2017 U.S. Tech Experience Index Study: Non-Premium Vehicles Provide Same Tech Experience as Premium Vehicles
Unfamiliarity with certain technological features—or an imperfect understanding of how to use them—may account for some expressions of dissatisfaction with new-vehicle technology. That’s a possibility suggested by a recently released study by J.D. Power. The J.D. Power 2017 U.S. Tech Experience Index (TXI) StudySM suggests that a degree of “lost value” exists among new-vehicle owners because most of them don’t completely understand and use all available vehicle technology.
The study, now in its second year, measures drivers’ experiences, usage, and interaction with 35 driver-centric vehicle technologies at 90 days of ownership. The study provides subscribers with an understanding of opportunities for minimizing the gap between driver experience and execution. The major technology categories analyzed in the study include entertainment and connectivity; comfort and convenience; driving assistance; collision protection; navigation; and smartphone mirroring.
“User experience is an influential differentiator in technology acceptance and in perceived automotive quality. While owners are excited by new-vehicle technology, they are also often confused by it,” said Kristin Kolodge, Executive Director of Driver Interaction & HMI Research at J.D. Power. “For owners, it doesn’t matter if the technology is just difficult to use or if an actual failure occurs—it’s all the same to them. In many instances, they envision the ideal user experience they want and are looking to the manufacturers to provide it.”
On a 1,000-point scale, overall owner satisfaction with new-vehicle technology among both premium and non-premium owners averages 750 in the latest study. Satisfaction is highest in the Large segment (777), followed by the Compact segment (753); Compact Premium segment (751); Midsize Premium segment (746); Midsize segment (744); Small Premium segment (739); and Small segment (732).
Satisfaction is very low among owners who tried a feature but no longer use it. The primary reason owners give for not using features is that they don’t need them. The highest rate of occurrence among owners who tried a feature but no longer use it is in-vehicle mobile router (10%). Generally, these owners agree that the feature lacks value.
Collision-Protection Systems Achieve Highest Marks
As in the 2016 study, the highest overall satisfaction this year is for collision-protection systems, with an index score of 787. High marks also go to the blind-spot warning and the reversing camera/warning system (8.61 and 8.56, respectively, on a 10-point scale). Owners are least satisfied with their navigation system (714).
Basic interactions—those that owners are likely to use every time they drive, such as cluster information, HVAC, seats, phone and entertainment controls—decline in satisfaction by 83 points among owners who experienced a “difficult to use or understand” issue, compared to those who didn’t.
For every technology measured in the study, satisfaction is higher when owners learn to operate that technology from their dealer, as opposed to a non-dealer source. However, sales satisfaction generally begins to decline after 25 minutes of interaction with a dealer, which indicates that dealers should consider in advance which technologies they should allocate their time to explaining.
Owners often have specific ideas of how a technology should operate—for example, having a frequently entered address listed first, on a navigation system.
“Owners are drawing parallels between their understanding of current vehicle technology and the trust they must likely place in autonomous vehicle technology in the future,” Kolodge said. “There’s a big gap right now. 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.”
The Chevrolet Camaro ranks highest in the Midsize segment for a second consecutive year. Also ranking highest in their respective segments are the Kia Niro (Small); Audi A3 (Small Premium); Hyundai Elantra (Compact); Lincoln MKC (Compact Premium); Audi Q7 (Midsize Premium); and Chevrolet Tahoe (Large).
Based on the study, J.D. Power offers the following consumer tips:
- When choosing a vehicle, look over the optional features carefully, and ask the dealer to explain any you don’t understand.
- Ask yourself, “Realistically, will I use this feature?”
- Test optional features during the test drive if they’re present.
About the Study
The 2017 Tech Experience Index (TXI) Study is based on a survey of more than 19,500 vehicle owners and lessees. Awards are based solely on responses from the 14,900 owners who purchased or leased a new 2017 model-year vehicle in the previous 90 days that is an all-new or redesigned model within the past three years. J.D. Power fielded the study from February through July 2017.