This is not your parents Ford. In 2007 at the Detroit auto show Ford introduced it’s SYNC technology—an in-car communications and entertainment system built on the Microsoft platform. The new MyFord Touch is a bit more advanced. The new technology allows you to fully integrate all your favorite mobile devices with your car. It can even hook up a Wi-Fi card and act as a router for up to 4 devices. With this new technology Ford takes life on the go, literally.
A few weeks ago I experienced firsthand the improvements Ford has made through an in-car demonstration by three Ford reps Jeb, Ken, and Vanessa. When I first approached the parked 2011 Ford Explorer, I expected a similar but slightly upgraded version of what I had known growing up. Once I opened the door saw two (TWO!) sun roofs, I realized that Ford has made some serious changes.
The new MyFord Touch completely integrates all your mobile devices with the vehicle. You can control it using voice activation, a conveniently placed keypad on the steering wheel, or through a sleek touch screen. It even has built in safety features such as calling 911 if the airbags deploy, and then sending your location via GPS to emergency services. Another safety feature (albeit, a little big brother) developed with parents of teens in mind is the MyKey feature. MyKey allows you to dictate things like the max speed, radio volume, and requiring seatbelts to be on before the car will shift into drive. You can also save all your favorite settings and preferences so that if you share the car with someone you don’t have to constantly readjust.
To provide drivers with relevant and accurate real time information Ford partnered with Wcities, a San Francisco based company that provides location-based information services in over 350 cities. This means that you can rest assured that the information you are receiving about restaurants, movie times, points of interest, and events are all up to date.
My favorite part of the experience was when the Ford rep Ken, showed off the voice commands. “I’m hungry”, Ken said seemingly to no one. “Looking up restaurants” the car pleasantly replied, and then gave a listing of restaurants in the area offering cuisine type and other basic information. Once you choose your dining destination the car then provides you with directions. The only thing missing was that there were no reviews—yet. Ken thought that it was something that could certainly be a possibility, and would have obvious value to the consumer. Given my experience with voice commands, I was surprised that it was functional at all. Ken even told me he preferred using the voice commands over the buttons, but given that the car can understand nearly 10,000 commands, I could see why.
In terms of entertainment there are a lot of options. You could rock out to your favorite band on your iPod, get a case of musical ADD and decide you hate your iPod, and then start streaming Pandora or switch to the radio all with barely moving your eyes from the road. You can also set a particular artist or song as your favorite and the car will let you know when the artist or song is playing on another station. You can even hook a Playstation up to the small, but crystal clear touch screen. The good news for other drivers on the road? That feature can only be used when the car is in park.
The fully upgradable system is available on the US marketed 2011 Edge, Explorer, and the 2012 Focus and costs about $1,000 (it’s so af-Ford-able!) and comes standard on limited edition models. Dealers have found that demonstrating the technology to shoppers they are three times more likely to purchase a Ford. My only regret about the demonstration is that I didn’t get to drive one.
Catherine Tomezsko is the General Manager of The Harbus. She can be found on twitter @CTomezsko