Survey Finds Infotainment Systems Struggle With First-Year Reliability

Oct 31, 2014

First-year models from Infiniti, Jeep, Fiat, Ram, Cadillac, Ford, and Honda have all seen significant problem rates from infotainment bugs and glitches. Of the 17 problem areas CR asks about in its survey, the category including in-car electronics generated more complaints from owners of 2014 models than for any other category.

The common issues from past CR surveys included unresponsive touch screens, or a reluctance to pair phones. While those issues remain, this year’s survey finds they have been joined by other problems—including multi-use controllers that don’t function properly.

These findings, and Consumer Reports 2015 new car reliability rankings that saw Lexus repeat as the most reliable brand in the U.S. market, were released at a press conference before the Automotive Press Association in Detroit.

“Infotainment system problems generally don’t exist in a vacuum,” said Jake Fisher, director of automotive testing at Consumer Reports. “A close look at the results suggests that cars with a lot of in-car electronic issues usually have plenty of other troubles, too.”

Consumer Reports Annual Auto Reliability Survey polls CR’s subscribers, who indicate any serious problems in 17 trouble areas that they have had with the cars they own in the proceeding 12 months. Consumer Reports gathers enough data on 248 models to predict which new cars will likely be reliable or troublesome, as well as provide insights and standings of major brands and spot trends. The survey is the largest of its kind; the 2014 edition generated information from about 1.1 million vehicles.

The survey did show signs some carmakers are finding ways to alleviate infotainment problems. While hardly trouble-free, updates and changes to Ford and Lincoln’s notorious MyTouch systems have made them less troublesome year after year. When introduced, the 2011 Ford Explorer had a 10-percent infotainment complaint rate and peaked at 28 percent. The 2014 Explorer’s revised system has a 3-percent complaint rate for the same trouble areas.

The complete reliability data for all 2015 models is available at ConsumerReports.org.