Skip to main content

Car buyers don’t care what’s under the hood. As manufacturers have learned, digital technology has become a key selling point – millennials focus on features like Bluetooth, not how many camshafts a car has, or what kind of suspension it rides on.

Infotainment has become the great automotive leveller, allowing lower-priced cars to compete with higher-end models for the hearts and chequebooks of young buyers. And when Consumer Reports (CR) weighed in on infotainment systems recently after extensive tests and reader surveys, the results weren’t what you might have expected.

At the top of the heap, with a Standout rating, was Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. Although FCA has ranked poorly in other areas (like reliability), its Uconnect 8.4 infotainment system won a Very Satisfied rating from 70 per cent of CR survey respondents. CR testers praised the 8.4 system’s straightforward, intuitive design, which combines a touchscreen with traditional knobs and buttons. But not all was rosy: Chrysler’s lesser Uconnect systems, with smaller screens and different design, had a satisfaction rate of just 49 per cent.

Story continues below advertisement

Hyundai came in second place, with 63 per cent of readers giving a Very Satisfied rating. This jibed with the findings of CR’s team of professional testers: “Hyundai’s quick-to-learn voice command and Bluetooth systems ranked highest for owner satisfaction,” they said.

BMW was third, with a 60 per cent Very Satisfied rating. Considering the frustration drivers experienced with BMW’s earliest infotainment systems (the decidedly non-intuitive iDrive, which debuted in 2001), this is a triumph.

GM, Kia and Audi all earned Very Good Ratings. Nissan, Volvo, Mercedes, Ford and Honda earned an Average rating for their infotainment systems.

Toyota may be the world’s largest car maker, and top-ranked for reliability and build quality, but CR gave it a Back to the Drawing Board rating when it came to infotainment. Survey respondents complained about small screens, slow response times and clunky voice-command systems.

We’ve redesigned the Drive section – take a look

Report an error
Comments

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed by the end of January 2018. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.