Living with MyFord Touch on a 3,500-Mile Road Trip
on August 22, 2012
Ask Ford's reps about MyFord Touch and they say if you live with the system, you'll love it. They say that 80% of Ford owners with the system would recommend it to others.
My family and I lived with it for two weeks. Let me be clear: We did not love it.
Some of the issues that were prevalent when it debuted remain today on the 2013 Ford Flex, though it was supposed to have updated software. Among our issues:
- The system shut down and rebooted on us. Twice. In one afternoon. Without warning or explanation. The first time, we were driving through rural Wisconsin. When we pulled off the road to pick up some fuel and a soda, the screens went haywire. What I mean is the navigation system couldn't change perspective (I couldn't get the view to go in closer or farther out), and the satellite radio screen showed the preset buttons but no longer displayed which station was programmed on which button. Finally, the screen went blank and then the system rebooted. Later that afternoon, as we were leaving the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn., and looking for a nearby restaurant, the screen went blank again. In Ford's defense, the temperature outside the car hovered around 100 degrees, but considering how many computer chips are in every car and how few of those have failed in triple-digit temps, it seemed like a particularly bad fail, especially as I really needed the nav system in an unfamiliar area.
- The nav system also had problems with simple math. I used MyFord Touch's Waypoint option, which tells you how long it will take to get to a point in your route as well as to your destination, a couple of times during our long drive. At least twice, Waypoint gave us impossible information. It told us that we were 54 minutes from our final destination, and that we would arrive at 5:33 p.m. Unfortunately, it was already after 5:33 p.m. when we read that. It wasn't a time-zone problem as far as we could tell; it was just wrong.
- One of the great things in the Flex was its multiple USB connections so we could charge everyone's iPhone and iPod Touch devices. The downside? Every time someone plugged in a new device, MyFordTouch decided we wanted to hear the music on that device. And with that decision, MyFord Touch would tell us that we should keep our eyes on the road. My solution? Don't let MyFord Touch change the chosen device automatically; let the driver decide what is going to be heard on the stereo system.
- Also a music problem: The Bluetooth streaming audio sometimes worked great, allowing me to change and skip songs at will using the steering-wheel controls, and other times, it forced me to use the commands on my iPhone. It was completely arbitrary.
- Lag time when selecting commands on the touch-screen continues to be a problem. At first, you'll hit a "button" (I use quote marks, because it's really a touch-screen) several times and then see that you've cycled through the choices because of your lack of patience. Later, you think you've become wise; you hit a button and wait until something happens - or doesn't. Either way, the driver is spending way too much time watching the screen and not the road.
- The navigation system also suffers from the same flaws of many, if not most, nav systems: the inability to understand that left-turn lanes exist instead insisting that you "make a legal U-turn" to get to your destination; the inability to accurately find street addresses for stores and restaurants, being off by as little as a few hundred feet to as much as a half-mile; and an input system that defies logic and sanity.
It's possible that we drivers (and journalists) are jaded by being exposed to every new gee-whiz gadget out there, but if I had to use this system again on a long-distance drive, I'd find some applications for my smartphone to do the jobs that I couldn't leave to chance.
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Editor-in-Chief Patrick Olsen was born and raised in California. He loves pickup trucks and drivers who pay attention. Email Patrick