The industry analysts at Wards Auto dig deep into vehicles every year to try to quantify things like the best interior and best powertrain. Wards has just revealed its list of the best user experiences in the automotive world, looking at the user-friendliness of things like touchscreens, phone pairing, voice control, and driver assistance tech. And much like the sales charts, this year's Wards 10 Best UX winners are heavy on the crossovers.
The winners were narrowed down from 18 vehicles that met the criteria for all-new or significantly upgraded user experience features. Because of COVID-related issues, the panel asked each automaker to pick their one vehicle with the most advanced features for evaluation, the reason for the smaller than normal pool.
In alphabetical order, here are the 10 winners, and some of the reasons they were picked as the best.
A screen for the infotainment and a screen dedicated to climate control elevate the Audi here, as does the configurable virtual cockpit. "It’s like walking into a library, without having to finger through a tattered card catalogue."
The X7 is the largest BMW and it comes with an equally large touchscreen. Drivers can use the 7th generation of BMW's iDrive controller. If drivers use voice commands like "Hey BMW, I'm tired," it swaps the climate and lighting to help you relax (and can do the same to wake you up). Wireless phone connectivity is also on the menu, along with gesture controls.
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A long list of standard tech like wireless CarPlay and Android Auto at a very low price helped get the Trailblazer on the list. Wards also liked the relaxed voice command response and the Marketplace features on the infotainment system.
A large digital cluster and touchscreen for the Escape scored points for resolution and clarity. Sync 3 was also praised for quick and easy phone pairing, and the crisp head-up display was a hit.
Showing that the best UX isn't reserved for the most expensive cars is the Kia Seltos. Judges liked the mood lighting that pulses with the music and an infotainment system they called one of the best in the industry. The small SUV was also praised for real HVAC controls and "human-like" driver assist features.
Mercedes-Benz CLA 250
The MBUX system in the CLA gives you natural voice commands, augmented reality navigation, advanced driver aids, and 64-colours of cabin lighting. Speed limit reading and automatic lane changes are icing on the cake.
The new Sonata gets massive displays, has great controls for the HVAC, and cool animations for changes in drive mode. Driver aids include the ability to move into or out of a parking space.
With the new Legacy, Subaru has made massive experience improvements. The tall screen is easy to use and it comes loaded with driver assistance features. It even lets you pick how aggressively the active cruise accelerates.
Toyota's new Highlander made the 10 Best Interiors list, too, the only one do to both. Large, configurable screens and easy driver assistance adjustments won the judges.
Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport
Wireless charging and five USB ports were noteworthy here, but so were the intuitive driver assistance features, quick voice command response, and rapid device pairing. The virtual gauges were also a hit.