Ford is making it easier for a lot of its drivers to keep their hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road.
The auto manufacturer announced yesterday that it will make its industry-leading Sync voice-activation system standard on all trim levels of the 2013 Ford Fusion sedan and and Flex crossover. Sync is Ford's hands-free system for making calls or accessing the audio system. When used with Sync Services, which is free for the first three years and $60 per year thereafter, drivers can use voice commands to get turn-by-turn directions or listen to news headlines, sports scores, horoscopes, and movie listings.
Having Sync in the vehicle means that Fusion and Flex owners will also be able to use Sync AppLink to integrate some smartphone apps with the hands-free system. You will be able to use voice commands to skip songs on Pandora or change stations on Stitcher when your phone is paired to the system. Other benefits of Sync include 911 Assist and Sync Destinations.
The voice-activation option previously cost $295, and enjoyed a 95 percent uptake on the Flex and 84 percent in the Fusion for 2012 models. Making a cash cow like Sync a standard feature is a curious business move, but Kia and Hyundai may be forcing Ford's hand with their low-priced and feature-rich vehicles.