Wards Auto

Wards Auto picks 10 best vehicle user experiences

The Hyundai Sonata won accolades for its user experience.

Photo courtesy of Hyundai North America

Each year, Wards Auto evaluates each automaker's infotainment and safety system offerings, diving deep into the features they offer as well as evaluating the systems' ease of use. They test then score the systems based on the user experience in reference to each vehicle's touch screens, voice controls, connectivity, and driver-assistance technologies. They also took value into consideration.

This year, the fifth year for the Wards 10 Best UX Awards, the testers scrutinized 18 eligible vehicles. The list of nominees included:

  • Acura RDX
  • Cadillac CTS-V
  • Hyundai Sonata
  • Mercedes-Benz CLA
  • Toyota Highlader
  • Alfa Romeo Giulia
  • Chevrolet Trailblazer
  • Kia Seltos
  • Nissan Sentra
  • Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport
  • Audi Q7
  • Ford Escape
  • Lincoln Aviator
  • Ram 1500
  • BMW X7
  • Honda CR-V Hybrid
  • Mazda CX-30
  • Subaru Legacy

Here are the winners.

2021 Kia Seltos

2021 Kia Seltos Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

Wards Auto: "Kia's all-new Seltos is packed with infotainment and technology features that give the small CUV a youthful energy that's hard to resist."

2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA 250

2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

Wards Auto: "Augmented-reality navigation, stellar ADAS, and a 64-color light show propel the $48,295 Mercedes-Benz CLA to UX leadership."

2020 Toyota Highlander

2020 Toyota Highlander Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., Inc.

Wards Auto: "Toyota's redesigned Highlander three-row CUV is the only vehicle this year to win both Wards 10 Best Interiors and Wards 10 Best UX honors, thanks to an interior and tech overhaul that keeps it ahead of the competition."

2020 Hyundai Sonata

2020 Hyundai Sonata Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

Wards Auto: "Big displays, tons of UX and ADAS features make 2020 Sonata unbeatable value proposition."

2020 Ford Escape

2020 Ford Escape Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Wards Auto: "The compact CUV is a 2020 Wards 10 Best UX winner for showing how it's done right in so many ways."

2020 Subaru Legacy

2020 Subaru Legacy Photo courtesy of Subaru of America, Inc.

Wards Auto: "The '20 Legacy is another strong UX player and is the fourth consecutive Wards 10 Best UX winner for Subaru, following last year's award-winning Outback, the Ascent in 2018 and Impreza in 2017."

2020 Audi Q7

2020 Audi Q7

Photo courtesy of Audi AG

Wards Auto: "If owners take time to drill down into the immense customization content, they will be richly rewarded. In the realm of the automotive user experience, this is where the magic happens."

2020 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport

2020 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Wards Auto: "The user-experience award for the five-seat Atlas Cross Sport comes on the heels of a 2019 honor for the Arteon sedan. Volkswagen is on a hot streak, and buyers of the value-driven brand are the clear winners."

2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer

2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer

Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

Wards Auto: "The Chevrolet Trailblazer wins a 2020 Wards 10 Best UX trophy for a long list of standard, user-friendly features, first-rate driver-assistance technologies and even wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, with a starting price below $20,000."

2020 BMW X7

2020 BMW X7

Photo courtesy of BMW

Wards Auto: "Voice controls and driver-assistance technologies work great, personal preferences are easily cued up and Munich's largest vehicle ever soothes the soul with a user experience beyond compare, able to "Vitalize" when drowsy or "Relax" when tense."

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The new Grand Cherokee L is on its way to dealers now.

Stellantis

The all-new three-row Grand Cherokee L was unveiled earlier this year, and features an ultra-premium interior, a load of new tech, and sharp styling that shouts back to Jeep models of the past. Just a few weeks ago, we learned pricing and feature details for the new model, and now Jeep says the vehicle is on its way to dealerships across the country.


Jeep Grand Cherokee L The L is the first three-row Grand Cherokee.Stellantis


In terms of styling, the L's shape has been reworked from previous Grand Cherokee models to be more reminiscent of the Jeep Grand Wagoneer. The automaker says that the grille has been tilted forward and is now wider for better air flow and a more dramatic appearance. The idea was to make the Grand Cherokee L look rugged, but keep it sleek and technical in the process.

The stretched Grand Cherokee retains the engines that powered its predecessors. That means a 3.6-liter V6 is standard, which delivers 293 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. A 5.7-liter V6 is optional, and makes 357 horsepower and 390 pound-feet of torque. Both engines come paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission and either rear- or al-wheel drive. Either powertrain option will provide decent towing capability, but the V8 is unsurprisingly more powerful. With a V6 on board, the Grand Cherokee L can tow 6,200 pounds, while V8-powered models can pull 7,200 pounds.


Jeep Grand Cherokee L The L's styling is modern but nostalgic.Stellantis


Inside, Jeep says the L can be equipped with the latest tech and entertainment features. Running the latest Uconnect infotainment software, the Grand Cherokee L will be capable of wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and can be had with a head-up display, a rear-seat monitoring camera system, and a 950-watt 19-speaker McIntosh audio system. At the top end of the lineup, the Summit Reserve model gets Palermo quilted leather, open-pore waxed walnut wood, and 21-inch wheels.

Pricing for the L starts at $38,690 after destination, which buys the base Laredo trim. The range-topping Summit Reserve model starts at $61,690 after destination. Dealer deliveries are underway now, supported by almost 5,000 employees at Stellantis' Detroit Assembly Complex.

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The 2022 Acura TLX has the technology enabled.

Photo courtesy of Acura

Toyota and Lexus announced that the WarnerMedia RIDE app would be coming to their models earlier this year. Now, Honda and Acura will be offering the same.

On certain Wi-Fi enabled Honda and Acura vehicles, AT&T unlimited in-car Wi-Fi users will have access to the WarnerMedia RIDE app. The app allows users to connect multiple devices in their vehicles to browse, stream and share premium content from the WarnerMedia library while on the road.

Honda and Acura vehicle owners have been able to use their on-board modem as a hot spot for connecting up to seven devices since 2017. Models compatible for the new tech include the Acura RDX (2019-present), Acura TLX (2021), and Acura MDX (2022) across all trim levels. Honda vehicles with the tech include Accord (2018-present, Touring), Odyssey (2018-present; Touring, Elite), Insight (2019-present, Touring)., Passport (2019-present; Touring, Elite)., and Pilot (2019-present; Touring, Elite, Black Edition).

The WarnerMedia RIDE App allows passengers to access 1,000+ hours of live and on-demand entertainment. The app includes hit TV shows and movies from top brands such as Cartoon Network, CNN, HBO Max, TBS, TNT and TruTV, spanning animation, entertainment, news, sports and more.

WarnerMedia RIDE app The WarnerMedia RIDE app allows users to choose their own avatar.Photo courtesy of Acura

Users can set up profiles and personalize their user exerpience with an avatar from the WarnerMedia library. Profiles also ensure age-appropriate content with options for adults to restrict access to their profiles with an access code.

"Wireless connectivity and connected car services continue to be key features for customers and our long-standing relationship with AT&T continues to be one way we deliver exciting new content to Honda and Acura owners," said Art St. Cyr, vice president of North American Auto Strategy for American Honda. "Honda will continue working to enhance the in-car experience, including the capabilities of the AT&T network and access to top content with WarnerMedia RIDE."

"We're always looking for new and innovative ways to elevate the connected car experience for our customers. With WarnerMedia RIDE, we are delivering a connected experience that's perfect for journeys," said Joe Mosele, vice president, Mobility & Internet of Things, AT&T. "Our collaboration is keeping Honda and Acura owners connected wherever they travel with hours of news and entertainment for the whole family."

WarnerMedia RIDE is available now in the App Store and on Google Play for all U.S. unlimited data plan subscribers. WarnerMedia RIDE is included at no additional cost for existing and new unlimited subscribers.

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