Safety a Hit, Navigation a Miss in New Car Technology

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Over the past several years, automakers have made substantial progress adding new technologies to their vehicles, making the new cars and light trucks both safer and an overall better experience for drivers and passengers. But while consumers are generally pleased with some aspects of the new technologies, they are less satisfied with others.

On Monday J.D. Power released the results of its 2016 U.S. Tech Experience Index (TXI) study based on a survey of more than 13,000 car buyers who have purchased or leased a new 2016 model year vehicle in the previous 90 days.

New technologies that get the highest satisfaction ratings from consumers are collision avoidance technologies (730 out of a possible 1,000). These technologies include blind-spot warning and detection, lane-keeping/centering (the highest scoring technology with an index of 754).

According to J.D. Power, back-up camera/warning and blind spot warning and detection are used by at least 75% of owners every time they drive. These are also the most in-demand technologies, with 96% of current owners of the technologies saying they want both features in their next car.

That kind of adoption is critical, according to J.D. Power’s Kristin Kolodge:

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. It is alarming how many technologies consumers have in their vehicle but aren’t using because they don’t know they have them or don’t know how to use them. Both of these knowledge gaps have long-term implications for future demand.

Among new vehicle owners who never use the in-vehicle technology, even though they know it’s there, 39% say they bring another device into the car to use instead of a technology that is already there. The feature most often replaced is the car’s navigation system, and it is also the technology that gets the lowest satisfaction with an index score of 687.

How important is it that owners understand and use the vehicle’s technology? According to the J.D. Power survey, there is an average drop of 98 points in the index score if a technology is difficult to use. The researchers suggest that dealers take the time to show new owners what new technologies are included in their new cars and how to use them.

The top ranked model in seven vehicle segments were:

  • Compact: Kia Forte
  • Small: Hyundai Tucson
  • Midsize: Chevy Camaro
  • Large: Nissan Maxima
  • Compact Premium: BMW 4-Series
  • Small Premium: BMW 2-Series
  • Midsize Premium: Hyundai Genesis