Vehicle navigation systems frustrate more car owners, study says
Smart phone apps grow in popularity
In 2012, 47 percent of respondents to the J.D. Power survey had downloaded a navigation application on their smartphones, up 10 percentage points from 2011.
Owners' satisfaction with their new vehicles' navigation systems declined in 2012 as complex menu systems, voice-control commands and entering destinations frustrated users, according to J.D. Power and Associates.
Satisfaction with navigation systems dropped 13 points from a year earlier to 681 on a 1,000-point scale, according to Power's 2012 U.S. Navigation Usage and Satisfaction Study.
The results, released this month, are based on responses from 20,704 owners who recently bought or leased a new 2012 vehicle with a factory-installed navigation system, the company said.
Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger
Results were compiled between October and November, and cover six categories: ease of use, routing, navigation display screen, system speed, voice directions and voice activation.
Factory-installed navigation systems in the Chrysler 300 series and Dodge Charger performed well, according to the study. Those vehicles, equipped with Garmin navigational setups, were particularly strong in the ease-of-use category.
A J.D. Power spokesman said this year's study did not provide rankings by automaker.
Ford Motor Co., in particular has struggled with its telematics systems, which includes navigation applications. The Ford brand plunged to No. 27 last year in J.D. Power & Associates' annual new-car quality survey -- down from No. 5 two years earlier. That was mostly because of complaints with its MyFord Touch dashboard control system. Last March Ford sent an upgrade to 377,000 customers for their dashboard controls.
Smartphones for navigation
More owners are using smartphones for navigation, according to the study.
In 2012, 47 percent of respondents downloaded a navigation application on their smartphones, up 10 percentage points from 2011.
In addition, 46 percent of owners said they "definitely would not" or "probably would not" repurchase a factory-installed navigation system if their phone's navigation could be displayed on a screen in their vehicles.
"Manufacturers of navigation systems face a serious challenge as smartphone navigation usage continues to rise and gains preference among vehicle owners," Mike VanNieuwkuyk, executive director of global automotive at J.D. Power and Associates, said in a statement. "Free apps, up-to-date maps and a familiar interface allow for quicker routing and improved interaction, including better voice recognition. Manufacturers have a window of opportunity to either improve upon the current navigation system platforms or focus on new ways to integrate smartphones."
Other highlights of the study:
67 percent of owners without voice activation in their vehicle indicate they would want it in their next navigation system, and 80 percent of those with voice activation say they would want it again in their next system.
While voice-activation is a sought-after feature, satisfaction stands at 544, the lowest factor score in the study.
You can reach Vince Bond Jr. at firstname.lastname@example.org. -- Follow Vince on