There is no doubt that Ford is leading the charge on voice-activated in-car technology—in fact they are the only company that makes this technology available to all of the product lines regardless of the price tier. Generally, we approve when technology moves from the highline to the mass production in the automotive industry. A good example is Anti-lock brakes and traction control, two features that most journalist and consumers appreciate and now expect on all cars regardless of price. MyFord Touch and MyLincoln Touch are both getting mixed reactions—the complaint is driver distraction and easy of understand/use.
Alan Mulally, CEO Ford Motor Company, understands the criticism, but isn’t going to change the Ford strategy. "The position we took a few years ago was that we will be operating in a wired world. The best value we could add was to enhance the driving experience and make us better drivers. The best way to do that is to have your hands on the wheel and eyes on the road and everything is voice activated,” Mulally said recently at the 2011 North American International Auto Show. Consumer Reports maintains that they believe the Ford technology is a distraction and as such won’t recommend the 2011 Ford Edge or Lincoln MKX crossovers—at least AutoWeek cites this as one of the main reasons for the lack of recommendation. For Consumer Reports, the complaints really stem around first-time user comprehension and system performance.
These may just be growing pains with new technology and Mulally said that Ford will use everyone’s input including the feedback from Consumer Reports. Acknowledging that there is room for improvement is good because the federal safety officials have their concerns as well. They are coming at this from a different angle though; instead of making complaints now, they have launched studies to weigh the “benefits and drawbacks” of technology such as MyFord touch, as well as, other wireless technologies.
Our opinion is this: If you are old enough to drive, then you are old enough to take responsibility for piloting a 3000 plus pound vehicle down the road. Voice-activation, if it works well, is the best of all worlds because you don’t have to take your eyes off the road. And Ford says about 82 percent of Ford Edge cars ordered have the MyFord Touch option. Since MyFord Touch is the first generation, we believe that there is room for improvement, however, we also applaud a company for taking the risk and bring the future to vehicles in the same way we applaud innovators that have been working to bring electric vehicles to market.
Our recommendation: Try one for yourself and let us know whether you love it or hate it.