New In-Car Tech

Take a Peek: Ford previews next-gen SYNC infotainment system

Ford has debuted the next-generation of its SYNC infotainment system.

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Ford has previewed the next-generation of its SYNC infotainment system, SYNC 4. The automaker claims that the new system is faster, easier, and simpler to use.

Standard screen size will likely vary by vehicle but Ford is already making it known that 12- and 15.5-inch screens will be available. Ford says that the screens will allow users to multitask without going through various menus. On the 12-inch screen, the screen view can be split into two smaller windows.

The 15-inch screen employs something Ford is calling Adaptive Dash Cards. Frequently and recently used features will display below the main portion of the screen and display information such as the next step in the route or audio controls.

Ford SYNC 4 temperature When users change their ambient temperature setting, this what the screen will show.GIF courtesy of Ford Motor Company

"No matter what size screen Ford customers choose, they will be getting an experience tailor-made for their vehicle," said Gary Jablonski, chief engineer for SYNC technology, Ford Motor Company. "SYNC 4 puts these high-definition screens to work not only by offering even crisper displays, but also by making driving easier with new multi-tasking capabilities."

Th new system features an updated graphic design and interface. The looks of the latest SYNC 3 system are intact, with blacks and blues standing out most, however the overall design will vary by vehicle, as will screen size.

Every new Ford vehicle comes with available FordPass Connect, a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hot spot. In vehicles equipped with the newest iteration of the SYNC system, cloud connectivity will be standard, as will voice recognition. The cloud technology allows the system to be able to provide traffic, parking space, and parking cost information in units with navigation.

Ford SYNC 4 volume This is what the SYNC 4 interface looks like when users change the volume.GIF courtesy of Ford Motor Company

In its release featuring the new system information, Ford assures that though the system relies heavily on the cloud, it still has on-board processing power to "minimize performance issues." Performance issues are a concern given the glitches experienced with the SYNC 3 system during test drives of the 2020 Ford Escape and 2020 Ford Explorer, something the company issued a statement saying that they are working to remedy.

The owner's manual is now kept on the cloud for easy perusal. This type of functionality is a common offering from luxury automotive brands.

Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and AppLink apps such as Waze will be able to be accessed wirelessly. AppLink will also allow owners to control their vehicle from their smartphone. SiriusXM with 360L is available.

Ford SYNC 4 Ford has designed the SYNC 4 system to include easier phone call navigation.GIF courtesy of Ford Motor Company

SYNC 4 is designed to learn user behavior and make suggestions based on previous navigation behavior or prompt users to make phone calls to people you frequently speak to.

The new SYNC 4 system will be available on select Ford vehicles starting in 2020.

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The new Maps+ app will allow drivers to use a navigation system who had not previously purchased navigation.

Photo courtesy of General Motors

General Motors is giving its vehicles a new navigation solution. Maps+, an in-vehicle, app-based way-finding program, will begin rolling out to approximately 900,000 model year 2018 and newer Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac vehicles by the end of 2021, starting on April 30.

"We know customers want an easy and convenient in-vehicle experience that improves over time," said Santiago Chamorro, GM vice president of Global Connected Services. "We listened to customer feedback and developed a product that works seamlessly with our current infotainment systems and provides a highly personalized experience that will iterate throughout the lifetime of the vehicle."

Maps+ was developed in partnership with Mapbox. The new app replaces navigation functionality in already-purchased vehicles that had purchased a navigation system. It provides navigation functionality to drivers of vehicles that did not opt for navigation at the onset.

The new application features Alexa build-in voice control that allows users to listen to music or podcasts using the system's integrated audio apps. A search box allows users to find points of interest, shops, restaurants, parking, and more. There is also embedded speed alert, low fuel recognition, predictive keyboard entry, day and night modes, category shortcuts, rear-time traffic routing, and dynamic mapping capability.

"Our obsession is the driver," said Peter Sirota, CEO of Mapbox. "The map is the canvas for providing the driver with a delightful, easy-to-use experience. From discovering new places to avoiding traffic on your commute to paying at the pump or the plug, Maps+ lays the foundation for an excellent navigation experience. We are excited to build upon this with GM to continue to drive adoption."

GM and Mapbox are committed to continuing Maps+ post-launch, developing new features and improvements based on feedback and metrics.

Maps+ will be available on select vehicles through Connected Vehicle, Premium and App Access subscription plans. Current eligible Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac owners will be notified when their vehicle is eligible for Maps+.

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Ford dealerships will be adding Bronco showrooms to their portfolio in the coming year.

Photo courtesy of Ford via Automotive News

Reporting by Automotive News reveals that Ford is enabling its dealership network to opt-in to build Bronco-specific showrooms. The stores are designed to be near or connected to existing Ford dealer locations, but will feature the Bronco horse logo rather than the traditional Ford Blue Oval.

Ford currently has two Bronco models: Bronco and Bronco Sport. All this for two models? Not quite. Ford is reportedly working on a Bronco-based pickup truck. Could it be Ranger Raptor-like? We'll have to wait and see.

Renderings of Bronco storefronts feature those models and vintage versions of the beloved off-roader alongside 3,800 square feet of building space that includes an outdoor fire pit and room to display three vehicles. There's also a wall that showcases Bronco merchandise including some of the over 200 accessories Ford is promising will be available for Bronco models.

Ford Bronco standalone showroom renderings

Photo courtesy of Ford via Automotive News

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The overall aesthetic is very much in line with what you'll see at your local REI. There's back-painted ceiling lining, exposed concrete, a gray stone entryway, and wood accents throughout the modern structure as well as plenty of windows that show it all off.

Dealers are able to modify the design that Ford has come up with. One dealer, in Arizona, told Automotive News that he is planning to build out a 12,000-square-foot space but hasn't included a fire pit in the plans because of the location's desert climate.

If dealerships don't opt for a separate showroom, dealerships can choose from other Ford-backed options to display the Bronco that are more traditional in nature. Andrew Frick, the head of Ford sales in the U.S. said that there are three options: a standalone showroom, an expansion of existing showrooms or displays that can be added to a showroom. All the options are available and recommended, but not required, kind of like the Sasquatch Package on the Bronco itself.

"It's an announcement to the world we're back; the Bronco is back," Tim Hovik, owner of San Tan Ford in Gilbert, Ariz., and chairman of Ford's national dealer council, told Automotive News. "It's such an iconic product that in an absolute way, we feel a Ford dealer is really adding almost an additional franchise."

Last month, Ford revealed that of its 190,000 reservations for either the two- or four-door Bronco, two-thirds of those have turned into firm orders. Deliveries of the redesigned Bronco are slated to begin in June. Early models are already making their way out onto the streets under the car of Ford employees.

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