2013 Ford Focus ST Long-Term Road Test


2013 Ford Focus ST: Steering Wheel Audio Controls

March 19, 2013

2013 Ford Focus ST

The technology on our long-term 2013 Ford Focus ST has more than its fair share of issues. From the annoyances with MyFord Touch and pairing our phones, to the car thinking it should have a rear-view camera the audio and navigation controls and software seem to be the weak point on this car.

I'm not a big fan of the system, and this week I found myself putting another item on the well-this-isn't-intuitive-at-all list: the placement of the steering wheel volume controls. What the heck are they doing on the right-hand side of the wheel?

The volume and seek controls on the steering wheel are redundant and out of place. The requirement to take your right hand off the shift knob to change the track or adjust the volume defeats the purpose of controls on the steering wheel. It's true that these controls allow you to leave your hands at the proper positions on the wheel while driving along on an unchallenging, open highway. But they'd serve the exact same purpose on the opposite side of the steering wheel and allow drivers capable of walking and chewing bubble gum at the same time to select the appropriate high-octane soundtrack for their upcoming hooliganesque behavior.

Travis Langness, Associate Editor @ 8,242 miles

Comments

  • wdrauch wdrauch Posts:

    IMO, this gripe falls into the category of "are you serious?" ...... while I don't like the shape of the steering wheel mounted audio controls in my ST (I preferred the thumb wheel in my A3) I don't have a problem at all with them being on the right-hand side. In fact, it makes perfect sense to me that the stereo controls are on the right-hand side, where they are in closer proximity to the radio, while the left-hand side controls are used for the instrument cluster display.

  • elgac elgac Posts:

    That's a gripe I have about my Jeep. The volume control on the steering wheel is at most 3 inchs from the volume knob on the stereo. Both require removing my hand from the shift knob. It's just wrong.

  • alex4515 alex4515 Posts:

    You aren't supposed to leave your hand on the shift knob anyway - regardless, I'm used to having the stereo-related stuff on the left side of the wheel and the cruise stuff on the right, so this layout would throw me off for a little while.

  • azrcd azrcd Posts:

    So what you want is gearshift mounted audio controls? I don't really understand this complaint. I get that you pretty much always have your left hand on the steering wheel, but your supposed to have both, if your right hand is on the shifter then it doesn't really matter the placement of the audio controls on the steering wheel because your hand isn't there anyway. I imagine that the wheel mounted radio controls are going to be the most used buttons on the wheel. One could also argue that most people are right handed and would get vexed at having to push the most common buttons with their left hand. Also, you can make the argument that we have ingrained in us, "right hand for radio" anyway and they are working with that mentality. At any rate, keep your hand off the shifter when your not using it, pressure on it can wear the shift forks, stretch the linkage etc. Yes, seems a trifle OCD to bring that up, but you many not be aware of just how much pressure you could be putting on it, especially over bumps.

  • azrcd azrcd Posts:

    So what you want is gearshift mounted audio controls? I don't really understand this complaint. I get that you pretty much always have your left hand on the steering wheel, but your supposed to have both, if your right hand is on the shifter then it doesn't really matter the placement of the audio controls on the steering wheel because your hand isn't there anyway. I imagine that the wheel mounted radio controls are going to be the most used buttons on the wheel. One could also argue that most people are right handed and would get vexed at having to push the most common buttons with their left hand. Also, you can make the argument that we have ingrained in us, "right hand for radio" anyway and they are working with that mentality. At any rate, keep your hand off the shifter when your not using it, pressure on it can wear the shift forks, stretch the linkage etc. Yes, seems a trifle OCD to bring that up, but you many not be aware of just how much pressure you could be putting on it, especially over bumps.

  • throwback throwback Posts:

    They are on the right side because most Focus are sold with automatics. This is the exact same set-up as my 2012 (Non ST) Focus.

  • sharpend sharpend Posts:

    Audio controls should be on the LEFT side on the steering wheel for LHD vehicles. Period. End-of-story.

  • flybigrc flybigrc Posts:

    OMG! If your hand is on the shifter you should be paying attention to shifting and not changing the song or volume on the radio. What a total goof! And as far as the "issues" with the MyFord Touch and Nav system, what is he talking about? I have had my ST since November of last year and have had no, none, notta issues with either. I would ask what software version the reviewer's ST is on. Also, I have done the current upgrade to MFT and the NAV, both went without a hitch. No need for a trip to the dealer, do it in the garage while you eat dinner.

  • bankerdanny bankerdanny Posts:

    So there are no volume control buttons on the wheel. I would think changing the volume is a more common action than changing the station or track and would be a more useful function for a wheel mounted button. Which side of the wheel they are on is really not important. After owning the car for a while either side would become second nature, so like the argument over the upshift/downshift functions on automatic transmissions, I don't think there is a 'right' way. Also, if you can walk and chew gum at the same time can't you reach with your hand and change the volume on the radio?

  • bankerdanny bankerdanny Posts:

    OK, I re-read. They are on the right. This is a problem? If you are shifting you should be focused on the task of driving and not shifting and adjusting the volume at the same time.

  • agentorange agentorange Posts:

    Riding around with your hand permanently on the gearshift, eh? That's a fail right there. Seriously, drive like that while taking a driving test in many countries and you are history. This argument reminds me of the "radio controls above or below the HVAC controls" row a few years back in another car. It is what it is, get over it. Next you'll all be complaining the accelerator is always on the right.

  • stovt001_ stovt001_ Posts:

    I'll pile on. Keep your hand off the shifter until you're actually in the process of shifting. And if your right hand is off the shifter then it might as well be in the proper place on the wheel.

  • sjw91_ sjw91_ Posts:

    I agree with Travis. All the domestic brands get this wrong! The radio is a few inches to the right of the wheel anyway, so why put the wheel controls on the right?

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