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Cars, Technology and You: How Satisfied Are You?

J.D. Power has just published a new study on the tech experience offered in new vehicle models. Specifically the study looked at interactions car owners had with 30 or so different technologies commonly found in their new vehicle within the first 90 days of purchase, and whether their feelings tended towards satisfaction or frustration.

The main features studied were the infotainment, navigation and smartphone integration systems, as well as the active comfort and safety features, and analysis focused on whether these elements were easy to understand, easy to use and reliable.

According to J.D. Power, the average satisfaction level in current new-vehicle models was around 750 (out of a possible score of 1,000). Unsurprisingly, the large car category faired best (with an average score of 777), but compact vehicles were right behind at 753. These were followed by premium compacts (751), premium midsize vehicles (746), midsize vehicles (744), premium small cars (739) and small cars (732).

“While owners are excited by new vehicle technology, they are also often confused by it,” explained Kristin Kolodge, Executive Director of Driver Interaction & HMI Research at J.D. Power.

She added that the more people use a technology, the higher their satisfaction level. Inversely, some owners give up on a feature rapidly, deciding the frustration of the early learning curve is not worth it and that they don’t really need it, and end up not using it at all. The new study identified GPS and WiFi systems as being particularly vulnerable to this phenomenon.

Safety rules!
What else does the study show? Safety technologies, for example backup cameras and alerts and blind-spot monitors, are the features that earn the highest satisfaction ratings among drivers in 2017.

And note to dealers: the more time a dealership’s representative spends explaining how the various technologies work during the delivery to the buyer, the more the new owner will use the features and be satisfied with them.

If you’re currently shopping for a vehicle and want to avoid that feeling of tech frustration, here are the top satisfiers in each vehicle category for 2017:

Small cars - Kia Niro
Premium small cars - Audi A3
Compacts - Hyundai Elantra
Premium compacts - Lincoln MKC
Midsize cars - Chevrolet Camaro
Premium midsize cars - Audi Q7
Large cars - Chevrolet Tahoe

Now, take a moment to check out our recent report on WardsAuto’s ranking of the 10 vehicles offering the best user experience for 2017!