Digital Drive Technology of the Year MyFord Touch

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first_imgIn four years, Ford has gone from worst to first in providing affordable, useful infotainment and cockpit technology. First, Ford Sync put two vital safety and convenience features into cars cheaply or in the base price: Bluetooth and a USB jack for iPod, music key, and other MP3 players. Now, our 2010 Digital Drive Technology of the Year, MyFord Touch (and MyLincoln Touch) extends the multimedia interface, integrating infotainment and climate control functions onto color LCD touchscreens.Once you’ve used MyFord Touch in one Ford or Lincoln, you know how to work them all. Press the upper left corner for phone functions, upper right for navigation, lower left for audio, lower right for climate control. The 8-inch touchscreen – no iDrive-like cockpit controller needed, though you can use 10,000 recognized voice commands in place of some touch inputs – then opens to a menu for the phone, navigation, etcetera. Ford’s goal is to migrate MyFord Touch and MyLincoln Touch through the entire line, starting with new models. At the same time, the core Sync functionality has been beefed up. That means with MyFord Touch you get: Multiple input connections: 2 USB 2.0 jacks, an SD card slot Ford’s navigation system supplied by TeleNav, and RCA input jacks. WiFi capability thoughout the car via a mobile broadband device (external) or installed aircard. A voice reader for text messages coming into the Bluetooth cellphone. Streaming Bluetooth audio support. 911 Assist that calls for help. The car’s onboard sensors note a crash situation (such as airbag deployment) and through the connected phone call 911. What sets MyFord Touch (and Sync) apart from the competition, notably GM’s OnStar, is that Ford keeps the cost down by using the driver’s or passenger’s connected cellphone. So far, MyFord Touch is available on the Ford Taurus, Ford Edge, Ford Explorer, and soon the Ford Focus; MyLincoln Touch is on the Lincoln MKX and Lincoln MKT. Expect to see a lot of debate over whether a fee-based service (which has a renewal rate said to be less than 50%) is safer than a free technology that depends on the cellphone remaining undamaged in a crash. (Ford privately says there are few accidents where the cellphone didn’t work afterward.) Honorable Mention: Volvo Pedestrian Safety When a pedestrian steps in front of your moving car, Volvo Pedestrian Safety reacts instantly to alert the driver, pre-charge the brakes for maximum braking effort if you step on the brakes, and if you don’t, it applies the brakes for you. It’s on the 2011 Volvo S60 sedan. Volvo says the S60 can avoid a pedestrian collision at speeds up to 22 mph (35 kph) and slow the car substantially at higher speeds. Pedestrian Safety comprises a dual-mode, wide-angle radar inside the grille, a forward-facing camera in the rear-view mirror, and a processing module. It detects pedestrians over 32 inches tall (basically, 3-year-olds and older). Volvo took some heat for failed tests using dummies but Volvo insists the problem isn’t with the sensors or algorithms but with the dummies. The car is programmed to look for moving, breathing humans, not standing-still mannequins. Volvo Pedestrian Safety is a new technology, in addition to Volvo’s earlier City Safety technology designed to prevent low-speed car-to-car crashes. Honorable Mention: Delphi-Ford Adaptive Cruise Control Adaptive Cruise Control (also called active cruise control) is common on luxury cars at prices up to $2,400. ACC works like cruise control on the open road; in traffic, ACC maintains a safe following distance from the car in front and decelerates and brakes as needed. Not many cars have ACC because of the price. Delphi and Ford teamed up to cut the cost in half. On a Ford Taurus, adaptive cruise control runs $1,195. On other models, a package with ACC, blind spot detection, and a rear camera is a $1,500 upcharge. There’s a difference. Most of the higher-end ACC systems now are stop-and-go ACC devices. They employ two radar units, the second for slow speeds and up-close following distances, and control the car all the way down to a stop. The Delphi-Ford ACC works from higher-than-highway speeds down to 20 mph, then returns control to the driver. It’s not quite as satisfying, but it does leave an extra $1,000 in your pocket. And a couple years ago the $2,000-$2,800 ACC devices on high-end cars  also cut out below 20 mph. Delphi, by the way, has developed stop-and-go ACC systems as well. In a world where customers would order exactly what they wanted from the factory, Ford could offer no ACC, the current ACC, or stop-and-go ACC. 2010 Digital Drive Top Cars Chevrolet Volt – Car of the Year Audi A8BMW 5 Series & BMW 7 SeriesBuick LaCrosseFord EdgeHonda OdysseyHyundai ElantraHyundai SonataNissan LeafVolkswagen GolfDigital Drive 2010 Honorable MentionDigital Drive Technology of the Year: MyFord Touchlast_img

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