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Ford upgrades Fiesta tech with LCD, navigation

Ford has announced it will offer a MyFord Touch system, which includes a touch screen and a navigation option, in its 2014 Fiesta.

2014 Ford Fiesta dashboard
The new 2014 Fiesta will be available with SYNC and available MyFord Touch featuring a unique 6.5-inch color touchscreen.
2014 Ford Fiesta dashboard
This 6.5-inch touch screen, showing stereo, phone, and navigation controls, will be available in the 2014 Ford Fiesta. Ford

Last week Ford told us the 2014 Fiesta, the smallest car in its lineup, would be offered with a new, fuel-saving 1-liter EcoBoost engine. Ford notes this week that the 2014 Fiesta will also get a new version of its MyFord Touch infotainment system, which marks the first time this model gets a navigation option.

MyFord Touch is Ford's name for its touch-screen interface, letting the driver control stereo, hands-free phone, navigation, and climate control. That system launched a couple of years ago in models such as the Edge. It immediately garnered criticism from CNET and other publications for its crowded screens and poor performance.

Ford has since refined the system, even offering a software update so that current owners can bring the system up-to-date in their own cars. The new screens solved some of the usability issues, but CNET's testing still shows lackluster performance in the navigation system.

Ford says the system to be offered in the Fiesta, which uses a 6.5-inch touch screen, has been further improved, allowing easier destination input, for example. Along with visual refinement, Ford says voice command has been improved. Drivers will be able to select music simply by saying, "Play Adele," or, "Play classical," instead of specifying the category first. A new version of the Nuance voice command software is also supposed to improve accuracy, although in CNET's testing, the accuracy appeared to be excellent already.

Another improvement will be Bluetooth phone pairing. According to Ford, phones will pair with the system automatically, as long as they have a matching PIN. That PIN will have to be entered into both the car or phone, so some setup will still be required.

The photo released by Ford of the 2014 Fiesta's dashboard also shows a Sony audio system. In other high-trim Ford models, the Sony audio system often comes paired with MyFord Touch. Ford released no details about the Sony system in the Fiesta, but in other Ford models, the Sony audio upgrade has proven to be a good value, delivering very high-quality sound.

Ford has previously talked about democratizing technology, offering the same features from its least expensive to its most expensive models. The 2014 Fiesta seems to support this goal. However, Honda has long offered a navigation option for its Fit subcompact car, and GM is offering a navigation feature in its Chevrolet Spark.

Ford has not shown the 2014 Fiesta yet; however, the company says the new model will feature its signature trapezoidal grille. The body is unlikely to show radical design changes. A press release about the European model of the 2014 Fiesta mentions new placements for interior door handles and window switches to improve ergonomics. These changes are likely to carry over to the U.S. version of the car.

The 2014 Fiesta should launch in the middle of next year.