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Apple CarPlay, Google Maps excel in J.D. Power US Tech Experience Index Study

Lane-keep assist seems to tick off a fair number of owners, which isn't surprising.

Google Maps screencap

Every year, J.D. Power polls a number of new-car buyers on how well their technology meets (or doesn't meet) their expectations. This year's study is out, and it shows that the tech is improving, as is consumers' opinion of it.

According to the 2018 J.D. Power US Tech Experience Index Study, buyers are much happier with the tech in their new cars. The company surveyed almost 20,000 vehicle owners and lessees, offering up awards based on the responses of those who purchased or leased a 2018-model-year vehicle in the last 90 days.

In those specific segments, Hyundai and Kia walked away with plenty of accolades. The Hyundai Kona crossover was J.D. Power's highest-ranked vehicle for tech experience in the small-car segment among mass-market vehicles, along with the VW Tiguan (compact segment), Kia Optima (midsize) and Ford Expedition (large). On the premium side, the Kia Stinger earned top billing in the compact premium segment, and the Lincoln MKX captured the award in the midsize premium segment.

Here's the full list of this year's segment winners for tech experience. Hyundai and Kia performed commendably.

J.D. Power

On a 1,000-point scale, the average overall satisfaction with tech was 766 for luxury buyers and 765 for mass-market buyers -- improvements of 16 and 15 points, respectively, over last year's responses. Overall satisfaction rose in a variety of subcategories, including comfort and convenience, collision protection and smartphone mirroring. The data also showed that the more satisfied a customer was, the more likely they were to recommend that specific vehicle to somebody else.

One major area the study focused on was smartphone mirroring. According to its survey data, users were more satisfied with Apple CarPlay than Android Auto. That said, Google Maps came away as the superior navigation method, with iPhone users more likely to utilize Google Maps than Apple Maps or Waze. What's interesting is that nearly one-fifth of buyers who bought a car with embedded navigation will use something else to get around, usually a smartphone.

Tech goes beyond the infotainment system, though. J.D. Power also looked at various driver safety and assistance systems. More buyers say they use lane-keep assist on most or every trip moreso than systems like adaptive cruise control or voice recognition. Yet, at the same time, lane-keep assist has the highest frequency of buyers reporting that it's annoying more than it is helpful. Take the good with the bad, I guess.

Most Dependable Vehicles: J.D. Power also tracks which vehicles are believed to be the most dependable. Here's the latest group.

Highest Initial Quality: Wondering which vehicles please their owners the best over the short term? This list is for you.