Ford has gotten some flak from the traditional car press about the MyFord Touch system. My guess this is because Ford is trying to do a lot with the system, and really push what in-car “entertainment” systems can do. You could argue that in pushing, it’s leaving the edges too rough. Compared to earlier versions of the MyFord Touch system, the one in the 2013 Fusion works much more intuitively. Navigation (of the menus) works as I would expect it to. The voice control system is certainly clever, and much better than the last version I tried. It understood what I was saying, and often subtly tried to correct (“teach”) me so I could better use the system in the future. However, it was still a little slow to use, and despite the talking-car novelty, I found myself just reaching over to the big touchpanel in the dash to do any adjustments. One of the features I was most looking forward to testing was the text-to-speech ability, where the car reads you incoming text messages. Disappointingly, my relatively new phone wasn’t compatible.
Perhaps the most useful voice-activated feature would be saying something like “Play Pink Floyd” but it seems indexing of iPods (and the corresponding voice activation cues) is not in this model’s brainpan. Oh well.
In addition to the big screen, many controls are available as distinct buttons on the center console. These aren’t push-buttons, though. In a classy touch, they’re... touch sensitive. As in, you don’t press the “button,” you just lightly touch it. It’s pretty neat.
The audio system, branded Sony, is surprising in that it’s the first car audio system I think I’ve ever heard not tuned for 15-year-olds. The non-EQed balance isn’t overly bass heavy, and I can’t think of any other car audio system I’ve heard that’s like that. I’m notorious around the virtual halls of S+V for my penchant for slightly bass-heavy headphones, but car audio systems are almost always too much.
This relative balance, however, doesn’t mean the system sounds flat. If anything, it has a tilt up in the treble, and at higher volumes it becomes rather harsh. I ended up finding -2 Treble in the EQ created the most even sound in this regard.
Jonsi’s “Animal Arithmetic” from his Go album has lots of percussion at the start, a good test of both tweeters and woofers. The jingly parts were a little bitey, especially at higher volumes. The bass, while there, lacks definition. It approaches “sloppy” without getting that far.
There’s a mild boominess with low female vocals, too. Once again some tweaking of the EQ helped a bit, dropping the Midrange control to -1.
So set, “The Thrill Is Gone” from B.B. King’s Live in Cook County Jail sounded good, though I’ve heard Lucille sound smoother. No matter what the setting, high volumes weren’t this system’s strong suit. Thankfully, with a car this quiet, you don’t need the extreme volumes you might in another car.
The Surround mode spreads the sound wide to the doors, not really a better or worse than the Stereo mode, just different. The Surround mode does seem to add some bass, though.
Overall, the system certainly isn’t bad, but some additional power would do it well.
At CES, Ford launched the OpenXC, an open-source application programming interface (API) for cars. It’s an interesting idea, trying to help software designers by offering a single API to develop apps for. Currently, developers would have to design an app for Ford, another for Chevy, another for Toyota, and so on (like developing for Android and iOS). If other car companies would sign on remains to be seen, but it’s a cool first step. You can check it out, and even download it now, at openxcplatform.com.
It took me 5.5 hours to get to Las Vegas, the drive the longest ever (for me). This was entirely due to the ailing, 165-pound sack of mostly water in the left seat, and not at all the Ford.
Eventually I recovered from the plague, had a far more pleasant ride home. The Fusion was an enjoyable and comfortable drive, and a true marvel of rolling modern technology. Gadgets galore, it still remains a solid car at its core. Add in the good looks and the decent (though wanting some power) audio system, I came away pleased Ford is making good cars again.
Now, if I can just figure out an excuse to get a Fiesta ST loaner for a week... or so.
Brent Butterworth and Geoff Morrison combine their years of gear testing and knowledge in one überblog of irreverence and techiness.
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