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Genesis, Hyundai Dominate J.D. Power 2022 Tech Experience Study

Cutting-edge tech can be a competitive edge, but poor execution is a dealbreaker. A new J.D. Power study ranks this year's most innovative automakers and features.

2022 Genesis GV70
Genesis (and sister brands Hyundai and Kia) earned top marks for premium and mass-market innovation in the J.D. Power study.
Genesis

J.D. Power has released its annual U.S. Tech Experience Index for 2022, ranking the most innovative automakers and models on the market and calling out the features owners love and love to hate. And after taking the top spots of the 2022 Vehicle Dependability Study, Korean sister brands Genesis, Hyundai and Kia find themselves at the top of the chart as the innovative brands in their respective segments.

A companion piece to J.D. Power's Initial Quality Study, the Tech Experience Index is based on the responses of 84,165 owners of new 2022 model year vehicles surveyed after 90 days of ownership. The survey seeks to find what technologies owners find the most desirable and which ones frustrate them the most. Along the way, the automakers themselves are ranked by a calculated Innovation Index to determine which ones are most successfully introducing the best new tech. 

J.D. Power's analysts calls new vehicle technology a "double-edged sword," stating that tech is one of the leading reasons for purchasing a new car and that automakers must continue to innovate or risk losing their competitive edge. However, inelegant implementation of tech or a high occurrence of problems could cause users to abandon a technology or even a brand outright. These are tricky waters and not everyone's doing a great job navigating them.

Biometric tech, like fingerprint scanners and facial recognition, can be used to log into infotainment, but users seem to prefer phone-based authentication.

Continental

The biggest loser

Fingerprint readers were found to be the most problematic technology probed with 54.3 problems found per 100 vehicles surveyed as part of the study. That makes it the lowest-performing tech in the study's history with the lowest overall satisfaction score, dethroning the previous record-holder: gesture controls.

Biometric fingerprint authentication is most commonly used for login on infotainment suites like Mercedes-Benz's User Experience that support multiple users or, more rarely, to lock or unlock a vehicle. Considering how well fingerprint readers have been implemented in smartphones, tablets and personal computers, the surveyed users' low ranking of the tech is surprising. It's possible they were displeased with the execution of the tech in cars or, perhaps, just find too complicated in contrast to other authentication technologies, such as phone-based digital key tech — which was the third-highest ranked technology surveyed.

Award-winning technologies

No surprise, the technologies that gave users the least trouble were the most simple in concept and execution. The Cadillac Escalade and Subaru Ascent each took home Advanced Technology Convenience Awards in the premium and mass-market categories, respectively, for camera rear-view mirror technology that allows users to flip a switch to change the optical mirror at the top of the windshield to a camera view via a screen hidden within the glass. Cadillac was recognized last year for the same tech.

Accolades for "emerging automation" or driver aid technology went to the premium Lexus IS for its front cross traffic warning system and the mass-market Mitsubishi Outlander for its implementation of reverse automatic emergency braking. Again, not the most cutting edge features — both have been around for years now — but trouble-free implementations of proven tech that left surveyed customers satisfied.

Cadillac and Subaru won awards for their desirable and reliable rear-view mirror camera tech.

Antuan Goodwin/CNET

J.D. Power also awarded the Mini Cooper (presumably the fully-electric model) an energy and sustainability award for its one-pedal driving mode. This EV feature promotes maximum range-extending regenerative braking when lifting the accelerator pedal, so much so that the car can be brought to a stop often without touching the friction brakes. Elsewhere in the BMW Group, the BMW X3 received recognition for its phone-based digital key tech.

Korean brands lead innovation

Crunching the numbers, J.D. Power assigns each automaker an Innovation Index score scaled from 0-1,000, higher being better. American electric vehicle company Tesla would have been the outright winner with an unofficial score of 681 points. However, because Tesla blocks JPD's access to owner information in certain states, the automaker finds itself ineligible for awards. Swedish premium EV brand Polestar also finds itself ineligible with an unofficial score of 608 points.

That leaves room for the Korean luxury upstart Genesis to slide in and once again take the crown for the highest officially ranked premium and overall brand with an Innovation index of 643. The G70 and GV70 are best-in-classes vehicles packed with user-friendly cabin and driver aid technologies; no wonder the brand finds itself the survey's king of this hill. The next highest ranked premium brands are Cadillac (584), known for its Super Cruise hands-free highway assist tech, and Mercedes-Benz (539) which launched the high-tech, electric EQS this year.

Korean brands continue to dominate among the mass-market brands with Hyundai leading the pack with 534 points — not too far behind Benz — followed by its sister brand Kia at 495 points. These brands share many key technologies with Genesis, hence the similarly high score. Third-place is a three-way tie (482) between Buick, GMC and Subaru.

For context, the industry average sits at a caluculated Innovation Index of 486 points. And because I know you're curious, the lowest ranked brands are Porsche (439), Honda and Chrysler (tied at 429) with Mazda being the least innovative brand of 2022 with its 387 Innovation Index — which makes sense given Mazda's minimalist approach to tech.

Want to know where your favorite automaker ended up and why? Check out the full J.D. Power 2022 U.S. Tech Experience Index study for more details.