J.D. Power: In-Car Multimedia Technology Improves but Still Vexes Vehicle Owners

In-car multimedia technology, perennially the leading source of complaints among new-vehicle owners, is still a sore spot for customer satisfaction, but is improving. According to the J.D. Power 2018 Multimedia Quality and Satisfaction Study, the number of reported problems with in-car audio, communication, entertainment and navigation (ACEN) technologies has decreased for a third consecutive year, with several technology standouts emerging among manufacturers.

The study measures the experiences and opinions of vehicle owners regarding the quality, design and features of their ACEN system in the first 90 days of ownership. Multimedia system quality is determined by the number of problems experienced per 100 vehicles, with a lower score reflecting higher quality.

Top-performing vehicles in each segment are as follows:

  • Small Mass Market: Kia Rio
  • Compact Mass Market: Kia Forte
  • Midsize Mass Market: Ford Mustang
  • Large Mass Market: Ford Taurus
  • Small Premium: BMW 2 Series
  • Compact Premium: Porsche 718
  • Midsize Premium: Lincoln Continental
  • Large Premium: BMW 7 Series

“In-car multimedia has been a problematic category for automakers for several years, as ever-more elaborate navigation, voice recognition and entertainment systems have proliferated in vehicles of every type,” said Brent Gruber, senior director of automotive quality practice for J.D. Power. “While the area is still the leading cause of new-vehicle complaints-with voice recognition technology continuing to lead the way as the number one complaint for a sixth consecutive year-we are seeing some serious improvement across the board, with some manufacturers really raising the bar on delivering quality multimedia technology experiences for their customers.”

Data for the annual Multimedia Quality and Satisfaction Study is derived from each year’s J.D. Power Vehicle Quality Survey (VQS). The data is augmented with supplier sourcing information where available, which affords multimedia suppliers with a comprehensive view of the overall multimedia industry, as well as the performance of individual products and systems, and problems that owners experience.

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