Shockingly, New Car Buyers Are Confused and Annoyed by Safety Content
True story: a person this writer knows was recently upsold into a higher-trim version of a popular domestic subcompact crossover, with the selling point being, obviously, the model’s additional plushness and safety features. Once in the driveway, this buyer instantly grew annoyed with the vehicle’s various driver-assist features and, not knowing how to dial them back or cancel them altogether, began the process of finding a buyer.
Dealers and their salespeople have a long way to go in educating the buying public on the industry’s growing list of tech-heavy features; doing so would help boost satisfaction rates for new vehicles. A great number of people have a bone to pick with their car’s driver-assist features, and it may prevent them from sticking with the brand.
According to J.D. Power’s 2019 U.S. Tech Experience Index (TXI) Study, lane-keep assist and lane centering is the topmost complaint among new car owners or lessees angered by in-vehicle tech. Yes, a feature designed to keep the roads safe and the insurance adjuster away is something many buyers wish their vehicles didn’t have.
The study tapped the minds of 20,000 American buyers or lessees of 2019 model year vehicles. It found that 23 percent of respondents driving a so-equipped vehicle complained about the various alerts and warnings issued by the system during their first 90 days of ownership. A slightly smaller slice, 21 percent, had no problem with the warnings. Of the first group, 61 percent said they sometimes disabled their lane-keeping system for guilt-free (and perhaps signal-free) lane changes.
It’s worth noting that, of the group that found lane-departure warnings annoying, some 63 percent still desired the feature on their next vehicle. That compares with 91 percent for those who tolerate the system just fine.
The type of warning, as well as the effectiveness of the lane-keeping system, varies between brands, and this led to marked departures in satisfaction rates. Drivers of one brand showed steep dissatisfaction rates while drivers of another barely had an issue. This, in turn, left drivers more or less likely to desire the feature on their next vehicle. The low/high on wanting lane-keeping in a subsequent vehicle ranged from 59 percent to 90 percent, depending on brand.
The study, of course, didn’t look at only lane-keeping gripes; some 38 technologies came under the microscope. Vehicles were assigned a score based on satisfaction rates for these features.
Overall, J.D. Power respondents judged the Kia Stinger to have the best integrated and least annoying tech features of all vehicles in all segments. Indeed, Hyundai Motor Group ranks high in this regard. The small car category returned the Hyundai Kona as the standout in that class (tied with the Toyota C-HR), while the compact field put the Kia Forte in the No. 1 spot. The Hyundai Accent and Elantra were runners-up in those two categories.
For midsize vehicles, Chevrolet’s new Blazer earned the top score, ahead of the Chevrolet Traverse and Hyundai Santa Fe, while the large vehicle class gave the crown to the Ford Expedition. Lower on that podium were the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and Ram 1500. The compact luxury field was dominated by the aforementioned Stinger, with the Genesis G70 and Cadillac XT4 in the No. 2 and 3 spots. Answers from midsize luxury respondents pegged the Porsche Cayenne as the vehicle least likely to annoy, followed by the BMW 5 Series and Audi Q8.
The best thing a salesperson/dealer can do is inform a buyer on how to cancel a safety feature they don’t like, if possible, or perhaps diminish its sensitivity. Think pre-collision braking range on that score. Just dial it back. Education will breed enjoyment here. Still, there’s a lesson for automakers here, too.
“The technology can’t come across as a nagging parent; no one wants to be constantly told they aren’t driving correctly,” said Kristin Kolodge, Executive Director of Driver Interaction & Human Machine Interface Research at J.D. Power, in a statement.
While sudden, unexpected braking can unnerve drivers, respondents listed pre-collision braking as the least annoying feature in the study, followed close behind (in increments of increasing annoyance) by smartphone mirroring, comfort and convenience features, entertainment, driver assist functions, and navigation.
[Image: © 2019 Chris Tonn/TTAC]
427Cobra on Aug 28, 2019
I had the full safety suite in my '13 Ford Edge Limited. I found it very disorienting when bells & alarms started going off... like WTF? I was surprised that my '17 Ford Focus ST (ST3) is devoid of most of these gimmicks. The backup camera comes in handy... but beyond that, I'm glad it doesn't have too many electronic nannies.
Jeff Semenak on Sep 02, 2019
One nanny I would love to see in new cars; Having the dashboard light up only if, the headlights are on when the car is moving. Too many people in Tempe drive around without noticing, or caring that their headlights are off. Their dashboard is lit up really nicely though.Just need an additional line of code in the ECU.
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