July 15, 2024

If Your New Car’s High-Tech Features Make You Crazy, You’re Not Alone

4 min read
If Your New Car’s High-Tech Features Make You Crazy, You’re Not Alone

Automakers know that new car buyers generally crave all manner of new technology — from digital displays to smart safety systems. But while adding the latest features can lure customers in, faulty tech, such as balky voice recognition systems, can become a serious owner frustration.

If Your New Car’s High-Tech Features Make You Crazy, You’re Not Alone
Just surveyed about this year, fingerprint readers were not popular among new vehicle buyers.

South Korean carmakers appear to be doing the best job of loading up on the latest high-tech features while making them both reliable and easy to use, according to the latest J.D. Power Tech Experience Index, or TXI, Study. But, like other manufacturers, the Hyundai Motor Group has had problems with technology like the fingerprint readers it’s built into some models as an alternative to a traditional key fob.

“Innovation is non-negotiable,” said Kathleen Rizk, senior director of user experience benchmarking and technology at J.D. Power. “Getting the right mix of technology features owners want is important to perception, profits and sales. When owners get the technology features they really want — and which meet their user-experience expectations — the results are positive and those owners tell their friends about the experience.”

The level of technology going into today’s vehicles has expanded year-over-year. Today, virtually every product on the market is equipped with at least a small infotainment screen, while advanced driver assistance systems enhance vehicle safety. More advanced models add features like voice assistants, auto parking systems and even semi-autonomous driving capabilities.

More technology isn’t always better

But such technologies are a double-edged sword, according to Power research. The Initial Quality Study released earlier this year revealed such features now account for the largest number of reported “problems” with newly purchased vehicles, even as conventional mechanical issues become increasingly less common.

JDP 2022 TXI top models graphic

The TXI study focuses on how easy and convenient high-tech features are and whether motorists find them useful and reliable. Fingerprint readers had the lowest overall satisfaction — essentially having the highest number of problems — in the 2022 index, followed by gesture controls. Many owners don’t want those two features in their next vehicles, Power reported.

But owners reported problems with a variety of other tech features, including voice recognition systems that don’t recognize commands, balky navigation systems, and user interfaces that make it difficult to find and operate onboard technologies.

Reliable is best

Some technologies are proving to work quite well, however. The most reliable feature in the study: rear-set reminder systems, designed to get motorists to look back and make sure they haven’t left children or pets behind when they exit their vehicle.

Another feature scoring well with owners: smartphone-based digital key systems that let owners leave keys and key fobs at home. It is one of new technologies motorists say they want on their next vehicle.

Genesis was the overall highest-ranked brand in the 2022 Tech Experience Index, as well as number one in the luxury category, with a score of 643 out of a possible 1,000 points. Cadillac was second among high-line brands, at 584 points, with Mercedes-Benz earning a third-place 539.

JDP 2022 TXI overall results graphic

In the mainstream category, Hyundai had a lead at 534 points, followed by its South Korean sibling Kia at 495 points. Buick followed at 482 points.

Unofficial leader and more

Industry upstart Tesla was actually the unofficial leader, with a score of 681 points. But it declines to provide full access to owners in all states, meaning Power can’t get a completely representative sample of owners.

The TXI looks at 35 different technologies — this year adding fingerprint readers for the first time. The research firm highlighted a handful of brands and features that scored especially well with owners:

  • Cadillac Escalade is the premium model receiving the convenience award for camera rear-view mirror technology. Subaru Ascent is the mass market model receiving the convenience award, also for camera rear-view mirror technology.
  • Lexus IS is the premium model receiving the emerging automation award for front cross-traffic warning. Mitsubishi Outlander is the mass market model receiving the emerging automation award for reverse automatic emergency braking.
  • Mini Cooper receives the award for energy and sustainability in the mass market segment for one-pedal driving.
  • BMW X3 receives the award for infotainment and connectivity in the premium segment for phone-based digital key technology.

The 2022 TXI also found that features may work well for one brand, but not for another which, said Rizk, “means that some are innovating more flawlessly for a particular tech, while others struggle with their execution. “Effective innovators, she added, “understand that new technologies can be introduced successfully with proper design and execution.”

If Your New Car’s High-Tech Features Make You Crazy, You’re Not Alone

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