Hate Your Navigation System? J.D. Power Says You're Not Alone

November 23, 2011

Over the summer, we saw Ford take a tumble in customer satisfaction rankings -- not because of mechanical problems in its vehicles, but because of its MyFord Touch and SYNC systems, which many consumers found difficult to use. A new study from J.D. Power indicates that Ford isn't alone and that similar technology problems are causing frustration for many new-car owners. 

The study in question is Power's 2011 U.S. Navigation Usage and Satisfaction Study. To tabulate results, Power surveyed 18,303 shoppers who purchased or leased new 2011 model-year vehicles that came with factory-installed navigation systems. The Satisfaction Study asked those vehicle owners to score their navigation systems on six areas that have proven to be most vital to consumers. In order of importance, the six are: ease of use; routing; navigation display screen; speed of system; voice directions; and voice recognition

J.D. Power also asked owners about troubles they'd had with their navigation systems. The biggest problem reported was of systems not finding particular addresses: it occurred on 33 out of every 100 navigation systems, or 33 PP100. Also problematic:

  • Difficulty inputting destination (32 PP100)
  • Route provided was not direct (24 PP100)
  • Difficulty using voice recognition controls (23 PP100)
  • Map doesn’t show enough street names (21 PP100)
  • Couldn’t find desired menu/screen (19 PP100)
  • Map or point of interest search was missing points of interest (16 PP100)
  • Inability to view screen due to glare (14 PP100)

Those eight issues accounted for over half the problems customers experienced. Power says that on average, consumers experienced 351 PP100, or roughly 3.5 problems per navigation system.

The winners, the losers

When all the dust had settled, when all the rankings had been tabulated and the problems identified, the Garmin navigation system on the 2011 Dodge Charger came out at the top of the heap. J.D. Power's other five-star systems, in order of rank, were:

  • Hyundai Mobis/Hyundai Genesis Coupe
  • Garmin/Chrysler 300
  • Alpine Electronics/Acura TSX Sedan
  • Harman/Audi S4 Sedan
  • Hyundai Mobis/Hyundai Elantra
  • Clarion/Ford Flex

The five at the bottom?

  • Alpine Electronics/Mercedes-Benz GL-Class
  • Alpine Electronics/Jaguar XJ
  • MELCO/Volvo XC90
  • TeleNav/Lincoln MKX
  • DENSO Corporation/Toyota RAV4

It's a little shocking to see companies like Toyota and Mercedes at the bottom of the list -- companies known for turning out many well-made vehicles. Then again, onboard navigation systems are still fairly new gadgets, and it will take time for automakers to pack in all the features that tech-savvy car owners demand while making the systems simultaneously intuitive and easy to use.

You can see a complete list of rankings at the J.D. Power website.

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