MyFord Touch flop shows that technology sometimes comes at a high price

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In fixing MyFord Touch, Ford Motor Co. reluctantly acknowledges that the system wasn't "playing in Peoria," so to speak.

Ford is issuing an upgrade to its MyFord Touch in-vehicle infotainment system.

The system uses a touch screen in lieu of buttons and knobs on traditional instrument panels. There are also steering wheel-mounted controls and spoken commands to handle routine tasks such as adjusting the climate or changing the radio station.

The upgrade will redesign much of what drivers see on the touch screen. It also will fix many of the annoyances that some consumers have reported.

Since its launch, MyFord Touch received mixed reviews from consumers and auto journalists. I have written repeatedly that MyFord Touch was distracting because of its complexity and its occasional malfunction. I nearly drove off the road on three occasions while trying to adjust climate or radio.

And beyond that, many Ford and Lincoln dealers said teaching customers to use the system required salespeople to spend an extra hour or two at delivery.

Critics say the MyFord Touch screen distracts drivers. But Ford says the screen's color coding makes the system easy to operate.

Photo credit: FORD

The additional time kept salespeople from making more sales, dealers have said. Ford rectified that by paying dealers for the extra time spent at delivery.

Finally, poor reviews of MyFord Touch affected Ford's quality ratings from key third-party companies such as Consumer Reports and J.D. Power and Associates.

The bottom line: Ford rushed MyFord Touch to market when the system was too much about style and not enough about functioning substance. Ford wanted to prove it was a technology leader.

I commend Ford's enthusiasm, but was getting MyFord Touch to market worth the ding the automaker took to its reputation?

Let's hope this latest upgrade improves the system and repairs the damage to Ford's quality ratings.

And again I ask: What was so wrong with the old buttons and knobs?

You can reach Jamie LaReau at jlareau@crain.com. -- Follow Jamie on Twitter

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