Kristin Kolodge, executive director of human/machine interaction at JD Power, a consumer-survey company based in Costa Mesa, California. JDPower.com
Bottom Line: Cameras vs. WiFi hotspots vs. navigation systems
Which modern automotive technology do drivers like and use…and which do they consider unnecessary or annoying? JD Power surveyed nearly 15,000 people who had recently purchased or leased vehicles to find out. Among the findings…
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are quickly gaining popularity with many new-car buyers. These systems let drivers use their car’s controls to operate their smartphones. Survey participants gave Apple CarPlay a stellar satisfaction rating of 777 on a 1,000-point scale. Android Auto was right behind at 748.
Blind-spot monitoring systems and back-up cameras rate highest among modern safety tech. Most drivers find that these features really do help them feel safer behind the wheel, and they use them frequently—81% use blind-spot monitoring every time they drive, while only 3% never use it…83% use back-up cameras all the time, while only 2% never use them.
Built-in Wi-Fi hot spots received the lowest usage scores—only 15% of drivers use them on every trip, while 48% never use them. Car owners must pay for a separate cellular plan to use these, a significant ongoing cost. Most discover it’s cheaper to use a smartphone as a hot spot instead.
Lane-holding/lane-centering systems get the worst scores of any safety technology. This tech provides a warning when the vehicle strays from its lane. Some systems also steer the vehicle back into its lane. But 23% of drivers consider these features annoying or bothersome, easily the highest dissatisfaction rate among safety tech, and 17% were startled or surprised by these systems. Only 56% use this feature on every trip, which is very low for a safety feature.
Onboard navigation systems are considered unnecessary. Most drivers consider the navigation apps in their smartphones to be more accurate and easier to use. (Google Maps is the most popular phone-based navigation app—Apple Maps lags far behind.) And if the car has Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, you can use these phone-based navigation apps and still view the maps on the car’s touch screen.
Voice-recognition systems continue to struggle. Voice-recognition tech, which takes orders from the driver such as, “Call Tom,” often misunderstands what people say—a problem that’s compounded when the tech is installed in cars where there often is significant background noise. Fewer than 25% of car owners report using their vehicles’ voice-recognition systems regularly, though usage is very slowly creeping up.