Five Ways Ford's Sync 3 Multimedia System is a Game Changer

2017 Ford Escape

CARS.COM — We complained about Ford's MyFord Touch multimedia system for years, but the automaker thankfully went back to the drawing board and created the Sync 3 system, debuting it on the 2016 Escape and rolling it out across its model-year 2017 lineup.

Related: Goodbye, MyFord Touch; Hello, Sync 3

MyFord Touch multimedia system was an albatross for the brand, with its confounding menu structure, glitchy touchscreen and error-prone voice-recognition feature. We documented the many issues we had with the system, and consumers apparently agreed. The system has continually sunk Ford's scores in both Consumer Reports reliability rankings and J.D. Power and Associates' Initial Quality Study.

We've tested Sync software in a few Fords and there's a lot to like, from its streamlined design to its quicker response time. Here are five ways Sync trumps MyFord Touch.

1. Intuitive Menu Layout

Sync trades MyFord Touch's crowded icon layout for a more conventional menu grid with large floating icons, much like many competitors' multimedia systems. There are three zones — navigation, audio and phone — with crisp, easy-to-read graphics and clear, big icons.

"Sync 3 is easier to navigate because of its easy-to-read layout. Its simplified design highlights the information you need, making it a snap to navigate the layout — even while driving," said Managing Editor for News Jennifer Newman.

Other editors agreed. "The menu bar at the bottom of the screen was easier to use than MyFord Touch's quadrant-based menus, and the switch to large bold fonts instead of the thin, small text that MyFord Touch used made menus and screen information easier to read at a glance," said Senior Research Editor Mike Hanley.

2. Straightforward Controls

One of the most frustrating things about MyFord Touch software was using its slow, glitchy touch-screen and touch-sensitive panels to control everything from audio to climate functions. Ford got rid of some of MyFord Touch's touch-sensitive controls in an update to the system a few years ago, but it wasn't enough.

Now, the touch panels have largely been replaced. For example, the 2017 Escape's system's tuning and seek buttons were much easier to use and were an upgrade from the old system's panels.

A tuning knob is on our wish list, however: "The one thing holding it back is the lack of volume and tuning knobs. Add a tuning knob and this system would be unstoppable," Joe Bruzek said of the 2017 Escape. 

3. It's Quicker

The system is more responsive, switching screens and processing functions much faster than MyFord Touch software, which was prone to lag. "Speed is always nice, but with MyFord Touch, sometimes I'd hit the screen twice because I didn't think it registered the first time ... and since MyFord Touch controlled everything ... mayhem would ensue," said Assistant Managing Editor Bill Jackson.

Getting a system update is quicker and easier, too: To get an update for MyFord Touch, owners needed to download the update to a USB drive, then plug into the car to install the update. Sync 3's over-the-air updates make upgrading the system simpler and quicker.

4. Improved Voice Recognition

Voice recognition systems rarely function as you'd like them to, but Sync 3's is promising. During my test of the 2016 Ford Escape, it was spot-on — especially rewarding because its inaccuracy the last time I tested MyFord Touch was endlessly frustrating. With the push of a steering-wheel-mounted button, I was able to find a Starbucks and set it as my destination using voice commands. Yes, it took several voice-prompted steps to get me to that Starbucks, but there were no missteps along the way.

Other editors had less luck with the voice system, but Sync's voice recognition success rate is still much higher than MyFord Touch's.

5. Phone-Friendly Features

For 2017, Sync 3 includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto apps for iphone and android integration as well as Sync Connect with an in-car modem that allows for remote start through iphone and android devices and other features through the FordPass application.

Although some editors said that the Android Auto app was sometimes erratic and slow, most applauded Ford for offering both systems.  

"Sync 3's user interface, feature content and mobile integration makes it one of the most robust multimedia systems on the market," Bruzek said.

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