicle.

    What we have now is nothing compared to what will come.

    I have yet to have any reliability issues with my Ford system in my Mazda. But if it breaks you just can’t go out and buy an aftermarket head unit, now can you.

    • 0 avatar
      mkirk

      Sony builds a 250 dollar cradle that gives you all of the infotainment functions you describe. It installs in a standard double DIN opening which of course is a problem for most new cars.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      The issue is that **every OEM** in both the smartphone and auto markets wants their system to be the winner. So we end up with three or four smartphone standards (CarPlay, Android Car, QNX, Microsoft’s Sync implementations) and each automaker’s versions thereof.

      I’d like an open standard, too, but NIH is huge in both industries. Sad, really.

      • 0 avatar
        JMII

        Yep this is the problem – the OEMs are sure they can make a better mouse trap. The fix would be just to GIVE up and provide a USB port.

        What I don’t understand is why do they keep reinventing new systems instead of updating the older ones. Actually I do understand, they have no way of distributing the software updates and getting them into the car. Unlike our smart phones which are one WiFi sync away from a quick bug fix.

        Thus the OEMs have a software problem but their entire sales and service model is based on hardware!

    • 0 avatar
      Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

      Or a wireless charging pad on the dash with a good strong magnet, like the one in the Nexus wireless charger.

    • 0 avatar
      Wheatridger

      So if you lose your smart phone while you’re out, how will you drive home?

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    All the Fiatsler lines are terrible. Their sales renaissance will be short-lived, since they’re still the Detroit equivalent of VW.

    • 0 avatar
      Dan

      Disagree.

      VW makes very few cars that don’t have a long list of identical stand ins from more respectable makers. There’s the GTI, there’s the TDIs, that’s about it. No good reason to buy a commodity car from a company like VW, end of story.

      Chrysler’s renaissance isn’t commodities, Honda and Toyota don’t have a Jeep or a Ram. The cars Chrysler makes with close analogues are either much cheaper (Caravan), don’t sell very well (Dart), or both (Journey).

    • 0 avatar
      AustinGuy

      Regarding Fiat, they used to say that if you’re going to buy a Fiat, buy two. One to drive and one for parts. Sounds like things haven’t changed a whole lot.

  • avatar
    Extra Credit

    Was the “Lincoln in Volkswagen territory” observation a disparaging remark about Lincoln’s performance? The chart shows Lincoln with no vehicles achieving Better than Average ratings, while Volkswagen is one of only eight brands with vehicles scoring Much Better than Average.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      Do you mean “[W]as the Lincoln in Volkswagen territory observation a disparaging remark about Volkswagen’s performance?”

      If so, for the reason you cite, inadvertently misleading…yes.

    • 0 avatar
      jeoff

      But, on average, Lincoln did better than Volkswagen. While VW does sell at least one model that scores well, its sales of poorly scoring models drag down their overall score.

  • avatar
    mkirk

    So according to this were I to go out and buy a Cummins powered Ram because “everyone knows they’ll run half a million miles, easy”, I’d actually be getting the worst model from the third worst manufacturer out there.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      You’d be statistically MORE LIKELY to incur more frequent problems based on reported rates of issues based on 1.1 million survey results, tabulated and indexed, than a higher scoring make/model, but, it wouldn’t necessarily be due to engine problems (though it could; check the engine specific rating), and it’s also possible you could have few or even no reliability issues.

      Statistically more likely doesn’t = inevitable.

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      My coworker’s 2011 Cummins 3500 was a u joint eating nightmare. The engine never had problems, but the rest of the vehicle was very disappointing to him. He’s since moved on to another truck.

  • avatar
    mikey

    I to am a luddite. I figured out enough of my Chev My link to use Blue Tooth, two Sat radio, stations and a few local stations. I checked before I bought the car to make sure the HVAC controls wernt integrated. Personally, I find them a PIA, and a major distraction.

    • 0 avatar
      petezeiss

      “I checked before I bought the car to make sure the HVAC controls wernt integrated.”

      Smart. I’ve got the week off without a lot of chores so I’m hitting a different dealer every day. The first thing I look for when I peer inside a car is HVAC knobs.

      • 0 avatar
        SC5door

        Aren’t knobs on modern cars just a “suggestion” anyways as it’s controlled by the computer?

        The last cable/vacuum operated one that I knew of was the Dodge Caliber for some time until they updated and switched to the new corporate climate controls.

        • 0 avatar
          petezeiss

          But at least there is the chance that a discrete controller under that knob won’t be affected by anything happening (or not) on the touchscreen?

        • 0 avatar
          bk_moto

          It’s easy to forget how computerized things are today. In the old days for example, your headlight switch was making a direct connection between battery power and the wires going off to the headlights. Now you have much smaller wires (because they don’t have to carry the current) which are just providing inputs to the BCM (body control module), a computer that interprets the inputs and activates whatever functions you have requested.

          The tick-tock sound of the turn signal indicator? In older cars the sound was a byproduct of electro-mechanical switching in the flasher relay. Now it’s a recording played back via the computer that runs the instrument cluster.

          Your coolant temp gauge? Do you really think your coolant temp stays exactly at 190 regardless of conditions? Nope. It’s been dumbed down so that your gauge stays right in the middle as long as temps are within a normal range. This is to keep you from bringing it into the dealer complaining that it’s running hot when it’s hot outside and running cold when it’s cold outside.

    • 0 avatar
      Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

      One thing I REALLY hate about MyLink is that it can take a long time for “navigation to get ready”, and it splashes a big honkin’ text block to that effect, while blocking out any access to every other function. ANNOYING.

      Incidentally, Tesla really has it right when it comes to software and touchscreens. They develop it all in-house, down to the circuit boards, and own the stack completely. No clunky, cobbled-together bunch of lowest-bidder junk will ever be able to compete.

  • avatar
    Extra Credit

    That’s the power of the spin. It can be refreshing, if not amusing, to seek multiple perspectives of the same information. Lest we be accused of being set in our ways. ;)

  • avatar
    redav

    I bought a new car this year with an infotainment system. The car’s settings run through the system as well as stereo, nav, fuel efficiency monitoring, etc. I understand how it adds value to a car and so why consumers eagerly buy them, but I am dismayed at how poorly they are programmed, even the good ones.

    The only issue I’ve run into on mine has been playback of music from USB. Sometimes, it gets confused. I suspect there are file format issues and occasionally something akin to stack overflow, e.g., pressing the next track button repeatedly can cause the system to freeze/lock up. It also will sometimes show the wrong units (km instead of mi).

    I don’t find these bugs acceptable. The infotainment system is not an operating system. It’s not even a word processor. It’s closer to vending machine or microwave: press button, get action. MS Mediaplayer from the Vista days does everything that the stereo needs to do, but doesn’t have any of the glitches that these systems have. They literally could have taken that software and plugged it into the car and the system would work better & more reliably.

  • avatar
    jimmyy

    Shocked that Infiniti is in Detroit territory. I’m sure Infiniti will do something that Detroit would never consider … roll some heads to solve poor reliability.

    Why does anyone purchase a Detroit product? Clearly, they are substandard products with chrome tacked on then sold to the pubic with a marketing campaign that smears Toyota and Honda as boring.

    • 0 avatar
      SC5door

      “Clearly, they are substandard products with chrome tacked on then sold to the pubic with a marketing campaign that smears Toyota and Honda as boring.”

      Except for Buick, clearly.

  • avatar
    Davekaybsc

    A very good showing from Audi once again, though of course perceptions will take much longer to change. “Mazda = reliability rock star” is a pretty new concept. You don’t have to go that far back to get to really crappy Mazdas.

    Interesting the difference between a crappy UI (Lexus remote touch) and a buggy UI.

    Poor Nissan. It’s definitely not infotainment that is dragging them down, it’s the fact that they can’t seem to build cars properly as of late.

    That Infiniti system is a total mess. Infinit chooses to copy somebody and it’s ACURA??? Really? Acura’s idiotic double screen system seemed like a good idea to you guys?

  • avatar
    bobman

    Just read that Doug Betts, Chrysler’s quality chief has resigned to “pursue other interests”. It’s a shame that one person has to take responsibility for this as, I’m sure, the reasons encompass many individuals and company policies that he may have had no power to change. Wish him all the best. Of course the best of luck to Mark Chernoby who has been named in his place.

    • 0 avatar
      SayMyName

      Fiatsler: a sh!tty company, building sh!tty cars for sh!tty people. No amount of personnel reshuffling or Hellcat will fundamentally alter that.

      • 0 avatar
        bobman

        Ha ha ha. What do we have here? A troll! Oh my goodness, Hahahaha. So funny.

        • 0 avatar
          SayMyName

          By all means, enlighten me then where I got it wrong?

          Fiatsler is the mongrel hybrid of two historically subpar automakers.

          The resulting bastard company produces vehicles that consistently stake out the very bottom of quality and reliability rankings.

          And, barring few exceptions, its sales come almost exclusively from rental fleets and credit roaches who otherwise wouldn’t qualify to finance a Happy Meal.

          Sh!tty seems the appropriate description, across the board.

  • avatar
    kvndoom

    Hey Derek, I know some comments get eaten, but this is the first time I’ve had a comment that made it through get deleted retroactively. Sporty Accordy’s reply to it got moved to a different place.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    I get where CR is coming from. I’ve both supported and developed software for phones and embedded systems and I flat cannot stand modern ICEs.

    There is a reason why you want big, distinct, easy-to-use analogue controls:
    * They’re easy to find
    * They’re easy to use
    * They require no brain-time
    * They give good tactile feedback
    …all of which are really important things when you’re piloting a car at speed. You don’t want something that requires you to take your eyes or your brain away from the task at hand.

    A lot of UI/UX designs for car ape smartphones and tablets because smartphones and tablets are successful; they don’t take into account that you use your phone while you’re sitting or walking; when it has the bulk of your attention. An ICE should never, ever have that level of attention.

    The best I’ve seen, recently, was the 05-11 Toyota Sienna: nice, big, round distinct buttons placed very high up. It looked very playskool, but it was easy to use and required no attention diversion. A contemporary Odyssey or Flex had a couple of rows of smaller buttons that looked more elegant, but were a bugger to pick out.

    Touchscreens are worse: the on-screen targets change position, offer no tactile feedback, require you to **look** at the screen and (because automotive is three to six years behind phones/tablets) really slow and unpleasant to use. Tesla’s is probably the best of a pretty horrible lot.

    • 0 avatar
      Wheatridger

      That’s a good analysis, just what I would have said.

      I own two VW’s –which, in this community, puts me on the ragged edge of risk-takers, along with BASE jumpers and lion tamers, but never mind that. Both cars have been reliable and free of defects, aside from some recent hassle-free recall repairs. But the experience of operating the audio system in either car is night and day. The ’09 GTI has simple analog controls for sound quality, just like my home stereo amp, plus a few large buttons for band/cd selection, etc. It’s effortless and convenient to use. Want more bass? Just twist the first knob. Meanwhile, the same adjustment on the ’13 Tiguan’s system requires a button press of “Setup,” then pressing the on-screen virtual button “Sound,” then selecting “Bass,” then turning a dial to change that parameter. That’s needless complexity for an operation that I do quite a lot, in the GTI.

      It doesn’t help that no settings on the Tiguan solves the puzzle of its harsh, tinny tone, despite being made by a prestige, audiophile maker, Dynaudio. The ’09 MkV VWs were the last with direct stereo controls. Looks like I’ll be keeping that GTI for a long time…

  • avatar
    Numbers_Matching

    I’ve always wondered how much the respondent’s emotion plays into the ranking of a particular brand. I remember as a kid, and as a Volvo fan (I know, pretty lame) I always wondered why a 264 or 265 wagon had ‘worse’ body integrity than a 244 or 245? Ditto for any other model range with different powertrains. Did the 265/4 owner have higher expectations?

    • 0 avatar
      Rod Panhard

      That’s exactly why I don’t pay a whole lot of attention, at the detail level, to CR ratings. At the peak of badge engineering, you could have different ratings for a Mercury Sable and its twin the Ford Taurus. You could have different ratings for the Chevy Cavalier and it’s siblings from Buick, Pontiac and Oldsmobile.

      Of course, one wonders…and I’m using this example as an extreme…is the least reliable Scion better than the most reliable Fiat? (we can assume to know the answer to that specific case) Or in Fiat’s case, they have two models, so one is more reliable. And what about the 1.4 turbo Dart makes it more reliable than the other Dart?

      I think you have to combine CR’s reviews with everything else. I think in some fields, they call that “intelligence gathering.”

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        The 1.4 turbo Dart is the worst Dodge and the 2.0 NA Dart is the best. Doesn’t the bottom-of-the-barrel Fiat 500L have a similar engine? A look at the list of worst models suggests that turbo 4s be avoided whether they be in a BMW, a Mercedes CLA, a Cadillac ATS, or a Chevrolet Cruze.

        • 0 avatar
          Numbers_Matching

          Yes – new technology always takes a hit on CR – usually from the same group of manufacturers who usually like to see themselves as the ‘innovators’. That is probably why the Japanese consistently play the ‘wait and see’ game in bringing their own renditions of new tech (in this case high power density turbo 4s) to these shores. Playing it safe – as usual.

  • avatar
    mkirk

    And the moral of the story is if looking for a crossover and you must get a Jeep, skip the new Cherokee and go with the Patriot.

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    Good showing by Audi. Nice to see their recent improvement is more than skin deep.

    If it wasn’t for that darn BRZ Subaru would be challenging Toyota.

  • avatar
    bk_moto

    Ugh, infotainment.

    I’m tired. I used to like in-car tech stuff but I’m over it. I do not want a touchscreen in my car. I got a base trim level MkVI GTI largely because it was the one without a touch screen.

    I like to drive. I want my driving experience to connect me with the car and the road in a mechanical way. Modern cars do everything they can to isolate you from the mechanicals and the road. And now touch screen systems are becoming standard on pretty much everything interesting, threatening to turn driving into a smartphone experience.

    Blech. I think my next car is going to be old. Like 1960s old. New cars, unfortunately, no longer provide what I’m looking for.

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      My FR-S has a touchscreen and an amazing, connected driving experience. My previous MKV GTI had no touchscreen and was much more isolated in all manners. It was a nicer car for road trips, though. The MKVII GTI that I test drove this summer was a fun drive compared to the MKV thanks to the lighter chassis and more willing engine. The touchscreen sat there during the test drive unnoticed. Basically, I see no correlation.

      I do enjoy my phone automatically linking up with the head unit, automatically playing music, and showing me track, artist, and album information. I was OK giving up push button start and proximity locks. I won’t give up my bluetooth audio streaming.

      • 0 avatar
        bk_moto

        Yes, no specific correlation on a car-to-car basis. My rant was more a general lament of the direction the modern automobile is taking.

        I admit, Bluetooth audio streaming is pretty great. But I don’t even think I want my next car to have a radio so I guess I won’t miss it too much. :-)

        I think I’m slowly souring on the whole smartphone/tech culture/experience as all it seems to be doing is giving people access to vast amounts of information while simultaneously making people functionally dumber.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      I don’t want anything without a touchscreen. Even if I buy a new Mustang, I’ll want a touchscreen. I like to drive, but most of my driving isn’t “going for a drive”. I also find many of the touchscreen enabled cars to have cleaner interfaces. Also, having an 8″ moving map on a road trip makes this map nerd happy.

    • 0 avatar
      Wheatridger

      You can buy a MkVI GTI without a touchscreen? That’s great news. Maybe I will trade my MkV someday.

      There are many hateful aspects to dashboard touchscreens. They collect dust like a magnet. They’re too dark in direct sunlight, and distractingly bright at night. They may be entertaining in a showroom, where they give the salesman plenty of features to explain. But on the road, they’re pure distraction. With all the outcry over texting while driving, why don’t we loo at dashboard bling as a related problem?

      • 0 avatar
        bk_moto

        Yes the base-level MkVI GTI, at least up to the 2013 model year (mine), has a non-touchscreen stereo but still offers Bluetooth audio and satellite radio support.

        I think it’s the next package up from base (with sunroof etc.) where you start having to deal with touchscreen BS.

    • 0 avatar
      Stovebolt

      Huzzah

  • avatar
    carguy

    I think TTAC maybe burying the lede here. This isn’t a survey or test results it is pure speculative BS. CR is “predicting” how reliable 2015 model cars will be (I assume a crystal ball is involved).

    The real story here is that CR are publishing un-scientific drivel and that car publications are falling over themselves to report on it.

  • avatar
    Xeranar

    Meh, I take these arguments with a grain of salt because the second you’re factoring in personal opinions on the matters of ‘functionality’ rather than actual repairs per X you’re opening the door to finagling that I wouldn’t approve of. But to each their own, personal value judgments are rewarded, feelings are hurt, another day another report supporting predispositions. The validity of their overall work is questionable but that’s why these reports make news because to actually get an objective report on such information is near impossible due to logistics.

  • avatar
    Carilloskis

    You can tell this is just BS because Scion and Subaru Have the Same worse model GT86/BRZ/FRS which are the exact same car only the badges are diffrent how can Subaru have a car in lower reliability ratings than the Scion?

    They also say full size trucks are what is keeping the Big three down, but I don’t really see that unless they are banking on Ford having troubles with Al and GM and FC having problembs with 8 speed transmission. Most of these drive trains have been proven and are carryover designs. I also faill to see how the GMC sierra and its silvarado twin v8 4x4s score worse than anything VW makes, come on my family has owned several VW TDIs and they have had all sorts of grimlins in them

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      “how can Subaru have a car in lower reliability ratings than the Scion?”

      Dealer PDI and warranty policies. Subaru dealers may not have the latitude and funding from the OEM to fix issues and/or do a full PDI to address any issues before they get to the customer.

      Toyota realized this very early on with Lexus and (AFAIK) it’s still the case with Toyota and Scion; the cars are good, but they give the dealerships a lot of slack when it comes to making the customer happy. Warranty claims are often accepted and the labour rates are good.

      By comparison, VWAG and Mercedes screw their dealers, which just means the dealers will pass it down to the customer. Chrysler has been up and down through the years (they were good just before Daimler, which, just coincidentally, was when they were doing well in reliability rankings).

      Generally speaking, post-sale performance makes a big difference for consumers.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        OK, but you’re talking more about how JD Power would rate the cars. Supposedly, CR says it looks at the number of actual problems reported with cars, not how satisfied the buyers were with the dealer experience. Therefore, assuming buyers are reporting ONLY problems per car, the Toyota and Subaru version of the FR sports coupe should be extremely similar, if not identical, in terms of problems per car, if you do it on per-capita basis. Identical car, identical parts, built on the identical line by the same workers. They should return almost identical results.

        Perhaps people who are happier with the dealer service might report fewer problems, but that would seem to be a flaw in the methodology to me.

        And then there’s the question of what constitutes the rating itself. What number constitutes average reliability? That’s an unknown.

        This is why I don’t buy CR’s ratings 100%.

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      Easy. The BRZ comes standard with a dreadful touchscreen Nav unit that is practically useless from everything I’ve read. Checking the CR website for the two cars shows the BRZ with a big old black dot under the “audio system” section. On the other hand, the FR-S, in model year 13, came with a very basic bluetooth enabled head unit with a single line of text. The FR-S has a red circle under audio.

      The only other discrepancies between the FR-S and BRZ are the FR-S got a black dot for fuel system (noisy DI fuel pump) and the BRZ got a black dot for engine minor (likely the same issue but manifest differently in the survey). The other MY13 issues (trunk alignment, condensation in tail lamps, and weather seal around the frameless windows) show completely common on the reliability tab on both vehicles.

      Thankfully, most of those issues have been countermeasured. I don’t know if the fuel pump noise is an issue on my ’15 FR-S because I have the obnoxious, but charming at the same time, TRD exhaust on mine. The touchscreen in my ’15 FR-S, which became standard in MY14, has been problem free. It isn’t trying to be a Nav unit, though. It does nothing more than interface with my phone and ipod for audio.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    And, again, what makes “average,” “above average,” or “below average”?

    If the average grade in a class is “A”, then the five A plus students are “above average” but the five A minus kids are “below average”…which leads someone who doesn’t see all the data to believe the five A minus kids are below average students…when they’re not at all.

    I’d rather see a system that gives us the actual numbers. What was the number of problems per 1000, for example, that makes Car A “above average” and Car B “below average”?

    I strongly suspect that what we’d find is that the “below average” cars are still very reliable, but not quite as reliable as the “above average” ones are. That’s the kind of data I’d find most useful. I can interpret numbers myself without someone else telling me what “above average” is.

    And then there’s this: at one point, I was looking at a van for my (then) wife. I subscribed to CR on line. I found ratings that made absolutely no sense, like the Ford and Mercury minivans showing different reliability ratings, despite being mechanically identical. Same for the GM vans, and the Hyundai/Kia vans. From what one other poster above indicates, apparently they rate the Subaru and Scion versions of the FR sports coupe differently too (though I haven’t seen the actual ratings – if that’s off, please correct me).

    Lots of stuff about CR makes no sense at all.

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      The Subyota twins rate basically the same on common parts. Audio, which is different between the two, is the major difference between the two on the survey.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      “I found ratings that made absolutely no sense, like the Ford and Mercury minivans showing different reliability ratings, despite being mechanically identical.”

      I can’t speak to the Ford stuff, but having owned a few different examples of just about every platform GM built from ’85-’95 I definitely can see how there could reasonably be a reliability difference between the General’s vehicles even if platforms/engines/transmissions were largely the same.

  • avatar
    John

    I have to wonder how these “infotainment systems” will affect the value of today’s cars as they age. I believe the average car on the road today is around ten years old. A ten year old car bought today will probably having a working radio/CD player and HVAC controls. Imagine a 2014 car in 2014 with a frozen inoperable touch screen, and a computer equivalent to an old beat up Windows 95 model today – who is going to want to buy a car that doesn’t have a working sound system, let alone no working heat and air?

    • 0 avatar
      petezeiss

      Hell, in today’s dashboard acreage there’s enough room for the instrument unit from the 3rd stage of Apollo 11.

      Although the modern equivalent of its computing power could fit in a cup holder. Under your drink.

  • avatar
    raincoaster

    I’d like to see cars use standardized I/O across the board, similar to an industrial PLC. Very easy to swap in and out cards for new functions and there’s surely enough space in the bloated interiors to implement.

  • avatar
    Charliej

    How many of these problems would not exist if the customer read the manual? I spent 45 years in customer service. Electronics of all types, from televisions to high end audio systems to computerized controls for industry. Probably half the problems brought before me would have been resolved by the customer reading the manual. I know that reading comprehension is low in the US. As a matter of fact, in Alabama, where I spent my career, one out of three adults is functionally illiterate. I know that blaming the victim is not to be done, but if people would just read the manual, they would have a much easier time of things.

  • avatar
    dr_outback

    CR used to assign a percentage to each of their reliability symbols. I noticed a number of years ago that they decreased the percentage for each of the reliability symbols. So fewer cars were getting the higher reliability symbols. For example, it used to be that to get a black dot, 14.5% of respondents had to have a problem with the system being rated. I think that to get the black dot now, only 10%(?) of respondents had to have a problem. I used to study CR ratings and assign an average to models I was interested in. They also weight the reliability categories differently.

  • avatar
    Tosh

    Isn’t the big news that ACURA has dropped 8 spots? What happened?

  • avatar
    Stovebolt

    How about a car without any of that crap? I’m beginning to think longingly of oldies with face plates instead of radios. My wife enjoys listening to both CDs and cassettes in her ’97. That’s high tech enough for me.

    • 0 avatar
      petezeiss

      This!

      Faceplates in an enameled dash board. White phenolic knobs and tasteful skinny chrome trim strips. Big fat creamy white steering wheel.

      Don’t need no radio where we’re going.

  • avatar

    Mulally gave Ford the Roger Smith treatment.

    Ford blows……..

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    The MyFordTouch system on my C-Max has alternate button controls for climate and most radio functions in addition to steering wheel selection. I like it generally, though there are a couple quibbles. The voice recognition system is not always accurate. (I drove a Cadillac ATS, and that system was worse, though.)
    The navigation is wrong more often than the Google system on my Android phone. (It’s nice to have both though.) Oh, one more, the trip computer MPG functions should be accessible through the main MFT screen. Ford has updated the system twice since my car came out, so who knows what future updates will bring.

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • Art Vandelay: Why stop there. Why not our own Stalin? That’s a leader you really look up to, right? Jesus man,...
  • Art Vandelay: So you support the guy that chooses to let a dude who was literally caught on camera jerking off in...
  • Oberkanone: Camry is excellent value. Brand new under $23K *discounted and spending more allows choices from AWD,...
  • NormSV650: Or RAV4 Prime alternative for the price.
  • Art Vandelay: Jo Jorgensen is a PHD and a professor at Clemson. She has no sexual assault allegations and nothing...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Matthew Guy
  • Timothy Cain
  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Chris Tonn
  • Corey Lewis
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber