By Joe Bruzek on December 16, 2011
What good is a touch-screen if it’s out of arm’s reach or a radio volume knob positioned on the far side from the driver? Poor ergonomics make for frustrated drivers. Well-designed ergonomics offer comfort and ease of use while taking advantage of the technology in today's new cars. Some automakers have nailed this execution, while others leave us scratching our heads: Why should it take more than one step to turn on the heated seats?
More Naughty or Nice Picks
Naughty: MyFord/MyLincoln Touch (Explorer, Edge, Focus, MKX)
MyFord Touch makes us scratch, even bang, our heads in frustration. Instead of traditional buttons that provide feedback when pressed, MyFord Touch uses touch-sensitive pads such as the ones you’d find on a microwave. The touch pad’s activation spot is tiny and often unresponsive. On the Ford Focus, there’s just way too much info crammed into a small screen, which can be distracting to read. Ford is continually making improvements to the system and offering software updates to current owners to address some of these concerns.
Nice: Kia Optima
The Optima crams loads of controls into an easy-to-use center stack with real buttons. Some cars, like the Honda Accord, resort to button stacking that creates a busy, confusing command center. The Optima’s climate, audio and navigation controls are smartly compartmentalized. Plus, the entire stack is angled toward the driver to give a wraparound experience for easy viewing and use.
Road Test Editor Joe Bruzek covers Cars.com’s short-and long-term fleet of test cars and drives a 1998 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am. Email Joe