2012 Ford Focus Sedan and HatchbackEnlarge Photo
The next step up from Sync is MyFord Touch, featured in the 2011 Ford Edge and Lincoln MKX, and now offered in the 2012 Ford Focus that's just reaching dealerships this month.
In case you missed our coverage of MyFord Touch in the Edge and MKX, the system introduces the combination of a beautiful, tablet-like touch screen, five-way toggle buttons on the steering wheel, and additional, smaller gauge-cluster displays. It's generally been well-received, and in our first few drives with the system, we can see that there's a bit of a learning curve but we find the system more intuitive than most.
That said, not all testers have come away very impressed with MyFord Touch. Consumer Reports bashed the system for its confusing controls, cluttered touch-screen layout, and sometimes sluggish screen response, saying that while the system worked well for complex commands it was clumsy for everyday controls.
One thing that few could fault (because it's simply the best in the business at this time) is the much-expanded voice-command set introduced with MyFord Touch; it gets a new voice-recognition (VR) engine and a new command structure that opens up the system to recognizing about 10,000 voice commands, according to Ford. That's about ten times the number of commands that earlier versions of Sync could respond to.
Nearly every feature in the vehicle that doesn't directly pertain to driving can now be controlled through voice commands; that includes climate control, the sound system, hands-free calling functions, and trip computer and navigation functions.
Destination street address completely skips the clunky keypad destination entry process that you have to deal with in many high-end luxury cars—it's one of the best examples of the expanded abilities—and instead allows you to simply address the entire street address, including the street number, street name, and city, with one voice input. MyFord Touch then has you verify the input and set the destination.
Ford Sync systems engineer Dominic Colella recently took us on a tour of Sync's expanded voice commands in a MyFord Touch–equipped 2012 Focus and his examples point out that you don't, as in some systems, reach a wall where you're not sure which command to give next—we appreciate how the interface will, if in doubt, give a series of numbered options in most cases.
The system has quite awesome speech-recognition ability and can even tune to Sirius channels by the station name, or by a specific FM frequency, as opposed to simply numbered presets as in most other voice command systems. The interface will also boast similar levels of interactivity with upcoming apps for Pandora and Stitcher.
"Basically any piece of information that your song is known by, you can request to play over VR," Colella said.
Watch the video clip here for some examples of how well these expanded voice commands work.
MyFord Touch is standard on the 2012 Ford Focus Titanium and optional on Focus SEL models.