AAA Center for Driving Safety and Technology

AAA’s Center for Driving Safety & Technology, working with the researchers at the University of Utah, examined the visual (eyes-off-road) and cognitive (mental) demand as well as the time it took drivers to complete a task using the infotainment systems in 40 2017 and 2018 vehicles*. Study participants were required to use voice command, touch screen and other interactive technologies to make a call, send a text message, program audio entertainment or program navigation, all while driving down the road. None of the 40 vehicle infotainment systems produced low demand, while 29 systems generated high or very high levels of demand on drivers.

Vehicle reports are available for each vehicle’s information system that was evaluated. Consumers can use these results to learn more about the system found in their current vehicle and/or to inform their next vehicle purchase. Automakers and other industry players can leverage these results to isolate the most significant sources of driver demand generated by use of their products, and to enhance these designs such that they minimize the demands placed on people who use them while driving.

*NEW denotes vehicle reports from the latest phase of research (June 2018)

The Audi Q7 Premium Plus’ MMI® infotainment system version 443 created very high demand on drivers in the study. Of note, the navigation system allows drivers to search for nearby destinations and input addresses while the car is in motion, creating very high levels of demand.

The 2018 BMW 430i xDrive infotainment system* placed very high demand on drivers in the study. While the voice system interpreted commands for audio entertainment and phone functions easily and quickly, the center stack rotary wheel imposed very high demand levels on drivers when used for navigation.

The 2017 Buick Enclave Leather’s IntelliLink infotainment system* placed very high demand on drivers in the study. Center stack functions required very high demand due to the small buttons and the nonintuitive design of the system. Using the voice command structure to send text messages proved particularly demanding.

The Cadillac XT5 Luxury Cadillac User Experience (CUE) infotainment system generated high demand on drivers when placing phone calls and programming the navigation system. The Cadillac XT5’s voice system was accurate and simple to use. However, the touch screen generates very high cogntive (mental) and visual (eyes-off-road) demand.

The Chevrolet Equinox LT MyLink® infotainment system has a moderate demand level, scoring among the least distracting of the vehicles evaluated. Participants in the on-road study used the system with little effort once they received adequate training.

The 2018 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 MyLink® infotainment system placed moderate demand on drivers in the study. Voice commands placed moderate levels of demand on drivers when used to make phone calls and tune the radio.

The 2017 Chevrolet Traverse 1LT’s MyLink® infotainment system generated high demand in the study. The Chevrolet Traverse’s system did not offer much functionality. The touch-sensitive screen buttons and cumbersome voice command system led to high demand for drivers.

The Chrysler 300C’s Uconnect® infotainment system generated very high demand. The vehicle’s accurate and quickly-processed voice commands are overshadowed by a poorly organized touch-screen menu and highly demanding navigation and text messaging functions.

The 2017 Dodge Durango GT with Uconnect® 8.4 NAV infotainment imposed very high demand on drivers in the on-road study when used for phone calls, text messaging, audio entertainment and navigation. While drivers were able to quickly place calls and make audio selections, doing so required very high visual (eyes-off-road) demand.

The Dodge Ram 1500 Express’ Uconnect® infotainment system placed high demand levels on drivers using it for phone calls, audio entertainment and text messaging. While interactions with the infotainment system in the Dodge Ram were typically short, drivers experienced high cognitive and visual demand. The system could benefit from a larger screen and a more natural sounding voice.

The 2018 Ram 1500 Laramie’s Uconnect® infotainment system* placed moderate demand on drivers in the study. Drivers can use either the voice system or center stack to quickly program audio entertainment or place calls. In contrast, sending text messages via voice generated very high levels of demand overall.

The Ford F-250 XLT’s SYNC® infotainment system placed overall moderate demand on drivers in the on-road study. Certain features are locked out while the vehicle is in motion, creating simple and more limited interactions with the system, which helps reduce distractions and keep the driver on task.

The Ford Fusion Titanium SYNC® 3 (version 2.0) infotainment system generated high demand on drivers while using it for a variety of tasks, including placing phone calls, sending text messages and tuning the audio entertainment system.

The Ford Mustang GT Premium Convertible’s SYNC® 3 (version 2.20) infotainment system received an overall very high demand rating largely due to task inefficiencies. Drivers experienced the highest levels of visual (eyes-offroad) demand when using the texting feature.

The GMC Yukon SLT IntelliLink® infotainment system generated very high demand. Of all four tasks evaluated, programming the navigation system and texting features proved to be the most demanding on drivers.

The 2017 Honda Civic Sedan Touring’s HondaLink® infotainment system placed very high demand on drivers using it for phone calls, text messaging, audio entertainment and navigation. The system would benefit from faster processing time, both for voice commands and touch-screen interactions, and a navigation system design that is consistent with the design of the rest of the system.

The Honda Ridgeline RTL-E’s HondaLink® infotainment system (version 4.2.2) generated very high demand in the study, requiring an excessive amount of time to place calls, send text messages, program navigation and adjust audio. Most notably, the audio and turn-by-turn navigation system are very highly demanding and time-consuming.

The Hyundai Santa Fe Sport’s Blue Link® system placed overall moderate demand on drivers in the on-road study. The Hyundai Santa Fe had simple and quick interactions. A drawback noted was the relatively small size of the touch screen, which presented information in a neat, but cramped format.

The Hyundai Sontata Base’s Blue Link® infotainment system placed high demand on drivers. The voice system is quick and intuitive but could be improved with a simpler process for dialing phone numbers. The center stack touch-screen menu offers quick access to core functions and the information is presented in a neat but cramped format.

The 2017 Infiniti Q50 Premium AWD’s InTouch® infotainment system generated an overall moderate demand in the study. Drivers who placed calls and adjusted audio using voice commands or the center stack and console experienced moderate demand. However, using the text messaging system posed very high overall demand.

The Jeep Compass Sport’s Uconnect® Radio 230/REQ infotainment system received an overall high demand rating. Text messaging and audio entertainment processes required very high degrees of cognitive (mental) demand to complete tasks. The Jeep Compass’ interface allowed drivers to complete most interactions, other than text messaging, quickly.

The Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited’s Uconnect® infotainment system received an overall high demand rating. Using either voice commands or the touch screen, calling and dialing tasks are quick and generate an overall moderate demand on drivers. However, many texting tasks place high overall demand on drivers, and using navigation requires even higher demand.

The 2018 Kia Optima LX UVO® infotainment system* placed moderate demand on drivers in the study. The voice command system allowed users to easily place calls and program audio entertainment, although using the center stack placed very high levels of visual (eyes-off-road) demand on drivers.

The 2017 Kia Sorento LX’s UVO infotainment system generated overall high demand on drivers in the study.

The 2018 Kia Sportage LX’s UVO® infotainment system* placed moderate demand on drivers in the study. The simplicity of the center stack menus allowed drivers to interact with the infotainment system with overall moderate levels of demand.

The 2017 Land Rover Range Rover Sport HSE InControl® infotainment system* placed very high overall demand on drivers in the study. Voice commands for audio entertainment and phone calling were kept short although at the cost of higher cognitive (mental) demand. Of note, using the touch screen to access the navigation system and audio entertainment imposed very high overall demand.

The Lincoln MKC Premiere’s SYNC® 3 infotainment system (version 2.0) received an overall moderate demand rating. Most notably, its voice system consistently processed commands quickly and correctly, allowing participants to make calls and adjust audio without delay.

The 2017 Mazda3 Touring’s Mazda Connect™ infotainment system imposed very high demand on drivers in the on-road study. Drivers were not able to efficiently use the center console to place phone calls and make audio changes, most likely due to the system’s complex menu structure. Accessing the text messaging menu using voice commands or the center stack proved to be a highly demanding task.

The Mercedes-Benz C300’s COMAND® infotainment system* received an overall very high demand rating in the study. Drivers’ visual (eyes-off-road) and cognitive (mental) attention was drawn away from the road as they attempted to navigate the center stack menu using a rotary control. This produced overall very high levels of demand for all functionalities.

The 2017 Nissan Armada SV NissanConnect® infotainment system imposed a very high demand on drivers in the on-road study. While the phone and audio entertainment facets of the system placed moderate demand on drivers, the cumbersome navigation system was so difficult to use that it negatively impacted the overall performance of the Armada. Drivers were unable to quickly search through the complex navigation menu on the center stack or use the system-specific voice commands to set destinations while remaining focused on the road.

The 2017 Nissan Maxima SV, equipped with the NissanConnect® infotainment system, placed high demand on drivers when using it for placing calls, sending a text message, tuning audio entertainment and programming navigation.

The 2017 Nissan Rogue NissanConnect® infotainment system* placed very high demand on drivers in the study. The system is efficient for programming audio entertainment, but the complex and time-consuming phone and text messaging functions accessed by voice commands drove up the overall demand level.

The Subaru Crosstrek with STARLINK™ infotainment system placed very high demand on drivers using it to place phone calls and adjust audio entertainment. In its current state, drivers may become frustrated by the system’s non-intuitive and time-consuming processes, especially when using voice commands.

The Tesla Model S 75 infotainment system generated a very high demand rating in the study. The system was very highly demanding on drivers when placing phone calls, tuning the audio system and programming the navigation. Interacting with the infotainment system leads to very high distraction from the forward roadway.

The Toyota Camry SE with Entune™ infotainment system demonstrated overall moderate demand on drivers in the on-road study when placing phone calls, sending text messages and tuning the audio system.

The Toyota Corolla SE with Entune™ generated overall high demand on drivers in the study. Accessing phone functions, sending text messages, and selecting audio entertainment via the center stack required little time, but imposed very high cognitive (mental) demand, while voice commands proved better.

The 2017 Toyota RAV4 XLE Entune™ infotainment system generated overall high demand in the study. While the RAV4’s center stack allowed drivers to quickly place calls to favorite contacts and make audio selections, the system was hindered by often slow processing time.

The 2017 Toyota Sienna XLE Entune™ infotainment system generated an overall moderate demand level. The limited options presented in the center stack phone and audio menus resulted in quick interactions, although very high cognitive (mental) demand levels were observed. Text messaging proved to be a highly demanding interaction, due in part to the text-heavy design of the messaging menu.

The 2017 Volkswagen Jetta S MIB II® infotainment system* placed high demand on drivers in the study. Infotainment functions are only accessible via the touch screen; voice command is not available in this vehicle. Making audio entertainment selections and placing phone calls produced very high visual (eyes-off-road) and cognitive (mental) demand.

The Volvo XC60 T5 Inscription’s Sensus Connect infotainment system created very high demand levels in the on-road study for phone calls, text messaging , and navigation. Overall, the XC60 system had poor on-road performances, in terms of low usability and high levels of demand. Drivers were free to operate the vast majority of the system, unchecked, while the vehicle was in motion.