* Consumer Reports blasts controls, clutter in touch-screen system
* Critique comes six months after Ford updates MyFord Touch
* Ford says users more satisfied with recent upgrade
By Deepa Seetharaman
Aug 22 An influential consumer magazine on Wednesday lambasted Ford Motor Co's touch-screen entertainment and navigation system, saying it is distracting, clumsy and overly complex.
"MyFord Touch still frustrates us like few other control systems in any other brand's automobiles," Consumer Reports said in a blog post. "And worse, it is influencing competitors."
Vehicles with the system have few traditional knobs and buttons. Instead, drivers can change the radio station or temperature by voice, tapping the touch screen, using controls on the steering wheel or sensitive buttons on the dashboard.
In its blog post, titled "Why the MyFord Touch control system stinks", Consumer Reports called the touch-sensitive buttons "maddeningly fussy" and hard to find while driving.
It can be difficult and time consuming to change the radio by voice command, the magazine said. Some pages are cluttered with information, such as a feature that tracks fuel economy with multiple graphs every five, 10 and 30 minutes.
"This system needs an editor," Consumer Reports said. The magazine also criticized certain aspects of the MyLincoln Touch system that Ford uses in its Lincoln brand vehicles.
Glitches in these systems cost Ford several spots in quality surveys last year. In March, the No. 2 U.S. automaker upgraded its systems to repair those problems.
"We listen closely and value all feedback on our vehicles - whether it's from customers or third parties. That feedback is used to continuously improve our products and we're seeing results from that commitment," Ford said in a statement.
Ford said surveys showed owners who upgraded were more satisfied with their vehicles and 71 percent would recommend the systems to others.
In its blog post, Consumer Reports said the updates made MyFord Touch faster and more reliable. But those upgrades do not repair the fundamental flaws of the system's design.
In the 2013 Escape sport-utility vehicle, the corners of the touch screen can be hard to reach and the font is too small, the magazine said. Using some features require a drivers' eyes to stray too long from the road.
"Ever consider why video games still use separate controllers with physical buttons, knobs, and joysticks? You never have to take your eyes off the screen, where the bad guys could appear suddenly and shoot you," Consumer Reports said. "The same should be true for the view of the road out the windshield while driving."