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BMW, Hyundai walk away winners in inaugural J.D. Power tech study

The study looks at in-car tech experience within the first 90 days of ownership.

The last thing a connected-car network needs is iffy infrastructure.

J.D. Power has always integrated in-car tech experience into its Initial Quality Study. Now, it's splitting tech off into its own category with the first-ever J.D. Power US Tech Experience Index Study.

The study looks at the first 90 days of ownership. It covers a number of categories, from smartphone mirroring to entertainment and collision protection. It's not just whether or not these systems exist, but rather, how well the technologies mesh with the human behind the wheel. 17,864 owners and lessees were polled for this study.

BMW and Hyundai walked away with two model-level awards each -- BMW for the 2 Series (small premium) and 4 Series (compact premium), and Hyundai for the Tucson (small) and Genesis (midsize premium). The other winners are the Kia Forte (compact), Chevrolet Camaro (midsize) and Nissan Maxima (large).

According to J.D. Power's study, the systems with the highest satisfaction and highest usage are all of the collision-avoidance type. On the other end of the spectrum, owners are least satisfied with navigation systems, with many even bringing in outside devices to use in lieu of built-in navigation. I'm guilty of this myself -- nothing beats Google Maps' directions, in my opinion.

The study also highlights the role of the dealer in the tech experience. Owners who received dealership assistance in learning about new tech reported much higher satisfaction figures.

It's good to see J.D. Power giving tech its own study. When it was only lumped into the Initial Quality Study, it was interesting to see how negative opinions of something like a navigation system could send a car's overall quality score downward, when the car itself may be one of the finest built. Now, those systems can be isolated and compared in a vacuum, which should give the public a much better idea of a vehicle's tech experience.