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'Consumer Reports': Cars better, infotainment not

"Ford is a striking example of the damage an awkward-to-use infotainment can do. Ford's vehicles, in general, score about as well in driving tests as those sold by highly rated brands Honda and Toyota, and even are close to CR's No. 1 brand, Lexus, according to a listing of 23 brands in the publication's annual April auto issue.

But Ford's Microsoft-based Sync system, and the MyFord Touch suite of voice and touch controls based on it, wreck Ford's reliability, CR data show. Ford winds up 22nd, ahead of only Jeep."

No mention of Mazda in the USAToday article.
 

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Cadillacs VUE system is reported by Consumer Reports to be awful as well. They do love the simplicity of Chrysler products infotainment systems. I've read several remarks in Consumer Reports praising them. All in all, the Mazda system is good, especially since they offer periodic firmware updates. Some, like Hyundai, don't. Your stuck with what you get!
 

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Same for my hyundai. The mechanicals of the car are reliable but the touch screen head unit has issues and the speakers do as well. The reliability rating suck because of those things.
Knock on wood mine has been perfect so far.

The dealer can do firmware updates on my radio in my hyundai.
 

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Cant say I agree with CU on this one.

I own a 2013 Ford Escape, and now a 2014 Mazda3 so I do have experience with both.

The Ford MFT System has had two updates since I got it, both of which I was able to do myself with a USB stick. (I like this a lot better than Mazda's service call approach)

On the original Ford version that came with the car, we had the audio disappear once or twice and the Bluetooth connection was lost to our phones for no apparent reason.
With the first update, these problems were fixed and we have not had any other issues with the MFT system. The second update provided some minor feature enhancements.

In contrast to my Mazda3 system, the Ford system has been much more reliable. The voice recognition in the Ford is really pretty good and finds song and artist titles with amazing accuracy. It also seems to load up a 64GB USB stick full of MP3 music fairly quickly.
And when a new USB stick is inserted and remembers the track info even after the car is shut off.

The Mazda3 takes forever to load a 32GB stick full of tracks and seems to forget most of it when the car is turned off. (Still trying to figure out what is going on). I could go on,

BUT,

The Mazda3 IFT blows away the Ford system when it comes to usability and driver distraction. The control knob is one of the reasons I bought this car, its easy to reach and allows full control. The Ford Touch centric design is downright distracting and i need to lean over to touch the screen to get to many functions.
 

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Despite the bugs that come with Mazda's system, it's light years better than some of the others offered in cars.
 

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I'm painfully close to this discussion...

- 2012 Focus SE, because in 2012 you could get a loaded SE with Sync but not MyFord Touch (two distinctly different systems.) Sync didn't do much and much of what it did, interface-wise, was best done through voice commands. I will say this, though-- what it did do was rock solid reliable.

- Rental 2013 Chrysler 300, because dumb uninsured kids need to learn how to obey stop signs. The infotainment was *amazing*. Definitely the best music interface I've used, ever. I didn't have Nav in the rental, nor did I do any pairing with my phone, but it was slick.

- 2014 Mz3. Well, we all know how this goes. It's a lot better in theory than in practice (although I do still think the Nav is quite good despite a few minor bugs that have yet to be squashed.)
 

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When out and about today; Played with my Infotainment system ( V25 ) and rock solid like granite. Have all our music on a 16mb usb flash drive Almost full and everything is there and easily selectable by album , singer , file folder , genre , type of music , alphabetical order and whatever other option came up and I can't see a single thing out to lunch. Does take a second or two to load but that's it. Whatever guys are having problems with I am starting to think it is how it is recorded into the flash drive being used and not the system as I can't there being issues with the software since it was all the same (V25)unless updated . All I can say is , so far, so good. BUT if there are problems I will certainly crow about it. Next step is the addition of a SD GPS card down the road.
 

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GPS is automatically included with the COMMAND system. Check you glove box for the SD Card. If you don't have one, the dealer owes you one.

I'm up to three crashes on v27 since Monday a week ago... None of them as spectacular as the v20 crashes, but 3 is way more than is acceptable.

If you're not having music problems, you're lucky. I'm using music that's tagged correctly and sometimes it assigns the music to a random artist or splits one album into two, etc.-- really obvious stuff. I don't mean "bands you've never heard of" but top artists with MP3s downloaded directly from Amazon MP3 for example. I've had it go into a mode where everything except AM/FM is unresponsive... twice since v27.

It's now up to *usually* remembering where it left off when you restart the car but not 100% of the time. The best part is that you can tell it's finally writing that info to flash, so when the system crashes, it goes back to playing the track it committed to memory when the car was started :p

Then there are the insane interface gripes, such as muting an MP3 track doesn't pause it-- it just mutes it. Bluetooth Audio response is slow-- I don't expect stellar reliability over BT, but it's still slow. Voice controls are very awkward and limited compared to either Ford system for example. I mostly just ignore it because it's so limited.

Still the REALLY BAD bugs haven't cropped up under 27 yet, like forgetting *all* of your settings bugs. I'm complaining about v27 but v20 was much, much worse.

The interface is pretty slick and *relatively* consistent if you can get the reliability up. Music playback features are not there yet, but They're correctly focusing on bugs and the really egregious interface issues before adding more features.

I just wish my dealer weren't so stingy with updates. "I want an oil change and a firmware update to 27." "Why do you think you need an upgrade?" "Let's see. It crashed on the way over here." (sigh) "OK, we'll update you."
 

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GPS is automatically included with the COMMAND system. Check you glove box for the SD Card. If you don't have one, the dealer owes you one.

I'm up to three crashes on v27 since Monday a week ago... None of them as spectacular as the v20 crashes, but 3 is way more than is acceptable.

If you're not having music problems, you're lucky. I'm using music that's tagged correctly and sometimes it assigns the music to a random artist or splits one album into two, etc.-- really obvious stuff. I don't mean "bands you've never heard of" but top artists with MP3s downloaded directly from Amazon MP3 for example. I've had it go into a mode where everything except AM/FM is unresponsive... twice since v27.

It's now up to *usually* remembering where it left off when you restart the car but not 100% of the time. The best part is that you can tell it's finally writing that info to flash, so when the system crashes, it goes back to playing the track it committed to memory when the car was started :p

Then there are the insane interface gripes, such as muting an MP3 track doesn't pause it-- it just mutes it. Bluetooth Audio response is slow-- I don't expect stellar reliability over BT, but it's still slow. Voice controls are very awkward and limited compared to either Ford system for example. I mostly just ignore it because it's so limited.

Still the REALLY BAD bugs haven't cropped up under 27 yet, like forgetting *all* of your settings bugs. I'm complaining about v27 but v20 was much, much worse.

The interface is pretty slick and *relatively* consistent if you can get the reliability up. Music playback features are not there yet, but They're correctly focusing on bugs and the really egregious interface issues before adding more features.

I just wish my dealer weren't so stingy with updates. "I want an oil change and a firmware update to 27." "Why do you think you need an upgrade?" "Let's see. It crashed on the way over here." (sigh) "OK, we'll update you."
From what I can gather, the problem lies with music playback and iPhone connectivity. The Infotainment system does a lot more than that. The radio works fine, SiriusXM works fine, the NAV works fine, the settings work fine, and with my Android phone, it connects quickly and works great. Since I don't use streaming services or download mp3's, I have virtually no problems. Initially, the voice prompts bothered me, but I found out from Mazda that if you just hit the voice button a second time, the voice prompt is skipped.

Thus for most of us, the Infotainment system works great. For those of you on the bleeding edge using streaming services and the latest iPhones, you're going to have problems as streaming services are still developing and iPhones are closed systems. You can't expect a system to be compatible with the latest iPhone update until Apple opens up the interface (which they will not do).
 

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GPS is automatically included with the COMMAND system. Check you glove box for the SD Card. If you don't have one, the dealer owes you one.

I'm up to three crashes on v27 since Monday a week ago... None of them as spectacular as the v20 crashes, but 3 is way more than is acceptable.

If you're not having music problems, you're lucky. I'm using music that's tagged correctly and sometimes it assigns the music to a random artist or splits one album into two, etc.-- really obvious stuff. I don't mean "bands you've never heard of" but top artists with MP3s downloaded directly from Amazon MP3 for example. I've had it go into a mode where everything except AM/FM is unresponsive... twice since v27.

It's now up to *usually* remembering where it left off when you restart the car but not 100% of the time. The best part is that you can tell it's finally writing that info to flash, so when the system crashes, it goes back to playing the track it committed to memory when the car was started :p

Then there are the insane interface gripes, such as muting an MP3 track doesn't pause it-- it just mutes it. Bluetooth Audio response is slow-- I don't expect stellar reliability over BT, but it's still slow. Voice controls are very awkward and limited compared to either Ford system for example. I mostly just ignore it because it's so limited.

Still the REALLY BAD bugs haven't cropped up under 27 yet, like forgetting *all* of your settings bugs. I'm complaining about v27 but v20 was much, much worse.

The interface is pretty slick and *relatively* consistent if you can get the reliability up. Music playback features are not there yet, but They're correctly focusing on bugs and the really egregious interface issues before adding more features.

I just wish my dealer weren't so stingy with updates. "I want an oil change and a firmware update to 27." "Why do you think you need an upgrade?" "Let's see. It crashed on the way over here." (sigh) "OK, we'll update you."
My husband just bought a Ford F150 with the Sync system. I find those controls really awkward, and it seems there are extra steps I have to go through to use the voice controls that aren't quite as awkward on the Mazda. I had trouble in his truck when I made a test call after I set it all up for him a) getting the voice prompt up in order to make the call b) trying to hang the call up, I had to hold the hangup button for ages in order to hang up first.

I would like to get the latest software on the Mazda done. It forgot my bass/treble settings last week. Not sure if it was a software bug, or aliens.
 

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From what I can gather, the problem lies with music playback and iPhone connectivity.
I'm not an iPhone user. I use a Galaxy S3, which is about as common of an Android phone as you can find.

Music lives on USB sticks, and I've tried three so far.

Thus for most of us, the Infotainment system works great. For those of you on the bleeding edge using streaming services and the latest iPhones, you're going to have problems as streaming services are still developing and iPhones are closed systems. You can't expect a system to be compatible with the latest iPhone update until Apple opens up the interface (which they will not do).
Everything I'm seeing, I see using completely standard stuff. I have tried some of the streaming stuff and when it has proven unreliable it's usually on the phone side. I can't fault Mazda for that, and it's not a deal-killer for me. I'm not vocal about Aha bugs, etc. Those features are nice to have, but they can always fall back through BT Audio or even Aux in if you really care. I'm pretty reasonable and bleeding edge tech and using low-tech (proven) fallback technologies if necessary...

Apple's on to building their own Phone interface for cars. Supposedly it's not locked to iPhones, but I am very pleased that Mazda isn't going in that direction. Locking a car that might be on the road for 25+ years to a specific technology is iffy. I don't want to bet that iPhones are still going to be around (let alone be willing to use one.)
 

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My husband just bought a Ford F150 with the Sync system. I find those controls really awkward, and it seems there are extra steps I have to go through to use the voice controls that aren't quite as awkward on the Mazda. I had trouble in his truck when I made a test call after I set it all up for him a) getting the voice prompt up in order to make the call b) trying to hang the call up, I had to hold the hangup button for ages in order to hang up first.

I would like to get the latest software on the Mazda done. It forgot my bass/treble settings last week. Not sure if it was a software bug, or aliens.
I didn't see that behavior with the phone on a '12 Focus with Sync but NOT MyFord Touch. With Ford, you have two completely different systems and each individual system doesn't necessarily work the same car-to-car or year-to-year (especially Sync). For the one I had, calling generally worked OK, but sometimes voice dialing failed to understand you or needed clarification prompts. (I prefer the "Favorites" and "Contacts" settings in COMMAND-- less error prone.) Hanging up was a non-issue except for Ford being stupid-- the call and hang-up buttons were not illuminated and hard to find at night, despite everything else on the steering wheel being illuminated just fine-- including other controls ON THE SAME SWITCH. It was like a D-pad where left and right (track skip/ff/rewind) controls were lit up and up/down (phone controls) were not. The mirror image d-pad on the left side was lit up at all 4 locations. Stupid.

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Oddly enough, I expected the update from v20 to v27 to wipe my settings-- I had already lost all my radio favorites, nav favorites, phone settings, etc. so many times... After the update the system was pretty much all reset back to factory settings yet it remembered my Bass/Treble settings.

It forgot everything else. I have no idea why it preserved those. They tended to persist through crashes as well, but so did things like the ADD settings. I swear COMMAND runs on voodoo and magic smoke sometimes.
 

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I didn't see that behavior with the phone on a '12 Focus with Sync but NOT MyFord Touch. With Ford, you have two completely different systems and each individual system doesn't necessarily work the same car-to-car or year-to-year (especially Sync). For the one I had, calling generally worked OK, but sometimes voice dialing failed to understand you or needed clarification prompts. (I prefer the "Favorites" and "Contacts" settings in COMMAND-- less error prone.) Hanging up was a non-issue except for Ford being stupid-- the call and hang-up buttons were not illuminated and hard to find at night, despite everything else on the steering wheel being illuminated just fine-- including other controls ON THE SAME SWITCH. It was like a D-pad where left and right (track skip/ff/rewind) controls were lit up and up/down (phone controls) were not. The mirror image d-pad on the left side was lit up at all 4 locations. Stupid.

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Oddly enough, I expected the update from v20 to v27 to wipe my settings-- I had already lost all my radio favorites, nav favorites, phone settings, etc. so many times... After the update the system was pretty much all reset back to factory settings yet it remembered my Bass/Treble settings.

It forgot everything else. I have no idea why it preserved those. They tended to persist through crashes as well, but so did things like the ADD settings. I swear COMMAND runs on voodoo and magic smoke sometimes.
This one has they sync, but not the touch system. I haven't taken his truck out at night, so I'm not sure how the buttons are lit up. I found out that the head unit can be upgraded, and he won't lose Sync. I may do that & upgrade his speakers for a gift if I can get his truck away from him for a few hours sometime. I think I can do it without spending a fortune. The 3's radio has spoiled us.
 

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Guys, I work in Product Marketing not for cars but in a different industry. My job is to make sure products work as they should before it gets released to the public. The customer is what makes a company successful/profitable. In many cases "test cases" (no pun intended) are conducted for months.....there is no reason why the Mazda 3 has so many flaws with its infotainment system, there is no excuse whatsoever, and 4 firmware update thus far? One further point.....if you think the audio issue is going to be corrected by in version29 or later you need to lower your expectations, Mazda has used 2.1ADP which is a crummy bluetooth version/hardware module, actually, the previous generation Mazda 3's 2013 have a better bluetooth system for streaming audio. I'd rather have a system that is a bit harder to use vs. one that crashes everyday. Im done ranting now :)
 

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Guys, I work in Product Marketing not for cars but in a different industry. My job is to make sure products work as they should before it gets released to the public. The customer is what makes a company successful/profitable. In many cases "test cases" (no pun intended) are conducted for months.....there is no reason why the Mazda 3 has so many flaws with its infotainment system, there is no excuse whatsoever, and 4 firmware update thus far? One further point.....if you think the audio issue is going to be corrected by in version29 or later you need to lower your expectations, Mazda has used 2.1ADP which is a crummy bluetooth version/hardware module, actually, the previous generation Mazda 3's 2013 have a better bluetooth system for streaming audio. I'd rather have a system that is a bit harder to use vs. one that crashes everyday. Im done ranting now :)
As a marketing executive, you should know that that in electronics the development paradigm has changed. Instead of having a fully tested product, developers realize they cannot know how other products will interface with theirs. Therefore, they try to develop to standards and give frequent updates. You see this with Microsoft, Google, Mozilla, and of course, all antivirus software. If you didn't do this, you'd never introduce a product because it would never be perfect. In addition, you have what we call in the industry parallel development. Apple or Android develops and new version and you must then respond to insure you are compatible with them. Android is an open system and is much easier to develop for than iOS which is a closed system and must be hacked. Therefore, the only solution is to have frequent updates. Even Microsoft which beta tests with 10,000 users finds problems with the systems they introduce. A car is far more difficult because in order to get a large number of users, you have to sell a lot of cars. If you buy a car with a new system like we did, we are the beta testers and you should expect frequent updates. Please take this as a lesson from someone who was a marketing executive and consultant for a number of Fortune 100 companies.
 

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Guys, I work in Product Marketing not for cars but in a different industry. My job is to make sure products work as they should before it gets released to the public. The customer is what makes a company successful/profitable. In many cases "test cases" (no pun intended) are conducted for months.....there is no reason why the Mazda 3 has so many flaws with its infotainment system, there is no excuse whatsoever, and 4 firmware update thus far? One further point.....if you think the audio issue is going to be corrected by in version29 or later you need to lower your expectations, Mazda has used 2.1ADP which is a crummy bluetooth version/hardware module, actually, the previous generation Mazda 3's 2013 have a better bluetooth system for streaming audio. I'd rather have a system that is a bit harder to use vs. one that crashes everyday. Im done ranting now :)
Hey thanks, your so right, we are waiting to find a wreck in some junk yard around the country and if we can pull the system, we are going to do a tear down and see what ticks.:detective:

I betcha they found a warehouse full of 1972 Ataris and somehow worked it in there :) lol....
Hey, anyone know the base memory of this system.

PS, I had this stupid Honda try to race me today, that 2.5 moves when in sport mode. :banana 1:
 

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If you didn't do this, you'd never introduce a product because it would never be perfect. In addition, you have what we call in the industry parallel development.
Yup, and yup.

I would like some examples of released bugless products with embedded firmware. Particularly modular systems where firmware interacts with other firmware, and external third party devices (like your phone).

All released firmware products have ongoing bug lists. Critical ones get fixed, others do as convenient, and some never do (because they don't matter or rarely occur). The longer the product is out, the longer the list continues.

I have very little trouble with my Infotainment (v 27). There are user interface things I find a little clunky but those would be feature requests, not bugs (customers often don't understand the difference).

As an iOS user (no choice :-( ) I see more bugs, updates, and hasty follow-up updates from the phone than from the car. At least Mazda updates don't drain my battery.

You can choose to see the hole, or the donut, with updates. If you think they are a sign the system has bugs, you can be sad. They also mean someone is still working on the product, still caring, and making it better. That should make you happy. It means there is hope for better things to come.

Reporting the bugs in detail is valuable feedback for the developers. They can't simulate every combination of conditions in your environment. This not only keeps the pressure on, it may alert them to a new condition, or to the prevalence of a known condition.

Personally I wish they'd publish release notes, so you know what's fixed or changed in each update. This would probably be a nightmare with a consumer product such as a car, though. Some consumers interpret every fix as some kind of admission of guilt and start mumbling about litigation.

A screen crash is just not the same as a brake failure or stuck accelerator, but if it's truly broken you need to take it in and get it fixed. If the Nav screen is working but it's still ruining your driving experience, your priorities are different and you should consider one of the more perfect infotainment autos, such as _______________ .
 

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Rvoll...
Thank you for the Marketing 101 lesson, greatly appreciated. Nothing is perfect, understood, updates will roll out as bug fixes are identified, understood, but apparently you missed a section pertaining to "outdated" hardware that was put into our 2014 models. I purchased a $30,000 car, if im not happy, im not happy, period. Based on the interactions between members on this forum people aren't impressed and I don't blame them. People work hard for their money, we are not taking about purchasing a subsidized cell phone.....we are talking about something on a completely different scale. Anyway, my message was a way of expressing my thoughts on the situation, we have our own opinion, you have yours, I have mine..... let's re-connect in a year and let me know how you really feel.
Cheers!
 

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Hey thanks, your so right, we are waiting to find a wreck in some junk yard around the country and if we can pull the system, we are going to do a tear down and see what ticks.:detective:

I betcha they found a warehouse full of 1972 Ataris and somehow worked it in there :) lol....
Hey, anyone know the base memory of this system.

PS, I had this stupid Honda try to race me today, that 2.5 moves when in sport mode. :banana 1:
LOL, your funny! :)
AMEN!
 
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