With infotainment systems playing a larger role in new vehicle customer experience these days, one could argue that the software automakers utilize is more important than ever. This much is clear from a recent Consumer Reports study that leaned on data collected by the organization’s owner surveys, which showed that Ford owners prefer Apple CarPlay over the brand’s Sync infotainment – but not Android Auto – while Lincoln owners are bigger fans of the factory system. However, Lincoln owners also indicated that they prefer Sync over Apple CarPlay, too.
This is quite the reversal when compared to Ford owners, who clearly prefer Apple CarPlay to Sync, but that apparently isn’t the case with Lincoln customers at all. It’s also quite the deviance from most brands, as consumers are bigger fans of CarPlay than OEM infotainment – a list that includes Cadillac, Jeep, Ram, Chevy, Dodge, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Volvo, Land Rover, Kia, Honda, Mini, Audi, Nissan, Infiniti, Volkswagen, Toyota, Lexus, Mazda, Subaru, and Acura. In fact, the only automakers that saw their OEM system rank higher than Apple CarPlay were Genesis, Hyundai, BMW, Buick, Lincoln, GMC, and Chrysler.
Overall, 57 percent of members said they were satisfied with Apple CarPlay versus 50 percent for built-in systems, while Android Auto brought up the rear at 44 percent. The study found that for three out of five owners, CarPlay and Android Auto actually improved the user experience versus the least-satisfying brand systems, though more than 25 percent said they never bother to use either. Regardless, with physical controls absent from many modern vehicles, having a decent infotainment system can make a big difference in the driving experience – which makes GM’s decision to ditch CarPlay and Android Auto in its future EVs seem a bit misguided.
“In many newer models, common tasks that drivers used to accomplish with the simple press of a button or turn of a knob now require navigating through multiple screens, which means more steps, more time, and more attention,” said Kelly Funkhouser, manager for vehicle technology at CR‘s Auto Test Center. “The last thing you want is for your infotainment system to become a source of distraction and frustration that causes you to fuss with your phone or a screen while you’re driving.”