7 On Your Side
Consumer Reports survey of high-tech car controls
If you have a new car with a navigation or computer system, you may have suffered a so-called high-tech headache -- car controls that are just too complicated to use. If so, you're not alone. Consumer Reports has partnered exclusively with 7 On Your Side to reveal more on this growing frustration.
Finding your favorite radio station used to be simple, not so anymore. Many new cars come with high-tech infotainment systems that Consumer Reports' Jon Linkov says can be very complicated.
"What's odd is that you have a knob down here that controls a screen up here, whereas down here you have the touch screen which doesn't work with the knob, doesn't work with the buttons, and you don't know exactly which one to look at," said Linkov.
In a Consumer Reports survey of its subscribers covering more than a million vehicles, owners of Cadillacs, Fords, Hondas, and Lincolns had the most complaints with electronics. So Consumer Reports recontacted thousands of them to find out what was wrong. Sixty percent who had infotainment systems said they were difficult to learn.
"I don't think a car system should be this complicated, because it's not safe to try to navigate through the system while you're driving," said a driver.
And one-third complained that a feature didn't work properly.
"It would lock up on us. And it would affect the radio part of it as well as the navigation sometimes," said another driver.
Consumer Reports says older drivers weren't the only ones to report having trouble.
"More older drivers found the systems complicated to use at first. On the other hand, younger drivers reported the most problems. This may be because they use the systems more," said Donato Vaccaro, Consumer Reports.
And don't expect complicated controls to go away; carmakers are packing more and more features into the dashboard.
Consumer Reports says its survey shows some electronic dashboard controls have been relatively trouble-free. They include the systems from Audi, BMW, Chrysler and Lexus.
Consumer Reports is published by Consumers Union. Both Consumer Reports and Consumers Union are not-for-profit organizations that accept no advertising. Neither has any commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site.
(All Consumer Reports Material Copyright 2010. Consumers Union of U.S. Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.)
consumer reports, 7 on your side, michael finney
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