[Note: This item comes from friend Bob Frankston. DLH]
Reliability survey: Infotainment ‘plagues’ new cars
By James R. Healey, USA TODAY
Oct 27 2014
USA TODAY’s Chris Woodyard takes a look at the six vehicles that Consumer Reports magazine says are giving their owners the most trouble /Sean Fujiwara
Consumer Reports says infotainment systems appear to be the most troublesome feature in 2014 vehicles.
In fact, it considers them a “growing first-year reliability plague,” referring to models in the first year after introduction or a redesign.
That conclusion is part of the results announced today of the publication’s annual Auto Reliability Survey. The publication solicits replies from readers to a questionnaire about their cars and analyzes the results — this year based on more than a million responses — to predict the reliability of new vehicles by brand and model.
CR said the worst example of the infotainment phenomena in this year’s crop of new models is the In Touch system in the Infiniti Q50 sedan. More than one in five owners said it didn’t work right. That, combined with other reliability issues in the Infiniti QX60 SUV, pulled Infiniti’s overall brand reliability ranking down 14 places to 20th — the biggest drop of any of the 28 brands in the survey this year.
Electronic issues also can be a signal that the vehicle may have other problems, the magazine said.
“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.”
The survey is widely followed, but reliability isn’t the only way to judge a car, says Karl Brauer, senior analyst at Kelley Blue Book’s KBB.com. It is “one of many aspects that make up a car’s total ownership experience,” he says. And “it has to be considered among factors like purchase price, resale value, performance and fuel efficiency.
“Measuring reliability is also not a straightforward process,” Brauer says, “because for some it means how many unexpected problems arise while for others it means satisfaction with the cupholders. Car shoppers should keep all of these factors in mind, rather than fixating on a single factor, when considering their next purchase.”
According to CR, first-year models from Infiniti, Jeep, Fiat, Ram, Cadillac, Ford and Honda all have suffered significant rates of complaints due to infotainment bugs and glitches.
Of the 17 problem areas CR asks about in its survey, the category that includes in-car electronics generated more complaints from owners than any other category.