Ford Loading Up Its Cars with Gadgets and Junk

Three recent additions to the Ford lineup are, in my opinion, blatant add-ons in an attempt to lard over the driving experience with still more unnecessary junk. One other new thing, Auto Start-Stop, might turn out to be worthwhile. But don’t bet on it.

All this stuff puts the driver out of touch with his vehicle, is distracting, intrusive—or both—and adds cost.

Ford’s SYNC is the worst offender in the distraction department. It controls music and car functions with voice recognition (in which there are problems); integrates your mobile phone; supports iPod, Bluetooth, text messaging, and a host of other unneeded apps.

Now comes SYNC Destinations for smartphones, which enables you to save up to 25 locations for later access in your car to receive traffic and directional info.

“With SYNC Destinations, you can be standing in line for a coffee, making impromptu plans with a friend or sitting at the ballgame, and conveniently add a new address to your Saved Points—without ever stopping to log into your account at a personal computer,” said Dave Gersabeck, SYNC TDI product manager.

How cool is that? You could probably also add Saved Points while seated on your bathroom throne.

Then there’s MyKey, a Ford option which now permits blocking “explicit programs” from satellite radio, as well as limiting car speed, radio volume, and so forth, all to keep your beloved teenager safe—and thoroughly incensed at being monitored.

So-called Torque Vectoring, now available on the 2012 Ford Focus, is a device that “brakes the inside front wheel when cornering to keep that wheel from spinning.” It’s really a kind of stability control and will only benefit hot-shoe drivers in quick cornering maneuvers.

And finally, we have Auto Start-Stop, which shuts off your car’s engine at stoplights and when idling, then restarts when you release the brake. Ford says this provides fuel savings of from 4 to 10 percent. It’s been available for some time on many European cars.

How much of that saving, I wonder, is offset by production and operational costs: keeping all accessories on while stopped—running lights, heating (with an electric water pump) and air conditioning, your bloody SYNC system; adding a heavy-duty starter motor, ring gear and battery; not to mention all the electro-tech engine stuff to make the system work.

Why do cars have to be so complicated? And expensive? One way to avoid all this is to buy used, and our DealFinder can put you in touch with great alternatives to the costly and distracting stuff that inhabits new vehicles.

Are you in favor of such add-ons, or opposed?


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Used Ford Focus


  1. Jgoods, sorry if your looking for an opposing view, but I agree with you.
    I really just wanna jump into my car, hit the gas and get there while listing some a good music. But, that’s me..and everyone’s different, I’m sure Ford did their homework and there plenty of people looking for these things in their rides. I don’t know why, it like having Big Brother in the car with you.

  2. Why do cars have to be so complicated? And expensive?
    You answered your own question. Profits, of course. I’m amazed at how much people will spend on a car for crap that has nothing to do with driving. After these young “connected” drivers kill themselves on the highway, they’ll probably keep texting in the coffin for 2-3 days just on stored reflex.
    The car makers are the ultimate villian, though. They purposely force car buyers to buy things they don’t want to get features they do want. Even with Ford’s high prices and over-junked cars, I wonder if all of them are equipped with basic safety items like stability control?

  3. Spot on, jgoods. Ford should dump MyKey and SYNC. Auto stop/start sounds good, but man… will the starter hold up over time? That’s a lot of added load.

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