2020 Wards Auto 10 Best User Experience winners
Nothing would be more frustrating than buying a new car and not being able to execute simple functions like tuning the infotainment system or adjusting the climate control in a comfy way. So, here Wards Auto comes into the picture, a world-leading provider of automotive insights and analysis. It tests and finds out how user-friendly the tech features and functionality of a vehicle's interior are.
The firm has recently unveiled the annual Wards 10 Best UX list for 2020, pointing out the vehicles with an extensive range of user-friendly technology.
The fifth year of the competition had some unusual challenges in the review process because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It delimited the range of vehicles to test and the ability of judges to get hands-on experience. Finally, eight judges tested the 18 cars that met eligibility criteria, including a completely new model or significantly updated one.
The assessment criteria focus on every tech-based system offered in a vehicle. It just does not check out the list, instead analyzes how well those functions work and how easy they are to use. Considering the argument that smart technology distracts much, it specifically tests those items when the vehicle is in motion.
It evaluates touchscreens, smartphone pairing, voice-control navigation, head-up displays, and the effectiveness of driver-assistance technologies. The panel also took into consideration the value offered by each vehicle.
The top ten vehicles offering the best user experience for 2020 are:
The German SUV received an update this year and featured a highly customizable multimedia interface. For better experience, it incorporates three display screens, one for the configurable virtual cockpit, one for climate control, and comfort setting, while the third one provides access to the infotainment system.
Q7 also got marks for the surfeit of charging plugs and ports, the second-row climate control buttons, and the ease of phone-pairing. Tech-savvies can spend hours of fun in setting the parameters just the way they want it.
Much of the tidbits of Q7 can also be seen in its German fellow, BMW X7. Its multimedia system is truly a delight for tech-heads. Wards also observed the brand's efforts to create an environment that encouraged certain moods of the occupants, ranging from sporty to soothing, through the "Caring Car" menu on the main screen. The passenger can select Relax or Vitalize themes according to their moods.
The fantastic part is that you can access these moods through voice commands, which means you can not even need to press any button.
It also incorporates massaging seats, wireless phone charging, eight different USB ports for minimizing aggravation, and wood, metallic, and leather trim, even in the third row.
Chevrolet's all-new small SUV makes its debut in the list as it comes with a good range of features for the price. It houses wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity and several driver-assist technologies like automatic emergency braking, lane-keep assist, front pedestrian braking, forward collision alert, and teen driver technology.
The judges also find the SUV's Infotainment 3 Plus system intuitive and highly user friendly.
The American automaker has recently redesigned Escape in terms of technology features. The new and improved Sync 3 infotainment system provides the ease of phone pairing and supports everything from Apple CarPlay to Android Auto to Alexa to Waze.
The panel also spotlighted the excellent backup camera image, gauge readings, and navigation maps, all earning a thumbs-up. According to them, the digital cluster and the touchscreen of the vehicle have incredible resolution and clarity.
The 2020 Escape also inherits a new Bang & Olufsen audio system, Ford's CoPilot360 system, and voice-activated navigation, that was found to be reliable and quick in response. Wards also like the amount of drive-assist technology included for SUV's reasonable price point.
The Wards judges pointed out the sheer volume of tech goodies present in the Hyundai Sonata. It includes ambient lighting, a Bose premium audio system, and a ton of driver-assist systems. The 12.3-inch digital instrument panel and the 10.25-inch central display were found to be impressive in their graphics and response times, plus these are pleasant to navigate through.
Highly comfortable, ventilated seats in the front-row, clean layout of the central console, and space freed up by placing the transmission handling buttons on the bottom of the central console, and the high quality of the finishing impressed the jury members.
Kia's spanking-new small SUV also made onto the list this time. According to Wards, the brand's engineers just "nailed it" with the Seltos.
It features an impressive infotainment system with a user-friendly interface, one of the best in the class, 8-speaker Bose audio, and drive-assist systems. Things like a Sounds of Nature app create a certain vibe through music, sounds, and graphic effects on the centre touchscreen. A number of themes are available for this. Though accent lighting tuned with the rhythm of the music is not new, but it's fun to see it in such an affordable and practical crossover.
Mercedes-Benz CLA250 impressed the Wards panel with the high-quality images and graphics of the screens and the sophistication of the drive-assist systems. Not just this, the augmented-reality navigation system took things over the top of panelists. The system provides a video image of the car's surroundings highlighted by visual cues for cross streets and house numbers.
According to the judges, Mercedes-Benz is really a leader in navigation and maps. Other notable elements were the quality materials and unimpeachable craftsmanship and multi-color in-cabin illumination.
The elements that make UX exceptional in the Subaru Legacy were its drive-assist systems, which are convenient and effective to use, and the multimedia system's high levels of connectivity possibilities.
The judges also liked the sedan's adaptive cruise control, driver drowsiness detection system, the high-resolution image on the screen, USB ports galore and Apple Carplay, and Android Auto compatibility. Moreover, the sedan also has an eBird app in the navigation system that helps in bird-watch from your car.
2020 Toyota Highlander is the only model that made its place in the top 10 Best interiors as well as Best UX category.
The new Highlander features a highly customizable big centre screen, whose resolution was found to be strong and easy to use. It also supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Other things that worked in the Highlander's favor are the birds-eye camera view, 10-inch head-up display, fast phone pairing, and Alexa compatibility.
Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport
Volkswagen's new midsize SUV also got the position in the list. Wards panel highlighted the 8-inch multimedia screen that supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, digital cockpit, whose virtual gauges were truly impressive, and Fender audio system with 12 speakers that handle the 480 watts of sound.
Other niceties include five USB ports, wireless phone charging, electrical outlets on and at the back of the console, a clear voice command system, and easy phone pairing.
The icing on the cake is the safety pack that incorporates traffic jam alert, which has adaptive cruise control capability to automatically handle full stops, restarts, and speeds of up to 60 kmph.
It is not surprising that SUVs and crossovers dominate the list. It just reinforces the soaring popularity of utility vehicles of all sizes, at all price points.