-Hi I'm Molly Wood from CNET here with the first look at Ford's MyFord Touch System, which is powered by SYNC.
We first got a look at MyFord Touch back at CES and it's finally rolling out on the 2011 Ford Edge, which I am sitting in now and the 2011 Lincoln MKX.
Now, this system doesn't replace SYNC, which is the voice activated multimedia control system that you probably heard of in Ford vehicles.
It's powered by SYNC,
but the MyFord Touch Interface is kinda of a redesigned cockpit command and control center for accessing SYNC and also all kinds of other services.
Now, Ford's big goal with MyFord Touch is to keep your hands on the wheel.
So, you'll get 2 new 4.2 inch displays here in the instrument cluster and then you have 2 5-button D pads on the steering wheel for controlling those displays.
Now, on the screen in the left side of the cluster, you get information about the car.
You get tachometer, you get fuel economy, and you get an unbelievable number of settings.
You can actually tweak this car pretty much to your hearts content over here on the left.
On the right, you get the vehicle's entertainment system, climate controls, phone, and hilariously, a compass, which is actually kind of mesmerizing.
Now, as we saw at CES, the screens are all color coded.
So, it's kind of easy to tell at a glance what you're navigating to.
I particularly like that from the steering wheel you can navigate the phone dialing options and I like that you can see your phone signal strength
and battery life right here on the display.
Now, all of that said, navigating this way can take some getting used to and while it keeps your hands on the steering wheel, it also has a tendency to keep your eyes off the road.
At least until you figure out where you're going and you may find yourself navigating several layers deep.
For example, if you wanna find a radio station preset or change the input source on your audio.
And the controls from the steering wheel aren't complete.
So, you can change that audio source like I mentioned, but you can't necessarily navigate all the songs on your connected iPod or music player.
For that, you're gonna have to go to the center here.
Now, this the touch part of the MyFord Touch Interface, it's an 8-inch LCD that sets here in the center stack and you can see, it sort of repeats the color coding.
So, you have yellow for your phone menu, you have green for information about the car, blue is your climate control system, and red is your radio and entertainment.
Now, I found this touch interface pretty easy than navigate especially because of all of that color coding and it's got a nice big text,
its easy to read.
I like the big home button in the middle that gets you back to your kind of command center.
What I don't like is that the touch screen isn't particularly responsive and you really find yourself having to press it in exactly the right place to make things happened.
So, if you were trying to operate this while driving, you might find yourself really distracted.
Now, as for navigation, you can imagine that maps probably look really good on this big screen.
Ford has dumped its hard drive base navigation system though
and you now get an SD card base system, which actually wasn't enabled on our vehicle.
Instead, we got a splash screen here that pointed us to SYNC's traffic directions and information service TDI, which you can use with the bluetooth paired phone.
The phone actually dials up to servers back at Ford data center to get navigation information.
Unfortunately, you have to have your phone number registered with Ford in order to make that work.
It's all part of the sense that things are cool here and they are very advanced for in car systems,
but they are a little more complicated then they need to be.
Now, as for connectivity, there are actually quite a few ports in this car.
You have the SD card slot like I mentioned for your navigation, you have a USB slot, you actually have 2 USB slots, so you could plug in for example your media player, your iPod, your phone, and you could plug in a 3G wireless card, which is a little bit redundant considering that a lot of phones now have hot spot capability.
But if you do have that card, you can turn the whole vehicle into a rolling Wi-Fi hot spot
and you also have RCA jacks here, but you don't have a standard 3.5-mm AUX jack.
I actually missed that.
A lot of people plug their phones in using an AUX jack because not that many bluetooth phones support A2DP music streaming.
So, if you plan to plug your phone or your media player in that way, you will need an RCA adaptor for your AUX cable.
Luckily, even though this system is complicated and involves a lot of buttons, it is also powered by Ford SYNC.
So, you get tons of voice activation.
In fact, SYNC recognizes some 10,000 voice commands.
As usual, if you attach an iPod or a music playing smart phone via the USB port, you can use your voice to play music by artist or album.
Play artist, Brandi Carlile.
-Playing artist Brandi Carlile.
-There's obviously voice styling with your bluetooth phone.
-Please say a command.
Delete or continue speaking the digits?
-If your phone supports it, the SYNC system will actually read your incoming text messages to you.
-Stuck in a meeting.
See you soon.
-Although, don't get too excited about that feature because right now hardly any phone support it.
Mainly a couple of Motorola RAZR and Sony Ericsson models.
Now, you can stream Pandora radio stations from your plugged in device, but we're still waiting for voice controlled Pandora streaming that we saw at CES 2010.
That's coming is part of Ford's app link package, which is rolling out at the end of 2010
for owners of the Ford Fiesta only.
Everyone else will get it some time in 2011 including owners of the MyFord Touch System.
Now, the app link system will let you control smart phone apps including Pandora, the Stitcher Podcast Radio, and a twitter client called OpenBeak, which will actually read your tweets out loud to you.
No word on whether it's gonna let you compose them, but we will have to find out when it comes out.
Now, as I mentioned the MyFord Touch System is available, but not standard on the 2011 Ford Edge and the 2011 Lincoln MKX.
Ford says that next vehicle to get it will be the Explorer and then the 2012 Ford Focus.
The entire MyFord Touch interface is about a $1,000 upgrade, that's $395 for Ford SYNC, which doesn't have a subscription service; kind of a nice bonus, $365 for the MyFord Touch interface which is these D pads and the screens, and then $240 for the included back up camera.
Now, if you do want that SD based navigation system, which you probably do because you have a nice big screen for mapping that will be another $800.
Although, all that said, this is probably the most advanced and easy to use multimedia and connected car system that's on the market right now.
So, if you're talking about $1,000 upgrade to your $40,000 Ford Edge, that's probably worth it.
For CNET.com, I'm Molly Wood.