vw golf mk7 touchscreen

In-car navigation systems have been found to be the least satisfactory aspect of new car ownership, according to JD Power’s 2016 U.S. Tech Experience Index (TXI) Study of new vehicle owners after 90 days of ownership. On a scale of 1,000 points, the average score was 730, indicating that people were relatively satisfied with the technology in their cars.

Navigation systems scored the worst, with an average score of 687. Almost two-thirds of new vehicle owners with built-in navigation reported using their smartphones or portable navigation devices for finding their way on the road. Of the 43% who have used the in-car systems, 56% of them stopped using them within the first month, according to JD Power.

The biggest cause of turning away from use of built-in systems was often the difficulty of entering a destination, and having to go through tedious menus or ‘points of interest’ menus which don’t include many choices, according to J.D. Power vice president Renee Stephens.

Voice command functions aim to make the input process easier, however they are often misunderstood and require repetitions, compounding the users’ frustration. In addition, many systems lock drivers out from manually making inputs while driving for safety reasons, but that also locks out passengers who can help make inputs whilst on the move, requiring the driver to revert to voice commands.

Ford SYNC 3-01

More recently, new vehicles have systems such as Android Auto or Apple CarPlay which mirror and display the mobile device’s applications on the vehicle’s infotainment screen. Systems such as Ford’s SYNC 3 offer the choice of pairing with both mobile operating systems, which gives drivers more intuitive access to their mobile devices; for example, mobile-based navigation can have their maps displayed on the car’s screen.

These latest systems should provide solutions to the aforementioned problems with in-car systems, however most drivers aren’t aware that these systems are present in their vehicles. “For any technology in a vehicle, it’s critical that the owners want it, are aware they have it and know how to use it,” said Kristin Kolodge, executive director of driver interaction & HMI research at JD Power.

“The dealer plays a critical role in whether or not a technology is used. When the dealer takes the time to explain the technology or provide a demonstration, it not only makes the owner aware they have the technology, but also helps them understand how to use it, which means they are more likely to use it, continue to use it and, because they see the value, want it in their next vehicle,” she adds.

For those who have an in-car navigation system, do you use it?