Ford’s Monumental Oversight Will Cause Accidents And Tickets


Come on Ford. Get your act together.

I play a lot of fly out dates. I get flown out all over the country to play colleges fairly often. This gives me an opportunity to test drive a lot of new (rental) cars.

My last two outings I had a Ford Focus and a Ford Fusion Hybrid. Probably 2013s. Both had USB inputs with Microsoft’s voice activated SYNC program.

It sucks. As does the location of the USB input. It’s in the center arm rest!

Now, this doesn’t seem like it would be an issue to the design team or the board, but to the user, it’s a serious one.

Most people use their phones for GPS AND entertainment. They need their phone charging while syncing and navigating otherwise it dies too fast. But the standard iPhone cable (that comes with the phone) is only 3.5 feet. Not long enough to stretch from deep inside the arm rest to the left side of the windshield – the only place you are legally allowed to affix a window mount (in many states). So, I had to (illegally) attach it just below the rear-view mirror. But then, every time I made a two handed turn I caught the USB cable with my right hand, tearing the phone off the mount completely, whacking me in the side of the head.

But Ford didn’t think this through. They thought that people will use their GPS for navigation and their smart phones for entertainment.

This monumental oversight is more than just an annoyance. It screams out of touch.

They may be patting themselves on the backs for their last quarter numbers or their new MPG ratings, but the reason they’re not winning Generation Y is because they don’t know how to sell to them. Us.

We don’t care how expensive our car looks. We want it to just work. Like Apple has trained us. You know how many times I had to scream at SYNC to just “play music?” Oh and running Google maps while playing music was near impossible. The music stopped every time Mrs. Google gave me a direction. Well, only 90% of the time. WHAT?!

Ford SYNC is atrocious. And Ford’s sound system isn’t much better. Toyota crushes them. My favorite place to listen to music is in my 2008 Highlander. It’s old, sure, but it sounds worlds better than the 2013 Focus or Fusion. I’ve driven new Corollas too and their system is just as good (just doesn’t have the subs).

Once Google comes out with its self-driving car, it won’t just be the game changing technology that wins consumers, it will be the interconnectedness. Their voice command technology is already the industry leader. Better than Siri. And once they implement their search through voice command, game over. Imagine. “Google, play the Ari Herstand Pandora station.” Boom done. “Google, play Ari Herstand’s new album on Spotify.” Done. “Google, play Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me on my NPR app.” “Google, play the latest TED Talk podcast.”

What’s it like in a Ford now?
“Play music.”
“I’m sorry, I didn’t understand you.”
“Shuffle songs.”
“Say 1 for ‘Brave Enough,’ say 2 for ‘Keep Fighting.'”
“No! Shuffle songs. Ah fuck it.”
“I”m sorry, I didn’t understand you. Say 1 for ‘Funky Town…”
And that’s when I illegally grab my phone and manually find the song I want, hiding it beneath the steering wheel as to avoid the cop I just passed while attempting not to swerve off the road.

And Ford doesn’t have Pandora built in. Toyota does. Honda does. Chevy does.

If car companies don’t start thinking like tech companies, they’re doomed. And don’t think we’re going to bail them out AGAIN! We’ll just let Google pick up the much deserved business.

Ari Herstand is a Los Angeles based singer/songwriter and the creator of Ari’s Take. Listen to his new album, Brave Enough, on Spotify or download on BandCamp. Follow him on Twitter: @aristake


23 Responses

  1. Anonymous

    “And Ford doesn’t have Pandora built in”

    Nice — perhaps I should buy a Ford.

  2. Anonymous

    Who puts their phone on a dashboard like a GPS for directions? Google maps has voice, use the Bluetooth. Sync is tough to use though.

  3. Anonymous

    Ari, have you considered working for Ford? I hear they’re hiring oblivious boobs.

  4. FFE

    I drive a Ford Focus Electric on a daily basis. The car came with navigation and an excellent 9 speaker Sony sound system. My iPhone integrates nicely and I rarely have to take it out of my pocket.

    I’m guessing the stripped down rental version without navigation or Bluetooth audio is the problem here.

  5. oh_dear

    What a load of insufferable whining. There’s people out there with much bigger problems than USB inputs on the center console and cars that don’t understand your spoiled butt. Get a sense of proportion.

  6. BanjoVanjo

    I drive the 2913 MKS it has the MS Sync. Sync has a 2 hour training course one on one and the system is amazing. You do not need a GPS my G Maps talks to my Sync. It is so bad ass, I actually tell it where I want to go. It reads my text messages while I drive. I have my choice vinyl ripped WAV on HD in my console. The dash is so ergo metric, my vol is touch sliders like my keyboards. The Ford Motor company “Ted Russel” east TN just went above and beyond like Apple and trained my wife and on on the MS sync conversation.

  7. Anonymous

    I’ve had 2 Ford Fusions, 2008 and 2011 both with Sync and have never had issues. Both had/have navigation so GPS isn’t a concern, I use both an android and iphone and the systems work flawlessly. There is pandora support, why would the car need pandora built in when the phone itself has pandora? My only problem with Ford Sync is the cost of upgrading the GPS maps and Gracenote database, $200+. As far as voice control, as with any device one must learn the command structure.

  8. BanjoVanjo

    I drive the 2013 MKS it has the MS Sync. Sync has a 2 hour training course one on one and the system is amazing. You do not need a GPS my G Maps talks to my Sync. It is so bad ass, I actually tell it where I want to go. It reads my text messages while I drive. I have my choice vinyl ripped WAV on HD in my console. The dash is so ergo metric, my vol is touch sliders like my keyboards. The Ford Motor company “Ted Russel” east TN just went above and beyond like Apple and trained my wife and on on the MS sync conversation.

  9. EyesRolling

    This seems like a problem that should present itself to any rational human exactly once — then they buy the longer cable.

    Why is it Ford’s responsibility to fix Apple’s too-short-for-real-life cable?

  10. Geeeez

    The 3.5 cable is great for connecting via laptop. Anything longer would be messy. Buy a USB extension cable for $3.99. Geeez.

  11. danwriter

    And Ari is Motor Trend’s Artist of the Year. Once again, the sneakers prove to be more important than the speakers.

  12. FarePlay

    Ford is building the best cars in America and makes money. And hell maybe you could even buy a couple of CDs and hear how much better they sound than your toy iPhone.

    Ari, as always, is on his little streaming only path, which I admit works for some people. Streaming is not the best path for musicians, it is a logical business model for companies with no curation skills and the same mentality as Walmart. The Spotify’s of the world will do to music, what Walmart did to downtown America.

    Eviscerate it.

  13. hank alrich

    Insufferable first world problems. Artists who think self-driving cars represent progress, when cars are planetarily obsolete. Trailing edge consciousness.

  14. Roadkill

    All of you idiots please keep your eyes on the road and off your fucking dashboards / phones.

    You are literally killing cyclists/pedestrians every day and it’s almost that time when we start toget some revenge on you selfish entitled morons.

    You’re in a car to drive and that’s it.

  15. 2014 Mustang Track Package

    Sync is designed to work with Google Maps and MapQuest by Microsoft so that you don’t have a visual distraction of your phone on your dashboard. Please learn to use the tech that Ford has put into their cars so that the exact thing you are complaining about does not happen.

    • Pepe

      Wrong. Google Maps is not supported. Additionally, if you are using Android, Pandora is “almost” the only app that you can use. Of course, you can use others from the phone and stream their sound via BT, but on;y control Pandora from your steering. Really sad solution from Ford

  16. Anon

    Thanks for the heads up Ari. When I rent cars, I don’t have time for a two hour training course just to use the damn stereo and GPS, so I’ll stick to renting non-F0rds. Also I don’t travel with a long USB cable, but I will now.

  17. IanAD

    Toyota are good…if you want to support Red State republicans/tea Party leaders (Toyota’s American operations give more to the GOP than any other automaker), low wages for Americans, and denial of deadly design defects. Forget that. I’d rather “suffer” the most advanced infotainment system on the market than that, even if it is a bit wonky.

  18. Blatantly

    I agree Ari. Sync SUCKS! My $399 phone does voice recognition very well. Why my $50,000 truck can’t do that is beyond me.

  19. Pepe

    For all you complaining that you don’t need apps to drive or that Sync works fine. It is true that you don’t need them, but what is true as well, is that the young generation and techies use apps a lot all day, and they want them in the car. Well integrated into systems like Sync to easily use them while driving. Is that so bad?. If you are happy with an AM/FM radio, good for you. But don’t forget that the future is on the full digital integration of car and your personal devices. Not an unimportant thing to consider for a car manufacturer

  20. J

    Well, I have driven two company vehicles with Sync. I primarily use stored music and Google Maps on an iPhone 5. Every time the GPS breaks into the music, the music pauses and forgets to resume! Bluetooth won’t connect at all on the one. Sound quality is decent enough and track change controls are a great safety and convenience feature, but the few annoyances infuriate me. Even the cheapest of head units work better in the sense that they actually work.


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