By on October 1, 2018

Saying the Tesla Model 3’s interior is polarizing would be a massive understatement. While some absolutely love the minimalist design and singular, tablet-like interface, others criticize it for being too barren to be considered interesting. The vehicle also saw some blowback over its centrally mounted 15-inch display, which, for several reasons, can serve as a potential distraction to drivers.

In fact, it’s so big that one Washington resident found himself pulled over by a motorcycle cop for having what was presumed to be a computer attached to his dashboard.  (Read More…)

By on August 1, 2018

Mazda is upgrading the infotainment system of the 2018 Mazda 6 with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Starting in September, the company will even allow owners who purchased one earlier in the year bring their vehicle into the dealership and have it upgraded, free of charge.

While that’s incredibly kind of them, there’s a catch. You have to own the Touring trim or above. If you bought a lesser Mazda 6, you’ll be out left out in the cold. But the automaker previously said it wouldn’t include the popular phone integration setup until 2019, making this a nice gesture. The 2019 CX-9 is supposed to be the first vehicle to see Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard equipment, though we’ve also heard Mazda talking about future dealer upgrades for all models equipped with Mazda Connect for a small fee in other parts of the world.  (Read More…)

By on June 20, 2018

2017 Genesis G90 - Image: Genesis Motors

This wouldn’t have happened in the late ’80s, that’s for sure. J.D. Power’s 2018 Initial Quality rankings, amassed from problems reported by owners over the first 90 days of vehicle ownership, shows the area south of the 38th parallel as the Land of Least Annoyance.

The fresh-faced, fledgling Genesis brand took the top spot in this year’s rankings with 68 problems reported per 100 vehicles, followed by Kia in second place (72 problems) and Hyundai in third (74 problems). You might say Hyundai (Motor Group) excelled. (Read More…)

By on October 5, 2017

The Audi Q7 virtual cockpit

Automobiles are more tech-laden than ever and, according to a recent study, those interactive bells and whistles contribute heavily to distracted driving.

With connected cars ready to shoot off assembly lines and into driveways at an accelerated pace, the danger of someone flicking through their dashboard menus when they should be looking at the road is only going to grow. Many states prohibit phone usage while driving, yet there is no law against setting your radio pre-tunes or customizing your digital dashboard while hurtling down the expressway — not that there necessarily should be.

However, the American Automobile Association’s Foundation for Traffic Safety commissioned researchers from the University of Utah to examine the physical and mental demand required to complete various tasks using the infotainment systems in 30 new 2017 vehicles. The conclusion was that the growing cavalcade of buttons, screens, and technology does an incredibly good job at keeping you from minding the road ahead.  (Read More…)

By on August 24, 2017

fordces_sygic_2

A report by industry analysis firm Hexa Research is positing that the market for automotive infotainment systems will be worth more than $40 billion by 2024.

That’s thanks to rising consumer demand, improved technological capabilities, and improved incomes, according to the report. As it stands, the North American market accounted for a hair over 35 percent of the revenue from the infotainment industry in 2016.

(Read More…)

By on May 20, 2017

[Image: Ford]

It looks like Ford’s offer to update 2016 vehicles equipped with its SYNC 3 infotainment system with free Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity has a lot to do with some recent hires.

The automaker has announced it will allow owners of one-year-old vehicles to install the feature, which comes standard on all 2017 models, at no cost. The offer positions Ford near the cutting edge in automotive technology. For a company seeking a starring role in the tech-heavy mobility realm, this is exactly where it wants to be. (Read More…)

By on January 11, 2017

SYNC 3 AppLink now automatically discovers smartphone apps including Spotify, Pandora, Stitcher, and displays their unique graphics and branding, Image: Ford

Ford, Mazda, Toyota, Subaru, PSA (Peugeot, etc.), and Suzuki are now part of an automotive alliance concerning your dashboard. The SmartDeviceLink Consortium, as they’re styling it, is apparently all about muscling around Google and Apple’s forays into the automobile, and is based on Ford’s existing “AppLink” software project, which has been around for several years.

I’ve written about smart dashboards before for TTAC. Particularly, in 2013 after Apple’s original announcement, I was amazed automakers were willing to cede so much control over the precious dashboard real estate. I later noted people are likely to be more loyal to their phones than cars and to make buying decisions around what cars support their phones “properly,” especially because Apple and Google fundamentally know a lot more about you and can do a much better job of knowing what you want to listen to and where you want to go.

But what exactly is the SmartDeviceLink Consortium all about? You might think it sounds like it’s a rejection of your smartphone driving the screen in your car, as with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Curious as to what was really going on, I then dug into the giant pile of software and specifications they’ve posted on Github. What’s really going on here isn’t as much in opposition to what Google and Apple are up to as it’s an attempt to standardize it and refactor it.

(Read More…)

By on October 11, 2016

2013 Cadillac XTS CUE Cadillac User Experience

“The first-generation CUE didn’t even meet our own expectations.”
Johan de Nysschen, Cadillac President — Motor Trend Interview — October 10, 2016

What was Cadillac’s boss trying to say? It all depends on where you put the emphasis. (Read More…)

By on July 25, 2016

2017 ford fusion sport

Ford just ran through its 2017 product lineup, shouting, “You get upgraded Sync 3, and you get upgraded Sync 3…!”

Today, the automaker announced that a new version of its Sync 3 infotainment system will be available on every 2017 Ford product. The system is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, meaning your phone never had it so good. (Read More…)

By on July 20, 2016

2013 Ford Fiesta SYNC basic, Image: Ford

“I hate this thing,” my significant other exclaimed as she tried for the upteenth time to switch from line to USB input in our 2015 Ford Fiesta.

I was in the driver’s seat and she in the front passenger seat as she extended her hand across the cabin to depress the voice recognition button on the steering wheel. This, in her mind, is the easiest way to change the audio input source on the basic version of Ford SYNC, the much-derided infotainment system from the Blue Oval.

And she’s absolutely right. It is the easiest way to do what should be a simple function in the Fiesta. Hit the VR button, say “USB Input,” and SYNC switches from the default line input to USB. (For whatever reason, the system doesn’t remembers that we use USB input every single time.)

This method of switching audio input is also the most dangerous way to perform this function as a passenger, and I’m about to tell you why.

(Read More…)

By on December 28, 2015

BMW Gesture Control

BMW’s latest and greatest infotainment system doesn’t need knobs, man. The automaker announced Monday that it would show off its concept for infotainment next month, dubbed “AirTouch.”

The system, which improves upon the one-finger wagging, waving and gesticulating already in its new 7-Series sedan, would use sensors between the dash and rearview mirror to interpret what your five fingers were looking for.

Was that a phone call that you wanted to make? Did you want the BMW to switch to radio? Activate navigation to direct you home? Oh, you were just waving at that guy. Gotcha.

(Read More…)

By on December 11, 2015

Golf TFT

Volkswagen announced Friday it would show off “developments in electromobility as well as the next generation of connectivity” at the Consumer Electronics Show next month in Las Vegas.

“For instance, Volkswagen will give quite a clear glimpse of the latest developments in in-car infotainment that are on the verge of being launched onto the market. This will see innovations such as the Golf R Touch concept car finding their way into Volkswagen’s broad product portfolio,” the automaker said in a statement.

That’s probably possibly what we’re looking at here in a B-roll video made by the automaker obtained by TTAC through less-than-official channels. (Read More…)

By on August 27, 2015

2015.5 Volvo Sensus Connect Infotainment Navigation

I’m the type of guy that reads the instruction manual. Admittedly, I’m in the lower quartile of the 1 percent of humans who actually read the book, and there are even fewer still who admit to reading it — most people don’t, and if they do, it’s only when they need to.

But why? Don’t people know that they’re full of good stuff?

Did you know the newest generation Mini Cooper has launch control? I wouldn’t have known that if I didn’t spot it in the manual. Also, I wouldn’t have known how to sync via Bluetooth to a circa-2013 Volkswagen car (the PIN is buried in the manual, it’s 1212 or something like that, if I recall correctly).

According to a recent report, most new car buyers don’t know what their cars do, and quite frankly, they don’t care. They should. (Read More…)

By on April 30, 2015

a genuine british lawn ornament

We go down memory lane this morning and look at some of the great cars British Leyland didn’t build.

(Read More…)

By on January 8, 2015

FCA Uconnect Access Services

Autonomous alien luxury pods and royalty-free hydrogen patents aren’t the only things coming onto the stage during the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Today, we’ll show you the latest and greatest from BMW, FCA, Audi and Ford, with the help from our brothers and sisters over at AutoGuide.

(Read More…)

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