2012 Ford Explorer Long Term Road Test

2012 Ford Explorer XLT Ecoboost: MyFord Touch Is Infuriating

December 28, 2011


Our longterm 2012 Ford Explorer is equipped with MyFord Touch. Other editors have posted entries about its various functions and use. Across the jump is my readers' digest version of impressions after I spent a good, long time with it (1000 miles over the weekend).

Conclusion? It's the worst interface in a car today.

Oh, MyFord Touch, how do you infuriate? Mainly, it's when you attempt to do the most basic functions, the kind you do every day:

The inadvertent touch that triggers - A part of your hand or finger barely brushes a button and triggers the hazards, the max a/c function, something else you (rather, I) had no intention of activating. Also see: Chevy Volt.

The constant looking - Because there aren't discrete buttons that you can operate simply by feel alone (leaving your eyes on the road where they belong), you have to visually acquire the desired button on the center stack -- say, the "temp up" button -- and keep your eyes on it while you guide your finger to that exact location, else you inadvertently touch and activate another function instead (see above).

The lack of tactile confirmation - Then, when your finger reaches the "temp up" button, there's no tactile confirmation that, indeed, you a.) touched the "temp up" button, and b.) it registered your command. Instead, you have to look elsewhere (to the touchscreen!) to see if the temperature number went up. Congratulations, you've traveled the distance of a football field while you watched your finger try to press a button. Does nobody see the insanity of this?

The multi-press - Sometimes, the system doesn't register your touch. So you poke, poke, poke until it does.

The faked-out multi-press - Functions (the seat heaters? I forget) sometimes have a delay between poke and result. It registered your touch but, you know, it's going to take its sweet time letting you know that it did. In the meantime, you assumed it simply ignored your touch and you went on a button-pressing spree.

Of course, this. Like all touchscreens, gets all smudgy with fingerprints. Sure, it looks kinda gross, but more importantly the smudges -- especially in direct sunlight -- obscure all the functions crowded together in 4-point font that you're required to access here.

Tied to Sync (see lead photo) - MyFord Touch in our Explorer is commingled with Sync, and when Sync randomly decides it wants to reboot in the middle of your drive, all functions -- nav, radio, HVAC, name it -- are off limits for the next five minutes or so. When the system returns, it has switched the radio to some AM radio station preset programmed by Dan Edmunds that you've never listened to in your life and, apparently, canceled any nav routes you'd entered.

Also, the Sync reboot appears to occur every day. At least it did while the Explorer was in my care during a 1000-mile trip.

Touchscreen needs an external dimmer. Other automakers have recognized the folly of burying the screen brightness adjustment deep within several menus of a interface that's too dim to see... the very situation you're attempting to resolve in the first place.

Touch-sensitive interfaces probably look great on a corporate balance sheet -- hey, it's cheap! -- but their poor ergonomics and functionality leave much (everything?) to be desired.

Imagine for a moment an alternate universe where touch-sensitive HVAC panels like MyFord Touch have always been the norm. If some enterprising individual came up with a 3-knob interface, he would be hailed as a genius and all touch-sensitive panels would be obsolete overnight.

Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor

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