J. D. Power released its second annual Tech Experience Index Study recently, and it there’s some good news—and some bad news. The good news is that drivers find safety technology to be the most satisfying, especially back-up cameras (which will soon be required on all new cars) and blind spot warning systems. The bad news is that built-in navigation systems are still, as the study says, least satisfying. Or as most people say, they are frustrating pieces of crap and we’ll just use our phones, thanks.

The study asks drivers within 90 days of buying their cars how satisfied they are with 35 “driver-centric” technologies. According to the results, it didn’t matter if people bought a premium vehicle or a more run-of-the-mill vehicle; everybody was pretty much the same level of happy with the technology in their new cars, an average of 750 on a 1000-point scale. It also showed that the more a driver used a technology, the better they liked it.

People also liked new technologies better when they were shown at the dealership how to use it rather than learning about it elsewhere (though they probably would love Carsplaining’s how-tos). Here’s the trick, though: new car owners do not want to hang out at the dealership all day. J. D. Power has found that, once the deal is done and the customer is waiting for the car to be brought around and the keys to be put in their hands, sales satisfaction starts to drop after just 25 minutes.

The study also found that people are drawing links between the technology in their new car today and the autonomous cars of the future. If they can’t figure this car out now, how will they ever be able to trust an autonomous car? “There’s a big gap right now,” said Kristin Kolodge, executive director of Driver Interaction & HMI Research at J.D. Power. “If someone can’t understand how to set their vehicle’s adaptive cruise control, they will certainly doubt their ability to operate an autonomous vehicle.”


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